HL Deb 11 February 1853 vol 124 cc25-8

The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE moved for a return of all appointments of Presidents of Money Order Offices in London, Dublin, and Edinburgh, since the money-order system became officially connected with the Post Office; specifying the previous service in the Post Office or other public department of each person who had received such an appointment; also, copies of the correspondence between the Post Office and the Treasury in 1851 relating to the appointment of an assistant secretary to the Postmaster General; and also, copy of the appointment of Mr. Fred- erick Hill to the situation he held in the General Post Office. A few months ago a vacancy occurred in the office of president of the money-order department of the Dublin Post Office, and the noble Lord opposite (the Earl of Hardwicke) filled up the vacancy by appointing a gentleman (Mr. Joseph Long) who had had no previous connexion with the Post Office, or any other public department whatever. As the amount which passed through that office was no less than 1,374,000l., and comprised 924,352 money orders, their Lordships would see that such matters of detail required previous experience and knowledge; and that, however respectable and intelligent a man might be, a mere stranger could not be expected effectually to check and control twenty-five or twenty-six clerks. Besides, the appointment inflicted a hardship on those who, having previously served in the office, naturally looked forward to promotion in it; and this matter was the more serious, because, as their Lordships had heard, clerks in the Post Office, and in the money-order department particularly, were inadequately paid for their services. He understood that Mr. Joseph Long owed his appointment to his having been a very active registration agent on the Conservative side, and by promoting such a person in the Post Office the hardship inflicted was certainly greater than would have been felt in any other department, because persons connected with the Post Office were not allowed to interfere in elections; and therefore this gentleman had been rewarded for services which clerks belonging to the department were forbidden to render. This appointment had been defended upon the ground that a similar appointment had been made by Lord Lichfield in 1841, and by himself in 1851. Now, even if Lord Lichfield set a bad precedent, which he denied, that was no reason why the noble Earl opposite should follow it. With respect to the appointment of Mr. Frederick Hill, the facts were these: In 1847 the accounts of the money-order department were in a most confused state, and he thought it desirable to appoint Mr. Rowland Hill, as secretary, to endeavour to bring them into some order. The Money Order Office was placed under the exclusive control of Mr. Rowland Hill, instead of being left under the general superintendence of Colonel Maberly, and Mr. Rowland Hill having succeeded in arranging the accounts, said he had been much indebted to his brother, Mr. Frede- rick Hill, for the assistance he had rendered, upon which he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) appointed Mr. Frederick Hill assistant secretary, to take Mr. Rowland Hill's place whenever Mr. Rowland Hill was absent from the office. That appointment did not alter one jot the duties of the President of the Money Order Office, and was not an appointment of a person wholly unconnected with the public service, as Mr. Frederick Hill had been for fifteen years inspector of prisons, at the same salary he received as assistant secretary to the money-order department.


said, he concurred in the principle laid down by the noble Marquess, that the expectation of promotion ought to be held out to persons engaged in the public service, and he thought that considerable inconvenience arose from the want of a regular system of gradual promotion for length of service throughout the whole Post Office establishment. At present there were two descriptions of appointments—one, in which the officers rose by gradation, and were subject to no interference with their prospects; and the other, in which the officers were appointed by the Postmaster General to offices which were supposed to be within his patronage. The appointment which he had filled up in the Dublin Post Office, and which had been called in question, was one of the latter class, and the gentleman appointed bore the highest character, and was perfectly competent to conduct financial matters, having for many years filled the office of accountant to the corporation of Dublin. The strongest recommendations were brought to him from men of rank and station, and he had every reason to believe the appointment would prove satisfactory. There was no precedent in the Dublin Post Office which he could follow in the appointment of a successor to the late President of the Money Order Department, as that gentleman was the first who held that office; but on examination he found a precedent in the appointment by Lord Lichfield to the same office in the London Post Office of a person who had not been previously a clerk in the Post Office. The case of Mr. Frederick Hill, brother of Mr. Rowland Hill, who had been appointed to the office, nominally, of assistant secretary to the Postmaster General, but really to that of supervising President of the Money Order Office in London, was a proof that previous connexion with the Post Office was not essential to these ap- pointments, for that gentleman had been neither a clerk in the Post Office, nor connected with the Money Order Office, but had been, it appeared, an inspector of prisons. He thought that quite sufficient to justify the appointment he had made.


concurred in every word that had fallen from the noble Marquess on the duty of the Postmaster General, to see that none of the numerous clerks in the public service were overlooked in case of advancement and promotion. That was a general rule applicable to all the departments of the public service, but preeminently applicable to the Post Office, from the circumstance that the number of subordinate compared with the number of superior officers, was extremely large; the salaries were not high, the increase in salaries was by slow degrees, and a great majority had nothing to look forward to but appointments to superior offices. The noble Earl had said there were two classes of officers, one in which promotion was obtained by seniority, and the other in which it was given by patronage. No doubt the advancement of some of the clerks was certain, provided they conducted themselves with propriety; and other offices did exist to which the Postmaster General was at liberty to appoint whom he pleased. But in defending the appointment in question on that ground, he thought the noble Earl did some injustice to himself; because, though it was no part of his duty to investigate the nature or reasons for the appointments of his predecessor in conducting the public business of the office which he held, it had come under his notice that in the distribution of these latter or more favoured appointments, the noble Earl had been uniformly guided by a regard for the efficiency of the public service, and the claims of meritorious public officers. He had no objection to lay the papers moved for on the table of their Lordships' House.

Motion agreed to.