§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he rose to move the Resolution of which he had given notice on the subject of the examinations for the Civil Service. The history of these examinations might be summed up in a few sentences. In 1852, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) was leader of that House, a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the organization of the Civil Service. That Commission reported 337 in 1858, in favour of open competition. In 1855 an Order in Council was published providing that an examination should take place for all junior appointments under the Crown, and in the same year the Indian Civil Service was thrown open to public competition. Since 1855 various Resolutions on the subject had been moved in that House. Those Resolutions had been sometimes carried, and sometimes had been met with the Previous Question. In 1860 a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the system of examining und nominating candidates for the Civil Service. That Committee was presided over by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord Stanley), and two patronage Secretaries of the Treasury—the hon. Baronet the Member for Wells (Sir W. Hayter) and the hon. Baronet the Member for Petersfield (Sir W. Jolliffe)—were members of it. It consisted also of some of the most zealous opponents of the system of open competition who had seats in that House. The Committee sent in their Report in July, 1860, and described the present system as a delusion on the public and a fertile source of abuse. It was clear, they said, that while such a system prevailed any Minister, who might be so disposed, had it in his power to retain virtually his right of nomination as before, at the same time diminishing his responsibility for the appointments he made. The Committee remarked that thus the: advantages of both the old system and the new one were lost, inasmuch as responsibility ceased and competition was not created; and they recommended one of two alternatives—either that there should be a system of open competition, or that a preliminary test or examination should be established in the numerous departments of the Civil Service before a competitive examination. Within the last few weeks, however, the Report of the Civil Service: Commissioners had been laid on the table of the House, and in that Report the Commissioners stated that, in spite of the recommendations of the Committee of 1860, the delusion on the public and the fertile source of abuse still existed in every department of the civil service except the Treasury. He would not delay the House by dwelling upon the advantages of open competition for appointments in the Civil Service. Administrative reformers were told, five or six year ago, that, in future, political patronage would not be administered as in the olden time. That was per- 338 fectly true: but the present system was, if possible, still more objectionable. The patronage Secretary of the Treasury disposed wholesale of nominations to the Members of the House, who gave them to the free and independent electors. So far, therefore, from political patronage having decreased, it had greatly increased. Formerly, when a vacancy occurred, the patronage Secretary of the Treasury could give it to one Member only; but now he could give nominations to three or four Members for each vacancy, or he could give them all, if he chose, to a single Member, to be distributed amongst those persons who had supported him. So far as the efficiency of the Civil Service was concerned, the Report of the Commissioners went to prove that matters were in a worse position than before. The time, he thought, had therefore come when the House might fairly be called on to express a special opinion on the subject, and in doing so he ventured to quote the language of the Committee's Report. The first part of the Resolution expressed an abstract opinion as to the best method of filling up the junior clerkships in the Civil Service. This was taken verbatim from the Report of the Committee. The second part of his Resolution was also taken from that Report. He earnestly besought the attention of those hon. Members who might think he: was proceeding too hastily to this fact. The second part of his Resolution was in these words—That, with a view of establishing such a system of open competition, it is desirable that the experiment first tried at the India House in 1859 be repeated from time to time in the other Departments of the Civil Service,The House was so familiar with the whole subject that he did not think it necessary to enter into further discussion. He would only state his own conviction, that if the Resolution were affirmed, something would be done to destroy a system alike discreditable to the Government and to every Member of that House who took part in it—a system of political patronage which was damaging to the spirit of the country and injurious to her Majesty's Civil Service.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House is of opinion that the best mode of procuring competent persons to fill the Junior Clerkships in the Civil Service would be through a system of Competitive Examination, open to all Subjects of the Queen who fulfil certain definite conditions as to age, health, and character; and that, with a view of establishing
such a system of open competition, it is desirable that the experiment first tried at the India House in 1859 be repeated from time to time in the other Departments of the Civil Service.
§ MR. VANSITTART
said, he begged to second the Motion of the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy), and in doing so he would confine his observations to that part of it which related to the Indian Civil Service. It appeared that only so. recently as the last year the Governor General of India cabled upon the Lieutenant Governors and other district officers in Bengal, the North Western Provinces, Oude, and the Punjab, to state their opinions as to the comparative efficiency of the gentlemen who had entered the Civil Service under the old and new systems. Having had an opportunity of perusing those opinions, he thought it would not be uninteresting or profitless were he to state them to the House in a condensed form. Although the opinions of some fifty or sixty gentlemen had been given, it would be sufficient for his purpose to give those of four of them to enable hon. Members to form a very fair idea of the working of the competitive system in that country. Mr. Edmondstone, the Lieutenant Governor of the Forth Western Provinces, might be said to represent the opinions of the majority in the following extract from his able minute:—There can be no question that as a class the civilians who have entered the service by competition are men of higher scholastic attainments and of better mental training than those who used to be received from Haileybury. For the secretariat and judicial appointments they will generally be found better fitted than their predecessors, but from the absence of an esprit de corps and of physical activity, Mr. Edmondstone did not think that the efficiency of the Civil Service generally | will be improved, or that its character and reputation will be raised by the competitive system.Mr. Gubbins, Commissioner of Benares, on the other hand, representing the opinions of the minority, expressed his conviction—That the competitioners as a body do not come up to the same standard of perfection as was attained by the Haileybury men; that they are generally wanting in tone and manners of gentlemen—a point which is of great importance among quick-sighted people like the natives of India, and which imperatively requires to be attended to in a governing class; and that they are also wanting in that energy and bodily activity which is so essential to a district officer.Among the whole number Mr. Gubbins had met with but two who could ride. He would now quote the opinions of two other gentlemen, one as taking a very practical view of this interesting question, and the other an equally impartial view. 340 Mr. Shore, Commissioner of Cuttack, a grandson of the late Lord Teignmouth, who was raised to the peerage for his eminent services when Governor General of India in 1793, said—If I wanted a well-written report, or a clear, well-considered judgment on a difficult case, I should expect to find the work best done by a competitioner. If I wanted a civilian to accompany troops, to ride 20 or 30 miles to suppress a disturbance, or to make an inquiry into losses sustained by calamities of season, I should be inclined to make my selection from men who had been educated at Haileybury.Colonel Clarke, Commissioner of Khyrabad, a military man, quite free from bias and prejudice one way or the other "considered the want of esprit de corps the weak point of the system, and he recommended that the competitive class should pass a year or a year and a half at a college or hall in England after the first examination." Under these circumstances, he thought it must be admitted that, the competitive system was not answering its purpose in every point in respect to India. On the contrary, having regard to the peculiar nature of the duties to be performed, a bookworm contrasted unfavourably in that country with one who possessed a more genial temperament and more active habits. Should it, therefore, be determined to maintain the competitive system in India, he would strongly recommend the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for India to adopt Colonel Clarke's suggestion. By so doing he would only carry out still further the system which was being pursued in this country with regard to the military cadets passing through Sandhurst College. Now, with regard to the Motion of the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy), he did not think that these objections could be made to apply to the Civil Service in England. Deprecating as he did all intention of speaking disrespectfully, he must say that it appeared to him that the duties of the clerks referred to in the Motion of the hon. Member were purely mechanical. They were mere copyists. They did not incur any of that grave responsibility which devolved upon a civilian in India. They were not intrusted with the government of a district the size of Middlesex or Yorkshire; nor were they called upon at a moment's notice to jump on horseback and gallop some twenty or thirty miles to suppress a disturbance or to apprehend a gang of Dacoits. It also seemed to him rather an invidious and unjust proceeding to throw open the nomina- 341 tion to the Indian Civil Service to free and unreserved competition, while, on the other hand, all the nominations for even permission to compete for the public offices in the Civil Service in this country—however trifling the emoluments of some of them might be—were kept strictly close,; and formed the exclusive property of the Government of the day. It had, moreover, this objectionable appearance, that the Government of the day, from the moment of their accession to office, took advantage of this power in order to exercise Parliamentary influence by the distribution of these nominations among their followers and supporters, for it was impossible to disguise the fact that a competition which was dependent upon favour and patronage was no competition at all. Entertaining these views, he had no hesitation in supporting the Motion of the hon. Member.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
observed, that the arguments of the hon. Member who had brought forward this Motion were as unfortunate as his selection of a seconder, for a stronger speech against the whole system of competitive examination than that just made by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Vansittart) he had never heard. It had not been his intention to bring the subject again before the House, as it was by no means an agreeable duty to address the House year after year upon the same topic. He was strengthened in that resolution by the fact that the Committee which sat last year upon the subject had stated that it would be better to give the present system time to work, to: gain further experience of its results. Nevertheless, as the question had been brought forward by the hon. Member for the King's County he thought it his duty; to express his opinions upon it. When the hon. and learned Gentleman thought proper to quote extracts from the Report of the Committee, he should have been glad if he had read the whole of the Report of the Committee. By a singular omission, the hon. and learned Gentleman did not, think it necessary to quote the last sentence of the Report, which was as follows:—"The Committee are not prepared to advise the immediate adoption of a plan for giving effect to these views." He could scarcely comprehend how the hon. and learned Gentleman could found his Motion on the Report of the Committee. The hon. and learned Gentleman, it would seem, intended much more than the Committee had ever thought of, inasmuch as 342 he had originally given notice of a Motion with the view of throwing open every post in the United Kingdom to public competition. The hon. and learned Gentleman, however, thought proper to withdraw that Motion, and to substitute for it that under consideration. Well, hon. Members were all agreed on one point—namely, that for the interest of the public service there ought to be a test examination. The question upon which they joined issue was this—those who concurred in opinion with him maintained that a test examination would sufficiently prove whether a person nominated for office was duly qualified for such office or not; and they further maintained that to introduce into this country a system of competitive examination would be to break through the habits of the people, and to establish a principle in connection with the public service which was never applied to any private establishment in the United Kingdom. What was the meaning of a competitive examination? It would be scarcely believed by the public that the existing system had been introduced on the report of two gentlemen, both, no doubt, possessed of the greatest abilities and the highest literary attainments. One of those gentlemen was the hon. Baronet sitting below him (Sir S. North-cote). The other was Sir Charles Trevelyan. That system was introduced upon the recommendation of those two gentlemen, and was placed under the control of two examiners to carry into effect That system involved the throwing open of 105,000 offices to public competition. In reference to that system, Lord Brougham said, at the time it was first announced, that it was so monstrous and preposterous as to cause the people to hold up their hands in the public streets in perfect astonishment. He was not going to find fault with the manner in which the Civil Service Commissioners performed their duties. Sir Edward Ryan was a gentleman of the highest position, and had displayed pre-eminent ability in the public service in various parts of the world. The other Commissioner was Sir John Shaw Lefevre, a name which would be ever held dear by the House of Commons. This, however, was not a question of individual reform—it was a question of principle. It was a question whether the House intended to give to two irresponsible officers—however eminent and honourable as individuals—the control of the whole patron- 343 age of the Civil Service appointments in the United Kingdom, amounting altogether to 105,000. He knew how distasteful those details were, and he should therefore, in deference to the wish of the House, refrain from making references to a blue-book. But he had beside him papers containing extracts from the evidence given before the Committee of last year, which he believed to have so important a bearing on the subject as to justify him in submitting them to the consideration of the House. Out of twenty-five witnesses who were examined six were examiners, whose evidence he would omit to notice. Eleven witnesses were unfavourable to the system of competitive examination, and seven only were favourable to it. He had no intention, in the slightest degree, to cast any reflection upon the Committee, which was presided over by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley). At the same time he could not help observing that, looking at the Report of that Committee, and studying carefully the evidence that had been produced before it, he could not understand how it was possible for the Committee to draw up such a Report in the face of such evidence. There was one most important point connected with the question which had not been touched upon at all—that was the mode in which they were about to treat the sons of old and meritorious officers. It would be found that in all the great establishments of the kingdom, from the Bank of England downwards, an interest was manifested for the sons of old and meritorious officers. In the Bank of England, for example, about one-sixth of the whole number of the clerks were the sons of old and meritorious officers. The evidence given before the Committee was so strong on that point that he could not avoid bringing it under the notice of the House. There was not a single witness, except Sir Edward Ryan and Sir John Shaw Lefevre, who did not express the deepest regret that any system should be established which did not give some special advantage to the sons of old and meritorious officers. Mr. Arbuthnot, Auditor of the Civil List, gave the following evidence:—Is it within your experience that the sons of meritorious officers in the Treasury or the other departments have been occasionally appointed to vacancies?—Yes.Have those sons turned out, as far as your experience goes, to be a class inferior or superior to the others?—I think that, generally speaking, they have proved a very good class of officers.344Do you see any evil resulting from the fact of recognising the services of meritorious officers by appointing their sons, or giving their sons an opportunity of competing?—No, on the contrary, I think it is one of the most graceful tributes to faithful service that can be rendered to a deserving officer.The effect of open competition would be to exclude all such power of rewarding?—Yes.You think that would be an objection?—I think it would; I think that not only have the sons of old officers generally proved a good class of persons, but they preserve an element in the office of traditional knowledge which, to a limited extent, it is desirable to maintain; they carry on some of their fathers' knowledge and information.Sir Benjamin Hawes—I do not mean without examination; but do you see any injury or benefit to be derived from the fact of a meritorious officer having his son placed upon the list of temporary clerks, after he has proved by examination that he is competent?—Certainly not. I think that it is quite right that there should be such an appointment; and as he obtains it by passing the ordeal of examination, I see no objection to it.Would not such an appointment to a temporary clerkship be considered rather as a reward to a meritorious servant?—It can hardly be called a reward where, of course, the reward is not certain, because he must pass an examination.Mr. Trevor, Comptroller of the Legacy and Succession Duties—I have often sent to the Secretary of the Treasury an application from a meritorious clerk in the office for an appointment for his son.Has that request been ordinarily complied with by the Treasury?—I think I have had two or three instances that occur to my mind in which the Secretary to the Treasury has nominated the son of a clerk in my office, at my suggestion.That suggestion being that he was the son of an able and a meritorious officer?—That he was the son of an old clerk in the office, who, I thought, deserved well of the Government.You thought that not an unfair or improper mode of rewarding the father for his services?—It occurred to me as a very proper mode of showing him how his own services had been appreciated.Do you think that it is a graceful recognition of the father's services?—Yes; I think it is a graceful recognition of the father's services, his son having subsequently to pass the proper examination, that he should have the nomination.Have you found any instances of those who have been so appointed being inferior to those who have been otherwise nominated?—No, certainly not.Do you see any objection that exists to the occasional nomination of the sons of meritorious officers?—No; on the contrary, I think that it tends very much to the advantage of the public service, because it shows the father that he may have a chance of getting that nomination if his own services are meritorious.Sir Thomas Freemantle—Have you been in the habit, or has it ever occurred to you to recommend for the junior posi- 345 tions in the Customs, the sons of any well-deserving and well-conducted officers of the establishment?—Yes. I have frequently made such recommendations to the Treasury; and I am happy to say that almost in every case the applications that I have made have been complied with; and it has been a very great gratification to me to see that: the son of a deserving officer, who may have lost his life in the service, has been provided for by the kindness of the Government in the same department in which his father served so meritoriously. The Secretary of the Treasury has, in most cases, generously conferred clerkships on the sons of deserving officers under such circumstances.Do you think that that has had a beneficial effect upon the service generally?—Yes, I think it has.Is it considered a graceful reward for the long and meritorious services of the father that his son should have an opportunity, providing that he is competent, of being placed in such a position as a clerk of the Customs?—I think that it does much good.Mr. Trollope, of the Post Office—I think also it is very desirable that the Postmaster General should be able to appoint the sons of officers in the department.Is the appointment of the sons or members of the families of officers of the department, practised to any great extent?—Not to any great extent as regards the clerks, but to a considerable extent to the letter-carriers. In the last year seventy letter-carriers were appointed who were the sons of other letter-carriers.Out of what total number?—About 300.Mr. Tilley, of the Post Office—You stated, I think, that in the Post Office department the claims of meritorious and deserving old officers are considered?—They are.And that consideration is given by occasionally presenting the sons of such officers for examination to the Civil Service Commissioners?—It is so.Have you found, as a general rule, that that is calculated to give content, and to be received with gratitude by those officers whose sons are so selected?—I believe very much so.Do you think that the entire absence of those appointments would be injurious to the service?—I think it would, because such an appointment acts in two ways: it does good to the men whose sons are appointed, and the sons generally are very useful and good officers.Of course, if there was to be an open competition, the merits of the father, however great, would never be taken into consideration; it would depend merely upon the intellectual ability of the son?—Just so.Therefore that element, if it is an element for good, would be entirely excluded from the appointments in the Civil Service?—It would.Mr. Corbell, Inland Revenue—Should you regret to have it done away with? I should indeed. The Board laid down restrictions that a man must have attained a certain rank, and have a certain number in family; he must, it least, have been a division officer. The object of that was, that he should have shown some interest in desiring to get forward in the service.346It was in the nature of a reward to the meritorious servants?—Exactly.It has given general satisfaction, and you would be very sorry, would you not, to see it repealed?—Very sorry.Sir Richard Bromley—It has been given in evidence that it is usual both in the Inland Revenue and in the Customs for recommendations to be made by the chief of the department in favour of the sons of old and meritorious officer?, and that those recommendations have been uniformly observed, and that those nominees have been so appointed; I understand you to say that you see no objection to such a course in a limited degree, provided that those persons were examined by a limited competition? Certainly; I think that great good would arise from the mixture of the sons of old and confidential officers with persons taken from the public at large.You think it would be a recognition of their services, and make the officers themselves more zealous and more satisfied with their positions, or tend to make them so?—Yes; I think it would make them more contented with the limited career before them.I think you stated that the principle does prevail in some other great establishments, such as the Bank of England?—Yes; I can speak confidently that it does.Not only was it a graceful recognition of the past services of the fathers, to appoint their sons, but it acted as a stimulus to fidelity and zeal; while the preferment of such young men—who, generally speaking, proved an excellent class of officers—tended to preserve in the departments an element of traditional knowledge which it was desirable to some extent to maintain. It might, however, be said that the two objects were not incompatible—that they might have a system of competitive examination, and, as it was proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War, at the same time the Government could retain twenty nominations in their own hands fur the sons of old and meritorious officers. But, according to the evidence of Sir Edward Ryan and Sir John Shaw Lefevre, such a system was wholly incompatible.
Sir Edward Ryan—Will you state to the Committee whether you think that the evil of rewarding meritorious officers by appointing their sons is so great that, without any exception, such persons should never be introduced into the service under any circumstances?—I do not think that you can carry on both systems together, the competitive system and the nominative system, even though the latter should be checked by a pass examination. There would be very invidious comparisons made between the clerks who came in under one system and those who came in under the other. If your object is to obtain the best clerks, I should not, à priori, have thought that you would get them by selecting the sons of meritorious officers; 347 and if your object is to reward and encourage the service, there are other modes in which that may be done.Sir John Lefevre—You have given your opinion as to the advisability of reserving a certain number of appointments as rewards for the sons of meritorious public servants; does it appear to you that if a considerable number of clerks in any office had gained their situations on competitive examination, and if the remaining part of them had come in as being sons of old officers, that would give rise to jealousy and ill-feeling in the office?—I have already stated, in answer to a question put to me by another hon. Member, that I think it Would be most objectionable, and that it would lead to great difficulties in the government and management of the office.And Sir Thomas Fremantle gave it as his opinion that under the competitive system, no favour could be shown to the sons of old officers. Last year he had quoted to the House some of the extraordinary questions put to candidates by the examiners. He could not adopt the same course this year, because, strange to say, the examiners had declined to give the questions put to candidates for the English service, although in the case of the Indian service they were given. He must say he did not see the least improvement in the modus opwandi of those examinations. Now, let the House observe what the subjects of examination were which were applied to young boys, dockyard apprentices, and engine boys in factories. Those subjects were reading, writing, and arithmetic, English grammar, English composition, geography, mathematics, Euclid, algebra, as far as quadratic equations, and arithmetical and geometrical progression; while for junior clerkships in the Colonial Department the preliminary examination comprehended a knowledge of arithmetic, geography, of four different languages besides English—namely, Latin, Greek, Trench, and Italian, the language and literature of Greece and Rome, English composition, accounts, book-keeping, and several other things. What was a boy of seventeen to say to all this? Then, as to the constabulary. No man was to be appointed unless he could write well, understand arithmetic as far as vulgar and decimal fractions, and English composition. He should have thought the first qualification for a good constable was strength; but he would proceed with the list. "English composition and geography, especially that of Ireland." How little control was left to those in authority over these Commissioners! The Commissioners 348 appeared to rule with a rod of iron. Ministers of the highest position implored them to modify their views. The Secretary to the Admiralty wrote to the Commissioners, inquiring, on the part of the Lords of the Admiralty, whether a school master, who already had a certificate from the inspectors of schools, would be granted another certificate without a fresh examination; and the Commissioners replied, that inasmuch as difficulties would arise from the introduction of distinctions in the modes of examination, they had found it necessary to refuse the recognition of any certificate of examination not conducted under their own direction; that to this course they must adhere; and they Were therefore compelled to reply to the request in the negative. And the Lords of the Admiralty gave way. He came next to another curious examination which had been introduced into this country—he meant that for clerks in the Customs. A great deal was said last year on the subject of the moral and physical qualities of candidates, which it was alleged could not be tested by any examination. This year, in accordance perhaps with an opinion then expressed, that moral certificates were not worth the paper on which they were written, the moral qualification had been withdrawn, but full attention had been paid to the physical qualification. Beside all the branches of study which he had quoted, the candidate for a clerkship in the Customs had now to pass a medical examination—a very odd requirement indeed for a Customs clerk. One question was, "Has the candidate any swelling or varicose veins in his legs?" "Are his sight and hearing good?" "Is his pronunciation distinct?" "Is his respiration natural?" "Are the respiratory sounds and the resonance of the chest normal?" "Are the pulsations of the heart natural in rhythm and force; and are its sounds those of health?" "Are the marks of vaccination satisfactory?" "Has he had the smallpox?" "Is the frame and muscular system well developed?" No doubt all these things would be of great advantage to the candidate. No doubt it was desirable that the clerks of the Customs should be able to pass these tests; but he maintained that a man might be a very good clerk, even with some defects in his breathing, and without the marks of vaccination or small-pox. Still, as he said, the Commissioners were quite independent of control, and the Ministers of 349 the Crown had to give way to their decisions. After the discussion which took place the other night on the subject of Education he had no doubt that many hon. Gentlemen opposite would support his Amendment. It was evident that the right hon. Gentleman the author of the Revised Code was of opinion that the standard of Education had been too high. This was a view held by a majority of gentlemen in the country—namely, that we were over-educating the people, not that we were educating too many, but that we were educating them in branches of knowledge not likely to be useful to them. The Duke of Wellington, speaking of the army, said, "Give us discipline, not learning;" and Nelson had expressed a similar opinion in different words. Observing a midshipman deep in the study of manœuvres, he said, "Never mind your manœuvres, go at them." The best place in which to conduct an examination for the army would be the midst of a stiff hunting country. As a friend of his had remarked the other night, "Of what use to a cornet would be his mathematics and his classics if he were not a good rider?" He hoped the House would not, then, consent to the further extension of the system. He had no hostility to the system of competitive examination, but he believed that it was not conducive to the public interest. With regard to diplomacy, what said the Earl of Malmesbury? He said, "he had lost several attachés pre-eminently qualified for the diplomatic service, in consequence of this system of competitive examination." And Earl Russell, when examined before the Diplomatic Committee last year, pointed out the inconveniences of these examinations as applied to the diplomatic service. Mr. Elliot, who was examined before the Committee, said the man best fitted for society was the man best fitted for diplomacy. In the case of the army, he had inquired of officers over and over again what had been the effect of the competitive examination upon the interests of the service, and their reply was that they were getting in some regiments a far inferior class of officers. Now the whole spirit of the army depended on its officers. It was very different in the continental service. The officers in the English army would lose a great deal of authority if they were not gentlemen and did not possess those qualifications to which the soldiers could look up. He regretted to say he believed the army was falling off very 350 much. Before he sat down he wished to read an extract from a most able article, in which the whole argument was admirably condensed. The writer said—The truth is, and it is one we are in danger of permanently forgetting, that the higher kinds of culture have often an enervating effect. There are minds, and those amongst the most valuable, which much learning tends only to enfeeble. The polish is only obtained by planing away the Wood. There is a rough strength, a determined energy, which seems to be the attribute only of the half-educated. Men of great culture are apt to give their imaginations too much play, to desire harmonious impossibilities, to foresee the difficulties so clearly that action is foregone. They have put microscopes to their eyes, and cannot drink for fear of the animalcules. Mr. Gladstone, for example, we do not hesitate to affirm, would be the most capable administrator in Europe if he could only forget one-half of his cultivation. As it is, he worries England and delights his foes by theories too harmonious to be of the slightest use, and an insight too keen to suffer him to take one long step in advance. How often has the rough intellect of the Premier enabled him to cut straight to the core of a matter of which his colleague could only nibble at the rind? It is only natural that it should be so, for the work of the world is done by qualities over which culture has no power. Courage is not developed by mathematics. Creative power is not increased by literary training. In sight is an instinct, not a product of education. That strange faculty of dominance which Begins to stand apart from the other powers of the mind, which enables races as stupid as the Turk to subjugate races as subtle as the Greek, is not increased by polished cultivation. Every day we see the scholar distanced in the race of life by the adventurer who can barely spell—the polished scion of a cultivated race defeated hopelessly by an orator innocent of Greek. Force, the true motive power of events, rests in the character, not the intellect, and it is only the latter that high cultivation can improve.[Cries of Name !] "Well, the extract was from The Spectator. He maintained this, that men might be too highly educated and yet not be fit for the practical duties of a public department. He also maintained that there were certain qualities which could not be tested by any examination; and on that account, he begged to move the Amendment which he had placed on the paper.
To leave out from the words "opinion that" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "many of the qualities constituting a good; public officer—good principles, good habits, sound judgment, general intelligence, and energy—cannot be tested by any plan of public competition; the introduction, therefore, of such a system into all the departments of the Public Service would be very injurious to their efficiency
§ MR. PEACOCKE
said, he had much pleasure in seconding the Amendment, for, in his opinion, there were other qualifications necessary for a public servant besides those of being able to answer some not very intelligible examination papers. The humblest clerks in some of the public departments were necessarily intrusted with secrets of state, the divulgence of which at times might be a national calamity. Was the country, then, he would ask, ready and willing to throw open posts of such importance to the first comer, simply because he had made the best Greek iambics, or proved himself the greatest master of the binomial theorem? A large preponderance of the evidence given before the competitive examination Committee was against the system. The Report of the Committee was one way, but the weight of evidence the other—only one witness thoroughly in its favour. One of the most striking characteristics of the youth of England was, that unlike the youths of other countries, it was taught not to look forward to eat the bread of comparative dependence in a public office, but to maintain itself in after life by its own energy and its own exertions; but by throwing open to competition twenty thousand places under the Crown this spirit would be destroyed, and discontent would be introduced into the public offices. A youth who had passed a competitive examination, and who had attained the object of his aspirations, would find the moment of entering on his official duties the moment of his disappointment. Youths from ' the Universities of Glasgow and London' and Dublin would be cast on the streets of London, without friends, without relatives; and would those youths, flushed with their recent victory, sit down to the drudgery and monotony of a public office; or would they think that their profound knowledge of Greek or mathematics was adequately rewarded by the modest competence of £90 a year? Sir Thomas Fremantle, Mr. Tilley, and Mr. Arbuthnot, when examined before the Committee, stated that such a spirit of discontent had already manifested itself in the public departments. Much good had been done by subjecting the examination papers to Parliamentary criticism, for any hon. Gentleman who had compared the earlier papers with those of more recent date, could not have failed to remark that the latter were more intelligible, and better adapted to the intellects of ordinary men 352 than the former. But the matter was capable of a further improvement in the same direction. He held in his hand an examination paper for the past year. It was on the English language, and he would read the first question—'Languages, so long as they are living and not dead, are always in a state of change and progression. Changes of position to other races by conquest or emigration, mutual relations, such as trade or alliance—all changes, in fact, in the position of a nation itself, will produce corresponding alterations in a greater or less degree in its speech; but besides all these accidental causes there inheres in all languages an instinct of progression and simplification which in the course of centuries will inevitably produce mighty changes.' Apply this statement to the English language by tracing rapidly its origin and development out of the various elements which enter into its composition.He did not wish to take the questions unfairly; and having given the first he would now give the last—The nightingale's thrilling note.The soldiers are at drill.The carpenter's drill.The negroes are clothed in drill.The horse's nostril.The lassie thirled at the pin.Have the words marked in italics in each of these groups of passages any etymological connection with one another. If so, explain it.Could any hon. Gentleman in that House explain it? Could the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy), or the hon. Member for "Windsor (Mr. Vansittart), both of whom had been in the Civil Service, answer the question? Could even the right hon. Gentleman himself, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was the champion of competitive examination, explain it? [The Chancellor of the Exchequer shook his head.] He was glad of that admission. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: I did not hear the question.] Then he would repeat it. [The hon. Member accordingly read the question again.] If the right hon. Gentleman could not answer it, surely it was rather hard to demand from the humblest clerk in the service a test which was unnecessary for a Chancellor of the Exchequer. There were seven of these questions on the English language, and three hours were allowed to answer them, but it would really take three hours to understand them. Here were some questions taken from the papers laid before the House this year—What is the title of Chaucer's principal poem, and why was it so called? Which of his poems have been paraphrased by two celebrated poets of a later age? By whom has he been called 'a 353 well of English undeflled?' Wharton compares Chaucer to a premature day in spring. What is the fact which Wharton intended to illustrate, and how do you account for it? Which poet of the period is considered to rank next to Chaucer? Name the titles of his poems.Then, again—What are the titles of the poems written l>y the author known as Piers Plowman, and what are their peculiarities?And here was another—Who was the author of the 'Polyolbion,' and what is the nature of the work?To answer such pedantic questions as these a man must have had a pedantic education, which might make a prig, but he did not think it would make a useful servant of the Crown. And that the system was mischievous, had been admitted by the Secretary of State for War, who, when questioned as to the large number of supernumerary clerks in his department, spoke of the difficulty of transferring them to the permanent staff on account of their inability to pass the competitive examination, although they had all discharged the duties required of them in a most satisfactory manner. Upon the whole, he thought that the evidence taken before the Committee went to prove one fact—that under the old system the public had been ably served, and that there then existed among our civil servants an esprit de eorps which could never be surpassed, if indeed it was ever equalled. There was not a single instance on record in which a public secret had been disclosed, or any information obtained in a public department sold. His hon. Friend (Mr. Vansittart) had called upon the House to try the principle of; competitive examination in England apparently because it had broken down in India.
§ MR. VANSITTART
said, he wished to explain that what he had said was, that having thrown open the Indian service, it; would be unjust to preserve a close nomination to the Civil Service of this country.
§ MR. PEACOCKE
said, his hon. Friend had admitted that there was no esprit de corps among the civil servants now appointed in India; and that was likely enough, for persons appointed under the present system would naturally think that gratitude was more due from the country to them than from them to the country. He admitted that some individual cases of incompetency existed under the old system, but they were exceptional cases, and afforded no reason why a system which was proved to have worked well as a whole 354 should be entirely subverted. The better plan was to meet these exceptional cases; and to do so he would suggest a responsible system of nomination in conjunction with a pass examination of a very high order and a minimum standard of marks. At present there was no minimum standard, but he thought that every clerk admitted into the public departments should show that at all events he was up to a certain standard of knowledge. They were often told how much better private affairs were managed than those of the public; but would any merchant, who did not wish his name soon. to appear in the Gazette, select his clerks by open competition? No, he chose men of whose antecedents he knew something, whom he believed honest, and those who were most likely, in his opinion, to acquit themselves creditably. This system, which worked well for private affairs, he wished to introduce into public affairs, and he believed that, under a responsible system of nomination in conjunction with an effective system of pass-examination, there would be an effectual check upon favouritism and jobbery, and that by these they would obtain at once an honourable and efficient class of public servants.
Sir, having been Chairman of the Committee that sat a year ago on this subject, I hope the House will indulge me for a few minutes, as I wish to make some observations in reference to it. The Report of that Committee was agreed to after full and careful consideration of the evidence adduced; and I do not think that either the objections made last year to the system of competition, or those that have been stated in the course of the present debate have been of a very formidable nature. It seemed to me, while listening to the speech of my hon. Friend, that I was hearing over again the discussion that took place last Session on the same question. In the first place, he made a complaint that I have often heard in former years, that by the system of competitive examination we get a test of intellectual qualifications only, and that moral and physical qualifications are left unregarded. Now, I think my hon. Friend, in his anxiety to throw ridicule on the Civil Service Commissioners, went out of the way to answer his own argument, because he read a list of the physical qualifications required in the candidates, with a list of the questions put to them on that point, showing that great care 355 is actually exercised in ascertaining their physical fitness to discharge such duty as is likely to devolve upon them. It seemed to me that the fact of such inquiries into the health of the candidates being made, answered the objection taken on this point by my hon. Friend. As to the absence of a test of the candidates' moral fitness, my answer is this—I do not attach very great importance to mere written testimonials as to character. Every one knows how loosely and carelessly such testimonials are given. But whatever may be the Value of such tests as to moral qualifications as you had under the old system of appointment, those tests you have still. The question is argued as though a Minister were in the habit of appointing young men to official situations from among his own personal acquaintance; but the fact is, as we all know, that in nine cases out of ten the appointment in his gift is conferred on some young man whom he has never seen, and whose character and general fitness are vouched for by his own—the candidate's—family or friends. As to the moral qualifications of candidates, therefore, you have exactly the same kind of test you had before; but with this test in addition to it—that generally speaking the young man who takes a high place in a competitive examination is a man of more than an ordinary amount of industry and perseverance. And if you take the kind of man who succeeds in such an examination, though I do not affirm that in moral qualifications he will necessarily be superior to others, yet it is probable he will be superior. Then, my hon. Friend complains that there is no control over the examiners with regard to the kind of questions they put to the candidates under examination. But this objection also I think the hon. Gentleman answered by his own argument. We have frequently heard discussions in this House on the propriety or impropriety of the questions put in the examination papers, and as to whether they really are of a character to test the abilities of the candidates examined. What are those discussions but a control exercised over the examiners? If it is meant that in respect of each individual case there is no appeal from the decision of the examiners, but that it is final, why, the power of final decision must rest somewhere. I do not suppose it will be pretended that a Committee of this House, or any other tribunal you could create, could undertake to re-examine all those candidates who had 356 failed to pass their examination. Another complaint made by my hon. Friend is that the Civil Service Commissioners do not recognise examinations conducted by any other educational body. I do not think that can be made a matter of complaint against them. The Commissioners, he thinks, might accept a high degree taken at Oxford or Cambridge, or some other recognised place of education, as being in itself a sufficient test. I do not deny that it would be so: but it is obvious that by resorting to that expedient we should be establishing an invidious distinction between these places of education and others. The Commissioners, or this House, would have to resist a continual pressure from other institutions to be allowed to give degrees conferring the right of appointment without examination. The distinction originally proposed could not be maintained, and the end would be that the plan would fail. Then, my hon. Friend says it is very hard that the sons of distinguished officers should not be allowed to enter the public service without submitting to the same tests as other young men. But I do not admit that an officer who has performed valuable services to his country, and for such services has received adequate reward, has any superior claims over others in favour of his son. To admit such a superiority of claim would end in establishing a kind of hereditary official caste, holding a perpetual monopoly of public employment. Then my hon. Friend says, look what a power you are creating; you are giving the Commissioners absolute command and control over more than 100,000 offices. In that respect, my hon. Friend has, quite unintentionally no doubt, but enormously, exaggerated the number of offices to which the system of examination applies. I do not think the largest number of places in the Civil Service to which even the ordinary examination test applies exceeds 15,000. There are about 100,000 persons engaged in the various duties of the Civil Service, but the bulk of them have to perform merely mechanical duties. And in the next place, the power which the Commissioners exercise over these 15,000 appointments is, as has been repeatedly shown before, of a judicial character only. They do not dispose of them at their pleasure, they adjudge them according to fixed and known rules. My hon. Friend also says that the examination system cannot possibly work well, since no merchant, banker, or men having large 357 establishments of their own, have adopted or are likely to adopt it. My answer is, the moment you have shown me that the Ministers who have the power of appointing to public offices have the same direct personal interest in the efficient discharge of the duties of those offices as the merchant, banker, and manufacturer have in the efficiency and ability of the persons they employ, I will admit we are in the wrong in requiring this previous examination. My hon. Friend who spoke last objects to the system, that it destroys the self-reliance of the candidates. I think this is the very last fault that should be found. It is clear that the young man who goes into an entirely open competition, and comes out; successful, must have his self-reliance raised; he must feel that he is not indebted to any one but himself for what he has obtained. As to the criticisms which we have heard of some questions put to the candidates, it may be worth while to remind the House that it is judging the examiners very unfairly to assume that the questions on the examination papers are questions that every candidate is expected to answer. Young men come up very differently educated, from different places, and the object of the examination is to test their acquirements as widely as possible, to give every one a chance of showing what he has learnt. If the same questions were repeated year after year, it would be very inconvenient. The candidates would almost know beforehand what the questions would be. These questions necessarily have a very wide range. I do not stand up for the perfect wisdom and propriety of every single question. The; examiners may make mistakes like other men. But it is much more easy to criticise these examination papers than to conduct the examinations, month after month, under the express condition that the papers shall not be the same. With regard to the competitive examinations for the Indian Civil Service, that is a matter which does not now come before us. I have not seen the paper to which an hon. Gentleman alluded with regard to the merits of those who have come into the service by competitive examination, and I own I could have wished to have heard a little more or a little less of that report, because we were told by the hon. Gentleman that a considerable number of persons officially employed in India, had been desired to express their opinion on the subject, and he only gave us the opinions of two indi- 358 viduals. I do not think we can form a satisfactory judgment on the merits of an entire service by simply hearing the opinions given by two individuals, however well qualified they may be to form them, especially as in the great majority of instances they cannot have had any personal knowledge of those of whom they were speaking. I do not wish to say anything at all disparaging of the two gentlemen who have been quoted; still we must remember that in India this experiment of opening the Civil Service was viewed with considerable suspicion by the older officers, and their evidence, therefore, is probably that of persons not disposed to take a favourable view of the results of that experiment. I am confirmed in this view by observing that the principal fault which they find with the younger members of the service is that they are said to be wanting in that esprit de corps which ought to characterize the members of an official body. Now, esprit de corps may be a good thing or not, according to the manner in which it is displayed: in India the display of it has been often a matter of complaint; and until the precise nature of the fault complained of is more clearly explained, I should decline to attach much weight to it. My hon. Friend in the course of his speech referred to two services which really do not come before us under this Motion at all—the army and the diplomatic service. As regards the army, it cannot be said, in reference to the Line at least, that any system of competition whatever has been tried. For my own part, I think that is quite a different question from that of the Civil Service, and I should not be inclined to extend the operation of the competitive system to the army—excluding, of course, the scientific branches—without some further experience. The diplomatic service, again, is entirely apart from the Motion before us. The Motion simply refers to the mode of entrance into the permanent Civil Service. It does not even seek to lay down a principle, it only asks the House to try by repeated experiments a question which never can be decided by theory alone. I claim such a trial as matter of right: by its results I am willing that we should abide; and I say on the one part, as, I think, my hon. Friend would say on the other, that if the experiment fails to bear out—which I am confident it will not—the opinions for which I have contended, I shall be glad to admit that I have been in the wrong.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
There is scarcely any law or institution in this country as to which differences of opinion do not prevail, and which is not disapproved by a minority to a greater or lesser extent; but when a subject like this has once been established by the consent of Parliament, and when a regulation has been in force for a certain number of years and has been the subject of repeated debates and inquiries, there is in general a truce to further discussion, and the minority are content, for a time at least, to acquiesce in the continuance of the regulation without reviving discussions on the subject. I much regret that the subject of Civil Service examinations has not been allowed to have the benefit of this system of forbearance, but that in every successive Session there have been Motions renewed in regard to it. There is one set of gentlemen who propose unlimited competition for admission into the Civil Service, and another set who object even to a test examination. The system which is now in force was introduced about seven years ago. It merely provided a test examination for introduction into the Civil Service; but it did not introduce any mode of competition. Since that time, by the practice of the Government, in consequence of discussions which have taken place in this House, competition to a limited extent and for a considerable number of offices has been introduced; but that competition has not been made unlimited. What the hon. Gentleman proposes is that we should agree to an abstract general Resolution, declaring that it is expedient that all offices in the public service should be filled by competitive examination open to all Her Majesty's subjects. He places no limit on the generality of that proposal, and he says nothing as to postponing the introduction of it; but, as I understand him, if we were to agree to that Resolution, it would be the duty of the Government at once to introduce the system which he describes. He did not allege in his speech that the present system had been found to fail, nor that it did not give sufficient security to the public with regard to first appointments in the Civil Service. Nor did he allege that it was not an improvement on the system which it had superseded, nor has he been able to show that there has been any recent investigation in which the plan which he recommends has been laid down. It is important that the House should bear in mind the recommendations of the Com- 360 mittee over which the noble Lord who has just spoken with so much clearness and so much ability presided, and that there should be no mistake as to their nature, because I think they have not been fairly laid before the House. In the first place, then—They think that an important step in advance will have been taken if for the system now generally prevailing, of simple nomination, there be substituted one of limited, but of real competition; and they recommend accordingly that from henceforth every vacancy occurring among clerks in the Civil Service be competed for by not less than three candidates, to be nominated as at present, each of whom, in the first instance, shall have passed the preliminary test examination, except in the case of a single vacancy, which shall not be competed for by less than five.That is the proposal which is now in force in all the superior offices. The head of the department nominates a limited number of candidates for competition. They are examined by the Civil Service Commissioners, and the candidate who obtains the greatest number of marks upon that competition receives the vacant office. The Committee then go on to say—It appears expedient that whenever the convenience of the public service allows, several vacancies should be competed for at once. It is obvious that a competition between 30 candidates for 10 vacancies is more likely to result in the appointment of young men of talent and industry than if each place were competed for by three candidates separately.If the number of candidates be sufficient, there is no doubt practical competition; but it may happen that some of the persons nominated do not come up to the standard of examination, and there the practical competition fails. That, probably, may be the case in some instances, but in general the number of candidates is sufficient to secure effectual competition, and the Treasury have, since that Report was presented, made a regulation that with regard to the very large number of persons subject to their nomination there shall be a preliminary test examination, in order that it may be ascertained that all the persons who compete for the vacant office are at least qualified to pass a test examination. In that manner the recommendation of the Committee has been complied with. The Committee then go on—Your Committee, while declaring their opinion that the best mode of procuring competent persons to fill the junior clerkships in the Civil Service would be through a system of competitive examination open to all 'subjects of the Queen' who fulfil certain definite conditions as to age, health, and character, are not prepared to advise the immediate adoption of a plan for giving effect to those views.That is, they concur in general terms 361 with the hon. Member, but they are not prepared to advise the immediate adoption of a plan to give effect to those views. Therefore, practically, the Committee reported against the immediate adoption of the principle of the hon. Member, though they had recommended the adoption of a plan which is now practically in operation. Under these circumstances I cannot think that, either looking to the allegations of the hon. Gentleman with regard to the operation of the system now in force, or to any authority of a Committee or any other body which he can cite, there is the least ground to induce the House to assent to the Motion he has made. I cannot think that there is the least ground for the immediate adoption of the recommendation of the hon. Gentleman; and if it were in my power so to do, I would move the Previous Question upon his Resolution, and ask the House to pass it over without expressing any decided opinion upon it. But it is not competent for me to do so, because I believe, that an Amendment having been moved, so long as that Amendment is before us the forms of the House will; not allow me to move the Previous Question. I will, then, for a moment revert to the hon. Gentleman who spoke third in the debate, and who represents the other side of this question. His arguments, although he qualifies them in words, practically go to this, that there ought to be no examination, even to ascertain the qualifications of candidates.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
I commenced by stating distinctly that I was in favour of a test examination.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
I am quite: aware that the hon. Gentleman made a verbal concession to the principle, but I contend that his arguments are inconsistent with his concession. His arguments go against the propriety of testing the qualifications of candidates by examination. Not only upon this but upon previous occasions, it has been sought to cover with ridicule the system of examination in the only manner in which that system can be exercised. I have the honour of the acquaintance of the two gentlemen who have filled the very difficult and very thankless office of Civil Service Examiners. I believe that two more honourable or more capable public officers the service of the Crown does not contain. I regret that one of them is about to retire from his office; and I feel satisfied, from my acquaintance with them, that it is impossible 362 the difficult duty which they have to discharge can be discharged, upon the whole, in a more considerate or more discreet manner. But if any set of questions for examination are to be submitted to the mode of criticism which is practised upon them in this House, I will venture to say that it is utterly impossible that any should pass through such an ordeal without being open to ridicule. I just ask hon. Gentlemen to take the examinations which are published at the end of the Cambridge University Calendar. They are models of examination upon difficult subjects. What can be easier than to raise a laugh by selecting a particular question of some difficulty or out of the way in its character? But it is always to be remembered, that if you make the questions in examination so easy that a great majority of the candidates can answer them, you do not accomplish your object, which is to sift the candidates, and to distinguish between the best and the worst. It is absolutely necessary that there should be some questions so difficult that the least advanced candidates should be unable to answer them, in order to accomplish your object of discriminating between superior and inferior men. But if this argument is to be conducted after the manner which we have so often heard followed in this House, at all events let the statements made be accurate. One hon. Gentleman said how monstrously absurd it was to subject the constabulary to examination, and to examine the police, whom you wanted to be strong men only, in literary and scientific matters, or in mathematics. I have looked through the last Report of the Civil Service Examiners. I cannot find that any of the police are subject to any examination, competitive or otherwise, and I do not believe that it can be proved that they are subject to such examination. I presume the hon. Gentleman referred to page 101 of the Report, where a constabulary cadetship in the Irish police is mentioned. [Mr. BAILLIE COCHRANE: Look at page 40.] I see at page 40 "Dublin Metropolitan Police Clerks in the Commissioners' Office, and Clerks in the Receiver's Office." No doubt clerks in the police-office are treated like clerks in any other office; but nothing is said about police officers themselves being subject to examination.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. Let him look at page 40, and he will see "cadets in constabulary."
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
I was referring to those cadets; and if the hon. Gentleman will look at page 101, he will see the subjects upon which they were examined, and the number of marks which they obtained. There are only a few cadetships in the course of the year, and they are very different offices from those of policemen. The assertion of the hon. Gentleman is utterly unsupported by any evidence which he did produce or can produce, and I should have thought it was a matter of notoriety that neither the Metropolitan nor the County Police are subject to any literary or scientific examination whatever. Another hon. Gentleman quoted some other examples of very difficult examinations as illustrative of the questions proposed to junior clerks entering the Civil Service, and, in order to enforce his argument, he quoted some questions from some paper submitted to candidates for the Indian Civil Service.
§ MR. PEACOCKE
What I said was, that the hon. Member for King's County proposed to subject all clerks to the same system as the civil servants in India were subjected to, and therefore I quoted from examination papers for the Indian Civil Service.
SIR GEOEGE LEWIS
If that is the argument of the hon. Gentleman, it is an entire perversion of the meaning of the hon. Member for King's County. The hon. Member for King's County did not mean to say that junior clerks of the Civil Service were to be examined with questions as difficult as candidates for the Civil Service in India, among whom there may he sometimes senior wranglers and persons of a high degree of education. What he meant to say was, that the competition was to be open to the whole world, which is a totally different question. The questions in the Indian examinations may be difficult for the purpose to which they are applied. That is a subject upon which we are not now called upon to enter, and the argument and illustration, therefore, of the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Peacocke) are totally inapplicable to the purpose for which they were used. After having subjected this question to its annual examination, I trust the House will come to the conclusion that the course which the Government has taken is, as the Committee has described it, the most advanced step of which the present state of things will admit. They have established, with regard to those clerks whose duties are 364 merely mechanical, a simple standard of examination. For those of whom more intellectual activity is required, they have established competitive examinations founded upon limited competition. But they are not prepared either to go back to the system of simple nomination, without either a test or competitive examination; nor, on the other hand, are they prepared to admit a system of indiscriminate and open examination, under which the heads of offices would be wholly irresponsible for the character and moral conduct of the persons whom they select. If the hon. Gentleman will not press his Amendment to a division, I shall then move the Previous Question.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
Sir, perhaps I have some right to say a few words upon this question, because I have on former occasions taken a strong part in opposition to my noble Friend. I fully agree with my noble Friend, and with the right hon. Baronet who has just sat down, that a great question such as this is not to be decided upon the absurdity or excellence of any examination papers, and I think that it ought not to depend upon the character of the examiners themselves. It is a question which stretches far beyond such points as those, and I trust that the House will never come to a resolution that these offices shall be submitted to general competition, without having given it their most serious attention. I say this because the grounds upon which on this occasion I oppose, and on other occasions I have opposed measures of this kind, do not rest upon any notion that men can be over-educated for any purpose whatever, but upon the conviction that if you were to make the competition open, you would do the people of this country a great moral and political injury. If the minds of the young men of the country generally were diverted to the object of becoming Government stipendiaries, it would go far to destroy the independent spirit of the nation and that limited action of the Government which all wish to see still more limited than at present. This is a political incidence of our times, but it is one which any man who wishes to be assumed to belong to the party of progress should not for a moment neglect. If the youth of this country were bred up, like the youth of Germany, to look forward to a Government office as the highest aim of their lives, it would very much injure our national independence and damage our national spirit. 365 At the same time, let me call attention to a point which has not to-night, and, indeed, has never been brought prominently before the House—namely, that you do not initiate a system of open competition. It is neither open, nor in any degree a general competition. For a very high order of merit examinations of a very high intellectual character will always command the best men, because the best men will enter for the prize and obtain it. But a competition of an ordinary character such as this, will be limited and regulated by the class of persons who choose to avail themselves of it. The competition is not of a high class, the qualifications are not of a high order. The result of such a system will therefore be, that you will secure only the intellectual attainments of a certain class of society; and that the competition will be determined by the means which the candidates respectively possess of getting "crammed." It will become simply a question of money. The poor man will be utterly excluded from the contest, whatever his talents or efficiency, if the system which has been advocated to-night is ever adopted. Such a system must assume a more or less mechanical character, and success will be attained by more or less mechanical means—that is to say, the men who get themselves "crammed" by those persons who are known as "coaches" will almost invariably win. These competitions must not be compared with examinations at the universities or even at the public schools, because there you have a general variety of intellect with which the "coach" is incapable of dealing. But in the case of which I am speaking the class of intellect will be as ordinary and limited as the range of subjects, and the "coach" will be quite able to command both. Hence, any man of moderate capacity, if he can. only afford to pay for a tutor, will be almost certain of succeeding. Now, whatever were the faults of the old plan of nominations, it had at least this recommendation, that it scattered offices among men in all parts of the country. Every Member of Parliament, at one time or other, had one or two nominations; and if he was a very active and useful member, probably ho got more. Accordingly, the places were disseminated over the length and breadth of the land, without any distinction of class; and, on the whole, the body of men thus obtained worked well, with integrity and efficiency. But the practical effect of the system now proposed 366 would be to limit the candidates to one class of the people—those in large towns, who have the opportunity of preparing for the examination at the cheapest rate. I know that to a certain extent that has already happened. Therefore, I hope that people will open their eyes to the fact that the system of open competition, which appears to benefit the public at large by throwing the service open to them, really tends to convert it into the appanage of a small and particular class, with whom the bulk of the community are by their circumstances prevented from competing. When once this question is thoroughly examined and understood, I am satisfied that there will be a change of opinion as to the value of open competition. The people of this country ought not generally to be encouraged to look to the public offices as a means of livelihood. At first the system of competition was, no doubt, serviceable as an indirect agent in promoting national education; but education is now making such advances, that I do not think we need continue to resort to a stimulus of this kind. In the recent debates we were warned of the danger of banding the schoolmasters into an army of stipendiaries; but what an army of stipendiaries would be created under the system which my hon. Friend proposes. If you wish to sap the independence of the English people, I do not believe you can do so more effectually than by carrying out the principle of open competition.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he was somewhat surprised that the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had objected that the arguments against the present system advanced this year were the same as those advanced last year. That was a singular objection. It might be convenient for hon. Members who sat on the front bench to change their opinions every twelvemonth, but the repetition of the arguments in this case only showed that they were confirmed by the experience of another year. Then the noble Lord had said he did not think any of those arguments were of a formidable character, but he had failed to deal with any one of them. The noble Lord had compared the competitive system to a judicial tribunal, forgetting that no judicial tribunal claimed total immunity from responsibility, or carried on its proceedings with closed doors, as did the Civil Service Commissioners. Then the noble Lord had said it was not the practice to ask all the questions on the examination paper. If 367 hat were so, it would open the door to favouritism of a very objectionable character.
explained, that he had merely said that no candidate was expected to answer every question on the paper.
§ MR. BENTINCK
But the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War (Sir George Lewis) was, that there must be these difficult questions for the purpose of excluding a great number of candidates; and therefore the right hon. Gentleman defended the examination upon totally different grounds to those occupied by the noble Lord. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Lewis) had complained that attempts had been made to cover the subject with ridicule. But such attempts were quite unnecessary, for he would defy any hon. Gentleman to add to the amount of absurdity already involved in it. It was an absurdity to allow the Civil Service Commissioners to frame all the examinations of all the public departments for which they had to examine candidates. Was it possible they could be better judges than the heads of the various departments as to the requirements of the candidates for employment in the departments themselves? But a still greater absurdity was the fact, that by the operation of the present system a great many of the best men that could be obtained were excluded from a great many of the departments. It had been well and wisely said in a past debate that, "If that system had prevailed a few years ago, the Duke of Wellington would not have been a soldier, and Watt would not have been an engineer." That was summing up in the most conclusive manner the real objections to the system. By it a great many young men might be obtained, but what was wanted were young men of personal energy and activity. He did not mean to argue against those persons called bookworms, but there were many men who would prove of real service and value to the Crown, but who were unable to pass through these examinations. But the greatest objection to the whole system was, that it was at variance with what had always been the policy of the Government of this country. The Civil Service Commissioners enjoyed great irresponsibility, and monopolized all the patronage of the country. He had, himself, brought before the House last year a case, as to which all he asked was, that the House should be allowed to know on what grounds the Commissioners had rejected a particular 368 candidate who, he thought, had not been fairly dealt with. In reply to his request, the Commissioners had answered not only "We refuse to give any explanation or afford any information as to the mode of conducting any of our examinations, but we are of opinion, that if such an inquiry were to be permitted, our public utility would be impaired." The ground on which he asked the House to refuse its assent to the Resolution was, that it was conducted on a system utterly at variance with every other existing institution in the country.
§ MR. MORRISON
remarked, that some inconvenience might arise from the adoption of the Resolution of the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. Hennessy); but, so far as it affirmed the abstract proposition that the patronage of the Government ought not to be exercised from political considerations, he entirely concurred in it. As a very young Member of the House, he was hardly competent to speak of the practical working of a system of Government patronage; but the impression which prevailed out of doors was, that there was not much chance of a person being nominated for an appointment who was not friendly to those who sat on that (the Government) side of the House. He had not such a poor opinion of those constituencies which were so ill-judged as to return hon. Members sitting opposite to him, as to suppose that there were not among them persons of integrity and ability sufficient to afford valuable public service; and he would remind those who were most in favour of the system of Government patronage, that a time might come when their friends would be out of office, and when, probably, their opinions as to its expediency or propriety would undergo a change. As for heads of departments being made responsible for the subordinate employés, he did not see how that could be done, any more than the Postmaster General could be responsible for the honesty of the letter-carriers. He therefore thought, that if the present system of patronage were given up, and any other adopted, they would not lose so far as the efficiency and honesty of the public service was concerned. But he believed a change in the system might easily be devised without any cumbrous machinery, which would remove from Government patronage those objections so often urged against it. There was, however, a more important bearing on the 369 question. Looking to the future, he could not help thinking that in that democratic age, it was of great importance that those electors who had to vote for Members of that House should understand that deep responsibility rested upon them in giving their votes, and that they should not in giving their votes be influenced by any but public motives. But he believed the present system of giving nominations for Government situations for purely political considerations was productive of serious evils in many constituencies. At the same time he believed that the Government endeavoured to administer their patronage as purely as possible, and he could bear testimony that, at all events, they had given up jobbing in the dockyards. But he could not help looking to the future. And he believed the question which must sooner or later come before the House was that of admitting the lower classes to the exercise of the franchise. He did not wish to discuss the question of Reform; but one objection which was raised against it was that it would lower the character of the representatives of the people who were sent to that House. His belief was, that if a Reform Bill passed, there would be no sudden change, but that the operation, whether for good or evil, would be most gradual. But he could not help thinking that any means which could be devised of diminishing the power of individual Members in the way of pushing themselves or their friends into office would be very judicious. He did not mean to assert that what had occurred in America must occur here; but it was not without interest to observe that the first six Presidents of America had only discharged seventy-throe persons from public situations in forty-four years, and their public servants were good and faithful. But as soon as General Jackson was chosen President, he inaugurated a new system by which those who had in any way opposed his election were dismissed from office. The result was that in one year he dismissed nearly 2,000 men out of their situations. From that time he believed the same principle had been followed in the United States, and, in his opinion, from its adoption could be traced a rapid decline of the morality of the nation and the character of its public men He should not like such a thing to happen to this country, and he very much wished that we could get rid of the greatest reproach of our present constitution, that the party in power did strengthen its 370 position by the expenditure of public money and by giving situations to persons on account of their political opinions and without reference either to their merits or to their power of serving the country.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, I will not detain the House for more than a few minutes, as I do not rise with the intention of entering upon the general question. But there is one part of this system which seems to me to be open to serious objection, and of which I desire to have some explanation from those who are competent to give it. With regard to the general question, I entirely concur in the tribute which the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for War has paid to the existing Civil Service Commissioners. I have long had the honour of the acquaintance of both those Gentlemen, and I believe that no difficult public duty was ever discharged with more perfect fairness than theirs has been. I have never heard of even the slightest suspicion of unfairness; but if the competitive system were extended as my hon. Friend desires, I cannot help fearing that considerable difficulty might be experienced in carrying on the examinations in such a manner as to avoid the perpetration of great injustice. The particular point to which I wish to call attention is the practice which did prevail, and, I believe, still prevails, of compelling young men who have held the position of temporary clerks in our great offices to undergo a competitive examination, and run the risk of having certificates refused to them, before permitting them to be placed on the permanent establishment of clerks. Nothing can be more completely objectionable or unjust than such a system. When I was at the Admiralty a case of this kind came before me. A young man held the office of temporary clerk in one of the dockyards, and conducted himself extremely well. After remaining there some time he was transferred to the Admiralty offices at Whitehall, and attached to the shipbuilding department, under Sir Baldwin Walker. His conduct was so good that Sir Baldwin Walker made a special application that he might be appointed permanent clerk and attached to that department. I at once acceded to the request, feeling that Sir Baldwin Walker was entitled to the assistance of a man whom he had found to be practically valuable. I was then told it was essential to the completion of the appointment that this young man, who had been five or six years in the public 371 service, should pass through, a competitive examination in order to have his fitness tested. I refused to comply with such an extremely unreasonable requirement, and I requested a conference with the Commissioners on the subject. I put this question to them—"Suppose this young man fail in his examination before you, are you prepared to refuse his certificate? because if you do, and the circumstances are brought to the knowledge of Parliament, I cannot conceive anything more calculated to cast discredit on the whole system." What are these competitive examinations intended to do? To test the fitness of applicants for an office. It will be acknowledged, I think, that at best they are an imperfect test. They may be the best test that can be devised for an untried man, but nobody will ever tell me that competitive examinations are to be compared to actual experience, and to the proof of fitness afforded by actual service. The very fact of the time which this young man spent in the public service, where by his conduct he entitled himself to promotion, may have unfitted him for passing an examination. How could anything be more intolerant or unjust than to refuse a certificate under such circumstances? And I said to the Commissioners, "If you are not at liberty to refuse a certificate, why is the examination to be gone through?" I do not know what Member of the Government is supposed to be responsible for this system, but I appeal to the Government at large whether, in cases such as that to which I have referred, young men ought to be exposed to the absurd risk of having their Certificates refused. I shall be glad to hear that the system has been altered, if such be the case; but, if it still prevails, I appeal to the common sense of the House whether it is not high time that these unfair trials should be given up.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
Sir, perhaps I can best answer the question of the right hon. Gentleman, having had some recent experience of the nature he has referred to in my own department. The difficulty is greater than he has stated, inasmuch as it is felt not only with regard to competitive examinations, but all the ordinary test examinations of the Commissioners. It arises in this way. The Superannuation Act declares that no clerk shall be entitled to superannuation allowance unless he has received the certificate of the Civil Service Commissioners; and therefore, without that certificate, he would not be entitled 372 to a superannuation allowance on leaving the service. Temporary clerks were, prior to the establishment of the Civil Service Commission, generally appointed without any preliminary examination; and the question then is, whether they can be transferred to the permanent branch of the department without an examination. If they are so transferred, they are clearly not entitled to any superannuation allowance. There were a great many temporary clerks in the War Office, and, as the result of inquiries instituted by a Committee, it was recommended that a number of these should be transferred from the temporary to the permanent branch of the establishment. That change has been recently effected in the appointments to the Accountant General's Department, and then arose the difficulty which my right hon. Friend has just pointed out—namely, the injustice of subjecting to competitive examination clerks who, having been for some time in the public service, may be supposed to hare forgotten whatever literary attainments they possessed when they left school; or, at all events, who, if their attainments when young were not very extensive, have shown by their conduct in office their fitness for the position of public servants. It appeared to me, as it did to my right hon. Friend, that there was considerable hardship in subjecting those persons to a competitive examination, and, therefore, I decided, after conferring with the Civil Service Commissioners, that such temporary clerks should be subjected to a qualifying examination only if they had not previously qualified for the establishment. The Civil Service Commissioners admitted the justice of that view, and made arrangements by which they agreed to grant a certificate upon the candidates passing a qualifying examination.
said, that he was anxious to refute a libel quoted by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Vansittart), to the effect that the candidates for competitive examination who came from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin had neither the manners of gentlemen nor the physical capacity enabling them to ride or perform other duties entailed by the public service. He believed such a charge to be entirely unfounded. The qualities attributed by the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Cochrane) to a good public officer—namely, good principles, good habits, good judgment, general intelligence, and energy—reminded him of the 373 story of a gentleman who, when asked by a lady to select for her a governess possessing every virtue under the sun, replied that he had long been looking for such a piece of perfection to make her his wife. Those qualities could only be developed by; long experience and discovered by long acquaintance. He believed that competitive examinations had been of the greatest use in this country; they had not only kept out incompetent persons from public situations, but they promoted and elevated the standard of education among the middle classes. If he might use the expression, it had "brushed up" persons uncommonly when they found that mere political interest would not obtain for them an appointment. But, like all good things, a hobby might be ridden too far. An educational test was an excellent thing for all, situations where education formed the main requirement, but where education had little or no part in the duties to be fulfilled, such a test was not only unnecessary but often ludicrous. In his own district examinations were insisted upon in the case of post carriers, who had to walk twenty miles a day for the magnificent remuneration of 12s. a week; but it was found that those persons whose heads enabled them to pass the examination had not legs sufficiently strong to carry them through their work, while those whose legs were good enough for the purpose had not brains sufficient to undergo a stiff examination. In fact, the office was commonly confined to those who could only read and write. A test was likewise insisted upon in the case of boatmen for the Customs Department. Some time since he; was speaking to an officer high in that department, formerly a Member of that House, and, observing that he seemed in rather low spirits, he asked whether he was not satisfied with the couple of boat-men who had just been appointed after a preliminary examination. "Why, no," was the reply, "not exactly; they are a brace of schoolmasters who come from a midland county in England; they had never seen a boat in their lives before, and whenever a breeze gets up I am always afraid that we shall go to Davy's locker." Every morning ho read with interest, and some little uneasiness, the columns of The Times, to see whether some fatal accident had not occurred. For the Indian appointments he believed a better course could not be adopted than that of competitive examination. He was glad to find that the 374 hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Cochrane) did not adopt the argument of the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Vansittart), that good principles and sound judgment were incompatible with general intelligence and energy. He trusted the hon. Member for Windsor was not a disciple of the school founded by Ensign Northerton when he exclaimed "D—Homo!" He could assure the House that he was not acquainted with any one who had failed to pass an examination; but having looked through the papers used in the examination for the Indian Civil Service, he thought it would be servicable to the cause of competitive examination to have some of the questions brought under the notice of the House. When he read one of the papers drawn up by Mr. Knight Watson, it occured to him that some of the questions in it might very appropriately be published in that periodical which devoted itself to the elucidation of curious points of literature. He felt himself quite at sea in respect to some questions; but, not wishing to be written down that which Mr. Dogberry was so anxious to have himself written down, ha thought he would ask his right hon. Friend the Member for Sutherland (Sir D. Dundas) what he thought of the paper. That right hon. Gentleman was one of the most accomplished scholars in the House; but, in reply to an inquiry as to the character of the questions in that paper, he said, "I could not answer them, and there is not another man in the House who could answer them." He should like to hear what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War thought of those questions. He had a high opinion of the ability and acquirements of the right hon. Gentleman, whose work on the Astronomy of the Ancients he had recently read with great pleasure, but he believed that he would be unable to answer those questions, and he ventured to think that the same might be said of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), notwithstanding his brilliant literary talents and historical acumen. He had to observe also that some of the works which it would be necessary to consult, in order to answer questions given by Mr. Watson, might be found in the Library of the British Museum, the Bodleian, or other such libraries, but they were totally unknown to ordinary literature. Some of the papers used in the examination for the Civil Service of India were excellent; but there were questions put by Mr. Knight 375 Watson which referred only to some theory or crotchet of the examiner himself. For instance—"What is your conception of the character of Hamlet? Do you consider that any one of the dramatis personæ was introduced as a foil to Hamlet?" He had read, he believed all the Shakspearian commentators, and his opinion was that the crotchet displayed in that question was Mr. Knight Watson's. In the life of Turner, the great artist, lately published, it was stated that, in answer to, a question as to whether he had read Mr. Ruskin's praise of him, Turner replied that he was obliged to him; for all the civil things that he had said, but he had given him credit for so many things which had never entered his head that he would never read his books any more. He believed that Mr. Knight Watson was inclined to attribute to Shakspeare more than had ever entered into the poet's head. He did not wish to do the examiner any injustice, and he should therefore mention that at the head of Mr. Knight Watson's paper on English literature there was this note—"You are not expected to answer the whole of this paper. A wide range has been taken to suit the reading, necessarily, various, of different candidates." Mr. Knight Watson was a man of great learning and vast knowledge, and he did not wish it to be supposed that he meant to say anything unkind of him, but he must express his opinion, that if that learned examiner wrote a book explaining his own papers, he would produce as amusing a volume as that written by the Dean of Westminster, and one as interesting to the antiquary as any which Sir Francis Palgrave had produced. He would ask hon. Members to read those papers as a whole; and if when they had done so, they decided that they were such as ought to be set before young men leaving the Universities, he was content to suffer the censure of the House. He did not desire to decry the system of examination of candidates for the Civil Service; his wish was to render that system more satisfactory, by curbing some of the examiners in what he considered to be an anxiety for an unnecessary display of learning.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, that while he admitted that there ought to be a discriminating judgment exercised in respect of the nature of the examination to which a particular class of candidates were to be subjected, he could not understand the argument sometimes used, that a young man 376 who had been distinguished in college for industry and attainments must become good for nothing when he entered the Civil Service. In every branch of the Civil Service he knew young men who had been successful and remarkable for their good conduct during their University career, and who were equally so in the discharge of their official duties. It appeared to him that that was just what might be expected in most canes.
§ MR. MARSH
said, that on looking to the result of the civil service examination at Woolwich, he found that scarcely any boy who had been at an English university or public school had received an appointment. It was very desirable that young men educated at those universities and schools should have an opportunity of entering the public service; and he suggested that at the examination they should have given to them, at starting, a certain number of marks.
§ MR. STEUART
observed; that the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for King's County as explained by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for War, was a very different thing from the same Motion as explained by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. The House would remember that for some ten or fifteen clerkships in the India House there had been a very large number of competitors. That showed that a competitive examination was not only beneficial to the successful candidates, but also to the many whom it stimulated to study the subjects required. He trusted that the Amendment would be withdrawn; and he might have been inclined to vote with the right hon. Gentleman who intimated his wish to move the Previous Question, were it not that he observed that the arguments proceeding from the Treasury bench were the same stereotyped arguments which had been used on former occasions. The present limited system of competition was a delusion, and he hoped that the House, by supporting the original Motion, would to some extent encourage the system of open competition, which would prove a great stimulus to education among the working and lower middle classes. In reference to some observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) he begged to say that in communicating with the Commissioners he experienced the greatest courtesy, and found them willing to enter into a discussion relative to the nature of the examination papers, and 377 to give such general information as they thought they might do, consistently with justice to others.
§ MR. POLLARD-URQUHART
said, he must deny that the training necessary for success in competitive examinations un-suited persons for the active and vigorous pursuits of life. He observed that a great number of the cricketers belonging to Trinity College, Dublin, obtained honours at the University; and he believed that the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Walpole), who was so distinguished for his acquirements, offered while at college to pull a boat, together with his three brothers, against any other for brothers in the kingdom. If anything placed people in the outlying districts on a level with those living near head quarters, it was the system of competitive examination. He therefore concurred in the principle of the Motion proposed by the hon. Member for King's County, but he doubted whether it was not rather prematurely pressed forward at present, and he hoped it would be withdrawn.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, the question as to the desirability or non-desirability of examinations did not at all apply, because, as ho understood the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War to state, it was the intention of the Government to carry out that portion of the report of the Commissioners which stated that in all cases there should be a limited bonâ fide competition for all appointments to the Civil Service, by which he meant, that the three persons who competed should each have passed a previous test examination. It had been said that the Government ought to act on the same principle in making these appointments that private establishments went upon in appointing their clerks, and who ever heard of competitive examinations for appointments in private establishments? But ministers were not in the position of masters of private establishments. They themselves were but servants of the Crown, though of a higher class, and the tenure of their servitude was but precarious; and to suppose that they had no other inducements in making appointments except to promote the efficiency of the public service was what no one could believe. He believed that the great dislike to open competition arose from its being thought it would introduce a different class of men into the service. No doubt there was a great deal to be said against that, if it were so. It was said that there was no instance under the exist- 378 ing system of the secrets of the Service haying ever been betrayed. But that was not the fact, for he remembered that when Sir W. Young went out as High Commissioner to Corfu, a private, despatch from him appeared in a newspaper. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: It was stolen.] He was of opinion that if a high standard of examination were fixed, and the competition were open, as in the case of the Indian Civil Service, the persons so appointed would be pretty nearly of the same class as those who now occupied that position. He believed that the notion that open competition would introduce a new class of persons was not justified by analogous experience. The Motion of his hon. Friend was of the greatest possible importance, as carrying out the report of the Civil Service Committee on which he sat, that there should be always a bonâ fide competition between three or five candidates for each appointment, and that occasional experiments of free and open competition for admission to junior clerkships should from time to time be made. They were not asking that the whole Civil Service should be thrown open, but that step by step they should endeavour to net as much talent from every part of the United Kingdom as they could, and that the various systems of nomination should gradually disappear.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he had been anxious to say a few words on this subject, because it happened that during the recess he had heard a great deal with reference to it. He believed that the common sense of this country (no very slight element of strength) was rapidly approaching the conclusions expressed in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Honiton. There were two or three matters which had almost become axiomatic. One was that useful education and instruction preparatory for these competitive examinations were two very different things. Another axiom was that the examiners were rapidly acquiring the title of the Secret Service Examiners. The House was perfectly aware, when public thought became expressed in this terse manner, it had been matured. Another feeling was, that the Government of this country was finding this system a means of evading responsibility while really exercising patronage. That was important, for, however obnoxious the system of public patronage for political purposes might 379 be, it had this merit, that it entailed responsibility, which was exacted in the House. The system of political patronage created not one half the mistrust which he saw growing up under this system. If the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) thought fit to divide, he should vote with him; at the same time, he did not think that by taking a division they would hasten the progress of public opinion on this question, but that in the course of two or three years these views would become more general.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
, in reply to the remark made by the hon. Member for Honiton, to the effect that the officers of the army had deteriorated since the system of public competition had been introduced, contended that the statement was erroneous, observing that the whole of the scientific corps were introduced into the service through the medium of competition. He felt quite sure, he might add, that his right hon. Friend the Secretary for India would not say that the system as introduced by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn into the scientific corps in India had not answered its purpose. For his own part, he could bear testimony to the fact, that having been public examiner at the time, the candidates who presented themselves were far superior to those put forward by nomination. Indeed, so far as conduct and science went, it was undeniable that those officers who had been introduced by means of open competition were most meritorious. Now, it had been stated by the hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) that the heads of departments gave no information to the examiners as to the nature of the duties to be performed by candidates, if admitted. The fact was, however, that the most explicit information was given on that head, while it was also a mistake to suppose that a large amount of patronage was thrown into the hands of the Commissioners. They based their decision on the report of the examiners, whose examination papers, in their turn, the Commissioners duly investigated.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he understood it to be convenient to the House that he should withdraw his Amendment, and that a division should be taken on the Motion of the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy). That being so, he was prepared to withdraw his Motion, but of course the House would un- 380 derstand the reason for his adopting that course, and would bear in mind the circumstances under which they were called upon to divide.
§ MR. PUGH
said, he should have great pleasure in, supporting the Resolution pure and simple, and he had more confidence in doing so, because he felt that they were treading on no untried or unexplored ground; for the question was not now between patronage on the one hand and competition on the other, but between open competition and limited competition: and having read with attention the Report on this subject, and the evidence appended to it, he was not surprised to find that the present system of limited competition had very few friends indeed. It had been stated by high authority that it was useless to the Government. To Members of Parliament it was inconvenient and irksome; for nominations to compete were in the great majority of cases nominations to failure and disappointment. That such patronage was exceedingly distasteful to them he was as thoroughly convinced as he could be of any truth of which, he had no personal experience. It was now too late in the day to say that open competition would not work well. It had been successful in the scientific branches of the army, and in the Indian Civil Service. In the course of the discussion on the opening of that service to public competition, Lord Ellenborough, himself an advocate for the principle, is reported to have said, "I feel the vanity of examination when applied to the discovery of abilities for administering an empire." But the Legislature did so apply it, with what success they had heard. If they did not shrink from the experiment in that service whose appointments were beyond their immediate control, why should they hesitate here where in case of any temporary failure the statesmen were at home and ready to apply the remedy. In the preceding Session, and in this, they had heard with pleasure a voice from the Horse Guards in favour of the system; and last, not least, they had the authority of the House of Commons; which, on the 24th of April, 1856, passed a Resolution in favour of open competition. He did not agree that the recent controversy on education afforded an argument against the Resolution. The object of the controversy was to obtain a maximum of education for a minimum, of expenditure. The object of the Resolution was to obtain a maximum 381 of education without any expenditure at all, for it would give a stimulus to education. And how much better it was to impress on the young men of this country that they must gain their advancement by the industrious cultivation of their intellect, rather than by wasting their time in the antechamber of a Minister, or by following the fortunes of a Member of Parliament, or courting too assiduously the dispensers, for the time being, of patronage and preferment.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that if the hon. Member for Honiton would allow his Amendment to be negatived without opposition, the House would then have an opportunity of dividing upon the Previous Question.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Previous Question put, "That that Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 66; Noes 87: Majority 21.