HL Deb 17 February 1846 vol 83 cc1045-8

, in rising, pursuant to the notice which he had given, to ask a question with reference to the causes which led to the removal of Mr. Gulson from the situation of an Assistant Poor Law Commissioner in Ireland, said that since he came into the House he had received a letter, which would very much shorten the observations with which he had intended to preface his question. He must in the first place state, that he had had no communication with Mr. Gulson relative to the causes of his dismissal from his high situation. It was entirely unknown to him that he (the Marquess of Londonderry) had given this notice. He would admit that Mr. Gulson sent him a letter six weeks ago, stating the extreme hardship of his case, and the loss of reputation he had sustained in eonsequence of his having been placed at the bottom of the list of the Assistant Poor Law Commissioners in England, instead of being at the head of the Poor Law Commission in Ireland. He did not intend to say that there might not have been sufficient reasons for Mr. Gulson's removal; but he did mean to say that the case was a hard one. It was admitted by all persons that he was one of the best public officers ever sent to Ireland; and had it not been for his indefatigable zeal and ability, the Poor Law would never have been established to the same extent in Ireland, or so perfectly carried out. Adverse as he (the Marquess of Londonderry), as a landed proprietor, was to the introduction of the Poor Law, he was free to allow that he had become a perfect convert, and that he was satisfied that the law would be one of the greatest blessings to Ireland that had ever been bestowed upon that country. It was upon these grounds that he had intended to bring the subject before the House. He was entirely ignorant whether Mr. Gulson's removal originated with the Government or with the Poor Law Commissioners, when he gave notice of his intention to ask the question. If he had known at the time that it had been done by the direction of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, he should have been more cautious in bringing the question forward; but he must say, that it was hardly possible for a man in the position of Mr. Gulson not to wish for some tokens of public approbation. The noble Marquess then read the letter to which he had referred:— I have received your Lordship's letter, informing me, most kindly, that a sense of justice towards me has induced your Lordship to give notice of a Motion for bringing my case under the consideration of the House of Lords. I am deeply sensible of your Lordship's kind intentions towards me, and of the high value of your Lordship's support on this (to me) painful occasion. As, however, I am still a public servant, anxious to do all in my power for the Government whilst in their service, I am particularly desirous that no step should be taken on my account, which could either annoy or embarrass the Government or the Poor Law Commissioners. It is quite true that by the act of the Government I have been depressed in my official position, and that whilst all my official superiors express their entire 'satisfaction at the whole of my proceedings in Ireland,' and their continued 'confidence in my discretion and zeal,' I am practically sent down to the ranks of the junior Assistant Commissioners, of whom I have for three years been the director, and that I am reduced to the point whence I started twelve years since in the public service. But I am nevertheless so anxious to do my duty properly, and to trust to the favourable consideration of the Government for my future reward, that I beg your Lordship to permit me to ask you to withdraw your Motion before the House of Lords, and throw my case entirely into the hands of Her Majesty's Government for their future determination. The noble Marquess concluded by stating, that under these circumstances he should say no more on the subject, and that if he had erred in bringing the matter forward at all, he had erred in a good cause.


felt placed in a difficult position, because Mr. Gulson had expressed to him a very strong wish that his case should not become matter of discussion in that House; and he entertained for that gentleman a very sincere respect, and really believed he had discharged his duties in Ireland with the greatest zeal and ability; and yet to be silent would be acquiescing in the implied charge against the Home Secretary, of being guilty of an act of harshness and injustice. It was necessary, therefore, to state, that Mr. Gulson's only grievance was, that he had not been promoted. He was an Assistant Commissioner, and in that capacity conciliated the good will and esteem of the members of the different boards of guardians, and of every other gentleman with whom he came in contact; but he was an officer of the Poor Law Commissioners, and not of the Government; and the former employed him where they thought fit. The Government advised Her Majesty, under the accumulation of business, to appoint a fourth Commissioner, and that Commissioner was directed to proceed to Ireland; and the position of Mr. Gulson was, in some respect, affected thereby, and rendered inferior to what it was before. He found it painful and disagreeable, and the Commissioners thought it would not be advantageous to the public service that he should remain in Dublin, and he was removed to England. It was no disparagement to him that he had not been thought so fit for the new office as Mr. Twisleton, who had discharged a very difficult duty at Paisley in the time of the scarcity; and whether the principle of promotion from the next rank was a good one or not, it had not been the usage of this department to select the senior Assistant Commissioner to be Commissioner. No injustice had been done to Mr. Gulson. He (Earl St. Germans) again bore willing testimony to his zeal and ability, and believed him to be a most efficient public servant: nor had he had any reason to be dissatisfied with that gentleman's conduct or with his judgment, though he did not appear to have exercised a sound discretion in complaining of the conduct of the Home Secretary in selecting another gentleman for the office alluded to.

After a few observations from the Marquess of Londonderry, subject at an end.

House adjourned.