HC Deb 17 June 1886 vol 306 cc1720-2

I have to ask the Solicitor General for Scotland a Question of which I have given him private Notice. My attention has been called to a statement made by him in the House on Friday, when I was not present, to the effect that I had recommended one of the candidates for appointment as a Commissioner under the Crofter Bill. I have to ask, When, and to what Member of the Government, either verbally or in writing, did I make any recommendation whatever?


My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension with regard to what I said when speaking on this matter in the House on Friday, no doubt consequent on his not being present at the time. I find that what I said is reported more fully in The Scotsman than in any other newspaper I have seen, and on referring to it I find that I am there reported to have said— Among other recommendations which were put before the Government in support of Mr. Hosack's appointment were one by the hon. Member for Argyleshire and another by the hon. Member for the Wick Burghs. That statement is, Sir, in all respects correct. Upon the 10th, Mr. Hosack transmitted to the Scottish Office a letter from my hon. Friend addressed to the Rev. Mr. W. R. Taylor, which I will read— 62 Portland Place, May 6th, 1886. Dear Mr. Taylor,—In reply to yours of the 29th, I have to say that if an opportunity offers I should be very glad to say a word on behalf of your friend, Mr. Hosack. I suppose he has made his application in the proper quarter. I may say that my persistent action on behalf of our people has not endeared me to the Government. This letter, I assume, was written in reply to a letter from Mr. Taylor to my hon. Friend asking him to give a recommendation to Mr. Hosack. Mr. Taylor appears to have interpreted the letter as being a valuable testimonial in favour of Mr. Hosack, because he sent it to him, and Mr. Hosack, apparently taking the same view, transmitted it to the Scottish Office, and it thereupon took its place among other testimonials in the Scottish Office in favour of Mr. Hosack. I have no doubt the Secretary for Scotland put the same interpretation on this letter as Mr. Taylor, to whom it was written, and Mr. Hosack, to whom it was transmitted, and I venture to think the House will be of the same opinion in regard to what the meaning of the letter was.


I would ask the indulgence of the House while I make a personal explanation. The letter referred to is six weeks old. It was addressed to a third person, a rev. gentleman for whom I have the greatest respect, who addressed me in favour of this candidate, and the answer I made him has just been read to the House. The intention of the answer, as I interpret it, is that if under the improbable contingency the Lord Advocate or any other Gentleman representing Scotch affairs in this House should make an appeal to me or ask my opinion or advice, which I need scarcely say did not take place, I would say to the Member of the Government who made the appeal that I knew nothing of this gentleman personally, but a rev. minister for whom I have a great respect spoke very highly of him. That opportunity which is referred to in my letter never arose, because, as I have said, no application was made to me. My opinion was not asked, but my action, light as it was, seems to have had a great effect on Her Majesty's Government. My letter was not intended for Mr. Hosack or the Government. I made no communication to the Government, and received none from them on the subject.