HC Deb 16 July 1883 vol 281 cc1521-2

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether Her Majesty's Government will present to the House a Return of the names of all persons who have been serving or temporarily acting as private secretaries to any of Her Majesty's Ministers since May 1880, specifying whether they are in receipt of a salary, or not; and, if so, the date at which such salary began, and the amount of it; and, with respect to each such person, whether he was previously a member of the Civil Service, or had passed an examination before the Civil Service Commissioners?


Sir, with respect to this Question, my answer to the hon. Member would be that, taking it as it stands, we should not agree to the production of such a Return; and we should not agree to it precisely on the ground that it illustrates nothing as to the general question, which is, no doubt, a question of interest. What has been the traditional or frequent practice as to these appointments is a question of interest; and if the hon. Member thinks fit to move for a Return bearing upon that question over a sufficient period—for instance, since the Reform Act—we should put it in without opposition. But this is a question of what has been done since 1880, which primâ facie seems to involve a charge against me or my Colleagues. I am not prepared to deal with such a charge as far as my Colleagues are concerned. But as the hon. Member evidently feels some curiosity about me in this matter, I will give him some information. I will not give names, but will state the facts, in which he will see some significance. I have at present four Private Secretaries. I have had before these four gentlemen 12 Private Secretaries. Out of these, nine have been appointed out of the regular course of promotion, or, not being members of the Civil Service when they were Private Secretaries, have been introduced into it. Of these nine, four only have been appointed by me. These four have likewise received other and further appointments in the Civil Service, quite independently of me. The other five have been appointed by persons wholly independent of me.