HC Deb 02 September 1895 vol 36 cc1515-7

On the Resolution— That a sum, not exceeding £119,400, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge for Superannuation, Compensation, and Compassionate Allowances and Gratuities, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1896,


said, he desired to make a notification to the Government that next Session he should draw the attention of the House to one of the grossest and most impudent jobs ever perpetrated. Sir E. Colville Nepean, who had been the Director of Contracts to the War Office, having been offered a lucrative appointment as Manager of a Company in the City, made application to the Treasury for leave to retire on a pension, although he was only 55 years of age, and had only put in 38 years' service, and he would not have been entitled to his pension until 1896. The Treasury authorities came to the conclusion that they had no power to grant him a pension, but on his representing to them that if he chose to remain in the service he would be entitled to a pension of £950 in 1896, he induced them, by what influence he did not know, to grant him a deferred annuity to that amount. Within two years after his retirement, the Company of which Sir E. Colville Nepean had become a Director, went into liquidation, and in 1893 this ex-Director of Contracts went to the Treasury and said to the Treasury, "Give me my pension." The Treasury replied:— We cannot. We have no statutory authority to pay you a pension. You are not 60 years of age. You have not served 40 years. There is nothing in the Superannuation Act to enable us to do it." "Oh, but," he said, "you have already booked me for a deferred annuity of £950. Now I propose to make a bargain with you. If you will give me a present annuity of the reduced amount of £670, I will take it instead of a deferred annuity of £950. And again the Treasury, without any authority, gave this ex-Director of Contracts to the War Office a pension of £670, when, legally he was not entitled to a single penny. Therefore, this gentleman, because he was on friendly terms with the authorities of the War Office and of the Treasury, had induced those authorities to enter into a scandalous job. His case was a remarkable contrast to that of a poor school teacher in Ireland, whose personal representatives had been refused a small gratuity which he had earned. In the present case, because an officer in a high position had been in touch with the authorities of the War Office and with those of the Treasury, he had succeeded in inducing them to concur in granting him a pension to which he had no statutory right. He should not move to reduce the amount of the Vote on that occasion, but he warned the Government that he should raise the question again next Session.


said, that he was extremely surprised at the tone that the hon. Gentleman had adopted in regard to this matter, and he scarcely thought that the hon. Gentleman was aware of the circumstances under which Sir E. Colville Nepean had retired from the service, or else he would hardly have used such an expression as a "scandalous job" in connection with the granting of a pension to the gentleman on his retirement. At the time of his retirement there were some gentlemen who had been in the service for some 30 or 40 years, and who were enjoying salaries which were very much larger than they ought to have been paid for the class of work they had to perform. Sir Evan Nepean, an eminent public servant, had served for 38½ years before he applied to retire. He had given services almost equal to the maximum, and the Treasury took this line—that if a permanent public saving would be created by the retirement of Sir Evan Nepean, if it enabled his successor to be appointed at a salary of £1,200 instead £1,500, the saving would be such that the Treasury would be justified in admitting him to the same privileges as other officers in the department. A saving had been made, and Sir E. Nepean, after 38½ years' service, had now retired on a pension of £950 a year. Had he served a year and-a-half longer he would have been entitled to £1,000 a year. He rose to defend this because he believed the arrangement made was satisfactory to the public. It was true that the Public Accounts Committee had condemned it, and the hon. Member, as Chairman of the Committee, was well within his rights in calling attention to their conclusion. If he had believed it to be "a scandalous job" he would not have risen to defend it. On the contrary, he believed it was done by all concerned with the best regard for what was due to the public service and to an eminent public servant.


asked whether, when £950 deferred pension was awarded to Sir E. Nepean, it was not on the express condition that under no circumstances should it be payable until he attained the age of 60?


said, he was aware that that was said at the time, but it was purely commutation value—£950 a year at the age of 60, or £730 at the age of 57.

* MR. W. WOODALL (Hanley)

as Financial Secretary when the retirement was applied for, said Sir Evan Nepean's retirement was unfortunate for Sir Evan himself, and a much-regretted loss to the public service, and he believed the terms on which the commutation was made effected a good bargain for the public.

Resolution agreed to.