HC Deb 04 July 1873 vol 216 cc1805-31

in rising to call attention to the case of the Irish Civil servants; and to move— That the 'Civil Service (in Ireland) Commissioners' having reported that the dissatisfaction on the ground of the general inadequacy of the present scale of salaries, having regard to the great increase which has taken place in latter years in the cost of living,' is well founded; and that there is no reason, based on local considerations, for giving salaries to Civil Servants stationed in Dublin less in amount than those assigned to persons in London performing analogous duties,' this House is of opinion that such general inadequacy of the present scale of salaries of the Civil Servants serving in Ireland should as soon as possible he redressed, and that they should be placed upon an equality as to remuneration with those performing duties in England corresponding in difficulty and responsibility. said, the question was one which did not involve the expenditure of a large amount of money, but was nevertheless of great interest to those whose position he wished to lay before the House. Last year he stated in dealing with the subject, that the salaries of the Irish Civil servants had been fixed a long time ago, when the cost of living was very low; but that since then the cost had risen with extraordinary rapidity, while the salaries of those officers had not correspondingly increased. That was felt by them to be a great hardship, especially as Civil servants performing corresponding duties in England were paid on a much higher scale. The proposal which he had made received very general support from the Irish Members, and it was met on the part of the Government by a suggestion that a Commission should be appointed to inquire into the matter. A Commission had been appointed to which nobody could have any objection, presided over by Lord Monck, and they proposed to inquire—first, into the complaints of the Irish metropolitan police; next, into the complaints of the Irish constabulary; and of the Irish stipendiary magistrates. Having finished those inquiries, they proceeded to consider the cases of the Local Government Board, and of the office of the Registrar General, and finally the general grievances of the Irish Civil servants. The investigation had been a complete and exhaustive one, and he had now to submit to the House the result of that inquiry. The Commissioners reported that the causes of the dissatisfaction existing among members of the Civil Service in Ireland were mainly divisible under two heads—firstly, the general inadequacy of the present scale of salaries, having regard to the great increase in latter years in the cost of living, and, secondly, the disparity between the rates of pay assigned to officers performing analogous duties in London and in Dublin. With regard to the first point, the Commissioners said that abundant evidence had been given to prove, that the rise in the price of all articles of primary necessity had been very great within the last 20 years, that the salaries of the present day represented a lower amount of remuneration than in former times, and that the dissatisfaction felt on that ground was well founded. Under those circumstances, they recommended an increase in the present salaries. On the second point, the Commissioners were of opinion that in former times there existed good grounds for fixing the salaries in Dublin at the amount at which they then stood; but that, there was now sufficient evidence to show that even in the matter of house accommodation, the rents paid by persons in the same rank of life as the Civil servants were not higher in London than in Dublin. The Commissioners therefore came to the conclusion that there was no reason based on local considerations for giving to Civil servants in Dublin lower salaries than were paid to officers performing analogous duties in London. That was the Report of the majority of the Commissioners. Mr. Blackwood, one of the three Commissioners, an officer of the Treasury, did not feel himself justified in agreeing to the Report. He had made a separate statement on the subject, but in doing so, he said that his reason for not agreeing to the Report was not so much that he differed from the other Commissioners as to the conclusions at which they had arrived, as that, having regard to the orders from the Treasury, he did not feel himself entitled to report such general conclusions. Therefore, he (Mr. Plunket) submitted that, so far as the proceedings of that Commission were concerned, his case was proved. The statement he made last year had been entirely borne out by the facts. The Commissioners had found distinctly in favour of the two propositions for which he contended—that there had been an extraordinarily rapid increase in the cost of living in Dublin, and that the effect had been an absolute deterioration of the position of the Civil servants there, as well as relatively when compared with the position of those serving in England. Another objection raised last year to the case he had sought to establish was that, although the cost of provisions might be as dear in Dublin as in London, the household expenses otherwise were less; but that too had been entirely disposed of. The Commissioners had also inquired into some other matters. They attempted to draw a comparison between the posi- tion of commercial employés and that of the Civil servants; but they failed to find any close analogy between the two on which they could confidently rely, with the single exception of the Bank of Ireland—a quasi-national institution. The Commissioners were informed that within the last few years, the salaries paid by the Bank of Ireland to its servants had increased £7,000 per annum; that within the last few weeks there bad been a dearth of well-qualified candidates for vacant clerkships, and that a further increase in the scale of salaries was impending. But it was argued that, after all, if they could get the work well done by the Civil servants in Dublin for the present rate of remuneration the Treasury ought not to pay more. The Commission found that there was now no lack of candidates for the Civil Service; that there was some tendency—though not to any great extent—among some of the Civil servants to leave Government employ in order to better their position elsewhere; but that, notwithstanding the existing complaint as to the inadequacy of the salaries, the work in the public offices at Dublin was well done for the present scale of pay. He would not now discuss the question as to whether there ought or ought not to be an increase of the salaries of the Civil servants throughout the three kingdoms; nor would he enter into the question of the general increase of the prices of all the necessaries of life further than to express his own belief that, unless some concession was made in consequence of the greater cost of living, and the greater hardships of the position of the Civil servants, even in England, the standard of these men's qualities, their abilities, and usefulness to the State could not long be maintained at the high point it had hitherto reached, and the necessary effect must be that the prestige of the service would suffer. He was now dealing especially with the ease of the Civil servants in Ireland, and he prayed the House to consider the position in which they were placed —a position which was felt to be an anomaly, and, to a certain extent, an ignominy. The Commissioners said in their Report that the Irish Civil servants were appointed by the Crown in former times, and that Irishmen were generally appointed to Irish offices; but the competitive examination changed all that, and now if a candidate went up for examination and succeeded, he might, no doubt, go to any part of the United Kingdom to perform his duties. But how would this be found to work? Owing to the peculiar disadvantages of the service in Ireland it was only the worst of the candidates—those, in fact, who had no choice in the matter—who would go there. Now, that in his opinion, was a very anomalous position for men to be placed in, and he added that it affected the interest of the Irish public generally. They had no right to call on a young Irishman to leave his country and go elsewhere, and it was felt to be an indignity that there should be thus a kind of Pariah class in the service of Ireland. Such was the case since the application of the system of competitive examinations for entering into the service, and such would be the case for the future. But it was for the interests of the old Civil servants that he wished especially to plead. Theirs was no sentimental grievance, it had the misfortune of being a real one. They were exposed to the greatest hardship. They had accepted a certain office with certain expectations, but owing to circumstances over which they had no control, their position had become greatly altered. What had been worth £300 a-year a short time ago was now practically only worth about £200; so that, instead of advancing in respect of income, they had been receding, and were daily less able to carry on the struggle of life. These Civil servants were obliged to keep up a certain position. He did not know whether it was the ease in England or Scotland; but in Ireland they had been generally men of great respectability, some of them gentlemen moving in good society, and it was a hard thing that they should find themselves continually on the verge, he would not say of insolvency, but of getting into debt. Their position was becoming every day more intolerable; and many of them, he knew, were only waiting the result of the efforts that had been carried on now for several years in their behalf, to see whether it would not be better for them to throw up that line of life altogether, to forego the superannuation to which they had looked forward as the fruit of their long service, and try to begin life anew in some other occupation. With regard to the method of redress, the Commissioners suggested a classification of various offices of the service all over the Empire. As to whether that proposal was good or bad, he would not offer an opinion, and the Civil servants in Ireland did not pretend to suggest—much less insist—as to the means by which their grievances might be redressed. If the recommendations of the Commissioners to remedy the inadequacy of the present salaries, and to remove the inequalities which existed, were honestly carried out, the Civil servants would be perfectly satisfied. They submitted that they had a pressing and a painful grievance, which, indeed, had been fully established by the Commission issued by the Government, and they prayed that it might be redressed. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the 'Civil Service (in Ireland) Commissioners' having reported that the dissatisfaction on the ground of the general inadequacy of the present scale of salaries, having regard to the great increase which has taken place in latter years in the cost of living,' is well founded; and that there is no reason, based on local considerations, for giving salaries to Civil Servants stationed in Dublin less in amount than those assigned to persons in London performing analogous duties,' this House is of opinion that such general inadequacy of the present scale of salaries of the Civil Servants serving in Ireland should as soon as possible be redressed, and that they should be placed upon an equality as to remuneration with those performing duties in England corresponding in difficulty and responsibility," —(Mr. Plunket,)

—instead thereof.

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


wished to point out, in the first instance, that the words "general inadequacy," as used in the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), did not mean what they would appear to imply when taken by themselves, but referred to the Report of the Commissioners, in which they said there was a general inadequacy, having regard to the great increase that had taken place in the cost of living. There was no finding in the Report of a general inadequacy of salaries, except in reference to that particular matter. He did not say that there was any ambiguity in the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but still it was as well that the fact should be borne in mind. Strictly speaking, that was not an Irish grievance at all, as things were now managed, although Irish Members had been specially appealed to in reference to it. The Commissioners stated that in former days the offices in question were uniformly given to Irishmen, implying that it was reasonable they should therefore have been content to receive lower salaries. In that view he could not acquiesce, as he could see no reason why an Irishman should receive a lower salary than an Englishman or a Scotchman of the same attainments and ability. But it was not an Irish grievance, for the simple reason that those offices were no longer necessarily filled up either from Ireland or by Irishmen. It did not follow that because a man took a place in Ireland he should be an Irishman, and therefore Irishmen did not suffer any greater hardship in the case under the notice of the House than Englishmen or Scotch-men who were employed in the Civil Service in Dublin. He would observe, further, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had omitted from his speech and Motion one matter which was of some consequence—namely, that the salaries which were enjoyed by the Civil servants of the Crown were matters of contract. There was a contract between them and the Government, as representing the people, by which the Government was bound to the very letter to pay the Civil servant so much salary, increasing at a certain rate, and at the end of his service to pay him a certain pension for the remainder of his life. No circumstances whatever would justify a Government in attempting to deviate from that contract; they were absolutely and completely bound by it. Supposing the prices of provisions and necessaries of life had fallen ever so low, nobody would dream for a moment of taking advantage of that in order to lower the salaries of the Civil servants; and yet it was assumed that it was not only justifiable, but absolutely essential, that if this contract turned out in respect of the prices of provisions at all against the Civil servants they should set aside all that portion of the contract which seemed to press hardly upon them, and should ob- tain all the benefits of that portion which was in their favour. He maintained, however, that the people of this country, who paid the Civil servants, were as much entitled to consideration in that House as were the Civil servants themselves; and that, as a genera rule, they ought to adhere to contracts solemnly and deliberately entered into rather than assume that they might be set aside at any moment when the interested persons complained that they pressed hardly upon them. The hon. and learned Gentleman relied upon two grounds—first, the prices of provisions; and secondly, that the Irish Civil servants did not consider themselves paid at a rate equivalent to that paid to their brother Civil servants in England. With regard to the first, there was no doubt that there had been a considerable rise in the prices of provisions and the necessaries of life, and that that pressed the harder upon a man in proportion to his poverty. That was assumed to be a sufficient reason for altering these contracts and re-adjusting the salaries; but, as he had said, there was no such agreement or arrangement ever entered into, and what was now asked was a matter of pure grace, and it ought to be carefully considered whether it could be entertained at all. They could not wholly put the principles of economic science out of the question in such a matter. It was tacitly assumed that the price of work of any kind was regulated by the price of provisions; but there was no greater fallacy than that. The price of labour was regulated by the number of persons seeking employment of a particular description, and the amount of employment available for them. At the present moment the price of physical labour was very much on the increase, whilst the price of intellectual labour—at least of that species—was very much on the decline, and these two things were happening coincidentally with a very large rise in the prices of provisions. How, then, could it be said that the price of labour should depend upon the price of provisions? There was a tendency not to a rise, but to a fall in the labour of clerks and persons of that kind, and for the simple reason that the country had by a large expenditure of public money forced the education of the people, and had consequently raised up a large number of competitors for that species of intellectual work. What the hon. and learned Gentleman asked was, that on account of the rise in the prices of provisions and necessaries of life, they should offer higher prices for labour when the labour market was actually falling. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) thought that, upon whatever grounds the House might accede to the hon. and learned Gentleman's proposition, it would not be on the ground of the rise in the prices of provisions. But then the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of a sort of symmetry that he seemed to require; he wished to have the payments made in England and in Ireland adjusted with reference to each other. The hon. and learned Gentleman said in his Motion, that the Irish Civil servants ought to be placed on an equality as regarded remuneration with those performing corresponding duties in England; but there were two ways of obtaining that equality. They might either raise the salaries of the Irish Civil servants to those of the English servants, or lower those of the English servants down to the level of the former. The latter course would satisfy not the wishes of the hon. and learned Gentleman, perhaps, but certainly the words of his Motion, and the portion of his argument that related to symmetry. If it were once attempted to regulate the salaries in Ireland, not in reference to the wants and the position of Ireland, but in reference to what was done in England, and to symmetry and equality of that kind, where did the hon. and learned Gentleman propose that they should stop? If the Government once began that process, they could not stop; they must go through the whole Civil Service, and must consider everybody's salary with reference to that of everybody else, and strike a mean. That would be perfectly symmetrical, but that it would be fair he did not believe. The question really was, however, what was to be done upon this subject. He had shown that they could not lay down the ludicrously false principle of basing salaries upon the price of provisions and necessaries of life, nor yet could they rely upon the speculative principle of equalizing or comparing all salaries, and striking an equality between them, which would prevent any Civil servant receiving a shilling until the whole service was put in the same position. But what they could do, and what he was sure would satisfy the hon and learned Gentleman was this—they could not go into the question of a general rise of salaries, calculated on the price of provisions, for that would involve a perpetual fluctuation and change, because if a rise in the price of provisions must be followed by a rise in salaries, a fall in provisions would entitle the Government to claim a reduction of salaries; nor could they go into the question of comparing salaries, for there was a great diversity in the salaries of different offices. England was an old country, and it was a long time since she began to pay salaries. In earlier days people were not so particular about public money, and consequently the salaries of the older offices were high. Things had improved a little of late, and the salaries of new offices had been lowered. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked that they should be all put on a level, but he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) said no; let them leave matters as they stood, and not attempt to make any sweeping change, which would only saddle the country with an enormous burden which was unnecessary and unjustifiable, for if they attempted to equalize, they must take the highest salaries and level up to them. He would say take the Departments as they stood; take the Irish Departments, for instance, and look carefully into them, not in reference to what there was in England, but to see what duties particular persons had to perform; and, above all, never attempt to raise salaries or to deal with Departments without carefully looking into all the circumstances, and the organization of each Department. They would look to the number of persons employed, and to the character and manner in which their labours were discharged, and when they had done those things they would consider the merits of each Department by itself, and deal with it in as liberal a spirit as they could. Into such a scheme the Government were ready to enter in regard to the Civil servants in Ireland, as they had already entered into with regard to England, and make use of the valuable information which they had received from the Commission. The Government were ready, either by the reduction of the numbers employed, or by better organization, to benefit the position of those Civil servants. There was one Department in Ireland—namely, the Registration Department—in which he admitted that the salaries were too low. If the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Resolution would assent to that case, the Government would be willing to meet him, but they strongly objected to entering into such a speculative inquiry as he had pointed out, an inquiry which would rather retard than promote the objects which they had in view. He thought that in that manner the hon. and learned Gentleman would gain all he could expect to gain by his Motion, and he hoped, therefore, that he would see that this was the best course to be pursued, and not press the matter to a division.


said, that on entering the House, he was under the impression that the Government would at once accede to the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) because it was only carrying out the recommendations of their own Commission. He was, however, much surprised to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer make such a speech in opposition to the Resolution. Anyone would imagine from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that the question had never been debated before. The simple question was, whether the Irish Civil servants ought to be paid in the same proportion as in England for the same work. When the subject had been brought forward in April of last year, it had been treated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the same singular way, and in almost the same language, as he had just used. The right hon. Gentleman then expressed a hope that the matter would not be pressed in its then shape, and he had said the same that evening. He (Mr. Downing) at least expected that the right hon. Gentleman would tell them what would be done; instead of which, he had left them in exactly the same position as that they were in last April twelvemonths. Well, then, the House might naturally ask him why was the Commission issued at all? If, as the right hon. Gentleman said, it was to be considered as a mere matter of contract between the Government and the Irish Civil servants, why did the right hon. Gentleman assent to the appointment of this Commission? The Chancellor of the Exchequer now laid stress upon the stability of a contract; but the right hon. Gentleman did not always stand by his own contract, as, for example, the Zanzibar contract, under which the right hon. Gentleman consented to giving £16,000, although an offer had been made to the Government to execute their requirements for about £11,000. The right hon. Gentleman, with that generosity which always distinguished him, consented to give the larger sum, because he said the parties to it had already suffered a considerable pecuniary loss in anticipation of receiving the contract. He, now, however, took his stand on political economy, and, notwithstanding the fact that he was himself a party to the Irish Civil Service Commission, he now told the House it was not worth the paper it was written on, because the subject was simply one of contract. What the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin asked was, that Civil servants in Ireland should be paid at the same rate as Civil servants in England when they performed similar duties. It was no doubt true that under the competitive system young men might select either England, Ireland, or Scotland; but that was not the case with the older men who had grown grey in the Civil Service in Ireland, and whose claims he was now advocating. The Commissioners were called upon to examine into the differences between the rates of pay of English and Irish merchants' and solicitors' clerks, and, to their surprise, they found the rates of pay in Ireland were higher than those in England. The truth was, that the same amount of money would not purchase in Ireland what it would purchase in England. He had not expected that the Motion, founded as it was on the Reports of the Commissioners appointed by themselves, would have been met in this way by Her Majesty's Government. Why had a Commission been issued at all respecting the subject, if its recommendations were to be disregarded? The matter had been before the House since 1869, when a deputation waited upon Mr. Fortescue, then the Chief Secretary. Then an inquiry was promised, but faith had not been kept with the Civil servants of Ireland. The Gentlemen who reported on the subject were entitled to the fullest consideration of the Government, and he trusted their recommendations would have some weight in that House, and that the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin would be carried.


said, that in these matters the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, according to his own evidence given yesterday before the Select Committee on the Civil Service Expenditure, was a dictator. When asked by the right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) whether the Treasury, as holding the purse-strings of the nation, had a controlling power over all the Departments of the Government, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had replied—"No; but the Treasury has control in this way—if they come to me for an increase of expenditure, I can refuse it." He objected to the matter being treated on the "hard-and-fast line" of a simple contract, into which the Civil servants entered at the commencement of their employment, and considered that those in Ireland were placed in a position of degradation by being placed on a footing of inferiority. All that the Irish Civil servants asked was, that they should be placed on a footing of equality with those holding similar offices in England. The right hon. Gentleman's argument that the salaries of the Civil servants in Ireland must be regulated by the labour market, must lead to this result, that qualification would be no longer a test of efficiency, but that all offices must be put up to a sort of Dutch auction, and the man must be selected who was willing to supply a vacancy for the least amount of remuneration.


in supporting the Motion, said, the Report of the Commissioners showed that a lower rate of remuneration was paid to the Irish than to the English Civil servants, and nothing which had fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer went in the slightest degree to show that such an exceptional scale of payment could with any degree of reason be maintained. What might have been fair enough 30 years ago, when the cost of living was less in Ireland than in England was not fair now, and a very good case for the increase of payment had been fully made out. The Directors of the Bank of Ireland had had to increase the salaries of the clerks, and would have to go much further in that direction. He considered the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be very unsatisfactory.


in supporting the Motion, said, he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite had, in his opinion, completely proved his case, and he should certainly vote in favour of his Motion. He wished however, before he sat clown, to advert to one or two fallacies which were to be found in the speech of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They were fallacies which were calculated to have a most mischievous tendency, and greatly to deteriorate, if not, in time, to destroy, the character of the Civil Service. The right hon. Gentleman maintained that the price of provisions ought to have no effect on the salaries of those who were thus employed. A more pedantic theory when dealing with a practical grievance he had never heard propounded. He might quote in reply to the right lion. Gentleman the action of an authority which he would be likely to respect. The present Government itself had given in that very Session, the increased cost of living as a reason for increasing the pay of those engaged in our Dockyards. He might add that the Prussian Government, which was one of the most frugal in Europe, had increased the salaries of its Civil servants for the same reason 25 per cent; while the Government of Belgium had raised the salaries of the same class from 25 to 35 per cent. If the doctrine laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was adopted, they would have a discontented Civil Service, with all the mischievous consequences thence arising. The right hon. Gentleman further contended, that as long as they found men ready to accept the service at the present rates of remuneration they ought not to give any better pay. The result, however, of that would be, that they would have an inferior class of persons in those employments who were not bound by those principles of honour which guided the men now engaged in that Service. Then they would see what had been seen during the last few months—namely, men who had been long employed in the Civil Service of the country called upon to perform exceptional and responsible duties, and applying for adequate remuneration, and on being refused justice, disregarding honour and honesty, and disclosing to the public matters which they had learnt confidentially in their office. The theories of political economy which the Chancellor of the Exchequer put forward on those occasions were, he maintained, utterly inapplicable to a practical grievance like that, and if persisted in must produce most serious mischief.


as a Member of the Committee which sat upon the subject, denied that that Committee had reported that because the offices in Ireland were filled exclusively by Irishmen, that might be considered a fitting reason for giving them a lower remuneration. He agreed that the State ought not to pay more than it could get good adequate and fitting service for, but the increased cost of living had necessitated higher salaries; and it should be remembered that though at one time the cost of living in Ireland was lower than the cost of living in London, and that, therefore, a lower salary meant an equal remuneration, that was no longer the case. In answer to the remark of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that that was not an Irish grievance, because Irishmen did not fill those particular offices in Ireland, but held appointments throughout the Empire, he maintained that it was, nevertheless, an Irish grievance, and a serious one too, because if the present state of things continued unchanged, it would lead to those offices in Ireland being filled by the very worst class of men admitted under the system of competitive examination. The result of the inquiry he had made was, that the salaries were extremely unequal, and some of the best men were the worst paid.


said, that seven or eight hon. Gentlemen had advocated the cause of a class, and only his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that of the nation, and therefore the House would not grudge him the opportunity of stating his view of the subject. The speech of the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Otway) was remarkable. He did not confine himself to the specialities of the Irish case; without any hesitation, with great decision, and with something like contempt, he flung over the whole argument of what he called political economy—that argument which maintained that public servants were to receive for serving the public the rate of remuneration for which they were willing to enter into the public service. That, he said, had done enormous mischief and ought to be entirely rejected, and he dealt very severely with the right hon. Gentleman, because the right hon. Gentleman expressed his adhesion to that principle. The hon. Member seemed to go upon the principle of making things pleasant all round, which was a delightful thing for Members of Parliament who sat for certain constituencies. ["Oh, Oh"] He begged pardon of those who said "Oh," but he repeated that it was a particularly pleasant method for hon. Gentlemen to recommend, when a large portion of their constituents happened to be public servants. It increased the pressure upon them. That, however, was not the principle on which the Government, as the representatives of the people, were to act. The Resolution of the House of Commons did not absolve the Government from the duty of asking the House of Commons so to regulate the public charge that the people should be served on the most moderate terms which would secure efficient servants. That was the principle on which the Government had stood, and intended to stand; and if the House disapproved it, the remedy was in their hands. Those wore the views with which they approached every question of the kind. His hon. Friend did not condescend to found himself on the specialities of the Irish case, the whole tenor of his speech leading to this result—that there must be a general rise in the pay of the Civil servants of the United Kingdom, because there was a general rise in the price of provisions. The question that was now being debated was the introduction of the thin end of the wedge. If on account of the rise in prices in Ireland, they were to vote an increase in pay, by parity of reasoning there must be a corresponding rise of salaries throughout the three kingdoms. No doubt, it was perfectly true that there had been a rise of certain prices in Ireland of late years, as there had also been a fall of other prices; but the real question that was raised was, that of the general rise of the salaries of the Civil servants of the State, based on the fact that there had been a rise in the price of certain commodities in a portion of the kingdom. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Downing) appeared not to have heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he said that the right hon. Gentleman had declined to do anything. On the contrary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in most distinct form, and with that lucidity of statement which never failed him, sot out the two methods of proceeding which were before them. The Government did not deny that the salaries in Ireland required to be revised, but this process of revision, they thought, ought to go on from time to time all through the public service. He joined issue with the hon. Member for Cork and the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) when they said they would not be satisfied with this examination in detail. Those hon. Members were determined on an heroic operation—upon something which should impress the minds of the Civil servants with a sense of the magnificence of the manner in which they performed their duties. It was to that wholesale operation the Government objected. For 20 years they had been beneficially pursuing the course of revision which was now going on specifically in Ireland in several important Departments; and therefore the question was, whether the Government were to be driven from that method of operation, by which they could combine augmentation of salary with redistribution of duty, and by which they could frequently reconcile an economical result with an increase of remuneration to those employed, or were they to adhere to it in Ireland as they had done and meant to in England and Scotland? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) founded himself upon two main allegations; and in his (Mr. Gladstone's) opinion those two allegations he had not made good. His hon. and learned Friend founded himself on the recommendation of the Commission, and came to the conclusion, that it was right the Civil servants in Ireland should be placed upon an equality as to remuneration with those who performed duties in England corresponding in difficulty and responsibility. What he (Mr. Gladstone) contended was, that there was no such proposition in the Report of the Commission. They had reported that which to his mind, implied the contrary. The Commission reported that there had been an increase of prices in Ireland; and on that account there was a well-founded feeling of discontent at the amount of remuneration. But he (Mr. Gladstone) did not agree that because the Commissioners had so reported, the salaries should be raised. He would point out what was the immediate consequence of this doctrine. It would amount to this—that when there was an augmentation of prices, the life contracts which the public had made with its servants, and which they had accepted willingly and sought after eagerly, were to be altered in their favour. If they were contracts, they must be observed on both sides; if they were not, they must be observed on neither. If salaries were to be augmented because there was an increase of prices, even although it was shown there were plenty of efficient men still seeking and desiring employment, it followed that in the case of a fall of prices the salaries of Civil servants ought to be reduced; and there were those in the House who would remember a Motion was once made that on account of the reduction in prices there should be a diminution of 10 per cent in Civil service salaries all round. The contention on the other side was, that these salaries were to move up and down, according to the rise and fall of commodities. The Government contended, on the contrary, that the contract made with the Civil servants was altogether irrespective of the prices of commodities, and that the Civil servants were not entitled to ask for any increase of salary on the ground of any increase in the price of commodities. The hon. and learned Gentleman had founded his Motion on a sentence of the Report which implied that the Commissioners had reported that persons performing duties in England and Ireland of equal responsibilty did not receive equal remuneration. The Committee, however, said nothing of the kind. They stated in the 24th paragraph of their Report, that in fixing the relative scale of salaries, the primary consideration was the comparative amount and importance of the business to be transacted, and the responsibility thereby incurred. They added, in another paragraph, that, according to that comparative importance and responsibility, the scale of salaries in Dublin would not rise as high as in London. If the exact contrary of the assertion of the hon. and learned Gentleman were not thus directly stated, he (Mr. Gladstone) affirmed, moreover, that it was expressed in the proposition to which the evidence they had taken conducted them. But there was a second allegation which the hon. and learned Gentleman made. The hon. and learned Gentleman drew a touching picture of the condition of the Civil service in Ireland. He said that the service was losing its prestige. Well, he (Mr. Gladstone) hoped that everybody who had got any prestige would lose it. ["Oh, oh!"] He was sorry to shock the sensitive feelings of hon. Gentlemen, but had they considered the meaning of the word? It meant "false and unreal reputation." ["Oh, oh" and laughter.] If they would trace the word to its root they would find it simply meant "juggling"; but that, however, was a verbal digression, and he asked upon what evidence it was alleged that the credit of the Civil service had diminished in Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the pressure upon the Civil service was becoming worse and worse, and was now almost intolerable, and that the time was fast approaching when we should not have a sufficient number of qualified candidates for the various offices, while it had already arrived when the best members of the Service were quitting it to better themselves elsewhere. He (Mr. Gladstone) challenged that statement on the evidence appealed to by the hon. Member for Cork. The fact was, that the very best members of the public service were not adequately paid, and could not be, and hence many of them had quitted it to better themselves elsewhere. That had been the case, for example, with the hon. Member for Orkney (Mr. Laing), who left the public service to occupy a high position in connection with one of the large railway companies. He (Mr. Gladstone) had often expressed that opinion, because if they were paid according to the scale they deserved, a crowd of average men would rush in to enjoy it. The real question was, whether that grievance, which was inherent in the Public Service, prevailed to a greater extent in Ireland than it did elsewhere, and, above all, was it increasing? Because that was the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman when he said that the pressure of circumstances in the service was becoming "intolerable." He (Mr. Gladstone) said, on the contrary, that it was a diminishing, and not an increasing evil, and he could show that from page 46 of the Report, to which he had been referred by the hon. Member for Cork, who, he thought, had not very carefully studied that portion of it. It contained the Returns from the year 1845 down to the year 1871. Calling that a period of 26 years, he (Mr. Gladstone) had divided it into two portions of 13 years each. During the whole period of 26 years there were 61 cases of Civil servants who had left the Service to take better positions elsewhere; and out of the 61 cases he found that 56 belonged to the first period of 13 years, and the remainder to the second period of 13 years. Thus, because 20 years ago, men were quitting the Service at a great rate, and because that movement had now ceased, the hon. and learned Member said it would be necessary to have, not a careful revision, but a wholesale augmentation of salaries in Ireland. So that the hon. and learned Gentleman's revolutionary proposition, as it might be called, was not borne out by the figures. The House had also been told that these gentlemen had grown gray in the public service. Was their's a very hard case? They were those who came into the public service at a time when their friends and adherents and Members of Parliament "wore the knockers" of the public offices by the assiduity of the process of solicitation in obtaining interest for situations in the public service for these gentlemen which was afterwards to be converted into an ingenious allegation of grievance. He had great respect for those gentlemen certainly, but he could not say that he thought their case was a strong one. It was not a case as between England and Ireland, or between Ireland and Scotland. The fact was that the duties of the Civil servants were more concentrated and arduous in England than in Scotland; and in Scotland, though less arduous and complicated than in England, they were, still, more so than in Ireland. Such work must be paid for in proportion as it was arduous and difficult, and if an average were struck, the pay would be highest in the country where, on the average, the work was most arduous. If it were shown, for instance, that in some poor district of England—say the South-western Counties—public servants were paid lower rates than in London and the most populous parts of the country, exactly the same remark would apply: their pay would be lower because the duties they performed were less arduous and less responsible. It was very well for hon. Members to indulge their natural feelings of kindness and bring pressure to bear upon the Government for an increase of public expenditure in this direction. But other considerations must be borne in mind. What was the state of things in the City of London at this moment? His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said it was doubtful whether the price of intellectual labour was not falling rather than rising. His right hon. Friend meant that as an opinion only, and was not proposing a reduction of salaries based on that opinion. There was, at any rate, much to show that if the price of clerical labour was rising at all, the movement was a very slow and insensible one. If the clerks of a merchant in the City of London struck work, would he find any difficulty in replacing them? At that moment 4,000 qualified clerks were seeking employment there and unable to obtain it. With what justice to those men were measures proposed—not for inquiry, because inquiry was disregarded and almost despised—but wholesale and sweeping measures for augmenting the rates of remuneration for public servants, when there were multitudes of respectable and competent men who would gladly, if they could, take the places of the very worst paid of such servants? He trusted the House would not be led into any such snare as that which had been laid for them. They must not be misled by the case of the Bank of Ireland. Why had that Bank raised its rates of pay? Because they were insufficient to attract a sufficient supply of qualified candidates; but in the case of the Civil Service, the Commissioners had reported that the rates now paid were sufficient for the purpose. And what was the use of a reference to Prussia, notoriously the most economical country in Europe, in which the salaries of public servants had been insufficient to keep body and soul together? [Mr. OTWAY: Not in proportion to expenses.] He joined issue with his hon. Friend on that point. The salaries of Prussian officials had been notoriously insufficient, and were connected with the want of a free organization in Prussian society, but for which such salaries never could have existed. When greater political freedom prevailed, and there arose a greater choice of employment, it was an absolute necessity to increase these salaries; and when a fair case could be shown, if the House would, by all means let the same course be taken here. By all means, even without distinct proof of that kind, let the Government be spurred and stimulated in the career of cautious and careful examination into duties and remuneration with a view to a better distribution of service—changes which resulted frequently in larger salaries, and in more efficient work done at less cost to the public. But let not the House ask the Government to do that which they could not honestly do—namely, adopt what he had called heroic measures, applicable to great masses of public servants at once—measures which, even if they conveyed momentary satisfaction to some of those whom they affected would before long lead to great financial difficulties, forfeit the title of the House to the approval of the public, and be found to constitute a great public misfortune.


who spoke amid continued interruption, said, he trusted the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Pluuket) would not withdraw his Motion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister had in their speeches contradicted the principles of political economy with reference to this question. He knew by experience that the more salaries were reduced the greater was the number of applicants for situations, for the lower the remuneration the greater would be the number to whom it would be an object, and he did not understand why the members of the Civil Service in Ireland should be treated in the way they were. He wished the House to recollect that if this was not an Irish question in the way of putting it in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was certainly a question affecting the Civil Service in Ireland, and he could not recognize the airy distinction of the Minister. The right hon. Gentleman had applied the phrase "ludicrous" to the idea of taking into account the price of provisions as an element in regulating salaries. He should be glad to know a more substantial or applicable test in regulating salaries. He added there was another mode of equalizing salaries in the Civil Service—namely, by reduction. Let him try it in England and see how he would fare. He now submitted for the attention of the House a few instances of the relative salaries for the same offices in England and Ireland in the General Register Office in each Kingdom—

In London per Annum. In Dublin per Annum.
£ £
Secretary 800 500
Medical Superintendent 700 600
Superintendent 700 400
Superintendent 2nd Class 550 300
Senior Clerk 420 200
Assistant Clerk 280 150
Messenger, 1st Class 110 75
Messenger 2nd Class 90 60

In conclusion, he would ask the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin not to withdraw his Motion. If they were to expect equal loyalty they must have not only equal rights and privileges, but they must have equal pay in the two countries.


supported the Motion. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government in addressing the House and describing the salaries of the Civil servants in Prussia before their recent increase, spoke of them as "insufficient to keep body and soul together," and said that their increase was therefore a necessity. That accurately described the position of a large class of Civil servants in Ireland, and especially applied to the National schoolmasters. [The CHANCELLOR Of the EXCHEQUER: They are not Civil servants.] If they were not Civil servants he did not know what they were. They were a large and respectable body of men, civilians who performed an important public duty, and who were paid out of the sums annually voted by Parliament. Their pay was wholly inadequate, and so was that of many other classes of Civil servants in Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the price of physical labour was on the increase, while that of intellectual labour was on the decline. That was true, but the increase in the former had been brought about through strikes and combinations. In Ireland the Civil servants had not struck or used illegal means to improve their situation. It might be said that his hon. and learned Friend who moved the Resolution had been deputed by them to lay their case before the powers that were. He had done so ably, and in his opinion he had not been answered. It had been stated that the rate of pay had nothing to do with the price of provisions. When those rates were first established, they were undoubtedly based on the cost of living of that day; but anyone who knew Ireland, knew that whereas everything was cheap 18 or 20 years ago, the prices of everything had now risen to nearly the English level. His own experience enabled him to attest that fact. He was stationed in Ireland 18 years ago and could compare the difference. The Prime Minister said that because Ireland was not so prosperous as England, her Civil servants should not be so highly paid. That was no argument. If she was not prosperous, it was that her resources had not been developed, or facilities given for their development. Her Civil servants were efficient, and if, with the improvement of the country more work should be thrown upon them they would not be found wanting; but take them as they were, they ought, as expressed in the Resolution of his hon. and learned Friend, to be placed on an equality as to remuneration with their brethren in England performing duties of corresponding difficulty and responsibility. The terms of the Resolution were just and right and he hoped and believed that it would be affirmed by the House.


thought the position taken on that question by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) was established by all the arguments—statistical, commercial, moral, and political—on the theory which was held in that House that they were an United Kingdom. He had been curious to hear what arguments the Government could put forward in opposition to that hon. and learned Member's Motion, because the Government also held the position that that was an United Kingdom; and all he would say as to the arguments they had adduced was that he had been very much amused by the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and very greatly amazed by the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 117; Noes 130: Majority 13.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to. Resolved, That the "Civil Service (in Ireland) Commissioners" having reported that the dissatisfaction on the ground of "the general inadequacy of the present scale of salaries, having regard to the great increase which has taken place in latter years in the cost of living," is well founded; and that "there is no reason, based on local considerations, for giving salaries to Civil Servants stationed in Dublin less in amount than those assigned to persons in London performing analogous duties," this House is of opinion that such general inadequacy of the present scale of salaries of the Civil Servants serving in Ireland should as soon as possible be redressed, and that they should be placed upon an equality as to remuneration with those performing duties in England corresponding in difficulty and responsibility.

Anderson, G. Duff, M. E. G.
Anstruther, Sir R. Dundas, J. C.
Antrobus, Sir E. Enfield, Viscount
Armitstead, G. Erskine, Admiral J. E.
Ayrton, rt. hon. A. S. Ewing, H. E. Crum-
Aytoun, R. S. Eykyn, R.
Backhouse, E. Fawcett, H.
Barclay, J. W. FitzGerald, right hon.
Bass, A. Lord O. A.
Bassett, F. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Fitzwilliam, hon. C.
Beaumont, H. F. W. W.
Biddulph, M. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Bonham-Carter, J. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Bowring, E. A. Foster, W. H.
Brewer, Dr. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Gladstone, W. H.
Brinckman, Captain Goldsmid, Sir F.
Brogden, A. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Brown, A. H. Gourley, E. T.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord E. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Bruce, rt. hon. H. A. Graham, W.
Buckley, N. Greville, hon. Captain
Cadogan, hon. F. W. Grosvenor, hon. N.
Campbell-Bannerman, Grosvenor, Lord R.
H. Hamilton, J. G. C.
Candlish, J. Hardy, J.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Hartington, Marq. Of
Carter, R. M. Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Cartwright, W. C. Hibbert, J. T.
Cavendish, Lord G. Hodgson, K. D.
Childers, rt. hon. H. Howard, hon. C. W. G
Cholmeley, Captain Hughes, T.
Clifford, C. C. Johnston, A.
Cowper, hon. H. F. Johnstone, Sir H.
Davies, R. Kensington, Lord
Dickinson, S. S. King, hon. P. J. L.
Dixon, G. Kingscote, Colonel
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Knatchbull-Hugessen, Philips, R. N.
right hon. E. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Lawson, Sir W. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Lea, T. Reed, C.
Leatham, E. A. Russell, Lord A.
Leeman, G. Samuda, J. D'A.
Lefevre, G. J. S. Shaw, R.
Leith, J. F. Sheridan, H. B.
Liddell, hon. H. G. Storks, rt. hn. Sir H. K.
Lloyd, Sir T. D. Strutt, hon. H.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Talbot, C. R. M.
Lusk, A. Trevelyan, G. O.
Lyttelton, hon. C. G. Vivian, A. P.
Macfie, R A. Walter, J.
Mackintosh, E. W. West, H. W.
M'Lagan, P. Whalley, G. H.
Mellor, T. W. Whitwell, J.
Monsell, rt. hon. W. Winterbotham, H. S. P.
Muntz, P. H. Young, rt. hon. G.
Ogilvy, Sir J.
Palmer, J. H. TELLERS.
Parry, L. Jones- Adam, W. P.
Peel, A. W. Glyn, hon. G. G.
Pender, J.
Adderley, rt. hon. Sir C. Fowler, R. N.
Agnew, R. V. French, hon. C.
Amphlett, R. P. Galway, Viscount
Annesley, hon. Col. H. Gavin, Major
Arbuthnot, Major G. Gore, J. R. O.
Archdale, Captain M. Grant, Col. hon. J.
Assheton, R. Gray, Sir J.
Ball, rt. hon. J. T. Greville-Nugent, hon.
Barttelot, Colonel G. F.
Bates, E. Grey de Wilton, Visc.
Bateson, Sir T. Grieve, J. J.
Blennerhassett, R. P. Hamilton, Lord G.
Booth, Sir R. G. Hamilton, I. T.
Bourke, hon. R. Hamilton, Marquess of
Broadley, W. H. H. Hardy, J. S.
Browne, G. E. Hay, Sir J. C. D.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Henry, M.
Bruen, H. Heron, D. C.
Bryan, G. L. Heygate, Sir F. W.
Callan, P. Heygate, W. U.
Cameron, D. Hick, J.
Cawley, C. E. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Charley, W. T. Holt, J. M.
Clowes, S. W. Hood, Captain hon. A.
Corbett. J. M. W. A. N.
Cole, Col. hon. H. A. Hope, A. J. B. B.
Collins, T. Hutton, J.
Corbett, Colonel Jenkinson, Sir G. S.
Corrigan, Sir D. Jones, J.
Corry, hon. H. W. L. Knight, F. W.
Crichton, Viscount Knox, hon. Colonel S.
Dalrymple, C. Langton, W. G.
Dalway, M. R. Learmonth, A.
Davenport, W. B. Leigh, Lt.-Col. E.
Dease, E. Leslie, J.
Delahunty, J. Lewis, C. E.
Dick, F. Lindsay, hon. Col. C.
Digby, K. T. Lowther, J.
Dimsdale, R. Mahon, Viscount
Dowdeswell, W. E. Matthews, H.
Dyke, W. H. Maxwell, W. H.
Dyott, Col. R. Miller, J.
Egerton, hon. W. Monckton, hon. G.
Ennis, J. J. Monk, C. J.
Ewing, A. Orr- Morgan, hon. Major
Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W. Munster, W. F.
O'Brien, Sir P. Straight, D.
O'Conor, D. M. Talbot, J. G.
O'Conor Don, The Taylor, rt. hon. Col.
Otway, A. J. Tipping, W.
Pakington,rt. hn. Sir J. Tollemache, Maj. W. F.
Percy, Earl Trench,hn.Maj.W.le P.
Phipps, C. P. Turner, C.
Pim, J. Vance, J.
Powell, F. S. Vandeleur, Colonel
Powell, W. Wallace, Sir R.
Power, J. T. Walpole, hon. F.
Raikes, H. C. Watney, J.
Ronayne, J. P. Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Round, J. Wilmot, Sir H.
Salt, T. Winn, R.
Sherlock, D. Wyndham, hon. P.
Shirley, S. E. Yarmouth, Earl of
Sinclair, Sir J. G. T. Yorke, J. R.
Smith, R.
Smith, W. H. TELLERS.
Stacpoole, W. Downing, M'C.
Starkie, J. P. C. Plunket, hon. D. R.