§ Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration."
§ COLONEL FRENCH
moved the re-committal of the Bill, as far as regarded Clause 21, his object being to leave out from the clause the proposal that the Accountant General should retire on two-thirds of his salary, and restore the clause to its original shape, allowing him to retire on his full salary.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "be" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "re-committed, in respect of Clause 21,"—(Colonel French,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. DICKINSON
supported the clause as it stood, contending that the proposed 1722 retiring allowance of two-thirds was ample.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, that originally the Bill provided that the Accountant General should retire on his full salary, which he thought was a proper provision; and he believed it would have been maintained if the hon. Member who had just sat down had not taken the House by surprise on the former occasion, when he moved the Amendment that was now embodied in the Bill. Under the circumstances of the case he (Mr. Crawford) should support the claim of the present Accountant General, to retire on full pay. Every holder of that office had held it during his life, and therefore he thought the one who at present held it was entitled to what he claimed, and not two-thirds of his salary, as was proposed to be given to him.
§ MR. HUNT
said, it was much more pleasant to argue in favour of giving a gentleman his full salary than in the opposite sense, but that duty compelled him to take the latter course in the present instance. If the Accountant General had a statutory right to get his full salary, of course it was open to him to take it under the statute, but on that point he should like to have the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown. If Mr. Russell was not entitled to his full salary under the statute, then he, for one, objected to his being treated with exceptional favour.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he did not agree with what had been just said. The salary was composed of three parts—£900 a-year as Accountant General, £600 a-year as Master in Chancery, and an allowance of £2,700 in lieu of brokerage on Chancery funds. The other Masters, when their offices were abolished, received as an allowance their full salary. If the brokerage had not been commuted, about the year 1852, this officer would for several years past have received £5,000 or £6,000 a year more than he had. The principal officers of the Court of Bankruptcy, when their offices were abolished in 1869, received their full salary as a pension, and he thought the only way to obtain the consent of the holders of such offices was to deal liberally with them in order to obtain their consent to the desired reform. He hoped, therefore, the House would reconsider its decision.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that speaking without reference to the gentleman in question, with whom he was entirely unacquainted, he did not think it would be wise in such cases as the present, seeing that the Government were actually going to make profits out of the funds in question, to deal otherwise with the Accountant General than in the most liberal way. He pointed out that the Commissioners in Bankruptcy in Ireland had, in 1867, received their full salaries, and that the Accountant General virtually held his office on the understanding that he was to hold it for life.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, he was of opinion that the Bill as it stood did deal liberally with the officer in question, and remarked that the taxpayers must also be considered in the matter.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, he hoped that if the Government gave way in this instance the case would not be drawn into a precedent; and suggested that the clause should be so drawn as to convey no statutory right, but so as to leave the responsibility of fixing the amount of pension with the Treasury. This had been the course pursued, after much controversy, in the case of the Commissioners and other officers of the old Court of Bankruptcy.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he trusted that the House would think it consistent with its duty virtually to comply with the Motion now made, as he was perfectly satisfied that by so doing it would act in the direction of the public interest. There was no doubt that the Government were pledged to the Accountant General to do what they could for him, and that if they now insisted upon carrying the Motion, it would have the effect of preventing reforms. They must judge of this matter by the whole of the circumstances. This gentleman had held the office 33 years; he was Master in Chancery, and belonged to a generation now passed away, who were accustomed to receive much larger retiring pensions. All the other Masters in Chancery had retired on full pay, and the Accountant General virtually held the office for his life, and he might reasonably expect to be treated in the same way. All the circumstances taken together entitled him to retire on full salary. In the case of the officers in Bankruptcy, the Lord Chancellor had to 1724 state whether in his opinion they should retire on full pay, and he was quite willing to place this matter on the same footing.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 54; Noes 140: Majority 86.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Bill re-committed; considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 21 (Pension to present Accountant General).
Clause amended as follows:—
The person who at the passing of this Act is the Accountant General of the Court of Chancery shall, after the commencement of this Act, receive during his life, by way of retiring pension, such amount as the Lord Chancellor shall, with the approval of the Commissioners of the Treasury, deem proper under the special circumstances of the case, provided that such amount shall not exceed the present salary and emoluments of the said office.
§ Bill reported; as amended, considered; Amendments made; to be read the third time To-morrow, at Two of the clock.