HC Deb 26 February 1876 vol 227 cc995-1000

Postponed Resolutions [reported 23rd February] considered.

Resolutions again read, as follow:— (4.) "That a sum, not exceeding £90,178, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1877, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices. (9.) "That a sum, not exceeding £33,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1877, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Charity Commission for England and Wales. (10.) "That a sum, not exceeding £22,893, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1877, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Civil Serve Commission.


said, he would move to reduce the item of £7,500 for travelling expenses for Inspectors of Mines by the amount of £500. There ought to be a detailed account of the manner in which the money was expended. He wished to see the Inspectors well paid, but the fact was, they only visited the office of a colliery, and not the mine itself. The fairest way to pay them would be by piecework.

Amendment proposed to the Fourth Resolution, to leave out "£90,178," and insert" £89,678,"—(MR. Macdonald,)—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That '£90,178' stand part of the Resolution."


considered the proposal an illogical one. The hon. Gentleman wished to secure a more efficient inspection, and the way he proposed to effect that was by cutting down the travelling expenses of the Inspectors. These expenses were paid by the Some Office, and in order to prevent any excuse for the Inspectors not travelling they were paid the money out of pocket, and 7s. 6d. per diem for rations. He believed the Inspectors performed their duty in a satisfactory manner, and hoped that the House would not consent to the proposed reduction.


also supported the Vote. The Inspectors did their work thoroughly, and when they visited a mine were always ready to go below on the representation of the men. Their duty would involve the necessity of large travelling and other unavoidable expenses, and he was sorry that any reflection had been cast on them, for they were most energetic and able men, and were, in his opinion, underpaid.


said, that the tendency of the present system of inspection was to increase the expenses. The office with which he was connected had last year issued a Circular for the purpose of securing a more careful inspection, and he hoped the Vote would be agreed to.


said, he did not find any fault with the Inspectors, but considered the travelling expenses too large, and wished to know whether there was any efficient control over the charges which they made?


objected to any reflection upon Inspectors of Mines, who were a useful body of men.


said, that the travelling expenses of these Inspectors were sent in detail to the Home Office, and examined.


said, with the leave of the House, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Resolution agreed to.

On the Ninth Resolution,


said, he objected to the recent appointment of the Chief Commissioner, on the ground that he had not had so much experience as the office required, and would move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £2,000.

Amendment proposed to the Ninth Resolution, to leave out "£33,500," and insert" £31,500,"—(Mr. James,)—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That '£33,500' stand part of the Resolution."


was sorry that the hon. Member had thought right to criticize this appointment of the Government; for, on the contrary, he was of opinion that the Government had exercised a wise discretion in appointing Sir Seymour Fitzgerald to this important post. It was true that Sir Seymour Fitzgerald had not practised long at the Bar; at the same time, when he was first called he went regularly the Northern Circuit, and pursued his occupation as a barrister until a fresh field was opened to him; but what they wanted as Chief Commissioner of Charities was not a profound lawyer, but a man of ability, good sense, and experience, and the right hon. Gentleman had shown in that House, as a Member of a former Government, and in India, that he possessed all those qualities. He hoped that the Amendment would be withdrawn.


, while admitting the talents of the right hon. Gentleman, contended that it was necessary that the Chief Commissioner of Charities should be not only a barrister of 12 years' standing, but one of great and varied experience. No appointment that had been made by Her Majesty's Government had caused such widespread dissatisfaction.


said. Sir Seymour Fitzgerald had had considerable experience as a lawyer, and the appointment was a wise one.


said, there was no desire to attack the character or ability of Sir Seymour Fitzgerald, but the only question was whether the Government had not put a square peg into a round hole. He declared that privately he had heard the appointment much more strongly denounced by Conservative than by Liberal Members, and more than one hon. Member had assured him that it was the greatest mistake the Party had made. He considered it a flagrant abuse of the patronage of the Government.


Notwithstanding the denunciation of the hon. Gentleman who just sat down, I trust I shall be able to satisfy the House that the appointment of Sir Seymour Fitzgerald was a good one, and certainly made for no consideration but the good of the public service. He is an able and distinguished man; and although it may be said that that had nothing to do with it, I say it had, and that it is of great importance to bring such persons forward occasionally by appointing them to situations which some people out-of-doors think ought to be the monopoly of permanent and close bureaucratic arrangements. He has been Member of this House for upwards of a quarter of a century, and at the time that the late Lord Derby formed his first Administration filled the important office of Under Secretary of State for India with conspicuous ability. He was afterwards appointed Governor of Bombay, and it was chiefly by his great exertions and zeal that the Abyssinian Expedition was so successful. In point of fact, he is the man fit for the situation to which he is appointed. The Act of Parliament requires that two of the Commissioners shall be barristers of 12 years' standing, and in this case all three of the Commissioners are in that position. In making the present appointment, I considered that it was not so much a question of appointing a man of great legal experience and high legal knowledge as a man of the world, who would not take a contracted or pedantic view of his position. What was required was a man altogether superior to prejudice—a man of that enlightenment which an able man who had been 25 years in the House of Commons could not fail to possess. I accordingly recommended the appointment of Sir Seymour Fitzgerald to Her Majesty as that of an individual who was perfectly competent to discharge the duties of the office, and if my right hon. Friend retains his health, I have not the slightest doubt that he will discharge them to the satisfaction and general benefit of the public.


said, that at all times it was disgraceful to enter into personal considerations of this kind, but it was more particularly so at a time when they were told that the subject of discussion was seriously unwell. The right hon. Gentleman opposite objected to the remarks which had been made in regard to the appointment; but he had omitted to refer to that which was the real objection taken to the appointment on that—the Liberal—side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Act of Parliament required that two of the Commissioners should be barristers of 12 years' standing, and he had accurately stated that all the three Commissioners possessed that qualification. What was really objected to was that the right hon. Gentleman had appointed a Gentleman who was only technically qualified. He did not deny the ability of Sir Seymour Fitzgerald, and the public services which he had rendered; but he did think there was something in the objection that the right hon. Gentleman was only technically qualified. The real question was, whether Sir Seymour Fitzgerald passed the legal qualifications which the Act contemplated, and which in this particular instance were evidently evaded.


said, he would venture to say that there were many hon. Gentlemen walking the hall at Westminster for 15 years without his (Sir Seymour Fitzgerald's) qualifications. He thought that Sir Seymour Fitzgerald possessed the capacity necessary for the administration of a great public Department; and though he did not say he was the very best man that could have been appointed, yet he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) had known of other Governments which had made appointments far less meritorious.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 137; Noes 71: Majority 66.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


thought that, as it was now 1 o'clock, the House ought not to be called on to proceed any further.


said, he would move the Adjournment of the Debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Fawcett.)


thought that after the decision which had just been announced, and after the House had so strongly expressed its opinion, this was a monstrous proposition. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would not persist in his Motion.


said, he had no wish to take another discussion upon this particular Resolution, but he thought the consideration of the Report of Supply should not be carried further.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Resolution agreed to.


I adjourn the House. [Laughterr.]


Sir, I beg leave to adjourn the House. [Much laughter.] Then, Sir, I beg to adjourn the debate. I find I am still wrong. I beg leave to move the adjournment of this debate.


If the House agree to the Motion, the remaining Resolutions on the Report will be postponed.

Motion agreed to.

Further Consideration of Postponed resolutions deferred till Monday next.