HC Deb 12 June 1873 vol 216 cc842-3

wished, in asking a question of the Prime Minister, to be allowed to make a personal statement relating to it. On Tuesday he had given Notice of Motion for an inquiry into the complaint of some hundreds of persons in the Civil Service. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hants (Mr. Cowper-Temple) had precedence of him for that evening, but was not there to proceed with his Motion. In his absence the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair called upon him (Mr. Otway) to proceed with his Notice; but though he was close to the door he was unable to comply with the direction. Dining the last Session of Parliament he had given Notice of a Motion similar to that of Tuesday last, and he was induced to withdraw it in consequence of a statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer from his place in Parliament. Under these circumstances, he appealed to his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government to grant him facilities for bringing forward the Motion. It was a grave matter that a large body employed in the Civil Service should be discontented, and as they alleged in consequence of the non-fulfilment of promises made by a Minister of the Crown. He did not ask his right hon. Friend to state that night what day he would grant, but he would undertake to state and dispose of the question, if the Committee of inquiry was granted, so far as he was concerned, in five minutes; and whatever debate might arise on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's reply need not occupy any great amount of time, probably at the utmost not more than two or three hours. The question affected between 3,000 and 4,000 Civil servants of the Crown, and it was most desirable that it should be settled as soon as possible.


wished to know why the hon. Member had lost seven or eight minutes on Tuesday night by being closeted with the hon. Member for Shaftesbury (Mr. Glyn)?


said, he had not the slightest desire to repudiate the friendly feelings which existed between himself and the hon. Member for Shaftesbury, and would only reply that the meeting did not last three minutes, and the conversation referred solely to the Motion which he (Mr. Otway) intended to bring on at a later hour.


said, it was evident that the hon. Member for Chatham had been beguiled on his way to the House. The Question of the hon. Member was, in fact, answered by the statement he (Mr. Gladstone) had just made in reply to the Question of the hon. Member for Sheffield, that the Government had no immediate time at their disposal. He was told by the hon. Member that the number of those gentlemen was between 3,000 and 4,000. The fact was, as he was informed, that the number employed, not in the Civil Service under the Crown, but certainly in the Civil Service Department, was about 1,100. He quite agreed that the question was one which should be settled as speedily as possible consistently with the demands of the Public Business. What he would suggest was that the points in discussion, which were few in number and exceedingly narrow, should be thoroughly considered between the hon. Member and the Government; and if that were done he did not believe that even the five minutes which the hon. Member said would be all he required to state his case, would be requisite. If that suggestion was not assented to, the hon. Member might perhaps return to the subject.