HC Deb 09 July 1875 vol 225 cc1305-8

in calling the attention of the House to the recent appointment of the Receiver General of Inland Revenue, contended that such office, if it were necessary at all, should be filled on the recommendation of the Board of Inland Revenue. He had no personal interest in this matter, but simply brought it forward on public grounds. He was a strong advocate of promotion by merit, considering that appointments made on political or personal grounds were a great discouragement to the Civil Servants in all Departments, In the Report of the Committee on the organization of the Permanent Civil Service presented in 1854, it was recommended that the young clerks should be made to feel that their promotion and future prospects depended upon the industry and ability with which they discharged their duties, and that was the principle which ought to be adopted. The appointment violated the principles of the Report to which he had alluded. What were the facts of the case? The office of Receiver General of Inland Revenue was created in 1849 by an amalgamation with the Department of Stamps and Taxes, with a salary of £1,000 a-year. In 1871, Mr. Brotherton, the then holder of it died, and Lord Alfred Hervey, formerly M.P. for Brighton, was appointed; and at his death, recently, Sir Alfred Slade was appointed over the heads of all the clerks of the department. It happened that during the last four years of the life of Lord Alfred Hervey he was incapacitated from performing the duties of the office, which were discharged by Mr. Rea, the chief clerk. That gentleman had entered the service in 1842, and had worked on through all the grades until in 1867, he became chief clerk, with a salary of £600 a-year. He should like to know what duties of the office there were which the chief clerk could not fulfil? It appeared to him, after what had taken place, an unnecessary office. But he should like to know also what special qualifications Sir Alfred Slade had for the office; or whether it was not given to him from party or personal considerations? He did not attack the Government. They only did what their Predecessors, and what he probably should do himself if in their places. All he meant by his question was to draw attention to a bad custom, which ought to be got rid of, because it must act as a discouragement to Civil Servants of every class and grade.


thanked his hon. Friend for bringing forward a delicate question in so temperate manner. It was, however, necessary sometimes to call a slade a slade—he begged pardon, he meant a spade a spade, and although he believed Sir Alfred Slade to be an estimable man and an excellent officer, yet he should much like to know what earthly chance he would have of being appointed Receiver General, if it were not for the fact that he had been an unsuccessful candidate for Taunton. He did not object that this gentleman had been rewarded for Party services; what he objected to was, that the remuneration should be reserved for those who had not borne the burden and heat of the day. If situations of the kind were given to young and aspiring politicians, the interests of the country must suffer, and however a strong a Government might be it could not afford to play with appointments in this manner.


said, he was sorry that his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government had been obliged to leave the House, because the selection to this office rested with the Prime Minister and not with himself. At the same time, his position enabled him to give an explanation as to the appointment. When the vacancy recently occurred, his right hon. Friend requested him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) to communicate with the Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue and to ask him whether the office of Receiver ought to be filled up, and if so, whether it ought to be filled by the promotion of anyone in the office? He knew that at that time his right hon. Friend had no one specially in view for the office. The Chairman informed him that it was necessary the office should be filled up, and that not only had no one any special claim in the office, but that it was desirable it should be filled up outside the office. Sir Alfred Slade was afterwards appointed. He understood that the course taken upon the occasion of the vacancy which the late Lord Alfred Hervey was appointed to fill was very similar. Inquiry was made, and the same replies were made by the Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue when similar questions were put to him by the late Prime Minister. As to the selection of the gentleman who had been appointed to this office, he really had nothing particular to say. He had no doubt his right hon. Friend had good reasons for the selection he made. The appointment involved a great deal of responsibility and a very heavy security, and therefore, like that of the Receiver General of the Customs, as a general rule, it was given to a gentleman of independent fortune, who was in a position to give good security. He thought it was a very hard thing that gentlemen who had entered in the lower ranks should find that the superior Staff appointments were filled unexpectedly by gentlemen outside of the office, and he adhered to the opinion of the Committee that it was most desirable for the interests of the public service that they should be given as far as possible within the ranks of the service. But, no doubt, the Receiver Generalship of the Customs and the Receiver Generalship of the Inland Revenue had generally been regarded as being on a different footing, and were generally given to persons of independent fortune.