§ MR. LEWIS
asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether Mr. John Batchelor, of Cardiff, has recently been appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies Inspector of Coals to the Crown Agents for the Colonies, or by whom such appointment was made; whether he had any experience whatever on the subject of coal exploration or coal mines, or any practical know- 1265 ledge of coal or the coal trade; whether he is the same person as carried on business as a timber merchant and shipbuilder during all his business life; whether he is also the same person who was for some time previous to his appointment the leader of the Liberal party in Cardiff; and, whether the appointment was conferred by the Colonial Secretary spontaneously or at the solicitation of Mr. Batchelor?
§ MR. COURTNEY
The appointment to which the hon. Member refers is made by the Crown Agents on their own responsibility. The Secretary of State transmitted to the Crown Agents one testimonial which was sent to him in favour of Mr. Batchelor; but did not interfere further in the matter, and never heard anything about Mr. Batchelor's political antecedents. I myself received, and forwarded, a similar testimonial. Another letter which I received, referring to Mr. Batchelor's political services, I entirely suppressed. The Crown Agents report that Mr. Batchelor was one of several applicants who submitted their testimonials on the death of the late holder of the office in question; that he was then selected, with two or three others, as appearing to possess the best qualifications for the post; and it was eventually conferred upon him after communication with those who, in the Crown Agents' opinion, were competent to speak as to his special knowledge of the duties he proposed to undertake. The Crown Agents add that in making their appointments they are not actuated by political considerations, their object being to secure the most efficient servants they can get.