HC Deb 20 June 1871 vol 207 cc308-10

, in bringing forward the Motion of which he had given Notice— That it is expedient that compensation should be made to the Clerks of the General Meetings, or of the Lieutenancy of any county, riding, or place in the United Kingdom, for the loss of emoluments which they will sustain by reason of the enactment of the provisions of the Army Regulation Bill, observed that, although theoretically these clerks held office merely at the pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant, practically they held office for life; and taking the average, they held office for 18 years. Their emoluments consisted partly of salaries fixed by Parliament under various Militia and Volunteer Acts, and partly of fees on the granting of commissions. In no case did the emoluments exceed £122 per annum, which, taking into consideration the services rendered and the high character of the gentlemen who rendered them, could not be considered a very exorbitant rate of pay. Taking both sources of emoluments, he found that in the course of five years all the clerks of lieutenancy in England and Wales received only £8,100 per annum, which being divided by 59, the number of clerks, only gave to each £137 per annum. There had been some correspondence with the War Office on this subject, and in a Memorandum written by Lord Northbrook it was stated that Mr. Cardwell considered that in these cases the payments in question were made as a reasonable compensation for services rendered, and when those services ceased the payments would also cease. Now, that was totally opposed to the principle on winch compensation for the abolition of offices and superannuations had been granted. He referred to the compensations granted under 5 & 6 Vict. c. 105, to officers whose interests were damaged by changes in the Court of Chancery; under 18 & 19 Vict. c. 126, to clerks of the peace; under 20 & 21 Vict., to proctors practising in the Probate Court; under the Irish Church Bill of last Session, to schoolmasters, clerks, sextons, and holders of other offices; and under a Treasury Minute of January last year, upon the abolition of the agencies in the Foreign Office, although in the latter case the office could not be said to be other than one of a private nature. He had asked that two-thirds of their salaries should be awarded to the clerks of lieutenancy as compensation on the abolition of their offices; but if that were thought too much he should be prepared to accept a little less. He would further say that as the majority of the parties affected were upwards of 50 years of age, the burden could not possibly be of long duration. The noble Lord concluded by moving his Resolution.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is not expedient that the Clerks of the General Meetings, or of the Lieutenancy of any county, riding, or place in the United Kingdom, should be deprived of their emoluments without compensation,"—(Lord George Hamilton,) —instead thereof.

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


said, he hoped the Government would not entertain such a proposal. The officers in question were really of no use whatever. They held their situations at the more will of Lords Lieutenant of counties, and in Ireland the expenditure was altogether useless. The situation appeared to be only an opportunity of giving a person £50 a-year for doing nothing.


said, that the Government agreed very much in the view that had been taken by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who had last spoken (Colonel French), that the proposal of the noble Lord could not be complied with without violating the rules of the House. But, independently of that objection to the Amendment, the Government felt bound to oppose the proposition on its merits, inasmuch as the gentlemen in question were not the servants of the Crown; and they were also of opinion that the withdrawal of the emoluments they had lost did not entitle them to compensation. The most telling of the examples of compensation referred to by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex was that of the compensation to the agents of the Foreign Office; but those gentlemen were servants of the Crown, and had received their emoluments by virtue of an Order of Council. The case of the officers of the Court of Chancery who were compensated was not an example to be imitated, as it had given rise to scandal, and was never referred to except as an example that the House of Commons ought to avoid following. But even in that case the compensation was not paid out of taxes, but out of funds belonging to the Court of Chancery. In the case of the Irish Church, again, the compensations under the Irish Church Act were paid out of the Irish Church property. The duties out of which the emoluments in question had been derived came casually to the gentlemen whom it was now sought to compensate under the operation of an Act of Parliament, and had been abolished by another Act of Parliament. Under these circumstances, the Government were not prepared to accede to the proposal of the noble Lord.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

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