HL Deb 12 June 1891 vol 354 cc275-7

My Lords, I beg to move for the Return which stands in my name.

Moved— For a Return of all moneys collected in the years 1889–90 and 1890–91 by the high sheriffs of counties, through the under-sheriffs, in the discharge of their office, but not on account of the Treasury."—(The Earl of Camperdown.)


I do not know that there is any objection to the Motion of the noble Earl, but the Return for which he asks is one which it is not in the power of the Treasury to give. They have been able hitherto to give all that the noble Earl has asked of them, but this is a Return which can only be obtained by the authority of Parliament. I only mention this in order that it might not be understood that this Order is made upon the Treasury. The Treasury has nothing to do with it. This Return is made by the under sheriffs themselves, and the Treasury has no concern with it and no means of control in the matter.


That I quite understand.


My Lords, I cannot see any objection to the noble Earl's Motion being conceded. The position of sheriff is a very high and enviable one, and those persons who in the counties have means which enable them to fill the office ought to be willing to undertake the duties of it. Sometimes no doubt the expenses are very heavy, and in one instance the High Sheriff had two elections during the time he held the office. This was, of course, a great hardship, but it was never complained of. You never can expect to substitute readily a new system for one which has had the respect of all England for many generations. You may try to point out new duties which shall be exercised by the Lord Chancellor, but you will have, I think, an immense amount of perplexity to know how to replace in that way duties which have been faithfully performed by different sheriffs. The Motion of the noble Lord made last Session must tend to an increase of the rates. It is impossible to say that causing the Sheriff's expenses to fall upon the counties can do otherwise than increase the rates. I have not heard of any inconvenience arising from any of the arrangements made as to the expenses of the Sheriffs. It would be absurd, if from any purse proud notion, we were to prevent a man from being High Sheriff because he is poor. If a man is respected his neighbours will always rally round him. A High Sheriff attended by his javelin-men is an impressive sight which cannot be replaced by employing the police, or by any other means that can be devised. I have thought it right to make these remarks in regard to the office of the High Sheriff— Non possidentem multa vocaveris Recte beatum: rectius occupat Nomen beati, qui Deorum Muneribus sapienter uti; Duramque callet pauperiem pati, Peiueque leto flagitiuin timet: Non ille pro caria amicia, Aut patria, timidus perire. I hope your Lordships will all have successors able to maintain your dignity. I am sure our tenants will always rally round us if we do our duty towards them. I hope your Lordships will excuse the bablativeness of longevity.

On Question, agreed to.