HC Deb 29 July 1887 vol 318 cc527-9

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the late J. P. Connolly, who has been employed for nearly 30 years as draftsman in the Works Department at the War Office, would have received, on the discontinuance of his employment this year, a gratuity of one year's salary, £273 15s.; whether the Treasury sanction for this gratuity, though received at the War Office, was not notified to Mr. Connolly; whether Mr. Connolly, in great distress of mind at the prospect of being discharged without any compensation after so many years of good and faithful service, committed suicide; and, whether the Treasury have now refused to pay the gratuity which they had sanctioned to his widow; and, if so, whether that refusal can now be reconsidered, and application made, if necessary, to Parliament for a grant of money to pay the gratuity to Mr. Connolly's widow, who, with her two daughters, is left quite unprovided for?


The Treasury did sanction a gratuity of the amount stated to Mr. Connolly on the abolition of his office. The fact that the gratuity had been granted to him was not immediately notified to Mr. Connolly; because in the interval between the application and the granting of the pension his term of service had been extended for three months. I am unable to say whether Mr. Connolly's death was due to distress of mind at the idea that he was to be discharged without a gratuity; but, as a matter of fact, he never inquired of the War Office Authorities whether any gratuity had been granted to him. It was not within the competence of the Treasury to sanction the payment to Mrs. Connolly of the gratuity granted to her husband. Most careful consideration was given to the question whether there was any Vote to which the sum could properly be charged. But the Treasury was reluctantly forced to the conclusion that it had no legal power to allow the payment. It is desirable that the House and the public should thoroughly understand that the Treasury has very little discretion as to the granting of gratuities. The legal restraints put upon it sometimes lead to hard cases; but, for my part, I think it would be very inexpedient that Public Departments should have funds at their disposal out of which they could at their discretion grant allowances or gratuities without being submitted to almost iron rules. Under the very peculiar circumstances of this hard case, and especially in view of the fact that the grant of the gratuity was never notified to Mr. Connolly, the Government will ask Parliament to sanction the payment to Mrs. Connolly of an amount equal to the gratuity granted to her husband.