HC Deb 05 August 1869 vol 198 cc1296-7

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether the Government have considered the propriety of providing some additional means for the transaction of Public Business connected with Scotland?


Sir, this subject, in consequence of the representations of many Scotch Members, has been for some time under the notice of the Government. I am sure it will be generally admitted that the business of Scotland has been conducted with great ability and efficiency for many years by the Lords Advocate, and by the present Lord Advocate, who brings so much learning and experience to the discharge of that office. But it has been represented by many Members connected with Scotland that there is a great deal of administrative business which is not of a legal character, and which, in their opinion, may be more appropriately lodged in hands not legal. In the second place, it has been represented to the Government that there are various establishments in Edinburgh in which it will be perfectly practicable to make improvements and economies in case the Parliamentary strength were increased so as to be available in this House for the management of Scotch affairs. These two principal allegations have been submitted to the Government. The second of these representations, it is quite evident, is the essential portion of the case. The course we propose to take is, during the Recess, by such administrative means as are at our command, to make inquiry into the establishments now existing at Edinburgh, which are available for Scotch business, with a view to ascertain how far economy in those establishments, by their abolition, reduction, and modification, may be rendered practicable in the event of the appointment of any new Parliamentary officer for the transaction of Scotch business. We will prosecute that inquiry as well as we can during the Recess. It is perfectly possible that when Parliament meets again, and the result of such an inquiry is presented, hon. Members may think that a Parliamentary Inquiry in furtherance and prosecution of the same purpose may be desirable. We will do the best we can, but if a further investigation by a Parliamentary Committee should be deemed desirable by those specially connected with Scotland, and interested in the effective transaction of its affairs, we shall be perfectly ready to lend ourselves also to the further inquiry.


I should like to ask whether the proposed course of proceeding is taken by the Government in consequence of their being dissatisfied with the administration of Scotch affairs, or, whether it has been taken in consequence of representations made from without to the Government; and, if so, in what form and shape those representations have been made?


The inquiry we are ready to make did not arise from any observations made by the Government themselves, but arose out of a variety of communications made to us by Scotch Members. My right hon. Friend will, I am quite sure, understand that we think it our duty to ascertain the whole facts of the case before the time comes when it will be proper for us to form or express any opinion on the subject. With regard to the character of the representations, they were entirely informal, and of the same nature as those which are happily always in progress between Members of the Government, and the Members of this House.