HC Deb 13 July 1871 vol 207 cc1624-5

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether any action has been taken on the subjects referred to in the following paragraphs in the Report of the Select Committee on Accounts of Income and Expenditure of the Civil List, which sat in the Session 1837–8:— Although your Committee have not had the means of examining into the subject with the minute attention that would enable them to form a definite opinion, they are inclined to think that by Her Majesty's permission it would be a fit subject for inquiry, to be carried on by the Treasury and the great departments of the Household, whether the several existing offices of pay might not be united and consolidated, and a system simpler, more economical, and equally efficient substituted in their room. Your Committee entirely approve of the principle acted on in all the branches of the ordinary public service, by which sinecures of all descriptions have been abolished on the termination of the existing interests; the Committee consider this principle to be applicable to the departments of the Civil List, they therefore express their hope that with the permission of Her Majesty such inquiries may be instituted by the Treasury and the departments of the Household, and that such directions may be given as will enforce the application of this salutary principle from time to time; and, if any action has been taken on those propositions, whether the result could be communicated to Parliament?


, in reply, said, he could not exactly state what arrangements had been made with regard to the consolidation of the pay offices of Her Majesty's Household; but he had no doubt the necessary steps in the matter would be speedily taken, and that it might be looked upon as being practically disposed of. As to sinecure offices, the Treasury, while in communication with the Household, pointed out that it would be desirable, in the view of the Government, to draw a line between those offices which were properly sinecure and those which were of an active and responsible nature. That also, as he understood, had been done, and a number of sinecures had been abolished. In regard to others, it had been arranged that they should lapse at the expiration of existing interests. There were, however, a certain number of offices with respect to which he could not say that any positive arrangement had yet been made. He referred to offices which, although they entailed very little duty, were not to be called by the name of sinecure in an invidious sense. They were such offices as that, for instance, of the Poet Laureate, the duties of which, although the duties attached to it were slight, yet had been admirably performed by its present holder. As to offices of that kind which afforded the Crown the means of noticing distinguished merit, the decision must be reserved. In the case of a number of offices properly called sinecure, they were either abolished or arrangements were made for their lapse.