HC Deb 24 July 1871 vol 208 cc161-3

asked, the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, if it be true that the permanent Under Secretary for the time being of Foreign Affairs receives an addition to his salary out of Secret Service Money, such appropriation of that fund is in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government justifiable, and in accordance with the intentions of Parliament in granting money for Secret Services?


Sir, when a Question was asked previously upon a Question akin to this, and, I think, embracing this, the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs declared to the House that which he conceived to be the established and general rule with regard to the administration of Secret Service Money. However, partly from the nature of the question, and also very much because the eminent person who is at the present moment Permanent Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the subject of this question, is desirous to withhold no information, I may state the facts exactly as they are. I do not think it would be correct to say that Mr. Hammond receives an addition to his salary out of the Secret Service Money; at the same time I will not cavil about words; he receives an allowance, but it cannot be called an addition to his salary, because it is not as an addition to his salary that it is given. Secret Service Money constitutes a completely distinct and special fund, and the administration of it is necessarily a duty, not only of very high responsibility, but also of considerable labour, because it is necessarily kept in the hands of a very high and confidential person, who cannot receive in the administration of it the kind and degree of assistance which he receives in the discharge of the ordinary duties of his office. For these reasons it has been for a long time held in the Foreign Office that a special allowance ought to be made to the Permanent Under Secretary for this difficult, responsible, and laborious duty. The arrangement stands upon the basis of a Minute made by Mr. Canning, and dated about 1824. Previously to that time the amount was regulated by a percentage upon the Secret Service Money voted; by Mr. Canning's Minute it was fixed at £500 a-year, and at that it has continued ever since. In justice to the indefatigable public servant who now fills the office, I must say that shortly after the accession to Office of the present Government he voluntarily tendered to Lord Clarendon an expression of his readiness, if it were thought right, to reduce the payment to £300 a-year. Lord Clarendon consulted me upon the subject, and, having reference to the time the payment had been established, and to the nature of Mr. Hammond's services, and the really unmeasured labour he gave to the public benefit, I said I could not bring myself to advise that his offer should, be accepted, but that the amount should remain at what it was during the time he remained in office. It therefore remains unchanged, not in consequence of any claim made by him, but in spite of the offer made by him to the prejudice of his own interest; but when a change occurs in the tenure of the office the amount will be reduced from £500 to £300 a-year. As far as my opinion goes, considering the nature of the Secret Service Fund, it is in no way at variance with the intentions of Parliament to make a special allowance for the duties involved in the admistration of it, and such a payment is not an unjustifiable appropriation of Secret Service Money.


Are we to understand that the Permanent Under Secretary receives £500 a-year in addition to the sum voted for him in the Estimates for the "unmeasured labour" he undertakes as Under Secretary, or is it because he has the distribution of the Secret Service Fund? Hon. Members may be aware that it was alleged before the Select Committee on the Diplomatic Service that the distribution of the money was intrusted solely to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and to the Under Secretary of State, and therefore it would appear that, out of the Secret Service Fund, the present Under Secretary receives £500 a-year for his labour as Permanent Under Secretary, in addition to the sum voted by Parliament.


He receives £500 a-year for his labours in connection with the administration of the Secret Service Fund, and not as an addition to the sum voted by Parliament for the performance of his general duties.