HC Deb 08 July 1869 vol 197 cc1421-3

said, he wished to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether the office of Clerk of the Crown has not hitherto been regarded as patronage appertaining to the local Members for the County when supporting the Government; whether the joint recommendation of the Members for the King's County has not been disregarded in the late appointment; whether such disregard had arisen from any deficiency in personal character, or of any want of professional aptitude to fill an office involving the performance of nominal duties, or if it had arisen from want of social status or professional standing? Would he state his reasons for supposing Mr. Bergin deficient in these respects; whether Mr. Dalton, the gentleman now Clerk of the Crown for the King's County, is connected otherwise than by his appointment with the King's County; and, if he has been recommended by Members of Parliament or Members of the Government, will he state who they are who have interfered with the County Members' patronage; and, whether Mr. Bergin, who was recommended by the County Members, received a certificate from the head of the legal profession in Ireland—the Lord Chancellor—through his Lordship's Secretary, which was forwarded to the Chief Secretary?


Sir, in answer to my hon. Friend I have to say that the patronage of the office of Clerk of the Crown pertains to the Lord Lieutenant. It is, of course, usual to consider the wishes of the County Members supporting the Government, and those wishes were very carefully considered on the present occasion. It was, indeed, a matter of deep regret to the Lord Lieutenant and myself that in this particular case we were not able to agree in the view taken by the Members for the King's County; but I must remind my hon. Friend that the wishes and recommendations of Members of Parliament, however important, do not bind the discretion of the Executive; nor can they do so, inasmuch as they in no degree relieve the Executive from the responsibility which falls on the Lord Lieutenant in filling up public offices. With respect to the next part of my hon. Friend's Question, I must say that I regret he should have thought it necessary to ask it, and I must decline to answer it, because it requires me to explain in the minutest detail the reasons which have influenced the Lord Lieutenant in the performance of a most responsible duty. Such an answer would be one which it would be as improper as invidious in me to give. As to the next part of my hon. Friend's Questions, I have to state that I do not know that Mr. Dalton is connected with the King's County beyond the fact that he was the conducting agent of one of the Members for that county at the late election—the Colleague of the hon. Baronet. In reply to the next part of the Question, I have simply to observe that I am not aware that anyone has committed the crime of having interfered with the County Members' patronage. So far as I know, in the first instance Mr. Dalton recommended himself, but the Lord Lieutenant, on full inquiry, was perfectly satisfied that in choosing him out of the list of candidates before him he had done what was best for the public service, and, to put the matter on a lower footing, even what was best for the general interests of the party with which my hon. Friend and myself are connected. As to Mr. Dalton's want of connection with the county, I must remind my hon. Friend that it is by no means an unprecedented event that clerkships of the Crown, particularly in counties, should be filled by gentlemen not otherwise connected with the county. In the case of the King's County itself, the last occupant of the office but one—who, I believe, was appointed at the request of the hon. Baronet, at a time when Lord Lieutenants and Chief Secretaries were more fortunate than they happen to be at this moment, and than, I hope, they will be in future, in being able to comply with the request of my hon. Friend—had no connection with the county except that he was his own conducting agent at the previous election. In answer to the last part of the Question I have to state that a letter has been communicated to me, written by the private secretary of the Lord Chancellor, which is of a most formal kind, and does not at all come up to the description of a certificate.