HC Deb 13 May 1872 vol 211 cc681-97

(Mr. Baxter, Mr. Solicitor General, Mr. William Henry Gladstone.)

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Baxter.)


, in moving that the Order for going into Committee upon the Bill be discharged, and that it be referred to a Select Committee, said, his right hon. Friend the Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) had moved for Copies of Correspondence which had passed between Sir William Dunbar and the Lords of the Treasury in reference to this subject. That Correspondence pointed out the numerous difficulties in the way of carrying out the Bill in its present form, and required the most careful consideration. He hoped, therefore, the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would not press it forward before hon. Members had had an opportunity of considering that important Correspondence. In moving, as he was about to do, that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee, his object was not to throw any obstacles in its way so as to prevent its passing, but simply to secure the introduction of provisions which would give full protection to the suitors in the Court of Chancery. The Bill dealt with funds amounting to between £60,000,000 and £70,000,000, which had heretofore been taken charge of by an officer of the Court of Chancery, who only owed allegiance to that Court; but it was now proposed to hand over the management of these enormous funds to an officer of the Treasury, and it would be idle to ignore the fact that the design of the Bill was to allow the Treasury to deal with and make a profit out of them. On the 1st of October last year the funds of the Court of Chancery amounted to upwards of £62,000,000, all being invested in Three per Cent Consols and other securities with the exception of £3,000,000, which was in the form of cash, although of the latter sum about £2,500,000 was invested in securities as far as the Court of Chancery was concerned; and in the year ending October 30, 1871, the amount of the funds paid into the Court was close upon £20,000,000, and the amount transferred from the Court was about £18,000,000. These figures would show the magnitude of the interests which it was proposed to deal with. Again, on referring to the Schedule of the Bill he found it was proposed to repeal six or seven Acts of Parliament wholly, and 10 partially. One of the latter was a statute passed in the 36th year of the reign of George III., which contained a very valuable clause, providing that executors or persons having legacies to pay might, when the recipients were persons under age or beyond seas, pay the amount of such legacies into the Court of Chancery, to the credit of the Accountant General, whereupon the money was invested in Three per Cent Consols, and accumulated for the benefit of the legatees. The Bill would repeal so much of that clause as related to the investment of the money. It was true that a clause in the Bill provided for the making of rules for regulating the investment of the funds, and there was a provision under which the Court of Chancery could make an Order for their investment; but under the Act which was to be repealed the Order of the Court was not necessary, and the investment was made immediately on the certificate of the Accountant General, that the money had been paid to his credit. This change in the mode of dealing with the funds might prove very detrimental to the legatees. He gave that as illustrative of the Acts which it had been thought desirable to repeal, and of the necessity for careful consideration of those Acts, and of the consequences of their repeal. It was also proposed that the provisions of the Bill should come into operation soon, and simultaneously, but that would be found impracticable; and it was necessary to consider what clauses should come into operation early, and what should take effect at a later period. Sir William Dunbar, in reply to a letter from the Lords of the Treasury, had mentioned many points in which the scheme of the Bill would fail to work efficiently. The matter was one to which it could not be expected that hon. Members generally had given that amount of attention which would enable them to discuss it in Committee of the Whole House, and he should therefore move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "The Bill be committed to a Select Committee,"—(Sir Richard Baggallay,)—instead thereof.

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


earnestly hoped the hon. and learned Member would not press his Amendment to have the Bill referred to a Select Committee, a course only adopted in special cases, whereas there was nothing special, difficult, or intricate about this Bill to render it necessary to send it upstairs. Originally there were on the Paper two pages of Notices of Amendments to be moved in Committee; but those who gave them had been conferred with, and the result was that the number of Amendments had been reduced to two, the others having been either accepted by the Government and embodied in the Bill as amended, or withdrawn on the receipt of satisfactory explanations from the Government. The two Amendments that were left might very well be disposed of in Committee. Committees appointed by the Law Societies sent in a long list of objections to the original Bill, but the objections of the committees had been met or removed; and the partial repeal of Acts had received careful consideration, both on the part of the Government and of the Law Societies. With regard to the time proposed for inaugurating the change, it was decided that the Long Vacation was the proper time for doing so, and the only question was, whether it should operate from October in this year or October next year. Attention had also been given to the framing of rules, and, although they were not finally settled, they were in a forward state. The supposed difficulty about the Controller General and the audit was provided for by an Amendment, and the other difficulties brought forward would, he believed, disappear if the House were allowed to go into Committee.


said, he never heard such unsatisfactory reasons for a Bill as those that were adduced by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury when he moved the second reading of this Bill. He said, indeed, that the reasons for introducing it had been stated last year in the Budget by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and on reference to Hansard it would be found that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's arguments were, that considerable inconvenience was occasioned to suitors having money in this fund, by reason of the holidays lasting two months, and that the proposed measure might be made a means of reducing the National Debt. It appeared to him (Mr. Aytoun), however, that the alleged inconvenience could have been remedied without altering the mode in which the fund was managed; and it was absurd to suppose that the Bill was promoted with any intention to confer a benefit on the suitor, the real object being to place a large fund at the disposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to carry out the system of Terminable Annuities, to which he confessed he in common with some other hon. Members was entirely opposed. The Secretary to the Treasury had stated on a former occasion, that although this measure might be made a powerful lever for the reduction of the National Debt, the conversion of Stock into Terminable Annuities could not be carried out till another Act was passed; but he (Mr. Aytoun) believed, that was not the case, for by the operation of 29 Vict., c. 5, s. 4, it would be in the power of the Government at once to create Terminable Annuities. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General had stated that under that Act not more than £5,000,000 of Stock could be converted into Terminable Annuities. But on reference to the finance accounts of the year 1870–71, at page 55, he found under date the 31st of March, that a sum of £7,000,000 had been converted. How the Solicitor General could have arrived at the conclusion that only £5,000,000 of Stock could be converted, when £7,000,000 had been converted, he was at a loss to understand. The Solicitor General had informed the House that he had given up two-thirds of his private practice in order to enable him the better to perform the duties of his office; but if they were to judge by the statement he had made upon this subject, the public had not gained much by the generous abandonment of the hon. and learned Gentleman's private practice. He repeated he (Mr. Aytoun) was strongly opposed to the system of reducing the Debt by creating Terminable Annuities, for it only introduced confusion and mystification into the public accounts. He thought the control of that part of finance should be retained in the hands of Parliament, who should determine how much out of the surplus of each year should be disposed of in the reduction of Debt; and in order to show the mystification which prevailed on this subject he might remind the House that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had spoken of the large amount of the National Debt he had reduced; but when asked whether that amount of Debt had been really paid off, the right hon. Gentleman admitted that it was merely turned into Terminable Annuities. The public, therefore, were under a complete misapprehension on the matter when informed that so much Debt had been paid off. Being opposed to that system of mystification, he should support the Motion that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee.


said, he would state a further, and he thought a sufficient, reason to those that had been already adduced why the Government should consent to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. It was this—it was proposed to abolish the office of Accountant General of the Court of Chancery, and the gentleman now holding that office was to retire on his full pay. It might, however, be necessary to appoint another officer to discharge partly the same duties as were now discharged by the Accountant General, for he held in his hand a letter of the Controller General, that had not yet been delivered to hon. Members; in which he found that Sir William Dunbar distinctly stated that the appointment of a Second Assistant Controller of Audit would be required. The answer of the Treasury was not yet in type—it was only in manuscript. The Treasury stated that they could not assent to that view. Which was right or which was wrong on that point, he (Mr. Hunt) was unable to say; but it was not a matter which could be settled in that House, and might well be inquired into by a Select Committee. On that ground he was in favour of the Motion for referring the Bill to a Select Committee; and the Bill would be in no worse position if that course were adopted, as its principle had already been agreed to.


said, he thought the reason just given for referring the Bill to a Select Committee eminently unsatisfactory. He was not of opinion that a Select Committee would be in a better position than that House to determine whether or not any officer occupying a high position such as the Accountant General would be required. His own impression was that no officer of the kind would be needed, and the Treasury authorities were unanimously of that opinion. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunt) said that the Bill would be in no worse position by being referred to a Select Committee; but it must be borne in mind that they were now in the middle of May, and that most important Business would have to be discussed on the re-assembling of the House after the holidays; and, therefore, it was desirable that the present measure, which was one of the most valuable Bills ever presented to the House, should now be considered. In reply to the observations of the hon. Member for the Kirkcaldy Burghs, he had to state that the Government could not deal with these funds in the way mentioned without the sanction of an Act of Parliament.


said, it was incumbent on the House to discharge its responsibility in that important matter, and not to shift it on the shoulders of a Department of the State. It was a question essentially for the House to settle; and they could not do that until they had had a fair opportunity of discussing the Treasury Minute on the subject.


said, he should be sorry to delay a measure of that nature, after its principle had been approved by a large majority; but he conceived that sufficient reasons had been stated for referring the Bill to a Select Committee. Very large liabilities were imposed by the Bill on the Consolidated Fund, which was made liable, under certain contingencies, for any deficiencies which might arise in working out the Bill; and he did not like seeing the whole of those large liabilities cast on the Consolidated Fund without a more full examination given to the matter than could possibly be instituted in that House, for there were various matters of great intricacy and detail which a Committee composed of Gentlemen thoroughly experienced, could alone satisfactorily work out. The Bill proposed that the Accountant General should be allowed to retire with a pension. Mr. Russell had been Accountant General for 33 or 34 years, and was well entitled, he understood, to the retiring pension provided by the Bill; but no provision was made for the broker on account of the loss of his office. Previous to 1854 the broker of the Court of Chancery charged 2s. 6d. per cent upon all purchases and sales, out of which 1s. 6d. went to the Accountant General; but when the office of Accountant General was regulated in that year the broker retained 1s. out of the 2s. 6d., and paid the remaining 1s. 6d. to the Suitors' Pee Fund. In 1863 that gentleman died, and his nephew, Mr. Mortimer, was appointed his successor, an arrangement being then made that he should pay over the whole amount of brokerage to the Fund, and should receive a salary of £2,000 a-year. A sum not far short of half that salary went to clerks whom it was necessary to engage to carry out the special duties connected with the purchase and sale of Stock. Since 1868, when the charges of the Court of Chancery were placed on the Votes of Parliament, he had paid the brokerage to the Paymaster General, the average amount during the last few years having been about £10,000 a-year. Last year it was £11,000, leaving a profit to the State of £9,000, which he presumed went to the miscellaneous Revenue of the country. Therefore, as a salaried officer of the Court, Mr. Mortimer by all precedent was entitled to compensation on the abolition of his office. His claim was certainly as strong as that of the Proctors practising in the Ecclesiastical Courts, who were awarded compensation; and he hoped it would be considered by the Government. There were other objections to which he wished to refer; but he would deal with them when the Bill got into Committee. For instance, he observed in the Bill no provision for securing the "effects" of the suitors, which included some valuable property now in the custody of the Bank of England; but he presumed it was intended to provide for their security. If the hon. Gentleman who had moved that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee pressed his Motion to a division he would vote with him.


said, he knew of instances in which suitors, on making inquiries, had been astonished to find that their property in Chancery had not been invested at interest. The Bill would provide a remedy for that state of things, and in other respects would act beneficially. He hoped and trusted, therefore, that the Amendment would not be pressed, for it would involve delay, and the Bill appeared carefully drawn, the 18th clause giving the Lord Chancellor power, with the concurrence of the Treasury, to draw up the most complete rules, which would be laid before Parliament for sanction or modification. The measure would give suitors 2 per cent for the money deposited, whereas they had hitherto had no interest, and it would facilitate their obtaining payments, a process which was at present troublesome.


said, he was sorry that the Government had not accepted the proposal to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, for by its means, with a strong hand, they intended to constitute themselves trustees of a sum of £60,000,000 of money without the consent of the suitors interested in the money. The hon. and learned Gentle- man the Solicitor General had told the House that this was a large sum of money, and that was true. He had also told the House that the proposition of the Government had satisfied a great many of the suitors, and that was also true; but that was not a reason for objecting to the Motion for referring the whole subject to a Select Committee. In a case of this kind the Government should have only one object in view, and that was to give every security and every satisfaction in their power. But what was the feeling entertained by suitors on the subject? He had spoken to many of them, and the result was this—no one doubted that the ultimate security for the money was sufficient, but very grave doubts were entertained as to whether they could get their money when the Courts which had the making of the orders for the payment said they should receive it. When the Courts ordered the payment of the money hitherto, it was like giving a cheque on bankers. But people did not get their money out of Chancery quickly; and if a delay of a month or two months occurred, that did not make the matter more pleasant. The mode, however, in which the Bill proposed to deal with the property in Chancery was somewhat roundabout, for if a suitor did not get his money, he would have to apply to the Lord Chancellor, and the latter in his turn to the Treasury, which when satisfied, would order the Paymaster General to pay it out of the growing produce of the Consolidated Fund; but these great men could not be moved very quickly, and whether the Court of Chancery and the Accountant General's office, though like another place they were said to be always open, were really so, he was not sure. Moreover, the growing produce of the Consolidated Fund was sometimes anticipated, Deficiency Bills being now and then heard of. There did not, then, appear such a certainty of prompt payment as at present; but if this view was a mistaken one, it would be easy for the Solicitor General to satisfy the Select Committee on the point. If the Bill had been at first sent to a Select Committee, it would by this time have been considered there. As it was, a great deal of soreness had been caused among the suitors by the course of the Government, and that was as bad as cheating them.


said, that two pages of Amendments had been set down on this Bill, and the Government had satisfied all but two of the Movers of those Amendments. He did not know whether a Select Committee would be more successful in dealing with the details of the Bill. The fact was, that upon this Motion to refer the Bill to a Select Committee the principle of the measure had been again discussed; but hon. Gentlemen ought to show that the objections they made would be more likely to be removed in a Select Committee than in a Committee of that House; and they had really shown nothing of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) said that the Accountant General's office and the Court of Chancery, like another place, were always open; but the very complaint made was, that for three months in the year those places were not open, and that, whatever the emergencies of the suitors, they could not during that time get a shilling of their money, while just before the Long Vacation there was a run upon the office and £300,000 or £400,000 were drawn out. That was the way the present system worked. Then the right hon. Gentleman said something as to the security. What was the security at present? The Accountant General had the absolute disposal of the money of the suitors, and the effect of the Bill was to substitute the whole amount of Stock and the Consolidated Fund for the security of the Accountant General. As to the audit, no doubt when you took a new Department under the Government that was an important question. But was it possible to settle that point in either a Select Committee or a Committee of that House? They had had an Exchequer and Audit Act. Did the House of Commons itself attempt to regulate the audit? No, it delegated the duty to the Treasury, which introduced a system of audit now extended with great advantage to all the Departments except the Army and Navy, into which they were about to be introduced. The Controller and Auditor General were of opinion that a new officer must be appointed. Even if that were so, such an officer, at, say, £1,500 a-year, replacing one whose salary and emoluments amounted to £4,600 a-year, would effect a saving; but he demurred entirely to the statement that such an officer at a high salary was necessary, although it probably might be necessary to increase the staff of inferior officers. The proper course would be to find out in practice what was wanted, and then, no doubt, at the instance of the Treasury, the House would supply what was wanted. Again, it was not to be taken for granted that there should be no audit at all, but merely an examination before payment. Such a system was not equivalent to an examination after payment. With regard to what had been said by the hon. Member for the City of London, as to the gentleman who acted as broker, it would not be advisable to deal with his case in the Bill, but it would be carefully considered and liberally dealt with.


said, he had made no objection to the proposed transfer, and to the proposal that the Government should have the use of this money; but he thought it desirable that the accounts of the Court of Chancery should be kept by officers of the Court, while the Government kept their own account of the money paid over to them. That was the system adopted in the Landed Estates Court in Ireland, and it had worked well, ensuring the greatest certainty and accuracy. The proposal in the Bill, however, would make the Government masters not only of the money, but of the accounts, without any corresponding check upon them; for you could not reach Government officials as officers of the Court of Chancery could be reached by the orders of the Court. In a Select Committee, these points might be fully considered.


said, he was not much enamoured of the principle of the Bill, which applied for the public benefit in money as much private property as the that he held in his hand. But the principle having been adopted, a reference of the Bill to a Select Committee would secure no good which could not equally be gained by discussing the Bill in a Committee of the Whole House.

Question put, and agreed to.

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

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clauses 1 to 17, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 18 (Rules for regulating proceedings).


, in moving that the rules under this Bill should be framed, not by the Treasury, but by— The Lord Chancellor, with the concurrence of the Master of the Rolls, the Lords Justices of the Court of Appeal in Chancery, and the Vice Chancellors of the Court of Chancery, or any three of them, said, the Amendment he proposed was consistent with all recent analogous legislation—and it was desirable to make it so, because of the extent to which the interests of suitors might be affected, and because the natural guardians of the suitors' rights were the Judges of the Courts of Chancery.


said, he trusted the Government would see their way to accept the Amendment. The Court of Chancery in its administrative capacity was the best guardian that could be found, having lost less than £1,000 by fraud and negligence in 150 years. The great objection to the Government scheme was, that it gave to the debtor—the Government, the power of dictating the terms on which their own securities might be enforced; and, further, there was no reason why, in this instance, there should be a departure from the usual practice of allowing rules to be drawn up by the permanent Judges.


said, he could not agree with the Amendment as it was drawn, because it would exclude the Treasury from the superintendence and control of the funds; at the same time, however, the object of the Amendment—the greater protection of the suitors by the authority of the Judges, ought to be attained. The Lord Chancellor and the Treasury sometimes had conflicting interests; and that would appear to be the case with reference to deposits. Therefore, he wished "shall" to be substituted for "may" in the deposit clause, so as to make it imperative that in all cases 2 per cent interest should be paid to suitors.


said, there was great force in the remarks just made, which the Government ought to consider. The Amendment before the Committee might be inserted in another part of the clause after the words "Lord Chancellor," and it might be provided that the rules should be made by the Lord Chan- cellor, the Judges, or any three of them with the concurrence of the Treasury.


said, the suggestion just offered would meet the case.


said, it was impossible to accept the Amendment. The Bill simply proposed that certain financial arrangements which ever since the Court of Chancery existed had been left to the Lord Chancellor should remain with him. What was said on the other side was, that in some modern Acts of Parliament relating to legal procedure, the making of rules had been left to the Lord Chancellor and the other Judges. Now, however, they were dealing not with matters of law at all, but simply with the best mode of carrying out a new financial arrangement. It had nothing to do with the office of Judge of the Court of Chancery, and therefore the Judges ought not to be called upon to make regulations on a subject with which they were not familiar. The persons charged with these duties were Ministers of the Crown, who were responsible to the House of Commons; and he might remark that the Judges named in the Amendment could not possibly be as familiarly acquainted as the Treasury and the Lord Chancellor with the working of the Accountant General's Department. There was no ground, moreover, for distrusting the Lord Chancellor, who had had similar duties imposed upon him since the reign of George I. In conclusion, he trusted the Committee would allow the rules to be made by persons who were responsible to that House.


said, he thought there was no weight in the Solicitor General's argument against the Amendment, which would give the Lord Chancellor additional strength in protecting the interests of the suitors.


said, he was of opinion that the Lord Chancellor would be glad to have the assistance of one or two Judges, who were brought daily into contact with the minutiæ and detail of Chancery practice. He would, moreover, remind the Solicitor General that the Lord Chancellor possessed a jurisdiction more of an appellate than of an originating character, and therefore he approved of the Amendment.


said, it was highly desirable that the rules which were intended to protect the suitors on the one hand and the public on the other, should be framed by persons who were responsible to the House of Commons, and not by Judges who could not be compelled to attend to the expressed wishes of the House.


said, he would withdraw his Amendment, and would move another—namely, at page 8, line 9, after the word "Chancellor," to insert— With the advice and assistance of the Master of the Rolls, the Lords Justices of the Court of Appeal in Chancery, and the Vice Chancellors of the Court of Chancery, or any two of them. The Amendment was quite in harmony with the whole tendency of modern legislation, for in matters affecting the interests of the suitors the Judges of the Court of Chancery should have a voice.

Amendment proposed, In page 8, line 9, after the word "Chancellor," to insert the words "with the advice and assistance of the Master of the Rolls, the Lords Justices of the Court of Appeal in Chancery, and the Vice Chancellors of the Court of Chancery, or any two of them, and,"—(Mr. Gregory.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, he thought it would be most unfortunate if those orders should be so made that they would become the subject of any discussion in that House. They could not forget that the Lord Chancellor was a political as well as a judicial officer; and leaving the rules to be made by two political officers would not be so likely to give satisfaction to the suitors as if an independent judicial authority was joined with them. He could not see what objection the Government could possibly have to the reasonable proposal of his hon. and learned Friend.


said, that the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman was wholly unsound in principle, and took a false view of the position of Judges to that House. As to the argument just adduced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Henley), the Lord Chancellor had always possessed the power, and the Government thought it right that he should continue to possess it. How could the Judges give security to suitors? The Judges were not to be made liable; it was the public that were to be liable; and therefore the House of Commons should exercise all control in the public interest. Besides, it must be remembered the proper business of the Judges was to decide causes, and not to take care of funds. In fact, the House had burnt its fingers in former days, having been asked to vote money for the supply of defalcations arising out of Orders imposed by Judges—and quite right too, as it was the business of the House to give security for moneys deposited in public custody pending litigation. On those grounds, the Government could not give way on the question.


reminded the Committee that the Judges were constantly called upon to exercise a discretion in regard to the investment of those moneys, and that that would continue to be the case after the passing of the Bill.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 48; Noes 105: Majority 57.


wished to know, what was the meaning of that part of the clause which declared that the Lord Chancellor and the Treasury should determine the mode of computing the interest? Were any unusual elements to enter into the calculation?


said, he did not understand it, and could not give an answer.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 19 and 20 agreed to.

Clause 21 (Pension to present Accountant General).


moved that the clause, which provided that on the abolition of his office Mr. William Russell, the Accountant General, should retire on his full salary, should be amended by substituting the words "two-thirds" in place of "full."


said, the Amendment was in accordance with the practice of former years, which was, when an officer retired and was relieved from the whole of his duties, to give him two-thirds of his salary. It was only in cases where sinecure offices were abolished that the full salary was given as a pension. If the clause were passed as it stood, it would be setting a very bad precedent, and it would be utterly impossible to avoid following it in all future cases of a similar character.


hoped the Government would adhere to the proposition contained in the clause. The office of Mr. Russell, the Accountant General, had been by no means a sinecure office.


said, that in making this change for the public benefit, Mr. Russell's claim ought not to be overlooked. The question must depend upon the character of the appointment.


said, he considered that Mr. Russell ought to be satisfied with a pension of two-thirds of his salary.


asked why, in granting this pension, the usual course had been departed from? No cause had been shown for making that change.


said, from what had been stated by the hon. Gentleman the Member for London (Mr. Crawford), this gentleman did not stand on any different footing with regard to pensions from the holders of other offices, and who retired on two-thirds of their salaries.


said, that 20 years ago, when the Masters in Chancery were abolished, they retired on full salaries. Mr. Russell was at that time a Master in Chancery, and it was considered only fair that that principle should now be applied to him. That was the best answer he could give to the question. Whenever the Government attempted to make reductions, they had to yield their opinions to those expressed by the House.


said, it was high time for the House to set its face against paying men the same for doing nothing as they did when they were occupied. They had got a long way from the precedent of 1852. He should support the Amendment.


said, he could give a precedent that dated back beyond that referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Twenty years before the period alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the clerks in Chancery retired on their full salaries.


said, he thought it important that in such cases the House should follow recent precedents. There had been a vast number of abolitions of offices and consequent compensations during the last 10 years, and the Committee ought to be cautious as to the establishment of any new rules which might give rise to new claims. He should like to know, therefore, whether the gentleman who held the office under discussion was absolutely entitled to hold it during the remainder of his life; whether he was able to discharge its duties or not, because in that event he would be entitled to his full salary, while if it were otherwise, he would have no such claim?


said, the office not being a sinecure, of course, the person holding it could only do so as long as he was able to perform its duties.


said, he wished to point out, that whatever decision the Committee arrived at in the present instance would form a precedent for the case of the Irish Accountant General. He, for one, was of opinion that two-thirds of the salary was a sufficient amount to give.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

On Clause 22 (Existing officers of Accountant General).


said, he hoped some change would be made whereby the inconvenience of the Long Vacation would be got rid of. He also hoped some assurance would be given that economy would be practised in the administration of the Office. The individual and aggregate salaries were very large.


said, he had great pleasure in being able to inform the hon. Gentleman that eventually there would be a considerable saving in the number and salaries of the clerks. At present, it was not proposed to make any change.


reminded the Committee that the clerks had great responsibilities thrown on them, and it was essential that they should be well paid.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedules agreed to.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday 30th May.