§ Postponed Resolution [reported 6th August], considered.
Resolution again read as follows:—
That a sum, not exceeding £14,672, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1879, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office for the Registration of Deeds in Ireland.
§ MR. MELDON
moved to reduce the Vote by £315, the salary of one of the 1611 clerks in the Office. The circumstances under which he removed the reduction had, he said, been discussed in Committee; but no division taken. In the year 1875, one of the first-class clerks in the Office for the Registration of Deeds in Ireland died, and no one had been appointed to fill the vacancy. The fact was that faith had been broken with the officers of this Department in a most unprecedented manner. In 1859, in consequence of some rearrangement of the Office, a circular was issued to all the clerks in it, pointing out that they would be entitled to promotion from class to class according as any dropped off. That was to say, a second-class clerk would, in the event of there being a vacancy in the first grade, get it, and the third-class man would go to the ranks of the second. In 1875, one of the first-class clerks died, a second-class clerk was recommended for his place, and he applied for it. But he was informed that some re-arrangements were then being made in the Office, and the Treasury would not appoint him. The officers being exceeding sore at this, put themselves in communication with the Secretary to the Treasury, by means of Members of Parliament, and asked for the usual promotion. Ho said they were not entitled to the promotion, but only to an additional increment year by year to their salaries. This certainly was a peculiar view of matters, because the Act regulating the Registration of Deeds Office provided that there should be a certain number of clerks of different classes to be fixed by the Treasury Minute. The Treasury did fix that number of clerks, and they provided that there should be 10 of the first class; but now there were only nine. At first, in the Estimates, the Treasury only put down nine clerks; but on looking at the Act of Parliament and the Minute, they found they had no right to reduce the number, and, therefore, it became necessary to take a Vote for 10. But yet no additional first-class clerk had been taken on, and no one was filling the office at all. The clerks were complaining very seriously of this. It was said in 1875, as a reason for not giving the promotion, that new arrangements were about to be made whereby the Treasury would be enabled to dispense with the services of additional clerks; but up to the present no change had taken place, 1612 the result being that the Office was under-manned, and complaints on one side of delay, and on the other side of want of staff. But there was another matter on which he must ask some explanation. Since 1875, only nine first-class clerks had been paid; but the Estimates were framed for 10. Where did this£315 go? It was voted but not paid, and instead of the same amount being restored to the Treasury, £175 or £179 was accounted for. He could not understand what had become of the difference year by year, and he wanted an explanation why money not paid was not returned to the Exchequer?
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out "£14,672," in order to insert "14,357." —(Mr. Meldon.)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. GIBSON)
hoped the hon. and learned Member would not think it necessary to press his Motion to a division. The re-organization of the Office of Registration of Deeds in Ireland had been under consideration for a considerable time past; and at the present moment a Royal Commission, of which the hon. and learned Member was one, and presided over by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, was inquiring into the matter. Under those circumstances, there naturally must be considerable hesitation in making new appointments until the new arrangement was arrived at. As to the allegation that the money voted was not expended or not returned, that matter should be inquired into.
§ MR. M. BROOKS
hoped his hon. and learned Friend would persist in his Amendment, and take the sense of the Committee upon a very unfair proceeding. The fact was that three or four years ago a change in the administration of the Registration of Deeds Office was suggested, with a view to lessening the number of clerks. Nothing had as yet been done; but he was convinced it was because of the importunity of the officers who would have suffered by the change that the promotion had been discontinued. Due allowance should be made for the feelings of the clerks in this Office. Their interest, in the eyes of highly-salaried officials, might be of small moment; but what was a small matter to heads of Departments was of great importance to the persons themselves, and who were greatly damaged by the neg- 1613 lect to carry out the arrangements under which they were appointed. There was no other mode of obtaining justice for them than by bringing the matter before Parliament, so as to get Parliamentary opinion to bear upon the officials.
§ Question put, "That £14,672 stand part of the Resolution."
§ Major O'Gorman was appointed one of the Tellers for the Noes, but no Member appearing as a second Teller for the Noes, Mr. Speaker declared that the Ayes had it.