HC Deb 16 June 1864 vol 175 cc1841-81

said, he rose to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the construction, the expense, and the working of the Board of Charity Commissioners. He hoped he should be able to make out such a case as would induce a large majority to support him on a division should the Government oppose his Motion. And he was the more encouraged to propose his Motion from the fact, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had repeatedly during the present Session called on hen. Members on both sides of the House to assist him in reducing the expenditure of the country, without which it was impossible to keep it within proper limits. Not long since the Chancellor of the Exchequer attacked several hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House for having shown, as he stated, a disposition to increase the expenditure of the country without just grounds; and although he entirely differed from the right hon. Gentleman in that opinion, it the more fortified him in the conviction that he should have the right hon. Gentleman's support if he found it necessary to divide the House. The hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Marsh), in an able speech, had lately reviewed the expenditure of the country; and the Secretary of the Treasury, in reply to him, stated that he would give his support to any hon. Member who brought forward any instance of an unjust and improper application of the taxes; and, therefore, he also looked to that right hon. Gentleman for his support on that occasion. When the Charity Board was formed under the Act of 1853, Her Majesty's Government distinctly stated that in nil probability the expenses of the Board would not amount to more than between £5,000 and £6,000 per annum, but the expenses this year, according to the Votes, amounted to the enormous sum of £18,250. In 1830, when the Tories were driven from power by the Whig cry of "peace, retrenchment, and reform," the civil service expenditure only amounted to £1,872,000; but it then amounted to no less a sum than£8,000,000. Out of the thirty years the Whigs had held office twenty-seven years, and there could be no doubt whatever that a great portion of the increased expenditure had arisen from jobbery of the gravest kind on the part of Whig Governments during that period. Now as to the construction of the Charity Board. The Charity Board had been in existence ten years. It was a secret tribunal, with the proceedings of which the public were unacquainted except from the very meagre accounts that were annually laid by them upon the table of the House. At the commencement of the Session he asked for a return of the names, salaries, and trades or professions of the members of the Board; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), though willing to furnish the names of the members and the amount of salary which each received, thought it his duty to resist the latter part of his Motion; but he (Mr. Ferrand) would have occasion before he concluded to call attention to the trade or profession of some of the members. The Return on the table justified the expression he had used in moving for it—that the Board was "a snug nest of Whigs." There were no less than forty persons connected with the Board, every one of whom, with a single exception, belonged to the Whing party There had been grievous complaints for a length of time made against the Charity Board. Since he gave notice of his intention to bring its construction and its Working under the notice of the House, he had received hundreds of letters from various parts of the country complaining of the manner in which the affairs connected with that Board were carried out to the injury of the Various charities. In those communications the Commissioners were charged with negligence, ignorance, offensive letter writing, maladministration, misappropriation, and political partisanship. The Inspectors were charged with dereliction of duty and drawing up false Reports. When the moved for this Return the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) declared that the members of the Board were among the most industrious, honourable, and valuable of Her Majesty's public Servants. There was a great difference between the opinion of the public and the opinion of the unpaid Commissioner who represented that Board in the House of Commons, and he would endeavour to show who Was nearer the truth The Board of Charity Commissioners was originally intended to superintend the various charities in the country, to be a court of appeal, to receive addresses, and hear and determine calls for assistance. But by various Bills introduced into that House in two or three instances, daring the last few days of the Session of Parliament, the Board had become possessed of the most unconstitutional powers. The Commissioners and the Inspectors were clothed with judicial powers. They had the right to go into any part of England and Wales, and there hold courts, to summon before them persons of all ranks and all classes residing within ten miles; if they should be of opinion that a witness had given false evidence they had power to order him to be indicted for a misdemeanor; and if any witness so summoned should refuse to attend, they had the power of declaring him guilty of contempt of the Court of Chancery. These were great powers for any person or any body in this country to possess, powers which were never possessed by any Board or any body of officers previous to the construction of the Board of Charity Commissioners. Beyond that, it was necessary that the Charity Commissioners and Inspectors should be men of the highest integrity and honour, and probity, for they had to inquire into charities possessed of a large amount of property; they had to inquire into charges of dereliction, maladministration, and misappropriation of the funds. There was, however, an opinion abroad that these Commissioners and Inspectors, as he had before shown, had neglected their duty in the grossest manner. He would confirm that statement as far as his own neighbourhood was concerned, and he had been urged by various parties in Yorkshire to bring the question before the House of Commons. He had been told by his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Malins) that the Commissioners were highly respectable, honourable, and eminent men, and that one of their body was brother to Lord Chief Justice Erle. He had never disputed that Mr. Erle was the brother of the Lord Chief Justice. He had merely said that the Commissioners had not done their duty as they ought to have done. The question was not as to their eminence or respectability. The question was, had they faithfully, diligently, honestly, effectually discharged the duties imposed upon them by the House of Commons when the Board was constructed? Before the present Board was constructed in 1853, all the preliminary work had been done for them, and their labour ought to be very light. The House was little aware of the large sums which the Government had paid for inquiries into the state of the charities. In 1818 Lord Brougham, than Mr. Brougham, who had taken great interest in the subject of charities, obtained the appointment of ten Commissioners under the title of the Charitable Trusts Commissioners to inquire into the charities; the Commission lasted eleven years; and each Commissioner received by Act of Parliament £1,000 a year, besides £800 a year for expenses. The total sum allowed between the years 1818 and 1831 for expenses amounted to the enormous sum of £198,000. That Commission expired in 1830. In 1831 Lord Brougham, still a Member of the House of Commons, obtained an Act for renewing the Commission till 1834; and the total cost during that interval was £72,000. In 1835, the time when Whig Commissioners, like a flight of locusts, seized on the taxes of this country, a Commission of thirty Commissioners was appointed, twenty of whom were paid out of the civil service fund. That Commission expired in two years, in 1837. The expenses amounted to £45,695. The total sum paid to Commissioners for inquiring into the public charities of the kingdom up to 1835 amounted to £315,690, which gave an average of twelve guineas for each of the charities of England and Wales. Besides these enormous grants, there was the cost of planting thirty eight folio volumes of Reports, in which the results of the inquiries were embodied, and which he believed would take fifty years for any hon. Member to read through. The result was that £1,000,000 worth of charity property was recovered from those who had unjustly taken possession of it. The number of all the charities in the kingdom was 28,484, of which number more than 22,000 were below £30 a year, and 25,000 of these charities were subject to the control of the Board of Charity Commissioners. The whole of the charities were possessed of property to the value of £35,000,000, and an annual income of about £1,500,000. Such was the state of the charities in 1851, when a Bill was brought in by the Whig Government to superintend the charities. It did not propose to construct a Board such as that which now existed. The Commissioners were to superintend the charities, leaving it to the Trustees of each to attend to the charity and administer the funds. That Bill did not become law. In 1852 a like Bill to superintend the charities was brought in by the Earl of Derby's Government, but the Attorney General of that day failed to pass the Bill through Committee, But in 1853 the Whig Government brought in the Bill under which the Board was constituted; and he would read to the House a few extracts from the debates on the measure, for the purpose of showing the pledges given by the Government when they induced Parliament to pass the Bill. When a Government stood before Parliament for the purpose of inducing them to agree to a measure of an important description, the Members of that and the other House listened to the grounds on which the assent of Parliament was solicited. If a Minister stood up and stated distinctly that it was the intention of Government to carry out such and such a course, Parliament credited his word, and the Bill became law. The Whig Government, by their Lord Chancellor, introduced the Bill of 1853, declaring that "the duties of the Board would be to exercise a general superintendence over all the charities of the kingdom at no expense to any." When he (Mr. Ferrand) stated on his Motion for Returns early in the Session, that the funds of some of the charities were being swallowed up by the expenses, the right hon. Gentleman oppo- site (Mr. Lowe) stood up and declared that the charities were not put to a farthing ot expense. The Lord Chancellor went on to say that "the Board was to consist of three Commissioners one secretary, and two legal gentlemen of high attainments, upon whom, of course, the more laborious part of the business, would devolve as Inspectors, who were to go in to the country and bring justice home to the doors of the different charities. He also stated that "the total expense would probably not be more than £.5,000 or £6,000 a year, and that it should be paid out of the public exchequer," Was that pledge kept when they found, as he had already stated, that the expense of the Board during the past year amounted to no less than £18,250 In Opposition it was strongly objected that the powers given by the Bill were never contemplated by the Charity Commissioners—no more they were—that up to that time such powers had never before been intrusted to individuals in this country— that it would be a political party Board, and could never possess public confidence. That was the opinion of the two noble Lords who opposed the Bill. The Bill was read a second time, and referred to a Select Committee of the House of Lords. That was early in May 1853. On August the 2nd, the second reading of the Bill was moved in that House by Lord John Russell. His Lord ship stated that the Bill had been introduced into the other House by the Lord Chancellor, and had been referred to a Select Committee. Now, he (Mr. Ferrand) asked the attention of the House while he read to them the Report of that Select Committee, which the Government in both Houses had pledged themselves to abide by when the Board was constituted. It was the opinion of the Committee That it would be better that the question of general expenditure and administration of charities should be altogether separated from any political question and from the interest of any party. How had that pledge been kept? It had been distinctly and deliberately broken in every appointment. There was only a single man connected with the Board who was even tinged with Conservative principles. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen might laugh, but when the ward of a Cabinet Minister and a solemn pledge given to the House of Commons were broken, it was no laughing matter to the country. However, it seemed to have been long thought that the word of honour of a Cabinet Minister was worth nothing unless so far as it kept a Govern- ment in office. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said the other day that he was constantly receiving letters from householders complaining that they were sold up in order to pay the: taxes, and that it made his heart bleed to read them He would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite who laughed, how many of these poor creatures might not hare been sold up in order to raise the £18,250. to pay the: expenses of the Commissioners? The noble Lord also said that though three Commissioners were framed in the Bill probably after a time so many would not be required, and he would therefore introduce a clause by which, in. 1857. one of the Commissionerships would cease and determine The removal of that Commissioner would have reduced the expense to about £3800. since the whole was not to exceed £5,000 or £6000 according to the Lord chancellor. These were the statements made in 1853. But a most extraordinary circumstance happened in 1855, in defiance of all those pledges of economy made by the Whig Government to Parliament They came before the House, and asked for another Act for further construction of the Board And now he would refer to proceedings connected with the discussion of that Bill which would create in the minds of hon. Members a grave Suspicion that the Bill was nothing in the world but a gross and scandalous job. When he moved for the Returns the other day, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) complained that he used violent language He was determined when he: brought public grievance before the House to use language strong enough to make known what be thought, but not to use any expressions which might be offensive to any one in it On the 16th of April, 1855, the Lord Chancellor introduced a measure to tally different from that of 1853. He entered fully into the details of the measure and went through clause after clause, explaining the intention of Government. The Bill gave arbitrary and unconstitutional powers to the Board, converting it into, a sort of star chamber, and appointed permanently a third Commissioner, whose office was to have expired in 1857. When the Bill was brought into the House of Lords, there was not a clause in it which related to the appointment additional Inspectors. He asked particular attention to that circumstance, because before he should sit down he should have to make statements which he was prepared to prove before a Select Committee. In the annual Report of the Commissioners, laid upon the table at the commencement of that year, they expressed regret at the death of Mr. Jones, the third Commissioner, who was to retire in 1857, but did not say a word about the appointment of further Inspectors. The Bill was brought into that House on the 2nd of August, but there was no discussion upon it until the 11th, within some ten days of the close of the Session. The Attorney General of the day, Sir Alexander Cockburn, proposed that the second reading should be agreed to without opposition. The hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) strongly objected on account of the centralizing, powers of the Bill; but the fight hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary asked him to postpone his objections till the Bill was in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks (Mr. Disraeli) said that the objections, affected the principle of the Bill, and ought to be discussed upon the second reading. The noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston) stated that the real object of the Bill was to invent the Commissioners with certain powers which would prevent the certain power which would long, expensive, and, multiplied Chancery suits. That Was the real object according to the noble Lord, but before he sat down he would show the House what the real object was. The House believed the noble Lord, they took his world there was no discussion, and the second reading took, place. Some days afterwards, on the 6th of August, a, further discussion took place, on the order of the day for going into the Committee, and the Attorney General said that the salary of one of the Commissioners would drop at the end of the year. Now, that was an untrue statement of the Attorney General, Let the House mark what followed. The Attorney General said— It having been found that the present number of the Inspectors Was too limited, it was proposed to take powers in the present Bill to add to them. How had that been found? Who had found that out? The Commons had never found it out. The Lords had never found it out. He would tell the House by-and-bye. The hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) said he Could not help thinking that an attempt was being made to smuggle the measure through the House. He gave the hon. Member credit for his acuteness. It was an attempt to smuggle the Bill through the House. The hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Mr. Cairns) said, that He hoped the House would not extend the powers of the Commissioners except upon a well matured plan which had been considered by a Select Committee. The right hen. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) Protested against the unconstitutional powers. The same Law Officers had in the space of two years brought forward entirely distinct and different measures. It would be best to improve the present system and let it work in public, which was the only security. There were three committees sitting in St. James's Square. There might be (he proceeded) three angels sitting in Lincoln's Inn Fields, but if they sat in private the public would not be satisfied. A great many of the charity trustees had bees accused of applying the funds to political purposes, and things done in secret conclave would assuredly be suspected. In the present form the measure Would tend to swallow up charities. The Whig Government, after the remarks of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire, saw that their Bill wire in danger, and that their gross job for the appointment of Charity Inspectors was about to be lost, And What did they do? They gave the whole of the clauses which were stated by the noble Lord at the head of the Government to be the real object of the Bill, and a hope was expressed that the House would go inter Committee. The House was again ham bugged, and the Bill passed through Committee. On the 11th of August the Bill was sent to the House of Lords, and the clause authorizing the three Inspectors was agreed to—probably not half-a-dozen Members being present. The Commissioners were appointed on the 30th October. But when were the Inspectors appointed? Why, those Inspectors who, in August, 1855, it was stated were absolutely necessary for the performance of the duty, were not appointed until eight months afterwards. They were not appointed until the 26th April in the following year, and he would presently inform the House why that delay took place. He would, in the next place, refer to the Board, and hold up to view that snug nest of Whigs. Hon. Members were indebted to him for knowing anything about the interior of the Board, for he had had a hard struggle to wring the Return from the Government. Lord John Russell had said that the Select Committee of the House of Lords were of opinion that it would be better to separate the general administration of charities from any political feeling. However, in October, in 1853 the Board was constituted in the following way:—Peter Erle, Queen's Counsel, Chief Commissioner, with £1,500 a year—a Whig; James Hill, first paid Commissioner, with £1,200 a year—a Whig; R. Jones, with,£1,200 a year—a Whig, Now, he had not a word to say against these gentlemen in their private capacity, He understood that all the lawyers who ware M. P's. had come dawn to the House to defend Mr. Erle. He believed hint to be an honourable man and a perfect gentleman. He had never met Mr. Erle but once and that was at the Charity Board, and he acknowledged that Mr. Erle was a gentleman of great urbanity; but the question now was, had he done his duty? Mr. Hill, he believed, was an eminent counsel at the time of his appointment, and Mr. Jones was a respectable clergyman though why a clergyman was placed on the Charity Board he could not conceive, unless it was for being a Whig. Next, there was Henry Morgan Vane, the secretary, with a salary of £800, and there existed a strong opinion in the country that he was neglecting his duty. Then came Mr. Hare, a barrister, with £800, and the last appointed in 1853 was Mr. Skirrow, jun., with £800 a year. From his early boyhood he had known Mr. Skirrow, and he could safely say that he was an honourable man and he had heard people say that Mr. Skirrow was the working head of the Board and that if it were not for him the Board would come to a standstill. If these gentlemen had conducted the affairs of the Board properly, the Select Committee he asked for would, no doubt, report so to the House. He then came to the Act of 1855, by which Mr. Campbell, the Queen's Counsel, was appointed permanent Commissioner with a salary of £1,200 a year, in direct violation of the pledge given to Parliament that the appointment should cease in 1857. With regard to the three Inspectors—the men, who were absolutely necessary in August, 1855, but who, nevertheless, were not appointed until April, 1856—he could safely say that it was the general opinion in many parts of the country that Mr. Martin had grossly failed in the performance of his duty. That Mr. Martin had been a partisan, he could say from his own knowledge. Mr. Boase, the second Inspector, was electioneering agent in the previous year to the private Secretary of the present Prime Minister. On a former occasion he had mentioned circumstances connected with that gentleman's conduct to Sir John Trelawny at the election of 1854, which Mr. Boase had never ventured to contradict, though the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Bernal Osborne) had said that the statement was all wrong. New, if he had said anything wrong, he would he ready to retract it, but he made the statement on the authority of public letters in the newspapers and other Communications. Mr. Boase published a letter in The Times, stating that he had not deserted Sir John Trelawny, but he admitted that he was appointed Inspector because he was electioneering agent to the private Secretary of the Prime Minister, Was that a proper person to be appointed an Inspector in the teeth of Lord John Russell's declaration that the Board was not to be mixed up with party politics? It was openly stated in. the West of England that the private Secretary of the noble Lord had paid his election Expenses out of that appointment. Now if the House should consent to the appointment of the Committee he believed that Circumstances would come out which would prove anything but creditable to the noble Lord. He now came to the third Inspector —Mr. John Simons—who was described by the right hon. Member for Calne when he last addressed the House on the subject as "a gentleman who had not been brought up, as far as he knew, to anything." Did the right hon. Gentleman consider it his duty, as the head of the Charity Board, to ring his bell and say to Mr. John Simons. "I am going down to the House of Commons to oppose the return, of the Member for Devonport he has asked for the professions, trades, and callings of the members of the Board; and I am going to tell the House that the three, Commissioners are all eminent men; and with respect to the Inspectors, that three of them are barristers, another is solicitor —pray what are yon?" The right hen. Gentleman told the House that far as he was aware, Mr. Simons had not been brought up to anything. New he (Mr. Ferrand) would tell the House who Mr. Simons really was, what he bad been, and, show how the public taxes were squandered those Whigs who were so, deeply pledged to retrenchment. The gentlemen referred to was, not Mr. John Simons, He was Mr. John Simons, jun. [Cries of "oh, oh!] Hon. Gentleman should not halloo before they were out of the wood. This Mr. John Simons, jun, was an uneducated man; he could write indifferently, but he could, not spell. That person was clothed with judicial, powers. He had a right to hold a court in any part of England and Wales, to summon before him Peers of the realm, Members of; this House, the Speaker himself when he left the chair, to administer oaths, to examine and cross-examine. If he thought a witness had not given, his evidence satisfactorily he could order that he should be prosecuted for perjury, and if any one failed to attend before him he could have him committed for contempt of Chancery. This man had also the power of examining into Charities of enormous wealth. Now, as he had said, a Charity Inspector ought to be a man of the highest integrity and honour; and above all, when he had to come in Contact with trustees against whom charges were made. Well, this John; Simons, jun., was a coal and potato dealer in the Hampstead Road. [A laugh.] "There should be no mistake about it. Here was his card. [The hon. Member held up, a card,] If was, as black as coal, and as dirty as a rotten potato. In fact, it might have lain; for twelve months on the floor of a, grocers shop or been nailed to a; costermonger's barrow The card was as follows:—"John Simons, jun., coal merchant Bridge Wharf, Regent's Canal, Hampstead Road." In 1853 he was a coal and potato, dealer. At the end of the year he fled from his creditors to Australia. While there he was reduced to, beggary, and worked as a hired labourer In July, 1855, Mr. Wood, the chairman of; the Inland Revenue Board, was dangerously ill. It was intended that John Simons, jun., should be appointed in his place with a salary of £2,000 a year. But Mr. Wood did not then die, and Sir George Cornwall Lewis was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Wood lived till the October of the following year. Therefore it was decided that the coal and potato dealer should be provided for by the Charitable Trusts Amendment Act, which was then before Parliament, and a place was secured for him as a third Charity Inspector, with a salary of £800 a year. The Act received the Royal Assent on the 14th of August. John Simons, jun., was immediately written to, and desired to come home, "for a lucrative Government office had been provided for him by one of the highest in the land." He arrived in England early in 1856, and had to undergo two months preparation before his friends dared to let him enter the office of the Charity Board. He was then recommended to Her Majesty as duly qualified, and appointed by the Queen on the 21st April, all three appointments of Inspectors having been kept vacant for eight mouths until he returned to England and was prepared, although the Attorney General had declared, on the 6th August in the preceding year, that their immediate appointment was absolutely necessary for the administration of the law. Now, he had written down all these facts in order, if the House desired it. that the document might be laid on the table and sent to the Select Committee, before which he was prepared to substantiate every word of it. One of this Charity Inspector's creditors, to whom he owed £2,800, which he had received as his agent, heard of his return to England and his lucrative appointment. The gentleman to whom he referred was one of the most eminent members of the Coal Exchange, and a person of the highest honour and integrity, and he was ready to go before the Select Committee, if it were appointed, and make good every word in the paper with which his name was connected. He was quite prepared to give his name to the House if any one asked for it, or to mention it to any Member who chose to ask him for it after he sat down, The gentleman was not afraid of his name being known. Perhaps some Member of the Government might say "Name him…" If so, he would do it at once. Knowing the character of the new Inspector and his unfitness, the gentleman could not credit the announcement he had seen. He would as soon have expected a costermonger to be appointed. He went to the office in St. James's Square, and to his amazement there was his runaway debtor. He demanded his money. The Inspector pleaded poverty and hard pressure from others. He declared he was living in 8s. a week lodgings. His creditor found out that he was living in a large, well-furnished house. In 1857 he was sued for this debt, and this Charity Inspector, with a salary of £800 a year, who was described by the right hon. Member for Calne as amongst the most industrious, honourable, and valuable of Her Majesty's public servants, pleaded the Statute of Limitations, and defrauded his creditor. On the 24th June, 1859, the present Prime Minister was gazetted First Lord of the Treasury, and on the following day the Hampstead Road coal and potato dealer, the runaway fraudulent debtor, the Australian day labourer, the uneducated Charity Inspector, the Statute of Limitations pleader, was presented to Her Majesty by Viscount Palmerston, who stood by and witnessed this insult to his Sovereign. Mark what followed! This corrupt appointment was connected with a scandalous transaction in which a Cabinet Minister was deeply implicated. He was prepared to name him. Did any one ask it? ["Name!"] It was the noble Viscount opposite who was concerned in this affair for which the taxpayers had already been plundered of £6,000, and were now paying £800 a year. As he had said, he was prepared to put the paper from which he had read these things on the table, if any one would take the necessary steps to have it laid there. It would then become a Parliamentary paper to which his name was pledged, and if he did not prove its truth in all its material bearings he was unworthy of a seat in the House. Where was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had taunted them across the floor with being spendthrifts of the public money? Why was he not present sitting on the Treasury Bench and looking at the noble Lord, instead of at the Benches opposite? If the right hon. Gentleman had been present he should have told him that it was his duty, as guardian of the national exchequer, to summon a meeting of the Cabinet for the following day, to insist upon a distinct, a positive, a truthful statement from the noble Lord of all the facts connected with that gross, this odious, this iniquitous appointment; and if he spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, the next day's sun would set upon a broken-up Cabinet and a dissolved Ministry; or if the Chancellor of the Exchequer remained in office after he had heard all the circumstances connected with this affair, his character as a public man in England would be gone, he would be unworthy of his office, and he would fall into the deepest pit of degradation and debasement by continuing a member of a Ministry at the head of which was the noble Lord. He had understood his Motion was to be opposed. It could not be opposed now without the Government suffering an ignominious defeat. If they attempted to divide the House he would appeal to the financial reformers who sat below the gangway, whether he had not made out a case already (and he could say much more) for an inquiry by a Select Committee. He had done with the appointments of 1855. He trusted he had convinced the House what was the reason why the three Inspectors were not appointed till April, 1856, when John Simons, jun., got his place. He would go to the other appointments. There was Mr. Good, the chief clerk, who was a Whig, with £660 a year. The next appointment involved a violation of the law. There was no authority whatever to establish an ac- countant The Act said there should be Commissioners Inspectors, Clerks, and Messengers; but there was not a word about Accountant Not long ago he heard it said that some one suspected of a tinge of Conservatism had got into that nest of Whigs, and had made the nest very uncomfortable. He feared they had quickly inoculated the intruder; and, at any rate, it could not be this person for whom the snug berth of accountant was provided. He entered office with a salary of £300; which was raised in the next year to £400, which was now £550, and which was every year increasing so that he did not know where it would stop. Who did the House suppose got that snug appointment contrary to law? William Goodenough Hayter; not right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells, but his nephew. Now, was not that he would ask, too bad for a retrenchment Government? Was it not a job, a job of which nothing would have been known had he not made a violent speech on the 12th of February? Next came the first clerk, T. W. Erle, who he supposed was a son of Peter. That, however was not all. Another office had been created in direct violation of the law, that of Record' Keeper. There was no such appointment mentioned in the Act of Parliament. The salary was £332 per annum. The office was held by E. K. Greville, who he was told was a Whig, and he had no doubt of it. After that come eight first-class, eleven second-class clerks, and nine third-class clerks, making twenty-eight altogether— two-thirds of the appointments being gross jobs. He would next advert to the expenses of the Board, which had gone on increasing they in the present year amounted to £18243, though a pledge had been given on the part of the Government that they should not exceed £5,000 or £6,000. Of the £18,243 the sum of £7,060 was for appointment made by the Commissioners being made permanent by the Act of 1855, had cost the ratepayers of the country £8,400, and the additional three jobbed Inspectors at the rate of £3,600 annually. The total expense of the present Board already amounted, he might add, to £181,224; the expense of the commissioners before the Board to £315,690. the entire cost not including the printing of thirty-eight close folio volumes and other Parliamentary papers, being thus £496,914. That being the expenditure of the Board, he was anxious, as briefly as he could, to show what had been the working of the Board. Let it be borne in mind that the Inspectors were to be the working power of the Board. They were to go through the country, to visit the different Charities, and bring justice to the doors of the people in every part of England and Wales. On the 14th of August, 1854, the first annual Report of the Commissioners was placed upon the table of that House. It was then stated that they had distributed 15,000 circulars previous to the 31st December, and that there were thirty or forty cases in which their advice and assistance had been asked. There was no statement that the Inspectors had visited one. In their second Report, in 1855, they stated that were 1,100 special applications. The Inspectors investigated the circumstances of about 800. That was the only time in which the numbers were mentioned. In 1856 the Report stated that there were 864 applications. It did not mention the number of charities inspected, but said "very numerous." They said they anticipated great advantage from trustees being obliged to submit parochial charities to public audit in the vestries. In 1857 the Report stated that the were 1,007 particular cases. They said the Inspectors had "proceeded with the investigation of charities in various localities." They were getting fine by degrees and beautifully less with their information. According to the fifth annual Report there were 948 special applications. The Commissioners said that The investigation of charities has been actively proceeded with by the Inspectors under our direction in those places where such an investigation has appeared to be most requisite. That was the last Report in which the Inspectors were mentioned until 1864, after he had given notice of his intention to bring their conduct before the House. A Report was soon laid on the table, on the 26th of April, in which it was stated that They have been actively engaged under our direction in investigating the circumstances of various foundations, particularly several important charities in and near the metropolis. He had taken considerable pains to find out they had been doing, and in the Return he had moved for he asked for a statement of their traveling expenses. He found from that Return that the annual average expenses if Mr. Hare for traveling through the country to carry justice to the doors of the different charities of England Were £71 0s.8d., being a weekly average of £1 7s. 6d. In speaking of Mr. Skirrow. he must say that he remained very much at the Charity Board, and that he was a most useful and able man. His annual average was £60 12s., or a weekly average of £1 3s. 6d. Now he came to Mr. F. O. Martin, whose appointment he believed to be a gross job. He had the evidence in his possession, but he would not disclose it lest the result might be to defeat the ends of justice. His annual average was £95. or £1 16*. 8d. weekly. He now came to the coal and potato dealer. In.1856 this man's travelling expenses amounted to £22 5s.; in the following year the sum was £12 17s. 4d.; in 1858it was £12 18s.; and in 1859, when he was presented at Court, the amount rose to £71 13s. 7d. Whether his Court dress was paid for in the sum he could not say; but it was an extraordinary circumstance that this man's travelling expenses amounted in 1859 to £71 13s. 7d., and in the following year should drop down to £12 12s 10d. In 1861 his expenses were £21 4s. 3d.; in 1862 the amount was £36 13s. 7d.; in 1863 the sum was £57 3s. The annual average was £32 1s. 5d., or a weekly average of 12s. 8d. The annual average of Mr. Boase was £20 6s. 8d., or 8s. a week. These were the members of that Board, who were described by the right hon. Member for Calne, the unpaid Commissioner, as among the most industrious, the most valuable, and the most honourable of Her Majesty's servants. Well, the last three of them had received £6,000 each, £2,400 a year wrung from the poor taxpayers of this country by a Chancellor of the Exchequer, who did not hesitate to say that it made his heart bleed when he was asked for 5d. a day to be added to the pay of a warrant officer in the Royal Navy. He had now given the House some notion of the working of the Board, but he matt trespass a little longer upon their attention, because it was an important question. There were no less than forty-seven men upon their trial in that charity office; and it was the duty of a man bringing charges against them to make out his case. Now, he had said that Mr. Martin, one of the Inspectors, had of his own knowledge acted most improperly, and, he might say, most dishonestly. He (Mr. Ferrand) went to the Charity Board in 1857, and made a statement with reference to a charity at Bingley, to Mr. Erle, who at once told him that the subject of his communi- cation was an important matter, and that he had found, according to documents in the office, that there was something seriously wrong. He said further, that he would order an Inspector to go down and make an inquiry into the charities. Mr. Martin went down and held a court. On the first day nothing could be more fair and impartial, and he would add more able, than the manner in which he conducted that inquiry. He (Mr. Ferrand) went home, and during the evening he received information that Mr. Martin had been got at by the Whigs. He (Mr. Ferrand) would not believe the report, because he had acted in so fair and impartial a manner hitherto; but he was told that he had better employ a solicitor. Next morning Mr. Martin showed a temper which was something extraordinary. He conducted himself in an overbearing, insolent, and violent manner. He bullied the witnesses, refused their evidence, and gave great dissatisfaction. He went away from that meeting back to London, and did not send in a Report for a considerable length of time. Things were still going on from bad to worse in connection with these charities. He (Mr. Ferrand) wrote repeated letters to the Charity Commissioners, told them how the property was being jobbed away, and called upon them to interfere to take steps to recover the property, which a trustee admitted he had taken and put into his own pocket. They never replied to his letter. At last the trustee in question died. He would not refer to the cause of his death, or the circumstances that surrounded the event, but he wrote to the Commissioners and told them that the man was dead, and that he had not paid the money which he owed to the charity trust. He had repeatedly reminded them of his defalcations, and that he was overwhelmed in debt, but they never answered his letters. At last he wrote a full account of the whole circumstances, and told the Commissioners that they had treated him in the most offensive manner, and that if they did not acknowledge the receipt of his letter, he would send a copy of it to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department. The House should hear the answer he got— "Sir, I am to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, dated the 15th inst." That was all the reply he got. He went to London and saw the hon. Member for Leeds, and asked him to move for the whole correspondence in connection with the charity trust at Bingley. His hon. Friend went to the Home Secretary and. asked for these papers, and the answer of the right hon. Baronet was, "of course you shall have them." But he (Mr. Farrand), believed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne communicated with the Home Secretary, and they were not allowed to be produced. But what did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne say to the hon. Member for Leeds? Why that he (Mr. Ferrand), who had been vilified by Mr. Martin's false report — who had been struggling to save the charities in his neighbourhood from ruin—had been in the right, and the Charity Commissioners had been in the wrong, and the Government were about to bring in a Bill to, put a stop to the frauds of which he had for years complained. What had taken place since that man's death? They had in the parish one of the best and most faithful ministers of the Gospel. He had been trying to rescue these trust funds; but at last the. Letters of the Commissioners become so offensive that the trustees said they would in a body resigh Since he (Mr. Ferrand) had given his notice, however, the commissioners became as civil and attentive as possible and there was nothing in the world they would not do. He now came to Giggleswick School a question in which the hon. Member for Plymouth (Mr. Morrison) had taken a great deal of interest. There was considerable difference of opinion as to the proceedings of the Charity commissioners; but the great body of the public were of opinion that the Commissioners had grossly neglected their duty, Recollect that by the law of the land they had tied the hands behind the back of every trustee in England. They had no power to act without the consent of the Commissioners, who would not move and nobody else could move. Mr. Foster had written a pamphlet in which he made serious charges against the Commissioners. He stated that the Report of one of the Inspectors contained several errors, and one statement entirely false, and that was a gross misrepresentation of facts. The Leeds Intelligencer, the Lancaster Guardian, the Lancaster Gazette and the Manchester Guardian, more or less endorsed Mr. Foster's views. The Bradford Observer, also a Whig paper, said that the inquiry Mr. Martin was a mere mockery, and that the dereliction of duty on the part of the Charity Commissioners ought to be brought under the notice of The House of Commons by the West Riding Members. An application was made tie the-Commissioners for an inquiry into a charity at Richmond. The letter was dated 19th August, 1863. The reply was that the application would be submitted to, the Commissioners as soon as possible, the meetings of the Board having been suspended during the recess. On the 5th February following the parties had never heard a word The recess of the. Commissioners was a long one. He wished to say a few words about Totnes, the Duke of Somerset's borough. There the charitable estates were valuable. The four acting trustees were Whigs Mr. Seymour's political agent was one, and the clerk was Mr. Pender's paid agent. No accounts had been rendered by the trustees for seven years; Hundreds of pounds had been kept in the hands of the clerk which ought to have been invested. The Commissioners had been constantly appealed to, but although the first letter was dated the 8th of January, 1860, and they were constantly pressed to send an Inspector, they had made the most paltry and shuffling excuses. It was only in March last, after he had moved for the Return of the travelsling expenses, that they sent one. It was notorius that the Duke of Somerset had for two or three years acted in the most tyrannical manner in the borough of Totnes He had sold the electors up—he had driven them from their holdings by scores, because they desired to enforce the bargain which he had entered into with them, that they should elect one member and he the other. Under those circumstances it was natural that party and political feelling should run high in the boroutgh, and it therefore was of the greatest importance that the commissioners should have selected a perfectly impartial, upright, and honourable Inspector to inquire into the management of the charities with which the Whigs were so scandalously mixed up. Whom did they send? Mr. Boase, the electioneering agent of the private Secretary of the noble Lord, the colleague of the Duke of Somerset., the That was seandalous act on the part of the Commissioners. What was the result? Of course Mr. Boase would do his best to serve his patrons. He had received a letter from Totnes, dated March 25, 1864, the writer of which said, "They have sent an Inspector about twelve months after they promised to do so, and indeed, he is a Radical. Of course he was sent to patch up Radical misdoings. Although the clerk of trustees kept hundreds of pounds, contrary to the scheme, Mr. Boase smiled at it, and made it appear as if nothing. The Conservatives are very much disgusted with Mr. Boase," The case of Huntingdon contradicted the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, no doubt in perfect good faith, that the Charity Commissioners had nothing to do with taking money from the charities of the country. A letter dated Huntingdon, March, 1864, contained the following account of the dealings with the charities of that place: — Sir,—Having seen that you are about to bring forward a Motion upon the subject of the Charity Commission, and supposing that you might not object to have facts with regard to it brought under your notice, I take the liberty of writing to acquaint you with the operations of the Charity Commission in respect to the municipal charities of this town. Several years ago returns were made to the Commissioners of the incomes and working of the several charities. Although there was no fault to be found with the application of the funds, which, in most cases, was made as nearly conformable as possible with the wills of the founders, a new scheme was to be put forth, and new trustees appointed. This scheme has been, to my knowledge, upwards of five years in preparation. I was, in the early stage of it, directed by the Commissioners to apply for information upon it to Messrs. Fearon and Clabon, solicitors to the Attorney General, and in their hands I found the matter remained for the best part of the period I have named. On one occasion Mr. Clabon visited Huntingdon with a view of finding out the wishes of the chief inhabitants with regard to their charities, and after one rather hurried meeting be embodied most of the suggestions then made in the scheme, which, after further and needless delay, was printed and came into operation for the first time at Easter, 1863. The results of this 'investigation' are that we have a body of sixteen trustees to manage charities which could much more effectively be administered by six. We hare a scheme differing from the former mode of management in very few particulars, and those only such as we suggested ourselves, and now are not able to alter if it should from time to time need improvement. And out of charities which yield an annual income of £471 11s. 5d., of which every penny ought to be paid in education and charitable bequests, we have two bills to pay for 'costs attending this investigation' and schemes—one to Messrs. Fearon and Clabon of £274 13s. 11d.; the other to the town clerk of £255 12s. 6d., making a total of £530 6s.5 d. To meet these expenses we have had to sell stock to the amount of £290 belonging to the charities; and thus, for the sake of 'an investigation,' to cripple our means of carrying out the intentions of those who left their money to feed, clothe, and educate the poor, and not to enrich lawyers or make jobs for a Government Department. I have the honour to be, Sir, Tour obedient Servant, F. GIRALD VESEY, M.A., Rector of All Saints and St. John's, Huntingdon. Now, the statement in that letter completely contradicted what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Ferrand) assured the House that he had taken up the matter from no other motive than to protect the charities of England from being robbed and plundered, and to show the scandalous manner in which a body whom they paid at the rate of £18.000 a year had failed to do its duty. Let the right lion. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce) go to a division, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer desires to show himself a faithful guardian of the public purse, he must go into the lobby with him (Mr. Ferrand), for he well knew that it he were to bring forward that tax of £18,000 as a single Vote, no independent Member would support it, and the right hon. Gentleman would not dare to enforce it, as he had no right to take this £18,000. and impose a burden on the public for the purpose of managing these private charities. What would be said if they were to bring in a Bill to authorize the collection of their own rents out of the public taxes? Would the people of this country submit to it? And if not, why should they be made to pay the Charity Commissioners? No single interest had a right to fix an impost upon the country for its individual benefit; and if the charities required a Board to control them, the Charity Estates ought to bear the cost. In that view he was borne out by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Early in the Session be asked the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, why an increase of £200 a year salary bad been given to the Secretary, and the right hon. Gentleman justified the addition, stating that this increase had been recommended by Sir G. C. Lewis and agreed to by the House. It was rather a tart reply, and financial reformers laughed, thinking that the right hon. Gentleman had given him a knockdown answer. It now appeared that the proposal for an increase of salary was made on the 21st of August, 1860, when most hon. Members had left town for the country, and there were only fifty-four present. The Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed to the Vote, but the right hon. Gentleman felt that he was in the wrong, and he (Mr. Ferrand) knew he did, and the reason that he knew this was, that when the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton), anxious to do good service to the barristers who acted as Inspectors, and finding that the increase to the Secretary was unanimously agreed to, drew attention to the duties which were discharged by the Inspectors, and suggested that an increase should be made to their salaries; the Chancellor of the Exchequer declined to accede to any increase of salary which might be given to the Inspectors out of the Consolidated Fund. He said that he did not think that the public purse should be charged for such purposes. And the Attorney General said that there ought to be a clause proposed to give compensation to the Inspectors to a limited amount such compensation to be raised out of the trust funds committed to their charge. The difference was that the suggestion as to the Inspectors came from below the gangway, and not from any recognized hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), whose wisdom was shown on all occasions that he rose to address the House, suggested that the whole subject of expenditure should be brought forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the following Session. As that right hon. Gentleman had never since complied with the suggestion, he had discharged the duty for him. He regretted the right hon. Gentleman had not been present during the greater portion of his remarks, as he had felt it necessary to make frequent reference to him. He thought he had made out a strong case, and he thanked the House for the patience with which they had listened to him. The House must feel that the truth of the allegations which he had made ought to be inquired into before a Select Committee, and if the Government, defended by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce), wished to be considered honest and straight for ward, and if he himself (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) desired to be thought a consistent, watchful guardian of the public purse, they were bound to go into the lobby with him. He had that night exposed a state of things disgraceful to the Whigs as a Government; there could be no denying it; and that feeling would be expressed unmistakably out of doors if the Lord should think proper to appeal to the country as the only man able to govern it. Let him go down to Tiverton and stand upon the hustings with John Simons juniors trade card in his hand let him tell the electors of Tiverton that was his ticket; that such was the way in which his retrenching and reforming Government guarded the taxes of the Government guarded the taxes of the country; that such was the fashion in which he selected public officers to per form grave and important duties, and that such was the manner he insulted the Sovereign And would those hon. Members who behind him, propping, with their knees a tottering Government, dare on the hustings to justify appointment of Mr. John Simons? Would they go on the hustings and declare that the noble Lord was the only man fit to govern this country? If they did, a million voices would meet them with the cry, "How about John Simons, junior?" One world he felt bound to say to the financial reformers, If they approved appointments such as he had described, the jobbing he had exposed— the robbery of the public taxpayers, they must, if the Government dared to divide against the Motion, go into the lobby for its rejection. If, on the other hand, supported the demand for, inquiry, they would be doing their duty to their constituents and acting as faithful representatives. He had now to say a word to those sitting on his own side of the House. They were not afraid to go to the country. They did not think the noble Lord the only man able to govern England; they were prepare for the conflict at any moment As long as the conservative party existed in England there would not be a man among them who would not rather die a thousand deaths than be a party to such transactions as he had endeavoured to expose. The hon. Member concluded by moving; for a Select Committee.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in Order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire in to the construction, the expense, and the working of the Board of Charity Commissioners,—(Mr. Ferrand,) —omstead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that as the Giggleswick School had been referred to by the hon. Gentleman, it was only an act of justice to the Commissioners to state that, having had every opportunity of witnessing their action as regarded that school, he thought they were entirely free from blame. For three years past they had taken the greatest pains, and had sent down scheme after scheme which had fallen to the ground—as such plans frequently of those who lived in the immediate neighbourhood of the school. If the hon. Gentleman's Motion had been for an inquiry into the Working of the Commission, he should have had much pleasure in voting with him, because he could not help thinking that the waste of money in connection with the public charities scattered through the country deserted the serious consideration of the House. He trusted that Government would supplement the good work they had done in regard to the Universities and public schools by an inquiry respecting the Charities. The speech of the hon. Member, however, had from first to last been a personal attack upon the private character of the Charity Commissioners, and as he believed they had performed their duties in a manner to give general satisfaction, he was unable to go into the lobby with the hon. Gentleman.


said that, as a Member of the Bingley Trust, he rose for himself and colleagues to enter a strong and emphatic protest against the charge made by his hon. Friend, that they had been guilty, as trustees, of jobbing away the property intrusted to them.


I made no charge against the hon. Member.


The hon. Member says he Aid not bring the charge, and if the charge be withdrawn a reply to it is unnecessary.


My remarks had reference to the charity before my hon. Friend was a trustee.


said, that Mr. Martin came down from London after he was a trustee, and he was a party to the proceedings. In one particular case, the charge against the trustees was that they had sold, or were prepared to sell, a plot of land below its value. As a trustee he felt bound with a great responsibility, and he had brought over from Bradford, at his own expense, two surveyors, unconnected both with the trustees and the purchaser, and they both declared that the sole was an advantageous one for the trust. If the arrangements made for selling that property were thoroughly investigated, it would be found that a wise discretion had been exercised, and that the charity would be largely benefited by it. He hoped that the Government would grant the inquiry. If he were one of the Commissioners against whom such Charges were made, he should be anxious for a full and complete inquiry, so as to give the hon. Member an opportunity of proving his allegations, and the Commissioners an opportunity of answering and rebutting the accusations made against them. He believed it was for the benefit of the public service that frequent inquiry should be made by the House into the operations and mode of proceeding of public Boards. Such inquiries, usually worked a marvellous change. The secretary, who probably had been pert, became civil; the letters, instead of being formal, and merely acknowledging the receipt of communications, went into detail, and coudescended to give a civil answer to inquiries, and business was transacted, instead of being postponed or neglected. The Charity Commissioners were invested with largo powers, and they ought to treat the trustees with generosity, courtesy, and confidence. If they were not so dealt with, an inferior class of men would be left to discharge the duties, and the business of the charities would be directed by the red tape of a London office, and not under the watchful eye of local trustees.


said, be could assure the House that if the tone and language of the hon. Gentleman had been such that the Government could accede to his Motion, they would gladly have done so. In 1860 very largo and new powers had been given to the Commissioners, and there could be no more legitimate subject of inquiry than whether those powers had been exercised for the public good, and whether they might be further extended for the public advantage. Had that been the object of the hon. Gentleman, and had his speech been consistent with that object, the utmost that could have been said was that the Session being so far advanced the time was not propitious for an inquiry, which must necessarily be an extended one, but that the subject deserved attention; and, speaking on the part of the Government, he might have given the hon. Gentleman the assurance that the Committee for which he asked should be appointed at the beginning of the next Session. But the speech of the hon. Gentleman had not been directed to the real substantial merits of the question—namely, whether or not the powers intrusted to the Commissioners had been exercised for the public good. From first to last the speech of the hon. Gentleman had been a personal attack against the members constituting the Board and their subordinate. From the highest to the lowest none had escaped his personal invective. The character of the Commissioners was too well known to the large majority of Members of that House to need any defence from him. They were men of well-known ability, integrity, and industry. Many hon. Members must have had frequent opportunities of consulting them, and he was sure that many hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House would be anxious to bear testimony to their ability, integrity, and worth. But what would the House, consisting of honourable men, say to charges against persons of comparative obscurity without any previous announcement to him who was their legitimate defender? It was bad enough that, when he (Mr. Bruce) who had been appointed fourth Commissioner, and was therefore their official defender, had only just stepped into that office, the hon. Gentleman had not told him what were the eases he intended to bring before the House, so as to enable him to inquire what answer could be made to these charges. But even that was a trifling offence as compared with that of making, without notice, a violent and personal attack against the character of officials. The House had heard what the hon. Gentleman had said of the character of Mr. John Simons. He (Mr. Bruce) knew nothing of Mr. John Simons' antecedents before he entered the office; and he was, therefore, unable to contradict or explain any of the hon. Gentleman's statements respecting his early career; but he had been informed that that gentleman had performed the duties intrusted to him in a satisfactory manner, and was it right or just, therefore, to rake up his past history? because the House would observe there was no imputation of misconduct on the part of Mr. John Simons since his appointment. The hon. Gentleman had made an attack upon Mr. Martin, but he had not sat down for one moment before direct contradictions were given to two of the statements affecting that gentleman. The House was told that it would not be properly doing its duty if it did not grant a Committee to inquire into charges which an hon. Gentleman might make rashly and recklessly, as those charges had been made. The Government could not accede to a proposition made in that spirit. Fortunately, he was not called upon to defend a body of men who were under the ban of public opinion; on the contrary, he had merely to share with others the easy task of defending men who stood high in the respect and esteem of those who knew them. To proceed to the merits of the case apart from the personal attack. The hon. Gentleman called attention to the immense expense of inquiry. It might possibly be true, for he had not had an opportunity of examining the subject, that before the Commissioners were appointed upwards of £300,000 had been spent in various Commissions of Inquiry. But these Commissions were appointed for the purpose of inquiring how many charities there were, and the facts relating to them. They had nothing to do with the administration of the charities. But, said the hon. Gentleman, the Commissioners commenced with an expenditure of £5,000 or £6,000 a year, and they have reached £18.000. True; but the ordinary business of the Board had increased enormously, new branches of business, entirely unlooked for when the Commission was established, had arisen or been created by Act of Parliament; and the amount of work done, when compared with the expense, was not threefold, but tenfold. In 1837 the number of charities was stated to be 28.000. By the lapse of time and the inquiries of the Commissioners that number had been raised to something like 50,000. At that time no payments by trustees of charities were made to the Commissioners; no accounts were dealt with by them; but gradually, from 1854 to the present time, a sum of nearly £2,000,000 had been paid into their hands in no less than 3,000 separate accounts, the keeping of which required a large staff of clerks and that accountant, of whom the hon. Gentleman had made such strong complaints. But there were other strong facts connected with the case. Since 1855, when the Treasury inquired into the constitution of the Board, and fixed their numbers and salaries, the business had increased enormously, but there had been no increase in the number of officers, or in the amount of their salaries, except that ordinary increment to which every person who entered the Civil Service was entitled. But he would say broadly that, while, some £2,000,000 had been dealt with by those gentlemen, white their business had vastly increased and their powers had been greatly enlarged, neither their numbers nor their salaries had been increased. For himself he was only too glad that he had supported the passing of the Act of 1860, and he envied his right hon. Friend and predecessor (Mr. Lowe) the credit which he deserved for having introduced it. The effect of tbe Act was this—that whereas before the Commissioners had no judicial power, but only the power of inquiry and of preventing impro- per litigation they then obtained powers which were previously exercised by the Country Courts and the Court of Chancery. Whenever a majority of the tratees applied to the Commissioners they were armed by the Act with the same powers as the Court of Chancery possessed; but their immediate and absolute powers extended only to charities which did not exceed £50 a year. In addition to their labours in other respects the Commissioners had, during the three years since the passing of the Act of 1860, inquired judicially into no less than 838 cases, which was an average of one a day. They had done all that work which before was thrown into the County Courts and the Court of Chancery. In reply to the complaint of the hon. Gentleman of the expensiveness of this tribunal, he would meet it with a flat denial, and affirm that there was no expense incurred by charities coming before those Commissioners; they paid no fees of oilier charges, except the unavoidable expense of the journey that might have to be made to attend the Commission. But what was the case before that power had been given to the Commissioners? Many hon. Gentlemen had heard of the Ludlow Charity suit, in which the expenses had amounted to £20,229; and there were other cases in which enormous costs had been incurred, in the Court of Chancery, the only Court then competent to deal with them, but which might have been decided by the Commissioners without any expense what ever. The best proof of that might be found in what had taken place Within a short period. A pamphlet had been sent to him by Mr. Falconer, a County Court Judge, much respected in the district from which he (Mr. Bruce) came. It appeared there had been an inquiry into a charity at Usk, upon the result of which Mr. Falconer delivered an address at the grammar school. The House would remember that Mr. Offley Martin was one of the gentlemen who had been so bitterly attacked by the hon. Gentleman. Of that gentleman and the mode of conducting the inquiry Mr. Falconer said— Mr. Offley Martin was sent down as an Inspector. He had evidence publicly given him of the state of the charity, and himself visited the almshouses and inspected part of the estates. Any person who desired to say anything to him was fully heard. Finally a scheme was passed, and this scheme, and all the proceedings connected with it, did not cost the charity one single farthing. If we had been compelled, as we cer- tainly should have been but for the existence of this Board, to go into the Court of Chancery, the cost would have been very great, and the income of the charities would have been greatly crippled. Many of those persons whose opinions it was so satisfactory to us all to hear, and who were heard by the Inspector without interruption, would have been excluded from a hearing in the Court of Chancery. They had themselves the same advantage as if they had been parties to a cause. Every person was content to know that nothing which could instruct or inform the Commissioners was excluded. The decision finally arrived at was made with the advantage of that skill and knowledge which the administration of charities had given to the Commissioners. As to this case, Mr. Falconer spoke from his own experience, With respect to the power exercised by the Charity Commissioners, with whom, as he was informed, Mr. Falconer had no acquaintance whatever, he said— Those who attack the Board and call its proceedings secret can know little of its acts. Every scheme it proposes is fully made known and published, and full opportunity is given to object to any part of it before it is established. We had meetings at Usk to Criticize our proposed scheme, and it had been sent down to be made publicly known and for the purpose of inviting objections to it. If the scheme had been in the Court of Chancery it would have been kept in chambers, and who could have been heard against it, or by whom would the costs of an opposition have been payable? There is far move publicity and efficient responsibility attached to the proceedings of the Board of Charity Commissioners than can by any possibility be connected with proceedings in the Court of Chancery. Any person who will, even unfairly, undertake to examine the subject, will be compelled to conclude that the institution of the Board was the most important, useful, and economical measure to secure the preservation and due administration of charity funds, and for the supervision of Trustees which could have been devised. Its aid and assistance are sought for on all sides. Was the aid of the Court of Chancery ever so sought after? It cannot be imagined that the extravagant, improvident, and —remembering the good which might have been done—the almost wicked schemes relating to certain great charities sanctioned by the Court of Chancery, and mentioned by Mr. Cumin in the fourth volume of the Education Commission Report, 1861, would have been listened to by the Board of Charity Commissioners. That was the best answer to the allegation that there was no publicity. How could there possibly be more publicity than was secured by the local inquiry made by the Commissioner after due notice, after inviting the evidence of all parties interested, and all competent witnesses, without any strict regard to their locus standi? He was so satisfied that an inquiry would only redound to the honour of the Commissioners, and lead to the extension of the Powers which they exercised so advantageously for the charities, that he should have been glad to assent to the Motion, had it been made with common decency or with the smallest sense of justice, But when imputations were so lavishly cast upon the characters of honourable men without giving them an opportunity of meeting them, an opportunity of meeting them, he thought it only consistent with a sense of right and justice and the respect due be the House to refuse to accede to a Motion which, however right in itself, had been made under circumstance such as he had described. He hoped, then, the House world the Motion, and by so doing pass a censure upon the manner in which the hon. Gentleman sought to obtain what ought to be a judicial inquiry.


said it was no part of this duty to defend a Whig Government, or the appointments which in the natural order of things may have been made of gentlemen of Whig politics, but knowing the Commissioners whose characters had been so freely assailed by his hon. Friend he felt bound to rise and declare his belief that the charges made against them were utterly unfounded. The noble Lord, who was at the head of the Government when the Commissioners were appointed, made the appointments, he believed, only in reference to the ability and integrity of those who were selected. As far as Mr. Erle, the Chief Commissioner, whom he had knew for many years, was concerned he was satisfied that a more honourable, just, and conscientious man did not exist. If he had any politics at all, they were of the mildest character, and he certainly would not allow any tinge of political feelings to enter into his decisions. His hon. Friend, who made the present Motion, had spoken of the inundation of anonymous letters he had received containing complaints against the Commissioners. In should be borne in mind that the Commissioners in the exercise of their jurisdiction must disappoint a great number of persons. Against whom decisions were given, They had to consider most delicate questions. Involving matters of great personal feeling, and it was natural that those against whom they decided should feel some disappointment, and no doubt his hon. Friend had been the recipient the expression of their disappointment. There was, however, one fact which weighed more in his mind than a thousand letters of complaints which his Hon. Friend might have received A very great alteration in the duties and addition to the Commissioners had been caused by the act of 1860, prior to which all they could do was to suggest schemes for the Court of Chancery, but they had no power to make orders that the schemes should be carried into effect. In 1860, however, power was conferred on them to make order and frame new schemes for the regulation of charities. Ample opportunity for appeal was given to any person dissatisfied with the schemes, and yet since 1860, though the Commissioners had 900 orders to establish new schemes for the regulation of charities, not a single appeal had been lodged against them. Could there be a more cogent fact, or one showing in stronger light the admirable manner in which the Commissioners performed their business? In respect of what court of justice, either of law or equity would such an event have occurred? His hon. Friend complained of some delay on the part of the commissioners, but the fact was that they were over whelmed with work, and since the Act of 1860 the public had gone to them in such numbers that their hands were full. A Return which had been laid before the House showed that, whereas the court of Chancery in each of the years since 1860 had scarcely made any orders at all to establish schemes for the regulation of charities, the commissioners had made a vast number. In 1861 the court of Chancery made 18 orders, the County Courts 7, and these maligned Commissioners 207. In 1862 the court of Chancery made 32 orders, the country Courts 1, and the Commissioners made 30, the Country Courts 1, and the Commissioners 351. All that business was in addition to the very important matters which they had to transact and determine before. They had also had the important and delicate duty to discharge of appointing new trustees; and in the borough he had the honour to represent they settled a list only a short time ago, which was as free from party and political feeling as possible, and which gave satisfaction to all persons in the town, of all shades of political opinion. With these great and new duties to perform, how was it possible that the Commissioners could avoid allowing some cases to get, at arrear? His hon. Friend, in speaking the Commissioners, allowed that they possessed the attributes of gentleman; but he (Mr. M Smith) could not understand how, at the same time that he made that avowal, his hon. Friend Could change them with gross dereliction of duty for as gentlemen and men of honour, this, y, were bound to discharge their duties to the best of their ability. Certainly he believed no man could bring greater attention and knowledge of his profession to bear upon his duties than Mr. Erle. On the part of Mr. Erle he would not have the least objection to Agree to the appointment of the Select Committee, if it had been moved for in a proper spirit; but it was intolerable, when a man had devoted his best energies to the public service, that not only his merit should not be recognized, but that be should be attacked in the manner Mr. Erle had been He could not vote for a Committee moved for in so hostile a spirit, implying censure on honourable men, which, in his conscience, he believed to be wholly undeserved.


Sir however much I may regret the highly Coloured if not exaggerated statement made by the hon. Gentleman the Member or Devonport, in bringing this Motion before the House, still I cannot help regretting the manner in which it has been met by Her Majesty's Government. When a Member of parliament, on his own responsibility, comes down to this House with an imposing array of papers and a collection of oranges, and makes a speech of one hour and a half long, containing the gravest charges it is possible to make against gentlemen in a public office, I do not think it is becoming in the Government to resist the Committee so moved for. If the charges brought forward are found not to be founded on fact, they will rebound on the two. Member [Mr. FERRAND: Hear, hear!] and he will never to able—I will net say to show his face, for he is a man of great bravery — but, such charges not having been fully proved, again to bring forward a charge in this House. [Mr. FERRAND: Hear hear!] The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just resumed his seat has fallen into a mistake, as I do not understand that his hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (whom he is not on this occasion about to favour with his vote) made any attack on the three Commissioners. No, he did not fly at such high game, as, of course, there will always be found men in this House to defend those in high position. I rise, therefore, to defend men in a much more humble position, and the only defence I have to offer is, to urge that the Committee should be granted in order that statements so lavishly made by the hon. Member may, be brought to the proof and that men who occupy subordinate situations as compared, with the Commissioners may not have their character damned or he suffered to remain under these reproaches, The House will recollect that the hon. Member poured the whole vials, not of his wrath but of his charges, on the heads of these three gentlemen—Mr. Offley Martin, Mr. Boase, and last, not least, the real Simon Pure, Mr. Simons. If the Committee is not to be granted, let me state the case with respect to Mr. Offley Martin. Some years age, when the hon. Member for Devonport made serious charges against the Bingley Grammar School and, the Sutherland Trust Estate, Mr. Offley Martin was sent down to inquire into those charges, and the inquiry took place in April, 1856. [Mr. FERRAND: In 1857.] The inquiry was in 1857. Well, Mr. Martin, for the first day, conducted the inquiry entirely to the satisfaction of the hon. Member for Devonport. I do not know Mr. Martin even by sight; but it appears that the hen. Member was highly satisfied at the conduct of Mr. Offley Martin, who now, for the first time, I hear is a Whig, He has not the appearance or the manners of a Whig, but is a most affable and pleasing gentleman. On the second day the hon. Member for Devonport came forward, and made a mast serious charge against the Rev. James. Cheadle, that charge being no less than felony. It was a charge made against the rev. gentleman in respect to certain trust estates, that he had appropriated to himself the sum of £2 12s. 6d. out of the funds of the Sutherland Trust Estate. Mr. Martin examined into the matter, and told the hon. Gentleman he could not substantiate his charge. The Rev. Mr. Cheadle, however, employed a lawyer to conduct his case, and white the cross-examination, was going on, Mr. Martin, fearing to enter into a parochial squabble, said, "I put my finger on this, examination;" and in the interest of the hon. Member, who now abuses him for it, stopped the case. The Rev. J. Cheadle, who, so for from being a Whig, is a Conservative of the deepest dye, was so ungrateful to his party that he brought on action against the hon. Member for Devonport for libel and defamation of character. There was, as might be supposed, a great fluttering among the Conservatives in that quarter, when they found their favourite Member attacked in that way; but the affair was settled by the hon. Member withdrawing the charge he had made— the charge, by the way, he has ever been known to retract—and paying over some £300 or £350 to the rev. gentleman. [Mr. FERRAND: You are quite wrong.]; Well, let the House grant the Committee, and prove the fact; and if the Rev. James Cheadle be alive, I will undertake to produce him as a witness. I now come to the case which has been very lightly touched upon, and which concerns Mr, Boase, one of the additional Inspectors. I know Mr. Boase, but I know nothing of the circumstances of his appointment. This however, I can say, that what the hon. Gentleman has stated on the authority of some anonymous county baronet, is altogether a misconception. Mr. Boase was never the-agent at anytime of my hon. Friend the present Member for Tavistock, and has never betrayed that hon. Gentleman in any way. The fact is, that Mr. Boase was the political Opponent of the hon. Gentleman and the personal friend of his antagonist. The hon. Member for Devonport brought a charge against Mr. Boase, and declared that because he has had only 8s a week allowed him as travelling expenses he is not fit for his post. Now, if we have a Committee, I can prove that Mr. Boase, in the opinion of his employers and of all who know him, except, perhaps, a few high Conservatives at Totnes, as a man of business and as a gentleman, stands as high as any one in his profession. As to Mr. John Simons, whom the hon. Gentleman described as a coal dealer and potato merchant, I confess I know nothing. But is a man to be thus hunted down because he was, perhaps, in early life connected with commercial pursuits? There are some of the most respected men in this House connected with the coal interest; and as to Mr. Simons being a potato merchant, I am inclined to believe that the hon. Member put the potato into his sling in order to strike him with its additional weight. I understand, however, that every one acquainted with Mr. Simons is willing to bear testimony to his honourable conduct at all times, both as a private gentleman and an efficient public officer. But if the hon. Member says he can prove that this gentleman's appointment was an improper one, I am ready to support him in his demand for a Committee, in order to afford him the oppertunity of doing so. The hon. Member spares nobody in his attacks but the three. Commissioners. He says the whole office was a nest of Whigs, Well, all I can say is, that if that be really the case, I have-no doubt but that the business is badly conducted. But how far is that assertion true? I know of my own knowledge that it is not the case. The hon. Member has fallen into several errors, in the course of his speech For instance Mr. Erle's son, has not been First Clerk for three or four-years. So distinguished were the services of this gentleman as First Clerk that he was appointed to some office in connection with the Court of Chancery.


No! Common Pleas.


I said he had retired.


I own the hon. Gentleman had a pretty loud voice, but I did not hear him make that remark. With respect to Mr. Good, I can say that: a better man, a more excellent public servant, or a more intense Conservative does not exist. He is a resident in Bucks, and one of the firmest supporters of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. [A VOICE; Ex!] I beg pardon, the ex-Chancellor, but he may be back again before long. When the hon. Member for Devonport brings forward such charges as he has done, he ought to be more careful as to his facts. Yet when a Member in his position makes such a speech as the hon. Member for Devonport has just made, I cannot resist the conclusion that his application for a Committee of Inquiry ought to be granted in order to clear the character of the gentlemen whose characters have been so seriously attacked, and to place them in a proper position before the country. I shall, therefore, support the Motion.


I wish to explain. ["Order!"] I may, perhaps, be allowed to make a statement. 'The hon. Member for Liskeard has said—


The hon. Member can only explain an observation of his own which has been misunderstood. He cannot reply to the remarks of any one else.


I pray the House to allow me to make an explanation in respect to some statements which the hon. Gentleman has made. ["Order!"]


said, he should be exceedingly sorry to give any vote which would appear in the slightest degree to reflect upon the Charity Commissioners or upon the Commission, for be firmly believed that a more able set of public servants, or a mere useful public office, did not exist in the country. At the same time, a Motion had been made which he thought ought to be followed by an inquiry. The accusation was directed, not against the individual Charity Commissioners, for the only imputation he had heard made upon them was that they were Whigs, but against the administration and service of the office, and against the Government for the appointment of unfit Inspectors. He thought the Government would de ill if they shirked inquiry into that accusation, or if they believed they could rebut it by merely taking exception to the tone, temper, and manner in which it had been brought forward. They ought, when such a charge had been made, to be the very first to demand an investigation. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Government said, singularly enough, he thought there ought to be an inquiry into the Commission, but not into the particular accusations that had been made. He took just the contrary view. There was no necessity, in his opinion, for a Committee on the Commission, but if he were a Member of the Government, he should deem it essential to their character to have a full and complete inquiry into the charges which had been brought forward against them.


Sir, I have been an unpaid Charity Commissioner for five years, and I cannot, therefore, allow the debate to close without bearing my most earnest testimony in favour of the gentlemen who conduct the office, and those who work under them, and the manner in which they perform the heavy duties intrusted to them. As I have said before, I believe that more industrious, able, and useful public servants there are not than those in this office. I have been called on to explain several things by the hon. Member for Devonport, but I do not think it is necessary for me to do so. Indeed, had I not felt it my duty to bear public testimony to the character of the gentlemen in this Department, I should not have risen at all. What I may have said in conversation with the hon. Member for Leeds some years ago I do not know, but if the hon. Gentleman repeated, as he may have done, what I said, he did not do so, I am sure, with the intention that it should be published in this House. As to the case of Giggleswick School, which has been mentioned, the facts are very simple. There was an old quarrel between the master and the usher, into which Mr. Martin very prudently refused to enter, seeing that the parties had since been reconciled. The Commissioners, however, finding that the trust was not satisfactorily conducted, instead of going into bygone grievances, introduced a scheme by which the Trustees were chosen, not simply within the parish of Giggleswick, but within a radius of twenty miles. This change has met with general approval, and has put an end to all difficulties. I cannot agree with my hon. friend the Member for Liskeard, or my hon. Friend opposite, that an inquiry is necessary. Because an hon. Member chooses to get up —without the slightest deference to the feelings of people unable to defend them selves and unable to give notice to those who would gladly defend them, as I myself would have done if they had intrusted me with the duty—and to scatter his accusations, broadcast, without regard to the fact that all we say is printed and circulated, and that thereby a stain may be affixed to the character of people who may have no public opportunity of wiping it off, because a gentleman who —and I speak of it with reserve—has special reason connected with his past career in this House for being particularly cautious in the exercise of that right of freedom of speech which we all possess and all glory in, and which, therefore, we are bound to use with dignity, moderation, and care for the feelings of others—I say I do not think that when under such circumstances an hon. Gentleman thinks fit to make such charges there is necessarily thrown upon the House, because through want of notice no answer can at the moment be given to them, the duty of sending them to a Select Committee for investigation. My hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard did what he seldom does—he fell into an inconsistency, because he demanded a Committee on the ground that the hon. Gentleman's charges ought to be inquired into, and then he set himself to prove, in a most admirable manner, that many of them were, within his own knowledge, destitute of foundation. He showed, for instance, that Mr. Martin was quite above using the sort of language imputed to him. The hon. Member has shown in the same way that both Mr. Boase and Mr. Good are not the kind of gentlemen they have been represented by the hon. Member for Devonport. He has also shown how unfair are the hon. Member's representations about the Bingley case, which was actually made the subject of inquiry in a court of law, where I have heard upon good authority the hon. Gentleman had to ay a large sum on account of those very charges which he is so angry with Mr. Martin for not choosing to investigate. I should have thought that under these circumstances my hon. Friend's logical mind would hardly have deemed the appointment of Select Committee necessary. I differ from opinion that the hon. Gentleman cast no aspersions upon Mr. Erle. The hon. Member repeated over and over again the most offensive insinuations about Mr. Fearon being connected by marriage with Mr. Erle, and these insinuations could only have been made for the purpose of conveying the impression the Commissioner and his relative were in a sort of league to extract money out of the pockets of the suitors. I can show the House, also, what I consider to be a conclusive reason why the charges made by the hon. Gentleman should be entirely disregarded. When the hon. Gentleman moved for papers upon this subject, he asserted that the Charity Commissioners had extracted—for that was the word he employed—£78,000 from the money of the charities, and he pledged himself to prove the statement if an opportunity were afforded him for doing so. [Mr. FERRAND: No, no!] What does the hon. Member say upon the subject now? Why, that, although the Charity Commissioners transacted gratuitously the business of the charitles at Bedford, they had contracted bills with the town clerk and other solicitors to the amount of £500 And this is all the evidence he brings before the House in support of such an accusation, evidence that does not even call for examination. There is not the slightest proof to connect those attorneys' bills with anything unbecoming; and I ask whether the House, with this sample of the hon. Gentleman's statements before them, is prepared to sanction an investigation into the character of every man in the office, from the first Commissioner down to the record-keeper or the clerk who manages the accounts, and to go into all the decisions given by these gentlemen in the course of their duties all over the country? We know that there must be many persons discontented with mode of distributing these charities, which form oftentimes in boroughs the arena for political strife. I feel sure that the recklessness of assertion and vehemence of charge displayed by the hon. Gentleman in the statements which he Has made this evening will satisfy the House that no Parliamentary inquiry is needed.


said, he wished to explain. When he quoted the £78,000 referred to by the right hon. Member for Calne, the figures from a Return made by Mr. Apsley Pellatt in that House. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to an action brought against him with reference to what had occurred while Mr. Martin was at Bingley. ["Order!]


Sir, being connected with one of the persons whom the hon. Member has thought fit to charge with offensive and disgraceful conduct I hope the House will permit me to make a few observations. Mr. Grey is charged with having paid his attorney's bill through the appointment of Mr. Boase; which he had solicited and procured. Now, if the hon. Member had shown me the courtesy of giving me notice of his intention to make this charge, I Should have been prepared with ample evidence to meet a charge so utterly and gratuitously false. I must confess however, I am perfectly easy under the charges he has made, and I cannot believe that any Gentleman in this House is justified in attaching much importance to accusations brought forward by the hon. Member in so wild, so careless, and so reckless a manner. Under ordinary circumstances I should be inclined to concur with the hon. Member for Liskeard in the opinion that it was desirable to grant a Committee of Inquiry in the face of charges of so grave a character; but I do think and feel that the hon. Member for Devonport has lost the right of calling for an inquiry of this kind. The grounds upon which I make that assertion, upon which I shall vote against the Motion, are to be found in the Journals of this House. I find the following statement on the Journals of the House. On the 10th of April, 1844, the House agreed to the following Resolution:— That the said Sir James Graham and James Weir Hogg, esq., having in their places denied the imputations cast upon them, and William Bushfield Ferrand, esq., having avowed that he had used the said expressions, and having declined to substantiate the truth of them, this House is of opinion that the imputations conveyed in the said expressions are wholly unfounded and calumnions, and that they do not affect in the slightest; degree the honour and the character of the Members to whom they were applied. I now also say that the charges which the hon. Gentleman has brought against Mr. Grey are not only in the same manner un- founded and without even a shadow of foundation, but that he has forfeited his right to expect any consideration to be given to any charges he may bring and I take the liberty of saying to him that the accusations he has made to-night against Mr. Grey do not in the slightest degree affect the honour or character of that gentleman, nor will they permit me to vote for the Committee which the hon. Gentleman has moved for.


said, if there was the slightest ground for supposing that the Commissioners had not faithfully discharged their duty, he should have voted for the inquiry. But when he found the hon. Member easting imputations upon so many highly respectable and honourable gentlemen, and against a Commission that was working admirably, he could not avoid raising his voice in condemnation of such a course, and declaring that be would be no party to the appointment of any such Committee as he had asked for. Although the hon. Member far Devonport sat upon his (Mr. Malins's) side of the House, he must say that he had listened with much pain and regret to his speech. He should have wished that he had brought forward his Motion with greater moderation of language and with greater delicacy for the feelings of others. He (Mr. Malins) could not on this occasion, nor would he on any other, be a party to attacks of such a personal nature. He regretted that he could not concur with many of those hon. Members around him in voting for this Committee of Inquiry.


said, there was one point on which he wished for information before he determined on which side he should vote. On this point he was already determined—that the Board of Commissioners ways at any rate preferable to the Court of Chancery. Anything worse than the Court of Chancery, as superintendent of charities, was impossible. He wished to know whether, if the inquiry were granted, the question of costs would be considered, as, if so, he certainly should vote for it? He did not wish to say one word against the Charity Commissioners, but he must say that the bills of the solicitors in some cases were exorbitant, and required revision.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 116 Noes 40: Majority 76.

Main Question put, and agreed to.