HL Deb 23 February 1865 vol 177 cc580-2

said, that when, at the commencement of the cotton famine in Lancashire, he heard of the appointment of Mr. Farnall to the office of Special Commissioner for the Lancashire and Cheshire Districts, which practically superseded an able and valuable Inspector who for some time past had had charge of the district, he very much regretted it; because, during the two years he had the honour of holding the office of Parliamentary Secretary to the Poor Law Board, the opinion he then formed from experience of the manner in which the Inspectors discharged their duties led him to think that the appointment of Mr. Farnall to the cotton famine districts was by no means a desirable choice, particularly as the officer who had been superseded was a meritorious and valuable one. And his worst apprehensions were confirmed by the speeches made and the tone taken by Mr. Farnall in that district. He, however, was rather consoled by the reflection that the scarcely less important metropolitan district, which for some time had been under Mr. Farnall's charge, would probably be placed under some one else's charge; and he knew from experience that it was necessary to place the metropolitan district under the charge of a man possessing soundness of judgment and kindliness of feeling. But the case which recently occurred in one of the parishes within one of the metropolitan districts—he would not say one of the workhouses—and a number of other cases, showed what constant care and vigilance was required from an Inspector in charge of that important district. He observed the other day that Mr. Farnall had conducted an investigation into the case of Timothy Daly; and within a very short time of that inquiry he observed, from reports in the newspapers of the proceedings of the General Committee in Lancashire, that Mr. Farnall had still very important functions to perform in connection with the distressed districts in Lancashire and Cheshire. He wished, therefore, to ask the noble Earl the President of the Council, to which of those districts Mr. Farnall was at present attached? or whether he was performing the double function of attending to the important district of the metropolis and dealing with the exceptional circumstances of the cotton districts? If, as he feared, Mr. Farnall was a pluralist, he desired to ask the noble Earl what was the amount of the pay and allowances made to Mr. Farnall for the double duty which he had undertaken to perform?


said, he should be able to satisfy their Lordships that the noble Earl's anticipations of Mr. Farnall's position were quite inaccurate. Their Lordships would all remember the great alarm which was created by the calamity caused by the failure of employment in the cotton districts. Mr. Farnall was then selected as a person who, from his manner and knowledge and other advantages, was most likely to be useful in assisting the local authorities in Lancashire. He was sent down there, and when the committee was formed the corporation of Liverpool applied to the President of the Poor Law Board to allow Mr. Farnall to be appointed a member of it. His right hon. Friend at first hesitated, but afterwards consented to his appointment; and the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) would bear him out in saying that Mr. Farnall had discharged his duties there in a most excellent manner. The committee passed a vote of thanks to Her Majesty's Government for the appointment; and some months afterwards Colonel Wilson Patten gave, in the House of Commons, the strongest evidence as to the advantages which Mr. Farnall's services had conferred on the distressed districts. Last year the President of the Poor Law Board proposed to withdraw Mr. Farnall; and again, he might appeal to the noble Earl opposite whether he did not give his decided opinion that it was undesirable to withdraw him at that time. Before that, too, there had been a question of withdrawing him, and Lord Edward Howard, who had taken a great part in the relief of the distress, strongly urged that no such withdrawal should take place. It was, however, absolutely settled that Mr. Farnall should be recalled in September last, when the distress suddenly increased, and it was deemed advisable to continue his services for a time. Latterly he had only been down into the district once a month, and at Latly Day he was to be definitively withdrawn. The President of the Poor Law Board had authorized him to state that he never knew a man better fitted for the duty, or more anxious to undertake any amount of work, During the last two years he had gone through an enormous amount of work, and, through the assistance which had been given him by his colleagues, no part of the metropolitan work had gone into arrear. As to his remuneration, Mr. Farnall had received absolutely nothing for his services in Lancashire, except an allowance for personal expenses calculated on the usual Treasury scale of £1 per day.


said, having been appealed to by the noble Earl opposite, he had not the slightest hesitation in stating that the services of Mr. Farnall in Lancashire had been of the most valuable character during the whole period of the distress. The assistance of the Poor Law Board had been most useful to the various local committees, for the accounts kept by both parties had been a mutual check upon each other, and it had materially assisted in administering the relief in the satisfactory manner it had been. He regretted to hear that it had been definitively settled that Mr. Farnall's services were to cease at Lady Day next. He hoped with the commencement of the summer the labours of the executive committee, if not terminated, would be suspended probably in the early part of May. It was, therefore, a matter of considerable regret to find that the public services of Mr. Farnall in Lancashire would cease six weeks before that time, and the executive committee lose the benefit of Mr. Farnall's assistance for that time. The suspension of the committee's labours would be of the character of an experiment, and they would regret during the next six weeks to lose the benefit of Mr. Farnall's services. It was, he thought, desirable, as there was a prospect of the executive committee coming to the end of its labours at the beginning or middle of May, that Mr. Farnall's services should be continued to the close. He suggested that the President of the Poor Law Board should be asked to continue Mr. Farnall's services until the executive committee had terminated their labours.


said, the suggestion of the noble Earl would no doubt be taken into consideration by the President of the Poor Law Board.