HC Deb 16 March 1888 vol 323 cc1491-2

Resolutions [15th March] reported.

First and Second Resolutions agreed to.

(3.) "That a sum, not exceeding £3,614,903, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1889.

Resolution read a first and second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


said, that before the Resolution was put, he should like to make some remarks on a matter which had been the subject of several Questions put by him to the Leader of the House. He was bound to say that the answers of the right hon. Gentleman had appeared to him to be evasive and contradictory, and if his treatment of the Civil Service was in correspondence with those answers it was perfectly impossible that the members of it could have any confidence in the administration. He asked whether the Board of Inland Revenue had last year addressed to the civil servants a letter containing these words—"You cannot be permitted to lecture on, or publicly speak on, or take any public part in the discussion on Home Rule;" and whether Sir Alfred Slade was at that time a prominent member of the Primrose League? He wished to disclaim any intention of making a personal attack on Sir Alfred Slade, and he was perfectly prepared to admit that he was a man of high character and a valuable public servant. The reply of the right hon. Gentleman was that the words quoted were used by the Board of Inland Revenue, and that they expressed the rule which obtained throughout the Civil Service with regard to all shades of politics; he admitted that Sir Alfred Slade was trustee for a certain portion of the funds of the Primrose League; but as such he considered that he could not be regarded as a prominent member of the League. Now there was in that answer the statement made, at any rate by implication, that Sir Alfred Slade was not a prominent member of the Primrose League. But what was the fact? As the right hon. Gentleman himself had admitted Sir Alfred Slade, the Receiver General of Inland Revenue, was not only a custodian of some of the funds, but he was actually one of the highest officials of the organization. He was Chairman of the General Purposes Committee, and on the Finance Committee. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that this was so. He was asked, further, whether that brought him within the departmental rule against being a member of any political organization, and his answer was that he was trustee of some of the funds of the Primrose League, and as such he was ex-officio member of the Committee, but that he had abstained from taking any part in the proceedings of the League which would lead to an infringement of the rule laid down by the Board of Inland Revenue for its officers—namely, that they were to abstain from taking any part in or speaking at any political meeting. They had the further statement that Sir Alfred Slade was acting within his rights in belonging to a political organization, provided only that he did not take part in or speak at any political meeting. Now, he proceeded to put a further question to the right hon. Gentleman, as to whether the members of the Civil Service were at liberty to belong to any political organization?

It being ten minutes to Seven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till this day.

The House suspended its Sitting at Seven of the clock.

The House resumed its Sitting at Nine of the clock.