HL Deb 15 March 1901 vol 91 cc3-5

The LORD CHANCELLOR acquainted the House that by virtue of the power granted to him as Lord Chancellor by the Statute 5th George IV., Chapter 82, Section 4. he had, on the recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice, appointed Edward Hall Alderson, Esquire, to be their Lordships' Reading Clerk and Clerk of Out-door Committees.

Moved, "That this House do approve of the appointment of Edward Hall Alderson, Esquire, as their Lordships' Reading Clerk and Clerk of Out-door Committees."


My Lords, I cannot allow the statement which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has made to pass without com- ment. I desire, in the first place, to congratulate the noble Earl on the success of the bulldog tenacity he has shown in this matter. The subject of the third clerk at the Table has been more than once before your Lordships' House. As-far back as the year 1889 a Committee of your Lordships recommended, and their recommendation was accepted by the House, that the appointment of the third clerk should revert to the Clerk of the Parliaments, and that he should appoint to the position one of the head clerks of, one of the departments in your Lordships' House. For a considerable time the appointment has remained vacant, and the noble and learned Lord now informs us that he has appointed a gentleman on the recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice. The noble Earl, it see to me, can hardly divest himself of The responsibility of this appointment that noble Earl has always represent as the power of appointment was given to him by statute, he felt bound to exercise it himself, and not leave it to the senior Clerk at the Table. We are now told that the noble Earl has made this appointment on the recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice. I do not feel able to challenge the appointment. No doubt the appointment lies with the noble Earl, and he is perfectly entitled to appoint whoever he chooses. But I. would like to-remind the noble Earl that this subject is one which has been commented upon in both Houses of Parliament, and I think that further comment will be made in the other House in the early future. The place is one which J think might have been admirably filled by one of the senior clerks of this House. It would have been a natural method of promotion and recognition of merit, and so far as I am myself concerned I must enter a protest against the course which has been taken by the noble and learned Lord.


I confess that I am extremely glad the noble and learned Lord has thought fit to appoint a third clerk. I have not the least wish to revive this controversy, but I am bound to say that I still adhere to the opinion I have expressed on many occasions, that it would have been wiser to have followed the recommendation of the Committee of 1889 in this case. The third clerk is much wanted, and so far as Mr. Alderson is concerned I do not think the noble and learned Lord could have made a better appointment. He has been in the House for some years as private secretary to the noble and learned Lord, and will, I think, make an excellent clerk.


In, reply to the noble Lord, I may state that the responsibility of the appointment is mine. I take it entirely upon myself. When the discussion arose in July last I said that I would take care that the appointment I made should be an appointment suggested by the Lord Chief Justice of England. Since that time there has been a change of person, but I thought it my duty, after what I had said to the House, not to act without the recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice. I have always protested against the waiver of my right of appointment. If it is the desire to alter a system which has been in force for seventy years, it should be done by Act of Parliament. I cannot help expressing the opinion that it is somewhat undesirable, after an appointment has been made within our power and our jurisdiction, to threaten the maker of that appointment with something that may be said or done in the other House of Parliament.

On Question, resolved in the affirmative.