HC Deb 12 May 1887 vol 314 cc1714-29
MR. CONYBEAEE (Cornwall, Camborne)

Sir, in rising to call the attention of the House to the question of Post Office patronage, I feel it necessary to explain that I find myself placed in a position of some little difficulty. I am most anxious to proceed with the Motion which appears in my name on the Motion for going into Committee of Supply, and I am naturally all the more anxious, because, upon a former occasion, when it was expected that this question might be discussed, it was not reached until a very late hour of the night, and it was the general sense of the House on that occasion that so important a matter should not be proceeded with when there was no possibility of securing for it adequate discussion. In this instance, I have been called upon suddenly to proceed with the Motion, and the difficulty I find myself in is this—owing to the Division which took place a few minutes ago, I was hurriedly summoned into the Division Lobby from the dinner table; but I had understood that there would be some discussion on the Question which has been just put from the Chair on the first Motion upon the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Henniker-Heaton), for cheapening and facilitating postal communication between all parts of the Empire. Believing that that discussion would take some time, I am obliged to admit that I have not got with me, at the present moment, the notes and papers which I had prepared, and which are necessary to enable me to go on with my Resolution. I have them in my locker. I do not wish hon. Members to suppose for a moment that I have any desire to shirk the matter. I am perfectly willing to deal with the matter as well as I am able without the assistance of my notes, if it is the desire of the House, although I should be in a much better position to do so if the House would allow me first to go to my locker. I only make this statement in order to explain the difficulty of the position in which I find myself placed. Having said this in order to explain the reasons why, under existing circumstances, it will be impossible for me to deal with the question as fully and completely as I should wish, I propose to give a brief and, I am afraid, only an imperfect outline of my complaint. There has been a good deal said in the public Press with regard to certain appointments which have been made by the Postmaster General during the present year. As I understand, the question resolves itself into two branches, the first of which has reference to the transference of certain clerks in a particular department of the Post Office from one class to another. It has been alleged that certain transferences have been made which have not been in accordance with the usual rule which prevails in the Post Office, and not in accordance with the information and advice supplied to the Postmaster General by the permanent heads of the department who are cognizant of the work done by the different clerks, and are, therefore, best able to judge of the propriety of the particular appointments made. It is alleged that the course which the Postmaster General has taken in this matter is not only a novel course, but is so opposed to the regulations which are issued in respect of competition for appointments in the public service relating to the Post Office as to constitute almost a breach of contract between the Post Office and those who have entered the service of the Post Office by moans of public competition. I understand that, in one particular case, a gentleman has been promoted by the Postmaster General on his own responsibility, and against the wishes of the permanent officials of the Post Office, who were best able to judge whether he was the most competent person to be promoted to a higher position. There have been other and extraneous matters imported into the question; but I hope it will be clearly understood that I do not refer to the matter in order to make any personal charge against the Postmaster General. I say so because, in answer to a Question which was put to him, the right hon. Gentleman gave a firm denial to the charges which have been made. The allegation wa3 that, in making these appointments, some regard was had by the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that the persons promoted were, in some way or other, connected with him by family ties. The right hon. Gentleman took the earliest opportunity of denying those allegations, and I am glad that it was so. The right hon. Gentleman also stated, in answer to a Question addressed to him by myself, that he had no acquaintance with the gentlemen in regard to whose appointments these stories had been set afoot. That remark, however—that he had no acquaintance with the gentlemen he promoted—only goes to confirm the contention which is made, that he must have been unable to know whether he was appointing the best and most suitable men. The whole gist of the question is, that the right hon. Gentleman appointed persons in the teeth of the direct opposition of the permanent officials, who were the persons best qualified to judge of the fitness of the gentlemen promoted. If the right hon. Gentleman tells us that he made these appointments without knowing anything about the individuals, or the work they had been doing, we are certainly justified in our contention that it would have boon much better if he had followed the practice which had previously prevailed. Another important point which I wish to raise is, that the right hon. Gentleman, in making appointments to Provincial post master ships, has on various occasions made alterations in the amount of salaries, with the view of keeping these offices as a part of the political patronage of the Government of the day. I have had cases placed before me which fully bear oat that allegation—cases in which the right hon. Gentleman has reduced the salary below £120, which is the amount beyond which the political patronage of the Post Office cannot be exercised in England; and in other cases below £100, which is the amount beyond which the political patronage of the Treasury cannot be exercised in Ireland and Scotland. I am not prepared to contend that it is solely with a view of indulging in political patronage, and for the sake of giving these appointments to the supporters of the Government, that these reductions have been made; but the fact remains that, in some cases, they have had the effect of making the offices to which they are attached a part of the political patronage of the Government; and there is this remarkable coincidence—that where these reductions of salary have been made appointments of a Tory rather than of a Liberal or Radical complexion had taken place apparently as a consequence. The conclusion is, therefore, forced upon the public mind that the reductions have been made with the express purpose and intention of keeping these appointments in the hands of the Government of the day, and of turning them into political and Party appointments. If my contention is right, I have good reasons for bringing the matter before the House, and for complaining that such a state of things should exist, because I look upon it as introducing into our system of administration some of the worst features of the American Civil Service system, which have always been presented to us on this side of the Atlantic in the most odious light. Whenever anything is said of political corruption in America, the allegation is always coupled with a reference to the fact that whenever a change of Government is made in the United States every petty official through-out the country is changed at once. That is a system which we rightly regard as a mischievous system; and if I had no other ground, I should feel it my duty to resist any attempt on the part of a Minister in this country to introduce a system which could have the most remote resemblance to that mischievous example. I am not saying that this is so; but an impression has got hold of the mind of the public that it is so, and the facts which have been brought to light go a long way towards bearing out that impression. What we desire is that these appointments should be given to the most fit and proper persons. In appointing a postmaster in a country district, what is wanted is to secure the services of a person who has sufficient time at his disposal to enable him to discharge the duties properly, whose fitness is admitted, and whose character is above suspicion. If the appointments are to be given to the friends of this Party or of that, just as a Liberal or Tory Government happens to be in power, it will be impossible to prevent jobbery and scandal. I look upon this as the strongest part of my case; and I propose to make the Resolution I will venture to place before the House sufficiently wide to deal with the question not merely as a personal question relating to the administration of the Post Office by the right hon. Gentleman who now occupies the position of Postmaster General (Mr. Raikes), but in such a form as to place on record that this House desires to see all these appointments kept carefully clear from Party jobbery. I do not use that expression as relating to one Party more than another; but I apply it to all Parties. What I desire is that these appointments should be kept clear altogether from Party influence, and that there should be some general principle laid down in regard to the administration of the Civil Service generally, and especially in regard to the Post Office. The Post Office is an institution which we have always regarded with pride. We have seen it attain gigantic dimensions; and it is one of the few paying institutions with which the Government have any connection. I hope it will long continue to be well administered; but I am afraid that if we once allow the minor appointments in the Post Office to be drawn into the whirlpool of Party strife, the result will be that the high character for efficiency which it has hitherto enjoyed will speedily vanish, and we shall have to regret the innovations which have apparently been introduced for the first time by the present Administration. In reference to the question of appointing partizans to these humble positions, I will only quote one case which has been brought to my notice. I refer to Appledore. A complaint has been laid before me by persons who say that the postmastership has been given to a particular individual who had been promised the post, even before a vacancy, by the secretary of the Tory local organization or society. That fact proves, to a great extent, the proposition I have advanced that there is a tendency in these days to place these appointments in the hands of persons connected with the Party in power, and that they are given as a piece of political patronage. I think the right hon. Gentleman the present Postmaster General would do well to signalize his holding of the Office by doing all he can to remove these appointments from the atmosphere of politics and Party influences. The Resolution I propose to place before the House is— That is is desirable, in the interests of the efficiency of the Post Office, that the present system of Post Office patronage, so far as it depends upon Party influence, should cease.


The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to move any Resolution inasmuch as he has given no Notice of it. The Order of the House is that a Resolution must be in the hands of Members, and due Notice must be given of it. The hon. Member cannot spring, so to speak, a Resolution upon the House.


I am sorry if I have transgressed the Orders of the House; but your ruling, Sir, relieves me of a difficulty. I have called attention to the matter as I was bound to do, and, having done so, I will leave the matter in the hands of the House without moving any Resolution at all. I will only apologize to the House, not so much for having sprung a Resolution upon hon. Members, because I did not intend to do anything of the kind, and I was not aware that it was necessary to do more than give Notice of my Motion in the form I have done; but for having acquitted myself in a very feeble way in consequence of having the matter rather sprung upon myself, owing to the circumstance which I have already mentioned.

MR. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe),

in supporting the contention of the hon. Member (Mr. Conybeare), said, that persons who had been connected with the Post Office assured him, from their knowledge, that there had been cases since the right hon. Gentleman obtained control of the Department which tended to the well-founded belief that patronage in the Post Office was not exercised solely in the interest of the public, but very largely for Party ends. That remark applied specially to the appointment of medical officers. It was alleged that there was a decided tendency to fill these posts with gentlemen of Conservative principles. In that way, great political influence might from time to time be exercised. With regard to the charge that salaries of £120 in England had been reduced to £119, and of £100 in Scotland to £99, in order to bring the posts within the sphere of political influence, whether the motive alleged was the right one or not, it at any rate gave grounds for great suspicion, and while he did not mean to say that the Postmaster General wished to make those appointments for political purposes, he thought the House ought to protest against any such thing being done. He hoped the Postmaster General would declare, not only that such things had not been done, but that they would not be done for the future.


said, he would not, at all events, be suspected of an undue leaning towards Her Majesty's present Advisers; but he was bound to state that he had never seen anything to justify the great outcry which had been made a little while ago with regard to the manner in which the present Postmaster General exercised the power entrusted to him. The right hon. Gentleman had a very difficult post to fill, and it appeared that the difficulties in his way had been exceptionally great. Certain appointments had been made, on the right hon. Gentleman's own responsibility, which did not meet with the approval of his subordinates, and something like a public scandal, something like an organized opposition to the Postmaster General by gentlemen who constituted his Staff, had been the result. His (Mr. Arthur O'Connor's) own experience of the Civil Service generally was that there was a great deal too much power in the hands of the permanent officials. He believed that, to a large extent, the excessive expenditure in connection with the Civil Service, and also of the Army and Navy, was due to the fact that the permanent Staff had too much power in their hands, and had been able to control the Parliamentary officials who, for some time after they came into office, were necessarily largely at the mercy of the permanent officials; and, after that, were to a great extent broken in to the established lines and modes of thought in the different Departments. The Postmaster General had dared, what few Ministers had dared, to think for himself; and, as a consequence, those who ought to be subordinate and obedient to him had opposed him. For his part, he was glad to see the dignified and firm attitude of the right hon. Gentleman. If Ministers were to be held responsible for the administration of their Departments, they must have the authority which should be concomitant with the responsibility; and it would never do for that House to deprive Ministers of the authority which was necessary to maintain and enforce their responsibility. The result of such interference would be that the permanent officials would have everything in their own hands. If Parliament allowed the higher portion of the permanent Staff to interfere with all parts of the organization, the country would have to pay for it. If we had Ministers responsible to Parliament, let them be held responsible for the expenditure and for every single detail; but, while we did so, let us have the justice to leave them with a free hand.

THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. RAIKES) (Cambridge University)

I am sure the House will condole with the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Camborne Division of Cornwall (Mr. Conybeare) who has brought forward this subject on his misfortune in having been called in from his dinner, although they will probably have heard with some feeling of satisfaction that the hon. Member had left his papers behind. But I think we must commiserate the hon. Member even in a greater degree upon the misfortune that he has at last been brought to book. These charges have been hanging over for many weeks and months, and what is the position in which the House now finds itself? The hon. Member, who is so anxious to arraign the conduct of a Member of Her Majesty's Government, has had upon the Paper for something like two months a vague charge which he has never thought fit or never found himself able to put in any practical or articulate shape. When at last the hon. Member is called upon to substantiate his charges before the House, he has not even been able—although two months have been allowed to him—to put them in any practical form so that a vote may be taken upon it; and the House is now called upon to deal with this case in the absence of those precious memoranda which the hon. Member has found it convenient to leave elsewhere, and under circumstances in which the House cannot pronounce an opinion upon his statement. I venture to think that it has never before happened, in the history of this House, that a Minister has been called upon to reply to such a charge. I do not know really what the charge is. The hon. Member conies down to the House without materials, and he has failed to place on the Paper any Notice which it is possible to deal with in the form of argument or contradiction. Nevertheless, I feel that it is my duty to notice the very general statement the hon. Member has made in support of a Motion which he has been precluded from putting to the House in a formal way. The hon. Member has dealt very largely in innuendo. I observe that that is a growing practice among certain classes of politicians in this country—namely, the practice of not making positive and categorical charges, but of insinuating that there may be something in some kind of charge. The hon. Member has talked about the transference of certain clerks. Can the hon. Member offer the slightest shadow of justification for the use of the plural in this case? There never has been any question of more than one particular appointment having been made against the wishes or advice of the permanent officials. Nevertheless, the hon. Member talked about certain clerks as if it were a general practice, insinuating that there has been a general departure from the usual practice of the Post Office in this matter. He has mentioned no name but one. A more unworthy manner of treating such a question as this could not have been adopted. In regard to the whole case the hon. Gentleman has mentioned only one person in reference to whom this preposterous mass of insinuation, innuendo, and suggestion has been brought forward. The hon. Gentlemen did not think fit to be present on a former occasion when a Question which stood upon the Paper in his name was reached, and when his accusation could have been properly met.


I think I am entitled to say a word by way of explanation. I did explain to the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster General on a former occasion that the only reason why I was not in my place on that occasion was because I had not intended to put the Question that evening. I gave you, Mr. Speaker, Notice of my intention not to put the Question, and I understood that you had marked the Question as one which was not to be put. As the right hon. Gentleman had not the courtesy to send me any reply to my note, but insisted upon answering it, although it was not put, I do not think I am to be blamed for not having been in my place.


The statement made by the hon. Member is exactly what I was going to say myself. When the hon. Member talks of courtesy, I certainly cannot understand what his notion of courtesy is. The hon. Member placed a Notice on the Paper impugning the action of a Member of the Government, when the Question relating to the matter was reached. It is true that at the last moment he sent me a notice which I had no opportunity of replying to, or of acknowledging his note, intimating that it was not his intention to put the Question. That Notice only reached me after I had taken my place in the House on the night in question. No, Sir, in these circumstances, I cannot accept the explanation of the hon. Member as a satisfactory explanation. He has now repeated a matter which I think was sufficiently disposed of on a former occasion, when the hon. Member had an opportunity of bringing his Motion forward and dividing upon it, but did not think proper to do so. I am about to deal with the ease of the one gentleman whose name has been given in connection with these charges. I have already stated in this House, and I will repeat the statement now, that the gentleman to whom reference has been made, and whose promotion has been called in question, was very nearly at the head of his class. As a matter of fact, he was second in his class, and there was no question whatever of the promotion of the gentleman who was first in the class, and who was the only clerk who was senior to him, seeing that he had been passed over upon at least 20 different occasions, and that, in fact, he was regarded as one who could not expect promotion. I believe that every one of the assistant secretaries in the Post Office had been promoted over the head of that gentleman. What was it that I was asked to do? I was asked to promote a gentleman who was much lower down in the class—a gentleman who was third or fourth in the class, and to place him over the heads of his colleagues. This I declined to do. I made inquiries in the office, and I found that the gentleman who was promoted was a meritorious officer who had discharged his duties with adequate ability, and, therefore, I thought there was no reason for promoting over his head, and over the heads of one or two other competent officers, a junior official who could well afford to wait his turn. I acted in the interests of the Public Service, and especially in the interests of the Department itself. The hon. Member still speaking in the plural number, went on to talk about some of the persons whom I had promoted being con- nected with me by family ties of some sort or other. I think I sufficiently exploded the groundlessness of that charge on another occasion. The gentleman who was promoted, although a connection of some relative of mine, was not a relative of my own, and so far from being influenced by considerations of that nature he was personally unknown to me, nor was I, nor am I, acquainted with his political opinions. I hope the House will not consider that it is necessary I should answer that charge further. I come now to a more important question—namely, the question of the appointment of persons upon political grounds to Provincial post masterships to which the hon. Member has referred. It seems to be almost in vain to endeavour to beat into the heads of some politicians a solid and simple fact, and here, again, I have to meet what has already been contradicted, and to state that I have made no reductions in the salaries of provincial postmasters in order to gain patronage for political purposes. The country is, perhaps, not aware, although I think the hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Conybeare) will be aware by this time, that the patronage of the Post Office is administered by the Postmaster General in cases where the salary exceeds £120 a-year in England, and £100 in Scotland and Ireland, and that all the lower appointments are in the gift of the Lords of the Treasury, and not of the Postmaster General. The allegation is that in certain cases I reduced the salaries in order to place the patronage in the hands of the Treasury. Now it is not the fact that I have reduced the salary of any postmaster, either in this country or in Scotland or Ireland, in any single instance, in order to bring the patronage into the hands of the Treasury. Then what does the hon. Gentleman mean by coming here and giving currency to statements which have not a single atom of truth to support them?


There was the Pershore appointment.


Does the hon. Member say that I reduced the salary in that case in order to take the patronage away from the Postmaster General and place it in the hands of the Treasury? Why I find that the salary of the Postmaster at Pershore was £ 80 when I went to the Post Office, and that it has been and he absented himself from his place raised to £110. That is a sample of the sort of facts which have found currency in the mind of the hon. Member. I hold in my hand a list of 35 appointments in which I have raised the salaries, since I have been in Office, above the Treasury limit, thereby bringing them within the patronage of the Postmaster General. I think, therefore, that I am entitled to complain of the loose way in which charges of this kind are preferred. Here are 35 cases in which I have raised the salaries, since I have been in Office, above a Treasury limit, and have placed the appointments in the gift of the Postmaster General—namely, 20 in England, 4 in Scotland, and 11 in Ireland. There are 16 other appointments in connection with which I have raised the salaries, although the salaries themselves have not reached the Treasury limit, and one of those is the Pershore case. In regard to every one of the 16 cases, of which 11 were in England, 4 in Scotland, and 1 in Ireland, I have made a substantial increase in the salary of the postmaster, and, while doing so, I have not thought it necessary or desirable to make a greater increase, because I believe that the increase allowed affords adequate and sufficient recognition of the services of the officer. The House is probably aware that, in regard to the offices in the gift of the Postmaster General, they are filled up by the appointment of persons already in the service of the Department. I think that in all important Post Offices it is exceedingly desirable that the postmaster shall be a person of actual experience and knowledge of the work of the Department. In very large and important towns that course is universally adopted; but in regard to the smaller towns, where the salaries are very small—rarely exceeding £120 or £125 a-year—I confess that I do not think that it is always for the public interests that the postmaster should be an officer who has no other means of livelihood than the £120 a-year that he gets from the Post Office. I am bound to say that in such circumstances, a respectable tradesman, who has a good shop and business, and who is respected and popular in the place in which he lives, is more likely to make an efficient public servant than some poor clerk, brought from a distance, entirely un- connected with the neighbourhood, with a salary of little more than £2 or £2 10s. a-week, who has to fit up the premises with borrowed money, and has, in addition, to have recourse to some guarantee society for a security, thus making a further inroad upon his small salary, and who may be placed under extreme temptations in consequence of the inadequacy of the remuneration he receives to maintain him, and who is forbidden to increase his income by engaging in any other pursuit. I may be wrong, but I cannot help thinking that it is to the public interest, when we cannot make the salary such as would enable a man fairly to live upon it, and to maintain a position of respectability and responsibility, to leave the appointments as they are—in the gift of the Treasury, who fill them up by persons with a local connection, and who are able to improve their position by other means. My connection with the Post Office has tended to confirm the opinion which I previously entertained, that it is quite possible not to do any really good service to the neighbourhood, or to the men you appoint as postmasters, by an indiscriminate raising of the salaries above the Treasury limit, thus taking them out of the Treasury patronage, because in such places you would put men who have no other means of earning a livelihood in a position which they ought not to occupy in the town in which they live. It is a mistake to suppose that by raising the salaries of those who fill these appointments I secure any additional patronage either for myself or my Party, because no appointments will take place until vacancies arise. Although the Post Office may have obtained no increase of patronage from what has been done, the appointments under the now regulations are left to be filled up on the next vacancy, and probably by the time they arise another Government may be in Office. So far from exercising the patronage entrusted to me in the interests of the Party to which I belong, I have only been guided by two considerations in the matter; first, the convenience of the public; and, secondly, the propriety of recognizing the claims of the present holder of a particular office. There is no doubt that a good deal of inconvenience does arise in the filling up of the very small appointments. I believe they are some- times conferred by the Treasury upon their political friends, and I may say that the very last person who applied to me to appoint a postmaster was the hon. Member for the Camborne Division of Cornwall himself. I received his letter only a few days ago. I have forwarded his letter to the Treasury in whose gift the appointment is, and not in mine. He also referred to a place called Appledore, the postmastership of which is not in my gift, but in that of the Treasury. I do not know who is the postmaster there, but the name submitted to me by them was, of course, sent down and reported upon to me by the surveyor of the district. The nominations to these appointments are made by the Treasury in the ordinary course, and checked by the permanent Post Office Authorities. I have no interest whatever in these appointments, not even so much as the hon. Member for North-West Cornwall appears to have himself.


I did not at all mention the case of Appledore with the intention of making any charge or complaint against the right hon. Gentleman. I think I was careful to explain that my remarks were directed against the system. In the particular instance referred to I was desired to make the application. I very much regret, that, in the performance of my duty to my constituents I should be required to make an application of such a nature. It is a kind of political patronage which I think ought to be abolished, and, for my own part, I would rather not be troubled with matters of that sort.


The hon. Member disclaims any personal object in connection with the case of Appledore. I will only say that it is difficult to see anything in the speech of the hon. Member in which he gave any fact to support the insinuations with which the speech itself abounded. I am inclined to agree with the opinion which I know has been expressed by some hon. Members of this House, that as regards the extremely small appointments, they might with advantage be preferred to the head postmaster of the locality in which they have to be made. Of course, we cannot guard altogether against favouritism or jobbery of some kind or other, and a local postmaster would probably be quite as likely to perpetrate a job as a Secretary to the Treasury. At the same time, I think it would be a convenience to the Treasury—I am speaking upon a matter with regard to which I have had no official communication with them—I think it would be a convenience if they were relieved of this tiresome duty of finding postmasters for these extremely small places. That would leave for the Treasury what I may call the lower middle-class appointments, and those, I think, ought not to be given to the Postmaster General, because he cannot have the local knowledge which would enable him to select the most proper men. I have only one word more to say, and that is in regard to the observations of the hon. Member for the Crewe Division of Cheshire (Mr. Mc Laren), who made some reference to medical officers. He spoke of the great political influence which medical officers can exercise; but, for my part, I do not know what form that influence can take, unless it is in the administration of drugs to particular persons to prevent them from attending the poll on particular days. These appointments are very small ones—worth from £20 to £50 a-year, and I do not see how a medical officer holding an appointment of even £50 a-year is likely to exercise any great amount of political influence. I may tell the hon. Member for Crewe that the only case with which I am acquainted in which an appointment has been in any way cavilled at by anybody on the spot, is a case in which a gentleman wrote to complain of an appointment I had made, and to say that he had voted for the Conservative candidate, and, therefore, thought it hard that he had not been appointed himself. That is the only complaint which has reached mo in regard to the exercise of this patronage; but as I have said the value of these appointments is extremely small. I am always glad to obtain reliable information on the spot, and what I do generally is to get from the surveyor of the Post Office a list of candidates whom, on the whole, he may believe to be suitable for the appointment, and if I know anybody on the spot, I then refer to him in order that I may chock the surveyor's report with an opinion obtained privately, and by that means secure the appointment of the most qualified person. I will undertake to say that no question of a Party nature has influenced any of these appointments; but that I have always endeavoured to obtain an unprejudiced opi- nion from the local surveyor, and any other information that it is in my power to obtain. The hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) has alluded to a certain difference of opinion which existed some time ago between myself and some of the experienced and very able gentlemen who act as my professional advisers. I shall speak of them with all respect. The great services they have rendered to the country and their large experience entitles them to respect, and I should be extremely foolish were I Dot to recognize fully the value of their services. I am delighted to avail myself whenever I can of their matured opinion, but I claim for myself the right to differ from them when I consider it my duty to do so. I should be very sorry to hold my present Office for one day if I felt that I was bound to endorse every paper that is put before me. As long as I have the honour to serve Her Majesty in any capacity whatever, I shall endeavour to maintain the respect that is due to the experience and ability of the permanent officials; but I shall also have regard to that sense of public duty which ought to animate every public man who is placed in a position of trust.