§ MR. SEYMOUR KEAY
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Law Officers of the Crown have been recently consulted, and have recorded the grounds on which they "consider to be permanent in character" the payment of £965 hitherto made yearly to the Duke of St. Albans as Master Surveyor and Keeper of the Hawks;, that to the Duke of Hamilton of £45 10s. yearly as Keeper of the Palace and Gardens of Holyrood; and that to the Marquess of Downshire of £54 3s. 4d. as Constable of the Fort of Hillsborough; and whether he will communicate such grounds to the House; whether he will give the names of the persons to whom the sums of £50 and £37 15s. 4d. are paid yearly, as Deputy Keeper and Porter of Holyrood; also the names of the present recipients of £162 10s. yearly as Warders of the Fort of Hillsborough; whether he will explain what "real and substantial saving to the Nation" is gained, as per recommendation of the Select Committee of 1887, by the Treasury disbursing 26.945 years' purchase to Lords Exmouth and Rodney; and whether he will give an approximate date at which any "obligation of an onerous kind" ceased to attach to the offices of Constable of the Fort of Hillsborough and Master Surveyor and Keeper of the Hawks?
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, will he state how much of the sum of £965 is for the employment of persons who are not employed, and for the keep of birds which are not kept?
§ MR. JACKSON
Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Preston will be good enough to put his question on the Paper. With regard to the question of the Member opposite, I have to say that the Law Officers of the Crown have been recently consulted on the permanency in character of all the existing perpetual pensions, allowances, &c, with the exception of the payment to the Marquess of Downshire as Constable of the Port of Hillsborough, which case has been on two previous occasions referred to the Law Advisers of the day. The opinions given by the Law Officers, who had all the original grants before them, have been to the effect that all the payments in question, including allowances, are legally and permanently binding; but it would be contrary to practice to make public the grounds (if any be recorded)?on which these legal opinions are based. The names of the Deputy Keeper and Porter of Holyrood are Mr. James Auldjo Jamieson and Robert Morrison respectively. The payment in respect of the Warders of the Fort of Hillsborough is made direct to the Marquess of Downshire, and, therefore, the names of the present recipients of the pay are not known to the Treasury; but I can obtain them if the hon. Member desires to have them. The amount of Government securities yielding annual dividends equal to the amount of each of the perpetual pensions of Lord Rodney and Lord Exmouth, which is the true measure of the cost to the taxpayer of such pensions, would, at the present price of Consols, be £75,000, whereas, under the present proposal, each of the grantees will receive a capital sum of £53,890—that is, less than the equivalent in Consols by £21,110 in each case, or less by 28 per cent. The Treasury are not in a position to give an approximate date at which any obligation of an onerous kind ceased to attach to the? offices of the Constable of the Fort of Hillsborough and the Keeper of the Hawks; nor probably could this information be given by the annuitants themselves, unless their family records happen to be unsuually complete.
§ MR. SEYMOUR KEAY
Arising out of that answer will the right hon. Gentleman kindly say how it is that the Treasury have advised that the payment of £162 10s. should be continued yearly 892 during the lifetime, or until the resignation, of persons of whose identity they were unaware?
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
I should like to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether, in regard to these payments, the Treasury have confined themselves to the legal aspects of the question, and not considered the equity of the case as regards the taxpayers of the present generation?
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman's reply as to the verdict or opinion given by the Law Officers, that those payments are to be considered permanent in character in the sense that Parliament has no power to put an end to them; and, if so, what becomes of the supposed omnipotence of the British Parliament?