HC Deb 23 March 1891 vol 351 cc1707-23
(6.41.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I desire to take this opportunity, which may not recur for a long time, to call attention to the Report of the Royal Commission on Civil Establishments, so far as it affects the Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service, although I shall, of course, be unable to move the Resolution which I put upon the Paper— That, in the opinion of this House, effect ought to be given to the recommendations of the Royal Commission relating to improve-men's in the organisation of the Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service. The uncertainty of obtaining another opportunity renders it desirable that we should bring this matter before the House with the view of obtaining from the Ministry some statement which will put us in a better position to discuss the question when it arises on the Vote. The first and most important point is the recommendation of the Commission that the Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service should be fused into one Service. Hon. Members will find the suggestion in the 25th paragraph of the Report of the Royal Commission. An analysis of the evidence is given which will enable hon. Members to see what data the Commissioners proceeded upon. The advantages of the fusion would be mainly two. There would be great convenience in having a constant transference from home to abroad, and from abroad home. By that means the man who has to do the work would have the advantage of knowing what diplomatic work is like on foreign missions; and the man on foreign missions would have an understanding of how foreign questions present themselves here, and an appreciation of the views taken in this country. In that way I think the Public Service would be benefited, and we would procure a higher measure of competence in each class. There would, too, be a better and more general promotion in the Service. It is always found that a certain number of men, after a few years' service, develop a special talent for one or other branch of the Service, though it may not be the one into which they first entered. It seems desirable that as soon as the man of special talent becomes known to the Secretary of State, he should be able to send him to the work for which he is most fitted. In that way you would better carry on promotion than is now possible. At present promotion is so slow as to be discouraging, and the man of talent loses the interest and energy which he ought to possess, considering the importance of his functions. Promotion is apt to be extremely slow in the Foreign Office, and in particular parts of the Diplomatic Service. The salaries, too, are very low, so that it is a long time before a man can hope to derive any income from his talents. That being the fact, anything which tends to improve the career of a public servant in the Foreign Office or Diplomatic Service, and which tends to accelerate promotion by making the whole field wider, is clearly an advantage. It is with the view, too, of enabling a greater number of men to be got than is now obtained, that I hope the recommendation of the Royal Commission will be carried out. These are the arguments which seem to have, commended themselves to the Royal Commission, and it follows from the fusion which they recommend that there should be one Examination Staff. At present, though there is a competitive examination, it is an examination by nomination. A candidate has to obtain the nomination of the Secretary of State before he is admitted to compete. But the number of places to be filled up is always such that there is no competition between the nominated candidates. The Commissioners do not seem to have considered it desirable to alter the system of nomination, and, as some of the witnesses concurred in that view, I do not propose to bring it before the House. I will assume that there ought to be nominations in the first instance, and that the number nominated would necessarily be limited. But the union of the two Services would necessarily tend to raise diplomatic examination to a higher level than that which now obtains. It might, therefore, be necessary to contemplate the offering of further inducements to men to enter the Diplomatic Service than are now proffered. In the first place attachés on receiving an appointment get no salary for two years, and the salary given after that period is low, besides which candidates are informed that they must have private means to enable them to meet the expense of living at foreign Courts. Clearly, to carry out the change which the Commissioners re-commit, would involve an increase of expenditure. I hope it will be found desirable to pay members of the Diplomatic Service on a somewhat better scale, so as not to make necessary the requirement that the candidate must be prepared to invest £400 a year. It would be a distinct gain to the Public Service, because it would widen the area from which diplomatists are drawn. Considering the many important and delicate questions that have to be dealt with, as well as questions affecting our commerce, I do not think we at present draw enough talent into the Diplomatic Service. I believe that in the interests of the country it has become of increasing importance that we should endeavour to attract men of first-rate talent to the Diplomatic Service. How is this to be done without imposing an additional burden on the Treasury? I think it might be done to a very large extent, if not completely, by various retrenchments in the present Diplomatic and Foreign Office Service. I will mention a few of these. It is a question of great intricacy, and therefore I will not go into much detail. For one thing, the salaries of some of our Ambassadors might be reduced. It is true that they are paid liberally by reason of the costly residences they have to keep up and the hospitality they have to exercise. Instead of the palaces of official residences in which they are housed—residences erected at large initial cost, and requiring great annual cost for repairs—it would be well to be content with more modest accommodation. "We might also intimate to our Ambassadors that they need not keep up so large a scale of hospitality as they have done, and that they need not consider it their duty to ask every Englishman who comes with a letter of introduction to a State dinner. I believe we might also effect a certain number of retrenchments by not keeping up Missions at such places as Munich and Darmstadt. The Royal Commission in its Report stated that these Missions might be reduced. They have really no longer any political object. The main policy of Germany is all centred in Berlin, and our Ambassador there is perfectly able to conduct every negotiation. I think a saving might also be effected by abolishing certain chaplaincies. Again, there might be a saving by re-arranging the Foreign Office Establishment. In the Foreign Office there are now three sets of clerks—the Permanent Establishment clerks, the Supplementary clerks and the Lower Division clerks. The Commission recommended that all distinctions between the Establishment clerks and the Supplementary clerks should cease; that the number of clerks of the higher class should be diminished, and that more work should be thrown on the Lower Division clerks. Clearly, as the scale of payment is very different, if that recom-commendation is carried out a considerable saving will be effected. The transference of work from the Upper to the Lower Division would lead to a considerable diminution of the Annual Charge. At present a great deal of the work done by the higher clerks is work of a purely mechanical and routine order, requiring no high intelligence, education, or talent. There are two objections to the system hitherto observed. The first is, that men of ability and distinction are paid for doing work for which no great ability or education is needed; and the second is, that by setting highly-trained and educated men to do purely mechanical work, they become dissatisfied with their work at the beginning of their life, when it is most important that they should learn to become interested in their work, and when their minds should be stimulated by having interesting work to do. There can be no greater mistake than that a young man should become wearied of his work and cease to care for it. Even apart, therefore, from the question of expense, it would be a considerable gain if the number of Upper Division clerks were diminished, and those retained were kept for the higher and more intellectual kind of work. This is the view of the Commissioners as contained in the 24th paragraph of the Report. I know it is sometimes objected that the Foreign Office work is largely confidential. But I do not believe that the Lower Division clerks will be found deficient in a sense of official honour, and unfit to be intrusted with confidential work; and, besides, it is, after all, not much of the work that is really confidential. The part of the work which is secret in this sense, that a newspaper would pay a high price to have it, is comparatively small, and it is only in rare cases that a powerful temptation could be brought to bear. I believe, therefore, there need be no alarm on that score. With regard to the Diplomatic Service, there is one point I should like to refer to. It would be a very great advantage if in every Embassy or Legation abroad there were some person to represent the permanent element, a person who would remain from year to year unchanged, and so prevent those difficulties which arise when new attachés come in and take up work with the earlier stages of which they are not acquainted. I know that there is a difference of opinion on this point, and that Lord Granville, in his Memorandum, threw some doubt on the advisability of adopting this plan; but if the House will look at the evidence and at the nature of the proposal, I think they would see the great advantage to be gained by its adoption. Lastly, I desire to say a few words on the Consular Service, as to which the Commissioners have reported infavour of certainchanges. That Service is an extremely abnormal and accidental kind of Service. It is not a branch of the regular Civil Service. There is a light qualifying examination, and it is in the power of the Secretary of State to dispense even with that examination, and to exercise his patronage practically unchecked in connection therewith. He can give effect to private and political motives. I think the House will feel that it is very undesirable that in a branch of the Civil Service so important it should be open to the Secretary of State to give rewards to political supporters or find places for personal friends. The Service should be entered by examination; and if the Secretary of State ever makes an appointment outside the examination, he should be required to make a special Report giving reasons for such deviation from the usual practice, so that his action will be open, if necessary, to be discussed in the House. It is also desirable that those entering should have a career open to them, and that promotion should not be a merely haphazard matter. Consuls should be more generally promoted to better posts, in order that they may feel that merit is appreciated and rewarded. I am glad to know that the Commissioners have expressed themselves as satisfied with the manner in which the Consuls perform their duties. A few years ago complaints were made by the commercial community as to the alleged indifference of the Foreign Office and the Consuls to the promotion of British commercial interests abroad. These complaints were to a large extent refuted; but since then, no doubt partly owing to the action of Lord Rosebery when at the Foreign Office, the Consuls have been put on a new footing, fresh instructions have been issued for their guidance, the Board of Trade officially publish all commercial intelligence from them, and the Consuls certainly now perform their duties to the satisfaction of the British commercial community. It would, however, be well, as the Commissioners suggest, if the Consuls had more commercial training. The Commissioners have reported also on a number of other matters of detail, to which I shall not now refer; but it would be well if the right hon. Gentleman would lay before the House a statement showing what has been done to carry out the recommendations of the Commission, and on what grounds the Secretary of State differs from the recommendations of the Commissioners which have not been carried out.

(7.22.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I think that the suggested fusion between the Diplomatic Service and the Foreign Office would entail far greater changes than the hon. Gentleman appears to contemplate. The fact is, that many men enter the Foreign Office who have no private means, for they can in London live on their salaries, whereas it is quite impossible for attachés abroad to do so. They are not merely clerks to the Ambassador, but in the position of his aides-de-camp. They have to go into society and maintain a certain position. I believe it is still deemed necessary to insist that a young man appointed as attaché should have a guaranteed private income of £6400 a year. I very much doubt whether any attaché does live on £400 a year; if he is to live up to the style of his colleagues he must spend £600 or £700 a year. My hon. Friend says—" Then pay him more." Does he mean pay them £6600 or £700 a year? because if you do that, you will have to put all the clerks in the Foreign Office on the same footing. If this fusion were to take place, it would be necessary to pay the Foreign Office clerks at the rate of about £600 a year so as to enable them to take up the position of attachés. The fact is, that these young men who enter the Diplomatic Service and work for such small salaries do so, not merely because they thus get into good foreign society and lead an agreeable life, but because they look forward to becoming in time Ambassadors and Plenipotentiaries themselves, with big salaries and considerable pensions. It is the very same reason which, as Sydney Smith said, induced men to act as curates and humble clergymen; they look forward to getting fat livings and to becoming Bishops. How does my hon. Friend propose to carry out this fusion without an increase in these salaries?


I realise that the change will involve some extra expense, but I suggest it may be met by retrenchments in other matters.


No doubt certain retrenchments might be made, bat I believe that if the Commissioners had taken the trouble to make out an estimate they would have found the increased expenditure would nearly, if not quite, outweigh the saving. There certainly is great opportunity for reduction. Our Ambassadors at St. Petersburg and Rome are overpaid, being paid more than those of any other country. It is said they have to dispense a great amount of hospitality. I have been in the Diplomatic Service, and I never saw this reckless hospitality. The real expense is incurred in keeping up a position equal in style to that of the inhabitants of the country. But I would do away entirely with Ambassadors. All that is required might be easily well done by a Minister-resident, and, where commercial interests are involved, by a Consul. Before the time of telegraphs it was necessary to have abroad to represent us a man of great position and political eminence. But now an Ambassador has very little initiative. He is always telegraphing to the Foreign Office and it to him. The supposed advantage of an Ambassador over a Minister Plenipotentiary is that he has a right to an interview with the Monarch. But nowadays that is no real advantage; for if the Minister Plenipotentiary asked an audience, no doubt the Monarch would grant one. All that is wanted is a good business man as Minister-resident. Then we could do away with attachés and aides-de-camps, and there need be no compulsion to go into society. What amount does my hon. Friend propose to give these young men? If he intends to give them £700 or £800 it is obvious he must give it to all, whether they are in the Foreign Office or the Diplomatic Service, a proceeding which would be exceedingly expensive. My hon. Friend alluded to the Consular Service, and I am surprised he did not propose that that Service should be fused with the Diplomatic Service.


The proposal was made and rejected.


When any sensible suggestion is made one generally hears it is rejected. Why was it rejected? Because, no doubt, the Consular Service is a happy home for the friends of gentlemen in power. There is an examination, but it means nothing. In France there is a different system. There is a fusion between the Diplomatic Service and the Consular Service. The French do not take gentlemen who are broken down in business and in health, but they start men in the Consular Service, just as they start them in the Diplomatic Service. Gentlemen start as Consular cadets, and these are to the Consuls what attachés are to the Minister. They rise to be Vice Consuls and afterwards to be Consuls, and if I remember right there are three different grades of Consuls. It frequently happens that instead of going on in the Consular Service a man will pass into the Diplomatic Service; whilst many gentlemen who are in the French Diplomatic Service, when they get a certain age, wish to be at the head of a Department, and pass again into the Consular Service. I therefore ask the Under Secretary to give us some explanation of the views of the Government in regard to Ambassadors, as to the possibility of merging the Consular Service in the Diplomatic Service, as to what salary attachés or clerks in the Foreign Office should commence at, and as to whether it is still necessary to exact the assurance that a gentleman entering the Service should have £400 or £500 of his own.

(7.35.) MR. LEGH (Lancashire, S.W., Newton)

As a former member of the Diplomatic Service, there is one portion of the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) with which I most thoroughly agree, namely, that portion in which he expressed the hope that the Diplomatic Service would in future be protected from the interference of outsiders. The practice of introducing outsiders has almost attained to the proportions of a scandal. The hon. Member for Northampton remarked that the Consular Service has become a sort of refuge for the friends of persons in power, and that the Diplomatic Service has literally been turned into the home of rest for decayed or distressed politicians, and in that I agree with him. But I feel bound to add that is the only friendly sentiment the hon. Member expressed towards the Diplomatic Service. I may possibly be somewhat prejudiced on this question, but I maintain there is no great difference, on the whole, between those in the Diplomatic Service and the clerks in the Foreign Office. If I mistake not, the hon. Member for Northampton was once in the Diplomatic Service. When he entared it probably the examination was not one of a very severe character, and yet I presume there would be few people who would be disposed to express the opinion that the hon. Member is not equal to the average Foreign Office clerk in ability or in anything else. Now, the most important change which is advocated by the Commission is the fusion between the Consular and Diplomatic Services. Anyone who has had experience of either of the Services must have come to the conclusion that that fusion is eminently desirable. Even the Foreign Office clerks, who are so superior to the members of the Diplomatic Service, will no doubt improve under a system of fusion. It is anticipated that two distinct advantages will result from fusion. In the first place, it is said promotion will be more rapid. I sincerely hope it will: it cannot possibly be slower than it is now. Another advantage anticipated is that young attachés will not be sent abroad on their supposed £400 a year, which many of them do not possess, but will be immediately provided with a salary. It is not clear how the money for the salary is to be found, but I suppose the salary for the attaché is to be taken out of the salary of the Ambassador, who is to meet the matter by reducing his hospitality. I desire to refer to what the right hon. Gentleman said as to the way in which young attachés are employed. On entering the Service they are, under the present system, employed for a year at the Foreign Office. It is perfectly true their work consists in a great measure of copying, which may almost be described as purely mechanical work. They copy Despatches and decipher telegrams, but the Despatches are of a most interesting, confidential character, and the telegrams they decipher contain the whole pith and marrow of the questions which are uppermost at the moment. So far from the work discouraging persons to join the Service I cannot imagine anything that would give them a more rapid insight into their work. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bryce) appears to think that their time is thrown away on work of this kind, and that it might properly be delegated to clerks of an inferior description—to what I believe are called Lower Division clerks. As far as I know, experience with regard to Lower Division clerks is not a particular happy one. If I mistake not, no Lower Division clerks were occupied until there was great pressure of business in 1877. On that occasion Mr. Marvin was introduced. Such a result might occur on a future occasion.


Mr. Marvin was not a Lower Division clerk, but a person brought in from outside.


I confess I do not see much difference. Mr. Marvin was introduced, and the results were particularly unfortunate. Under the circum stances, I should be very reluctant to alter the present system.

(7.41.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

As I am one of those Commissioners of whom the hon. Member for Northampton has so low an opinion, I may say that the Commission devoted a considerable amount of time to the organisation and work of the Foreign Office. We received answers to something like 4,000 questions as to the work and organisation of the Foreign Office, and not one of the points raised to-night failed to receive fair consideration and examination. I wish to ask the Under Secretary a question, and so emphasise the appeal made by the hon. Member for Aberdeen—whether the Foreign Office intend, in the shape of a Minute or Memorandum, to take any course with regard to the recommendations of the Commission? We made 54 separate recommendations, and I think it is due to a body of gentlemen who devoted a large amount of time and attention to a careful examination of these public questions that some official notice should be taken of their recommendations. I think the Commission on Civil Establishments have some reason to complain of the mode in which their recommendations have been treated by the Government as a whole. With reference, to the Foreign Office, the Commission was very careful to recognise the exceptional peculiarities of the administration. The Commission entirely dissented from many of the views expressed by the hon. Member for Northampton, and I do not think there is in any one of our recommendations any point on which the traditions of the Foreign Office are not duly and sufficiently recognised. I can quite understand the right hon. Gentleman being in considerable difficulty in making a speech on this subject. A speech will have to be carried to a great length, and there will be some difficulty in discussing the various points with the Speaker in the Chair. I would suggest that, before the Foreign Office Estimates are discussed, some official Memorandum should be placed before the House of what view the Secretary of State takes generally of the recommendations of the Commission.

*(7.41.) SIR J. POPE HENNE3SY (Kilkenny, N.)

Before the right hon. Gentleman replies I wish to call his attention to an important recommendation of the Commission. It is a recommendation that ought not to escape the criticism of the House. The Report proposes to stereotype the system under which admission to the Foreign Office is gained by nomination, and not by open competition. The time has come to consider whether we are prepared to support that system. It is said you must have a certain number of clerks on whom you can implicitly rely. Clerkships in the Admiralty and the War Office are thrown open to competition, and it cannot be said that there are never any secrets to be kept in those Departments. Clerks are also appointed in the Colonial Office by open competition. They are entrusted with the most secret and confidential work, and they do it as faithfully as the Foreign Office clerks. What occurs with regard to many of the most confidential cypher telegrams? They pass through both Offices. Take the case of Newfoundland and France. I suppose that not a single telegram relating to the pending question of Newfoundland has not passed through the hands of clerks in the Colonial Office as well as in the Foreign Office. In 1859 a Committee was appointed on my Motion, which threw open the whole of the Civil Service to competition; but it made an exception with regard to the Foreign Office. Great changes have occurred since then. England has become more of a Colonial and less of a Continental Power. Why the old line should still be drawn and why one office in the State should be so exceptionally treated it is difficult to understand. With regard to the suggested consolidation of the Consular and Diplomatic Services recommended by my hon. Friend (Mr. Labouchere). It is much better to keep them separate. It was the practice in China and Japan to amalgamate them, but the plan did not work well, and Lord Salisbury wisely altered it. The recommendations contained in the Report of the Commissioners, with the exception of that by which it is sought to stereotype the present exclusive system of appointments to clerkships in the Foreign Office, are admirable recommendations.


The subject the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) has brought before the House is so important that I do not think any exception can be taken to his raising it. Yet I think that the hon. Gentleman, with his own experience at the Foreign Office, might have accepted for the present the assurances I gave him the other day that, as far as it could be done, the recommendations of the Commission were in course of execution. But the hon. Gentleman and others hare asked for a statement on the matter, and I hope I shall be able to satisfy the House that the Government are taking due and proper steps to carry out those recommendations. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) that the Report of such an important Commission is highly entitled to the consideration of the Government of the day, and that in particular the manner in which that Report deals with the Foreign Office demands the consideration of those who belonged to that Office. The Commissioners entered into the question with a care and consideration that certainly showed their full understanding of the very pecnliar character of the business of that Office. I will, without unduly detaining the House, endeavour to show that the recommendations of the Commission are not being neglected in any way. The hon. Member for Aberdeen placed in the front the question of the amalgamation of the Services. That is being attended to. The examinations for the two branches are being assimilated, and after the next examination gentlemen who passed the last examination will be eligible for appointments both in the Foreign Office and in the Diplomatic Service. There is one matter in which the recommendation of the Commission has not been exactly followed. The Secretary of State thinks the limit of age proposed is somewhat too narrow. It is recommended that the limit should be between 20 and 24, but the Secretary of State has determined to appoint gentlemen between the ages of 19 and 25, and in special cases above that age, No one, I am sure, will dispute what the hon. Member for Aberdeen has said about the important character of the Diplomatic Service. Undoubtedly, unless our Diplomatic Officers are specially qualified, they will not be able to cope with the clever men of other nations with whom they are brought into contact, and the interests of this country will suffer. Instances have been brought before this House from which it is evident that our Representatives in past times have failed from geographical or other special knowledge to safeguard the interests of the country. Several hon. Members have referred to the salaries that are paid to the higher officers of the Diplomatic Service, and have expressed the opinion that in the superfluities of the Ambassadors and Ministers Plenipotentiary may be found the means of backing up the salaries of other ranks. I cannot think the idea put forward by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) will recommend itself to the House. It is not in accordance with the practice of other nations that the Represensatives of the great Powers should not be able to live in a handsome manner, and so represent, if I may use the expression, the splendour of the country as well as its commercial greatness. It is not in accordance with the dignity of the country that our Representative should be meanly housed, and not be in a position to entertain hospitably. The French are much more liberal in the matter of Ambassadors' Residencies than this country. It may not be a popular sentiment, but I think that there would be a regrettable inferiority if the Representatives of this country were not able to maintain themselves in a position equal to that of the Representatives of other Powers. The question of whether Embassies should be provided, or whether Ambassadors should be left to take houses for themselves, is a moot question; in certain capitals it has been thought best to acquire residences. The same course has been followed in regard to some Foreign Representatives in London. With regard to the pay of Ambassadors, no doubt reductions may be made as vacancies occur. When Spain raised her Representative to the rank of Ambassador, and a vacancy occurred elsewhere, there was a transfer of some part of the salary, in order to improve that of Her Majesty's Ambassador at Madrid, and hereafter it maybe possible to effect savings in other directions; but it is manifestly impossible to reduce the standing salaries of Ambassadors during their tenure of office. One hon. Member has suggested that the Minister at Washington should be raised to the rank of Ambassador, having regard to the magnitude of the interests committed to his care. The House must remember that the rank given to our Representative depends largely on the wishes of the Government to whom he is accredited. If the United States desire to be represented by an Ambassador at this Court, nothing could give Her Majesty's Government greater pleasure than to reciprocate that desire; but no such desire has been expressed, and it would be premature for us to make the suggestion. I now come to matters of detail, with which I shall not occupy many minutes; but I am bound to show the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton that we have attended to the recommendations of the Commission. There was a recommendation in regard to details of work at the Foreign Office—the preparation of memoranda, the clearing off of arrears, the registering of all papers, and these things are in course of being carried out. In the copying room type-writing has been instituted. In reference to the question of Supplementary Clerks, I have to say that on the occurrence of vacancies the question of replacing them by Second Division clerks will be carefully considered. The recommendations with regard to foreign messengers and home messengers are being carried out. Then, as I have already stated, that most important matter of the amalgamation of the two branches of the Service is being attended to, as well as the reduction of higher salaries. As to chaplains, no doubt the Secretary of State will bear in mind that future chaplains should not be appointed under the old system. With regard to honorary attachés, in two or three instances already such appointments have been made. It is quite evident that the establishment of pensions for the two branches of the Service cannot be carried out without arrangements which will take some little time to complete with the Treasury. As to the Consular Service, the question of work in the Commercial Department of the Foreign Office has been attended to. The recommendation of the Commission was that Consuls should be required to work some period in the Commercial Department of the Foreign Office, and that is done when they can be spared from their posts, and they so spend two or three months on their first appointment There are difficulties in the way of the grading of Consuls and Vice Consuls, owing to the endless variety in the nature of the positions, and a system of grading would add greatly to the expense. A great deal of work is done by unpaid Consuls, who are content to discharge the duties in the place where they are appointed for the honour of the position, and the fees; and if these were dispensed with there would be a gain in uniformity, but there would be an addition to the cost of the Service. The hon. Member for North Kilkenny (Sir J. Hennessy) has touched upon a matter of very great importance and some delicacy. The hon. Gentleman has declared there is no necessity for keeping up the system by which there is only limited competition for the Diplomatic Service and Foreign Office. The hon. Member is well aware that every Secretary of State has held a different opinion from that which he has expressed. The matters which pass through the hands of every member of the Foreign Office are of the most delicate character, in which the interests of the country might be gravely jeopardised if the Secretary of State was unable to depend absolutely upon his subordinates. The hon. Member for Aberdeen has said that the deciphering of telegrams is mechanical work; but, as a matter of fact, it is most important and confidential work. Nobody can tell what a Despatch may contain until it is deciphered; it might be a matter which would cause grave jealousy and friction with a Foreign Power if it were made known. It is the duty of Her Majesty's Representatives abroad to convey to the Secretary of State matters that come under their knowledge, matters between Foreign Powers which in a variety of ways may seem to menace or have a bearing upon the interests of this country; and I think it is evident that these are matters that cannot be entrusted, even so far as deciphering telegrams are concerned, to any but public servants whose fidelity can be relied upon. It is a subject of pride to the Foreign Office that, with the exception of a case where a temporary writer surreptitiously gave the contents of an important Despatch to a newspaper, breach of confidence is absolutely unknown; and I think that if the system has worked so well for the benefit of the country, it is one which should not be disturbed. Of course, individuals should not be kept to mechanical work when they are fit for higher things; yet, nevertheless, the habits of routine and regularity gained in the lower ranks of the office cannot but be very useful when a man is raised to higher duties and appointed to a high post elsewhere. I hops that I have shown the House that in these matters we have not been unmindful of the recommendations of the Commission, but have treated them with the respect which they deserve; and I trust that when they have been carried out they will conduce to the efficiency and economy of the Service. With regard to the position of younger members of the Diplomatic Service abroad, I fear that it is impossible to make the Service self-supporting without an increase of expenditure which the country would not be willing to incur. It would be a miserable thing for a young man to go into the best society in a foreign capital where he should be, in order to be in touch with official life, possessed of means so small that he could not maintain his position or appear in the manner which he must desire. No doubt Ministers should save their subordinates from the necessity of expenditure as far as they can do so; but I feared that it must always be an expensive Service, and that the House would hardly grant the money which would be required to make it otherwise, and allow of the appointment of gentlemen in the first place not possessed of private means. (8.14.)