HC Deb 04 June 1868 vol 192 cc1175-7

Resolutions [May 29] reported.

Res. 7. (Register House, Edinburgh).


observed that a Committee in 1866 had unanimously reported that a salary should be attached to the responsible head of the important office of the Lord Clerk Register; and he wished to know whether the Government intended to adopt the recommendation of the Committee?


said, that the powers of the Lord Clerk Register were already very great, and that both his powers and duties would be considerably increased by a Bill now before the House; it appeared to him neither expedient nor fair to confer powers or impose duties on an unsalaried officer.


contended that the office of Lord Clerk Register was a mere sinecure. It was held at one time by a Governor General of India (Lord Dalhousie), it was then abolished, it was then revived as an honorary office, and now it was proposed, without any increase of duties, to make it a salaried office.


was of opinion that the Scotch Members had a right to complain of the surplus fees being sent to the Treasury without adequate provision being made for the performance of official duties.


agreed in the opinion that the office of Lord Clerk Register ought no longer to be a sinecure.


said, it was true that ill the case of Lord Dalhousie the office of the Lord Clerk Register was a sinecure. The duties were performed by a deputy, but Lord Dalhousie did not receive the salary. The salary had been abolished by Act of Parliament, and could only be revived by the same means. He certainly thought that the office ought not to be a sinecure; but as to the extent to which the office might require revision, and what the amount of salary ought to be, he was not prepared to give any opinion.

Resolution 11. (Government Prisons and Expenses of Transportation).


renewed the question he had put on a previous evening, as to the absrdity of sending the convicts to Gibraltar, when their labour would be of value in this country, and desired to know whether his hon. Friend (Sir James Fergusson) could give him an assurance that the present extravagant system should be altered?


said, the the fact was that the convict prisons in England were full. Formerly that was not the case, because 600 convicts were sent to Australia every year; but now, in consequence of transportation having been put an end to and from the fact that under sentences of penal servitude convicts were subjected to more lengthened detention, we had more convicts at home than we could well provide for. About 200 were consequently sent to Gibraltar a short time' since; but no more would be sent this year because for the present we could provide for them in this country. In Gibraltar convict labour was of value, from the great difficulty, if not the absolute impossibility, of obtaining free labour. The works at Chatham might be pressed on with greater rapidity if more convict labour were employed; but to do this it would be necessary to construct barracks for them, and it was doubtful whether it would be advantageous to incur the expense. It should be remembered, too, that formerly a large number of convicts were housed in hulks, but that that system had been abandoned. He could therefore assure the hon. Gentleman that there was no intention of sending any convicts to Gibraltar if it was possible to accommodate them at home.

Resolutions agreed to.

House adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock