HL Deb 23 April 1850 vol 110 cc669-72

The EARI of SHAFTESBURY laid on the table of the House a report of the Committee appointed to consider the emoluments and salaries of the officers and doorkeepers of the House.


said, that his noble Friend the Chairman of Committees having laid on the table the report of the Committee on this subject, he felt it due to their Lordships and to all the parties concerned, in rising to move that the report be printed and distributed among their Lordships, to call their attention to the subject which had been brought under the consideration of the Committee. At the best, it was but an invidious task for a Committee to be called upon to revise old salaries and old emoluments which had existed for a long term of years without challenge and without inquiry; but the subject having been referred to the Committee, they felt themselves bound to do so, considering it of great importance that the House of Lords, as a branch of the Legislature, should take care that due economy should pervade the whole of the departments under their control. The Committee entered into the inquiry, not with the view of making paltry savings by the reduction of the salaries of those men who well and efficiently performed their duties; they recommended such salaries to be given as would secure the services of efficient and useful men; but, at the same time, they felt bound to report to their Lordships their opinion that the remuneration which for some years had been given to the doorkeepers of the House was extravagant in the utmost degree. He begged to call their Lordships' attention to the enormous sums which had been received by one of the doorkeepers, who died last autumn; and he wished their Lordships to remember that these payments were made out of the fees received by the House, which belonged to the fee fund; and, therefore, if those fees were expended in an extravagant manner, they were called upon to make greater demands upon the Treasury than would otherwise be necessary. He would take the four lowest and the four highest years since 1836. The lowest sums received by that individual were 723l., 724l., 401l., and 772l. In the highest years the respective payments were 834l., 1,272l., 2,570l., and 1,594l. He thought it impossible for any noble Lord to say that such an amount of remuneration was not extravagant in the highest degree; and as proof of this he might mention that the duty had been well and efficiently performed by a deputy for 150l. a year. The subject had given the Committee a great deal of anxiety and trouble, because, while they were anxious to prevent this lavish expenditure, they could not fail to remember that some of the individuals now occupying these offices, had been for a considerable time in the service of the House. The Committee thought it right to recommend their Lordships to commute these offices for the present holders to the amount of the seven lowest of fourteen years, and they had drawn up a scale which they thought just to the parties themselves. They had also drawn up a scale applicable to future holders of these situations, which was considerably lower than the commuted scale. In moving that the report be printed, he begged to express a hope that it would receive the attention of the noble Marquess opposite, and that he would consider it the duty of the Government to carry the recommendations of the Committee into effect, and not leave it to be dealt with by an individual Peer. The Committee had refrained in this, their first report, from adverting to two other offices—the office of Clerk of the Parliaments and the office of Usher of the Black Rod. Their emoluments were regulated by Act of Parliament; but the gentlemen now holding those offices were not unwilling to submit to a reduction. That, however, must be a matter of negotiation with the parties, because their Lordships could not, without the assistance of the other House, deprive them of that to which they were entitled by Act of Parliament. The Committee proposed that, from henceforth, all fees should cease which were paid by Peers to the doorkeepers, by the editors of newspapers, and by the East India Company; and also another fee of a most extraordinary nature, the origin of which the Committee had been unable to trace; but it appeared that the body of Quakers had been in the habit of paying 5l. to the doorkeepers of the House. He supposed this was a consideration for having their hats removed, instead of taking them off themselves. The Committee proposed as a general principle that the servants of the House should receive no fees, but should be properly remunerated by salary. The only fee proposed to be retained was that for the summoning of Peers.


felt hound, as a Member of that House, to say that they ought to feel grateful to the noble Lords who had been on the Committee for the pains they had taken on the subject. It was a question of great importance, and affected both the dignity and character of their Lordships' House. The large sums which the noble Duke had alluded to as having been received by one of the doorkeepers, no doubt arose from accidental circumstances, which might not occur again; but it had led to the result which he had always observed in such cases—namely, the employment of a deputy, instead of the duties being performed by the officers appointed for that purpose. He would not sit down without bearing his testimony to the fairness of the principle adopted in the report.

The report was then ordered to be printed.

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