HC Deb 09 April 1869 vol 195 cc480-97

said, the question he should raise by the Motion which he was about to make, was whether appointments in the Civil and Diplomatic Services should be obtained by personal favouritism and political patronage, or by merit and moral worth. This was no party question, for eminent men on both sides of the House supported the principle of open competition. In 1853, a Commission, on which the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) and Sir Charles Trevelyan served, reported unreservedly in its favour, and the system of open competition was admitted on all hands to have been eminently successful. A few years after the Report of the Commission a Select Committee of that House was appointed to inquire into the subject. It was presided over by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), and the whole tone of their Report, and of the evidence was in favour of open competition. It was true that the Committee did not recommend the immediate adoption of that system, because they thought that it had not had sufficient trial, and that its adoption would give too rude a shock to political patronage. Since then ten years had elapsed, and experience conclusive in favour of open competition had been obtained; and, as for political patronage, he did not think that any precious principle worth preserving was involved in that matter. The exercise of political patronage was a source of general corruption. It might be said that there now existed a system of qualified competition, as when an appointment was vacant it was usual for two or three persons to be nominated, and the best of them to be selected by competition for the appointment. That new system, however, was just one of those compromises which created as much mischief as it destroyed. It took away that Ministerial responsibility for bad appointments which was the defence of the old system, because if a bad appointment were made under it the fault might be thrown on the system of examination. There was, moreover, in the new system a peculiar uncertainty which had an unfavourable operation. In the case of an office becoming vacant, men far below the average might be nominated for examination, and thus a person of low attainments might get the appointment; while in another case men might be nominated far above the average, so that it would happen that the man who succeeded in the first case was inferior in point of attainments to the man who failed in the second case. These things tended to create an impression, however unjustly, that a great amount of unfair- ness prevailed in mating the appointments. It might be said that the present system secured a certain average of intellectual attainments, because everyone was obliged to pass a fixed test examination; but a fixed test examination was comparatively useless. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that competitive examination always maintained itself, but that a fixed test examination had a considerable inclination to be degraded; because, if a man failed in a test examination, an agitation was always raised by his friends, who alleged that the examination was too hard, but no one who failed in an open competitive examination could complain because some other person was found to possess greater intellectual attainments. A test examination, too, did not get rid of political patronage, but was, on the contrary, based on political patronage. Those who had read the Report of the Committee to which he had alluded could entertain no doubt as to the practicability of carrying out the system of open examination; and, if it were thought that too many youths might apply to be examined, there would be no difficulty in sifting them, and reducing the number; for open competition by a preliminary test examination. By the payment of a, small fee the system might be made self- supporting, and there would be no difficulty in obtaining the most eminent men to conduct the examinations. It was sometimes said that competitive examination was not a conclusive intellectual test. If property conducted it would be so; and, as the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) stated at Glasgow, it would, if well managed, have the effect of detecting the imposture of half-knowledge. It was not necessary for him to maintain that it was an infallible test. He needed only to prove that it was an accurate test in the great majority of cases, and the best and available test. No one could deny that the men at Oxford and Cambridge Universities who passed the examination in the first class were better than those who passed the examination in the second, and that the men in the second class wore better than the men in the third. The choice lay between a competitive examination and political patronage. He had already stated that political patronage was a source of corruption which permeated into our electoral system. A Member of the House of Commons was applied to by one of his constituents for an appointment to a son or relative—a thing of daily occurrence. He immediately went to the Patronage Secretary and told him one of his constituents who had worked for him at the last General Election wanted an. appointment for his relative or friend. He knew nothing of the person for whom he made the application, and the Patron- age Secretary knew still less; the Member only knew what important assistance he had received from the applicant at the last election, and how unfortunate it would be if he should vote against him at the next. The Patronage Secretary, always courteous and delighted to oblige, put the name down on the list. Now what was the result? Others of the constituency, seeing an influential elector had obtained an appointment for his son or his nephew, asked themselves why they should not get something at the next election; and if offered £5 for their votes they would naturally think they might as well take it as their influential neighbour the appointment. But the evil did not rest there. The obligation conferred by the Patronage Secretary was not conferred for nothing. The Member of Parliament was expected to render something in return, and thus the system of political patronage seriously detracted from the independence of that House. So much was this felt that many Members absolutely refused to ask any appointment for their constituents. There were, therefore, some constituencies to whom no appointments were given, while there were other small places, such as Wells—which had laboured under the misfortune of being long represented by Patronage Secretaries—on which appointments had been lavished with demoralizing profuseness. If his memory did not deceive him, Sir "William Hayter had boasted in a speech he made at Wells how good a representative he had been since he was first connected with the place, having secured no less than 300 appointments for that constituency. In asking Members to give up this patronage, he did not ask them to forego a privilege of any real value, for if they obliged one of their constituents by obtaining such an appointment, the probability was they would disappoint fifty. He therefore said on every ground—the ground of political morality, the ground of fairness in the distribution of this patronage, the ground of the character and independence of that House, and the convenience of Members themselves—the system of political patronage should cease. But it was said that examinations, while they tested intellectual merit, did not test the physical and moral qualities of the candidates? Did the present system test the physical and moral qualities of the candidates? What did Members know—what did the Member for Shaftesbury (Mr. Glyn) know—about the physical and moral qualities of candidates for such appointments? Dr. Gull, who had been appointed to examine the candidates for the Indian Civil Service, and had a large experience on this subject, said that if he noticed any candidate coming to him with any physical weakness which, in the least degree, would interfere with his usefulness as a civil servant he immediately rejected him, and he of course lost the appointment. There were three standards embracing those who were perfectly unexceptionable in constitution and physical vigour, those who came up to that standard stood at 100; those who possessed the average of physical strength were ranked at eighty-five; and those not quite so good at seventy-five. He had examined about 500, of whom 292 came up to the standard of 100; 152 to that of eighty-five, and fifty-two only fell down to the standard of seventy-five. He could not therefore resist the conclusion that intellectual vigour and physical strength were, in the great majority of cases, necessary to success in open competitions. As to the moral test, he (Mr. Fawcett) would quote the opinion of one of the greatest and most experienced tutors that Cambridge, or, indeed, either University ever had; a man, who, for thirty years, had examined almost all the distinguished mathematicians that Cambridge had produced, and who had for some years been one of the Examiners for the Civil Service of India. He declared— The question is sometimes put to me—Is an intellectual test also any test of high moral feeling? I answer that I know of no test that is half so much to he depended upon. Reviewing the long list of men who have taken distinguished degrees, who for more than thirty years have come under my immediate attention, I am as much surprised as rejoiced to find the high moral tone which, almost without exception, has existed among them. These facts prove to me incontestably that intellectual faculties, developed by study and cultivation, co-exist, in a great majority of cases, with a high moral tone. If you wish for a moral test, I know of none so much to be relied upon as an intellectual test. This evidence was borne out by the Civil Service examinations. Every man connected with India spoke in favour of the system; Lord Lawrence, Mr. Maine, and the Civil Service Commissioners unanimously approved of it. He believed, indeed, that no complaint had yet been made respecting either the moral or physical capabilities of the candidates. He proposed by his Motion that the principle of competition should be applied to the Diplomatic Service as well as to the Civil Service. If any special capacity—conversational fluency in foreign languages for instance—were required for the Diplomatic Service, that could be tested as rigorously as they pleased by these examinations. But he was told this was not the object, and that "gentlemen" were required for that service. Exactly so; and how, he would ask, could they be more sure of securing gentlemen, in the true sense of the word, than by an intellectual test? Every quality that distinguished the true gentleman, he said, emphatically, was developed by intellectual culture—by bringing him under the influence of science, poetry, and art. It might be said that gentlemen of social position were required. Well, under the pre- sent system, they sometimes had social position and nothing else. He desired to bring no sweeping charge against the Diplomatic Service, but he did not hesitate to say that the present system sometimes secured for it men of social position who were not gentlemen. He remembered one striking instance. He knew a man, a student at Cambridge, who went through an almost unprecedented career of vice and dissipation; and he was ultimately expelled the University for having copied at the examinations, and for not having admitted that he had, done so when accused of it. If his career had been less discreditable at the University he was a man who would soon have found his way to that House, for he was influentially connected, and a near relation of a Cabinet Minister. But it was necessary to get him out of the way, and within three months after being expelled from the University he was representing his country at a foreign Court. ["Name!"] He did not wish to recall painful reminiscences, but the case was well known to everyone acquainted with Cambridge during the last fifteen years. Now, under the system of open competition such a case could not occur, while, under the present system, there was no guarantee against its recurrence. Would not the Diplomatic Service represent England better and more honourably in foreign Courts if it were known they were selected for their intellectual distinction? Was not the House gratified to know that the United States were about to send as their Minister to this country a distinguished historian and author, and was not Prussia honoured, as well as England, in having sent as successive Ministers to this country Niebuhr, Humboldt, and Bunsen? It might be said that the Diplomatic Ser-vice was for the rich and not for the poor. Ill-paid work, however, was al-ways dear, and if the service was under-paid men would not enter into a competitive examination for it. But when it was said that peculiar qualifications were required for the Diplomatic Service that could not be tested in a competitive examination, he replied that there was no service that required a higher capacity for diplomacy than the Civil Service of India. It was when England was brought into contact with a subject race that the character of a gentleman and the skill of a diplomatist was tested. But then it might be said that if they threw open all the appointments of the Civil Service to open competition men would be drawn away from other appointments, and an undue number would be attracted to the public service. He really thought that people might be left to decide this for themselves. The great principle of self-interest would prevent men from entering the Civil Service if they could obtain more lucrative or more honourable employment somewhere else, and his plan would have this great advantage—that it would prevent men from seeking a livelihood through tin) impure channel of political patronage. If he had spoken warmly on this Motion, it was because he felt warmly upon it; because he had spent a great portion of his life in an institution where no honours or emoluments were given except they were won in a fair and open intellectual struggle, and where they cherished the principle that merit should be the only road to distinction as their most precious possession. They were proud to think that there were no governing families in the Universities, but the poorest youth, had as good a chance there as the wellborn of obtaining honours, renown, and distinction. Applying the same principle to public affairs, he would say that they would never know how wisely England could be governed until the sacred principle for which he contended formed the only claim to employment by the State. In an ancient book, which had exercised an incalculable influence upon the human race, it was said that the ruler who appointed a man to an office when there was in his dominions another man better qualified to fill it sinned against Cod and against the State.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words" in the opinion of this House, all appointments to the Civil and Diplomatic Services ought to be obtained by open competition,"—(Mr. Fawcett,) —instead thereof.


The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) seems to think that he has nothing to do but to adduce arguments against political patronage and in favour of open competition in order to support the Motion he has placed before the House. But I think if the House will look carefully into the matter they will see that there is a good deal more than that in it. Because the question is really this—What appointments will you throw open to public competition? And that question involves a further question—What is the state of the public offices and departments at present, and are they in such a condition that it would be fair and right to throw everything in them open to public competition without any change or modification? These are the questions which the hon. Gentleman's Motion raises. It raises, besides, other questions which I think he has scarcely considered. He speaks of "all appointments to the Civil and Diplomatic Services." Does he mean to include Staff appointments? Does he mean that gentlemen of mature years obtaining those appointments are to be subjected to examination? If not, would it not have been better if he had limited the proposition to that part of the argument with which we could concur? [MR. FAWCETT: I said appointments to the Civil Service, and not in it.] Exactly so; but gentlemen are appointed to the Civil Service at very mature years, and that is just the point which the hon. Gentleman has omitted. When he asks us to pass a Resolution of this immense importance it would be more satisfactory, I think, to see that these things had been well considered, and in such a way as to contemplate appointments to the Diplomatic Service. A person may be sent out as a diplomatist who has not gone through the whole course of diplomacy. We are not, it is true, making an Act of Parliament, but, still, if the House is to bind itself by Resolution it ought to guard itself against making it so extensive as to involve consequences which the hon. Gentleman, I am sure, does not for a moment contemplate. But to return to the Motion. I do not think anyone who has ever taken the trouble to consider what I have said on this subject will suppose that I am in any way an enemy to competition. Since I have been in Parliament I have always done everything in my power to promote it. Indeed, I had the happiness to take my share in founding the system of Indian competition in 1854, when I was Secretary to the Board of Control. I have not a word to say against the arguments of the hon. Member in my own individual capacity. What I want the hon. Member and the House to see is this—that the hon. Member seems to suppose that we could simply by an act of our volition, introduce open competition at once into the Civil Service. I wish to point out the fallacy of that supposition. Our public offices are so organized—in some cases wrongly perhaps—that we have a large number of gentlemen on the establishments, many of whom, when they get in, have really a very limited and poor prospect before them—the prospect of a life of labour without any great chance of advancement at the end of it however competent and able they may be. The organization maybe somewhat different in the different offices, but there is not that entirely open career to merit which seems to exist in the University of Cambridge. I am an Oxford man, but I confess I always understood that the University of Cambridge had been very careful in its institutions to guard against the operation of the very principle of which the hon. Member considers the University to be the representative. I have always understood that Cambridge differs from Oxford in this—that whereas for a Fellowship at Oxford every member of the University can be a candidate, for a Fellowship at Cambridge only members of the particular College can be candidates, and that, in fact, the small Colleges exclude the men belonging to Trinity College or St. John's, just for the very purpose of allowing inferior men belonging to their own Colleges to obtain the Fellowships. They have always excluded free competition, and therefore I do not think that the hon. Member's instance of the poor man at Cambridge was a very fortunate one. I would remind the House that no greater cruelty or injury can be conceived than to invite candidates for Government offices to this open competition, to subject them to strict and difficult examinations, and so to obtain the services of superior or highly educated young men, and then to condemn them to a career of hopeless routine, from which there is no probability whatever of their escape. This is a thing that ought to be considered before we can comply with the hon. Gentleman's Motion. We cannot regard it as a matter which we can introduce at once. We cannot say off-hand that henceforth, instead of patronage or limited competition, we will have open competition in all our public offices. The effect of such a sudden change would be great hard- ship and great cruelty, and would undoubtedly not only do a great injury to a number of deserving young men, but would also be a great injury to the Civil Service, because it is not in human nature that a man of high acquirements who has succeeded in a difficult competition should be satisfied unless he had some better prospects open to him than many of the offices under the Crown would afford. I do not say that this is an irremovable obstacle, but I do say that it is one that must be removed by the internal re-organization of these offices, and the division of labour, mechanical and intellectual, before committing a kind of fraud on the public or a great injury on a number of deserving young men by throwing all the appointments open to public competition. The inference is that it would be vain for us to think of passing an abstract Resolution of this kind, unless we carried out a complete re-organization of the different offices, dividing the intellectual from the merely mechanical duties. The question is, what ought to be done with this Motion? I should say that the hon. Member has, in the former career of my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, as good a guarantee as he can desire that this subject will meet with most favourable consideration. My right hon. Friend was one of those Ministers who, in 1854, inserted in the Speech from the Throne a declaration which was well understood at the time to mean a desire on the part of the Government to introduce competition for appointments in the public departments. From that time to the present the question has never ceased to have the powerful advocacy of my right hon. Friend whenever the opportunity arose. The passage in the Queen's Speech of 1854, which was advised by Ministers, of whom my right hon. Friend was one, is as follows:— The establishment requisite for the conduct of the Civil Service and the arrangements bearing on its condition, have recently been under review; and I shall direct a plan to be laid before you which will have for its object to improve the system of admission, and thereby to increase the efficiency of the Service. Of course those words were guarded, as an intimation put into the mouth of Her Majesty must be; but they were perfectly understood at the time to refer to the opening of the appointments to com- petition, and steps were taken not long after in that direction. The hon. Gentleman, therefore, has a fair guarantee in the antecedents of my right hon. Friend that this question will receive his attention; and I would ask, is it fair or right to press the Motion further? I cannot say anything on behalf of the Government at large, simply because we have not had time to consider this question. We have been a very short time in Office, and we have been overwhelmed, as the House may readily believe, with an enormous quantity of business of immense responsibility. A great many other questions of the greatest importance are standing over, very much, to the regret of their advocates, simply because the Government have not been able to give attention to them. This question is among the number. But, considering the antecedents of my right hon. Friend, and also, if it be not presumptuous to say so, my own antecedents, I do not think it can be necessary to press this Motion further. The hon. Member has treated the question simply as one of patronage. I think I have shown that it involves more than that, and, as a necessary condition precedent to the adoption of his principle, that we must have a thorough review and re-organization of the public service to which he wishes to apply it. That review and re-organization we have not had time to attempt, and I certainly think it hard that a Government, which contains some of the warmest and most consistent advocates of this principle, who for years have been fighting its battles, should suddenly have a Motion of this kind pressed upon them before they have had time for deliberation in their collective capacity, seeming to imply that, on their part, there has been some apathy or lukewarmness. The hon. Gentleman must determine for himself the course which he thinks best calculated to advance the cause for which he is contending. If he should think it his duty to persevere, I can only say, speaking for myself, that, worded as the Motion is in so wide and sweeping a manner, omitting as it does the qualifications that are necessary, and overlooking the steps that must be taken for the re-organization of the public departments, in justice to the candidates themselves, before the principle can be carried out, although no one is more favourable to that principle than I am, I certainly shall not be able to give my vote for the Motion.


said, he had been a Member of the Committee which investigated the subject of appointments in May, 1860. Some scandalous abuses of patronage were brought before them in the Registrar General's Department upon its formation; in one case it was stated that a lunatic had been appointed to a clerkship, and in another a greengrocer. They had several instances of that kind of objectionable appointments on account of age, broken state of health, proper qualifications, and even bad character, and the Committee came almost unanimously to the conclusion that, at all events with regard to the introduction into the service, there should be some proof given that the person appointed should have certain mental qualifications. Appointments in India had been thrown open to competition, owing in a great degree to the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the experiment had proved highly successful. The standard of mental acquirements, he believed, were higher there than among the civil servants of any other country. The present Government were very favourable to the principle of competition, but at present they seemed indisposed to give effect to it. If, therefore, the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) pressed his Motion to a division, he should vote with him; for he could only mean by his Motion that the qualifications of candidates were to be tested before they were allowed to enter the service.


As I was Chairman of the Committee which sat some years ago upon this subject, I may be allowed to join in the appeal which has been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett). I decidedly think that if the hon. Member were to divide the house upon this Resolution he would place many of us in a false position, who like myself are generally favourable to the principle of the Resolution, but who are not prepared to adopt it in quite so sweeping and unqualified a form. I have always thought, and I do think now, that a great deal may be done in the way of extending the principle of competition in the administrative services of the country; but I do not think it would be a wise or statesmanlike course on the part of this House to say, in an imperative way, by a Resolution to the Government—"You shall adopt exclusively and absolutely the principle of open competition in all branches of the Civil Service," unless you are prepared to do more than that, and to indicate the manner in which the principle can be practically carried out. I must say that if reform in this matter has not advanced so rapidly as it seemed likely some years ago, I think it has mainly been owing to the fact that public interest in it has not been awakened to the extent which one might have expected. When I was at the India Office eleven years ago, I tried the experiment of opening some clerkships to absolutely open competition. Well, there was a very large number of competitors, but those who succeeded, I believe, were neither above nor below the average of gentlemen who ordinarily fill similar situations; but I did not find that any greater interest was felt in the matter, or that any great encouragement was given by the public to the repetition of that experiment. I quite agree, too, with what was said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, if you are to throw open the Civil Service to competition, you must make the prizes worth having, and you cannot do that unless you separate the more mechanical from the more intellectual part of the duties. It is really a mockery to throw open examinations, to invite everybody to come in and take part in them, and to establish a standard of merit, if the rewards which the successful are to obtain are little better after all, if not actually less in amount, than those which could be obtained by the same persons in ordinary private business. I merely wish to add a word upon another part of the question. I always felt—long before I had anything to do with the Foreign Office—very considerable doubt whether the case of the Diplomatic Service and that of the Civil Service stood in this matter upon the same footing. No doubt diplomacy does require some qualifications which you can test in the ordinary way by examinations, but it also requires other qualifications, which one may say without any disrespect, you are not quite certain to find in men who, by their own unassisted industry, have raised themselves from a very humble social position. There is also this consideration. If you were to apply this Resolution to the Diplomatic Service you would exclude yourselves from employing in that profession anyone who had not been exclusively trained to it. No doubt that has been our system of late years and under ordinary circumstances it has worked well. But it is one thing to adopt a system ordinarily, and another to tie yourself down to it by a Resolution, so that you will never be able to depart from it. I hope the hon. Gentleman will be content with having raised this question. If he divides the House, feeling as I do upon the subject, I shall not be able to oppose him; but, on the other hand, neither shall I be able to vote in favor of the Resolution.


said, he thought the noble Lord, the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), took somewhat too high a view of a vote of that House if he supposed that it would preclude the Government from employing anyone in the Diplomatic Service who had not obtained entrance into the Service by open competition. It was a remarkable fact that Resolutions very similar to that before them had been on two former occasions carried through the House in favour of open competition, and that the reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was almost the same reply that was given thirteen or fourteen years ago by the late Sir George Lewis. When the present Premier pressed Sir George Lewis at that time he asked for a delay of one or two years—"Let us wait," he said, "till we see how the principle of open, competition works in India." The Chancellor of the Exchequer had shown by a passage from the Queen's Speech, in 1854, the interest which was taken in this question by the right hon. Gentle- man now at the head of the Government. But, in 1856, a Resolution was moved by the present Lord President of the Council, seconded by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for North Devon, and sup- ported by the present Prime Minister, which, though not perhaps so sweeping in its terms as the Resolution now before the House, equally pressed the Government of that day to adopt the principle of open competition. If the statistics of the Civil Service Commission were looked into, however, it would be found that instead of an increased adoption of the competitive system it was less widely enforced of late years than in 1856–7. The Committee that sat in 1860 reported that the Civil Service should be thrown open for competition to the whole of the Queen's subjects—subject only to certain conditions as to age, health, and other qualifications, and he scarcely thought that the terms of the present Resolution would be found stronger than that. He doubted whether the terms of the present Motion were stronger than those of the former Motion on the same subject, to which several Members of Her Majesty's Government were pledged. He regarded the speech of the Vies President of the Committee of Council, who was speaking as the mouthpiece of the Government, on the second reading of the Endowed Schools Bill, during the present Session, as containing more than a mere promise that the Government would do something at an indefinite time. The objection that it was necessary to separate the merely mechanical from the intellectual labour in the Civil Service was, no doubt, very important; but the gentleman who first suggested that alteration (Mr. Horace Mann) was of opinion that they could not only effect that separation without difficulty, but that it would be better at once to adopt open competition with it. If the Motion went to a division he should vote with the hon. Member who brought it forward.


I do not rise, Sir, for the purpose of adding anything to the able statement of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I am very desirous of undeceiving the House—and, I am persuaded, the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Dilke) himself—with regard to the nature of the discussion which took place upon this subject in 1856, both as respects the terms of the Motion the House was then called upon to adopt, and as respects the manner in which that Motion was met by the Government of the day. I would remind the House to begin with that, as my right hon. Friend has stated, many Members of the Government have declared opinions on this subject very much in the direction of the views held by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett). They have not altered those opinions; they are desirous to move forward in that direction, but they appeal to the House whether, during the four months they have held Office, they have been idle. The measures which have been submitted to this House have probably been as considerable as ever were submitted by a Government during a period equally short after their coming into Office; and if the House desires to have work well done, there must be some regard as to the quantity of it which is to be undertaken in a given time. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is under the impression that the answer just given by my right hon. Friend is parallel to an answer given, in 1856, to a Motion which he thinks is parallel to the present one. I have hastily referred to the Motion of that date in order to ascertain its terms, and I have also referred to the answer given by the Government on that occasion, and the answers are so different that I am sure the hon. Member himself was not at all aware of the amount of difference between them. You are called upon to-night to accede to a Re-solution which states that all appointments—making no distinction of rank whatever—in the Civil and Diplomatic Services ought to be obtained by open competition, with no exceptions under any circumstances, and no discretion being left to the executive or to the heads of departments. Now, what was the Motion moved by my noble Friend Earl de Grey and Ripon in 1856. It was an Address to Her Majesty, rather a long one. I need not read the whole of it, but the operative part is as follows:— To assure Her Majesty of the steady support of this House in the prosecution of the salutary measures which She has been graciously pleased to adopt, and humbly to make known to Her Majesty that if She shall think fit further to extend them, and to make trial in the Civil Service of the method of open competition as a condition of entrance, this House will cheerfully provide for any charges which the adoption of that system may entail."—[3 Hansard, clxi.] I think that was a very moderate and judicious Motion, and I believe in saying that I am paying a compliment both to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to myself, for unless I am much mistaken, we at the time had some hand in it. But instead of being met on the part of the Government with a declaration that the Government concurred in the principle upon which the Motion was founded, as the hon. Gentlemen appears to think, I find, on referring to the speech of Sir George Lewis, that he joined issue upon the principle itself. I find near the commencement of his speech upon this Motion the following sentence:— I wish to argue the question simply upon the ground of efficiency of the public service; whether the principle my noble Friend seeks to introduce will or will not render the Civil Service of the Crown more efficient than it has been heretofore—that is the issue I wish to raise. Therefore, Sir George Lewis disputed the proposition of Viscount Goderich—as my noble Friend then was—that the principle of open competition was calculated to increase the efficiency of the Civil Service. It was under these circumstances that those who were friendly to the Motion were obliged to go forward with the discussion, and that the House carried by a majority of 21 the very moderate, cautious, and qualified Address which was then submitted to its consideration. Therefore I am bound to say, and I really think that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down will agree with me, that the circumstances of the former Motion are, in every material point, as different as they can be from those of the present—that the proposition which the House was asked to adopt was wholly different, and limited as it was, it was met with open opposition. Since that time undoubtedly—and I hope that what I am about to say will not in any way be misunderstood—the arguments in favour of proceeding further in the direction of open competion have, in my judgment, gained a material accession of force; partly because the experience we have obtained of open competition, so far as I am qualified to judge of it, is of a favourable character, and partly on account of the important Act which was passed by the House of Commons last year, which placed the Members of this House in a much more direct political relation with the members of the Civil Service than they had ever occupied before. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton and those who support him, as well as the whole House, naturally feel, after the Act has been passed which gives the franchise to the Civil Service at large, an increased anxiety for an alteration in those very direct relations which have herertofore subsisted between the Members of this House individually and the disposal of first admissions to the Civil Service. I mention that circumstance to-night as a matter that the Government are perfectly alive to, and which they will cer- tainly bear in mind when they proceed to take this matter into their consideration. But my right hon. Friend has stated no more than the truth when he says that we should run a risk of doing mischief instead of good if we were to place the adoption of the principle of indiscriminate open competition before that which is an indispensable preliminary—namely, a thorough re-organization of the Civil Service, with a view to a division being made between the merely mechanical and the intellectual work. And inasmuch as the Government i do not wish to subsist upon promises to the House, but rather upon labour in a practical form, we cannot undertake to concur in any votes that would for our part end in promises only. We trust the House will give us a reasonable time to see whether we are or are not disposed to act upon the principle we have previously announced. It is fortunate that the Motion of the hon. Member is not a distinct Motion, but an Amendment to the Motion that you, Sir, do leave the Chair. We shall, therefore, without giving any opinion adverse to the terms of the hon. Member's Motion, although we regard it as being too wide, vote that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply in order that we may take the Vote for the Miscellaneous Services, which the public interest requires.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 281: Noes 30: Majority 251.

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