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the Act 37 & 38 Viet. c. 81. On July 31, 1874, the commission
presented a second report, dealing with the organisation and duties
of all existing administrative departments of the courts of justice,
and making various recommendations to promote an efficient
responsibility to Parliament for the same, and also to ensure a more
direct and effectual control by the Treasury over financial arrange
ments in the legal establishments. 81 Being unable to agree as to the
department of state which should be specially held responsible for
the administrative departments in the courts of justice, the com-
mission presented supplementary reports on this subject, pointing
out opinions they had received from men of large administrative
experience, in favour of assigning to the home secretary (in con-
nection with the office and responsibilities of a minister of justice)
the oversight and control of the legal departments, and, on the other
hand, adverse opinions, in favour of a recognition of the responsi-
bility of the lord chancellor for the same. The majority of the
commissioners were of opinion that this was a question of policy
not properly before them. Accordingly, in the absence of any
larger scheme, they recommended that the control of the lord
chancellor should be acknowledged and made operative throughout
all the departments of the High Court of Justice, and be exercised in
concurrence with the Treasury. The minority of the commissioners
objected to any scheme which would lessen the authority and
responsibility of the lord chancellor. 5 In 1876 ministers stated
that they were about to give effect to the recommendations of the

The third report (on July 25) proposed for conside-
ration the expediency of amalgamating the Customs
and Inland Kevenue Boards, and whether the increas-
ing charge for the departments under the postmaster-
general was required, but deferred such enquiries until
next session, when they recommended that the com-
mittee should be reappointed.

1 Com. Pap. 1874, v. 24, p. 557. b 2nd Rep. Com. Pap. 1875, v. 30,

a Ib. p. 583. Upon which recom- pp. 658-679.

mendations, see Hans. D. v. 233, p. c Hana. D. v. 227, p. 1838 ; v.

1449. 232, p. 1019.


Meanwhile, it dealt with the question of economical Cmi
reform in the organisation of the permanent and tempo- ex^n-
rary staff in the civil departments. This report embodies diture -
various recommendations with a view to the reduction
in numbers and cost of these establishments, regard
being had to the claims of existing incumbents. The com-
mittee regret that the policy of the rules embodied in
the orders in council of 1870 and 1871, for the entry by
competitive examinations into the civil service, has not
been always applied with harmonious action between
the Treasury and particular departments, and they ex-
press their opinion ' that careful regard to the respec-
tive functions of the Treasury and of the heads of
departments, should prevent a recurrence of such dif-
ferences.' The committee further remark, in reference
to the authority of the Treasury in deciding upon the
necessary establishments of the various civil offices,
that ' inasmuch as the civil estimates are presented to
Parliament on the responsibility of the Treasury, and
are moved by the secretary to that Board, they cannot
but think that Parliament will look to the responsible
heads of the Treasury as competent to deal with contro-
versies between the heads of civil departments arid the
permanent officers of the Treasury, when those contro-
versies relate to the establishments to be voted by the
House of Commons. ' d

The committee (in their third report) specially
adverted to certain new rules for the organisation of
the civil departments by which the clerical force in
each office is divided into three classes : (1) A com-
paratively small class of established clerks, with high
salaries, fixed tenure, and pension, selected by open
competition of a superior kind. (2) An intermediate
class of established clerks, with lower salaries, but with
fixed tenure and pension, also selected by open compe-

d Com. Pap. 1873, v. 7, p. 415.



civil tition, though of a lower standard. (3) A class of
writers, paid by the hour or week, selected by the civil
service commissioners after examination in reading,
writing, and arithmetic, but without fixity of tenure,
pension, or prospective advantages. The new rules
have been condemned by some prominent and expe-
rienced officials, and the committee ' doubt the wisdom
of the present arrangements,' although they refrain
from recommending any alteration in them. Approving
in the main of the competitive system for admission
into the civil service, they feel the importance of a good
system of promotion, under which men can be advanced
to the higher grades, according to their fitness and
merit. The committee also doubt the practicability of
excluding any considerable number of employes from
the benefits of superannuation, inasmuch as the advan-
tages of superannuation in retaining trained officers
.in the service, in protecting the public from combi-
nations, and as a means of enforcing discipline, are
obvious. 6

On June 17, 1873, the House of Commons appointed
a select committee to enquire whether writers appointed
before August 19, 1871, have suffered any wrong or
injustice by the cessation of the system of a progres-
sive rate of payment [pursuant to the new regulations
enforced by the order in council of that date]. The
committee reported on July 30 their ' opinion that a
restoration of the system of a progressive rate of pay-
ment will best meet the requirements of justice, give
contentment to the writers, and promote the efficiency
of the public service.' The report was accompanied
oy minutes of evidence, and an appendix of illustrative

In 1874, the Disraeli administration determined

Com. Pap. 1873, v. 7, p. 415. Govt. on this Kept., see Com. Pap.
' Ib. v. 11, p. 1. For action of 1876, v. 60, p. 329.


upon the issue of a Treasury commission to enquire civil
into the organisation of the civil service. It should be
the duty of this commission to investigate the working Com -

, n. -i missio.

of the system of competitive examinations, and to
recommend any suitable modifications of the same ; to
consider the principle of transferring men from office
to office ; the possibility of grading the civil service as
a whole, and of establishing uniform rates of pay in
different departments ; and the system of employing
writers for temporary service. 15

This commission (known as the ' Playfair Commis- civil ser-
sion')was appointed on April 25, 1874. They pre- gan\si
sented a first report in January 1875, which, together tion -
with the minutes of evidence taken, and some subse-
quent correspondence on the subject with the chancel-
lor of the exchequer, was laid before Parliament in
February 1875. The report recommended a partial
reorganisation of the lower and higher grades of the
civil service, by the substitution of a larger number of
clerks of the lower divisions for the clerks of the higher
division ; a modification of the present competitive
system for first appointments, by permitting a choice to
be made from a list of successful candidates ; the intro-
duction of the system of service pay, with extra ' duty
pay ' as a reward of special services ; with proposals in
regard to promotion by merit, transfers from office to
office, staff appointments, and the great reduction of
the class of ' writers.' h After the receipt of this report
the Government instituted special enquiries into the
mode in which the proposed reform would accommo-
date itself to the requirements of particular depart-
ments, 1 and invited the assistance of the commissioners
in applying the principles they had recommended to
the reorganisation of one of the large departments. 5

* Hans. D. v. 219, p. 70. l Hans. D. v. 223, p. 1447.
h Com. Pap. 1876, v. 23, p. 1. J Ib. p. 1958.

T T 2



civil On March 19, 1875, Sir Charles Trevelyan gave impor-
Treasury ^ant evidence before the commission in relation to the
c m : topics embraced in their first report, and especially as

rmcairm w

to the desirability of maintaining intact the principle
of competitive examinations, and as to the proper
mode of rendering the supervision of the Treasury
over the public departments efficient and complete.
This evidence is appended to the second report as
Appendix F.

On May 14, 1875, the commission presented a
second report, which relates to appointments in various
offices requiring special and technical qualifications,
viz., the British Museum, the Department of Science
and Art, and the Public Eecord Office. The commis-
sioners are of opinion that the plans recommended
in their first report can be adapted to these establish-
ments, and to appointments in other offices requiring
special and technical qualifications, without material

The Civil Service Enquiry Commission presented a
third (and final) report on July 23, 1875. It deals with
the Inland Eevenue and Customs departments, and
recommends their reorganisation upon the principles
advocated in the previous reports. 1

On July 26 the chancellor of the exchequer informed
the House of Commons that the interesting and sugges-
tive questions raised in these reports would be carefully
considered by the government during the recess. m

On February 12, 1876, an order in council was passed
to give effect to the recommendations of the commis-
sion in regard to the staff for the lower division, or
* mechanical and routine ' work of government offices
consisting of ' writers,' of men and boy clerks, to be
appointed after open competitive examinations before

" Com. Pap. 1875, v. 23, p. 451. ' Ib. v. 23, p. 569.

ra Hans. D. v. 226, p. 46.


civil service commissioners, and was laid before Parlia- civil

ment. Treasury

When ' the Civil Service Commission ' was first c ? m :


created in 1855, it was a tentative department, and the
commissioners received no salary. It was afterwards
deemed expedient to make them salaried officers. Of late
years the business of the department has greatly increased,
and the delicacy and difficulty of the work have increased
also. The commissioners have now to examine candi-
dates for the whole civil service, and likewise candidates
for first appointments in the army, for admission to the
Royal Military Academy, for commissions in the Eoyal
Marines, for appointments in the Indian civil service,
the Indian civil engineers, the foreign service, together
with candidates for employment as writers. The com-
missioners have likewise to conduct correspondence
with the various public departments as to the character
of the examinations and the questions to be put to can-
didates. 1 *

In 1875, upon the death of Sir Edward Ryan, the
late chief commissioner, the government appointed in
his place a peer of Parliament, Lord Hampton, with an
increased salary ; and a third commissionership was
again created, an office which had been in abeyance
since the death of Sir E. Head in 1869. This gave rise
to considerable opposition in the House of Commons,
chiefly because of Lord Hampton's advanced age (76).
But the government defended the appointment on the
ground of special fitness, and because it was desirable
that the commission should be represented in Parlia-
ment.' 1

On May 5, 1874, the House of Commons appointed Saieof
a select committee to enquire into the existing principles ^ntT"
and practice regulating the purchase and sale of mate- stores -

20th Rep. Civ. Serv. Com. p. 10. P Hans. D. v. 227, p. 1 100.
Com. Pap. 1876, v. 22. < Ib. pp. 500, 1099.



rials and stores in the several public departments/
(This was in continuation of a similar enquiry in 1873.)
The committee reported on July 3 on the several civil
and military departments, but principally upon the
management of the stationery department, and upon
the mode of regulating and defraying the cost of printing
for Parliament and for the public departments.

As with the appointment and dismissal, so also in
regard to the remuneration of public employes, it should
be left to the government to determine the amount of
pay to be allotted to all public servants, of whatever
grade or position. 8 Those who serve the crown should
look directly to the crown for compensation and reward.
The salaries and allowances of all public servants, in
every department of state (with the exception of those
functionaries whose salaries are fixed by Act of Parlia-
ment),* are regulated by the Lords Commissioners of the
Treasury, and determined by Treasury minutes. [When
a salary is proposed to be fixed by a Bill before the
House of Commons an amendment to increase the
amount of salary, though unusual, and generally inex-
pedient, is not irregular."] It is competent for the
official head of every public department to recommend
to the Treasury the alteration or increase of salaries to
his own subordinates. But every such recommendation
is subjected to the closest scrutiny by the Treasury, who
possess supreme control in all financial matters, over
every other branch of the public service/ The salaries
and expenses of the public departments are annually
submitted to the review of the House of Commons in
the estimates, and a separate vote is taken for the
amount required to defray the same, in each depart-

' Com. Pap. 1874, v. 11, p. 339. to this rule ; see post, pp. 600-664.
Corresp. Will. IV. with Earl u Hans. D. v. 143, pp. 696-708 ;
v. 1, pp. 134-152. Citing v. 186, p. 1164.

* Hans. D. v. 73, p. 1662. Ib.
v. 117, p. 834. Aud see v. 2. On

Gr . e y> . -

opinion of law officers of the crown.
1 The officers of the two Houses

of Parliament are also an exception the Treasury.


ment. Appended to the estimate for every vote, a list Salaries,
is given of the different items of expenditure included &c '
therein ; but, although it is within the power of the
House of Commons, in committee of supply, to reduce
any such vote by omitting the amount of any particular
salary, or other item, this power is rarely exercised, and
only upon grave and urgent considerations. It is per-
fectly competent for either House of Parliament, and
more particularly for the House of Commons, to subject
the conduct of the executive government towards the
subordinate officers and servants of the crown to free
enquiry and criticism ; but there should be no attempt
to interfere with the discretion of responsible ministers,
in regulating the pay and allowances of public employes,
except in cases where it is apparent that injustice and
oppression have been exercised.

On July 16, 1849, a motion was made in the House of Com-
mons that a reduction of ten per cent, should be made in all salaries
in the several departments of government, at home and abroad.
The motion was opposed by ministers, and negatived on di vision. w
The Treasury have always objected to dealing en bloc with depart-
mental salaries. 1 When the government determine upon any reduc-
tion of official salaries, or emoluments, it is customary to respect
existing interests. y

It is a rule in the public service that if an officer in
the receipt of a pension receives new employment his
pension is merged for the time being in the salary he
receives. 2

This law must not be evaded, by allowing colonial officers in
receipt of imperial pensions, to draw part of their emoluments by
way of gratuity, lest the offenders should incur severe penalties,
and a withdrawal of their privileges to receive pensions out of the
United Kingdom.*

When a man has been discharged from the public Subject to
service upon retiring allowance and is afterwards found reca11 -

" Hans. D. v. 107, pp. 408-451. Pap. 1870, v. 54, p. 457, &c.

Ib. v. 217, p. 1451 ; Com. Pap. * Ib. v. 233, p. 814.

1873, v. 7, p. 662. Circular Desp. 1 Oct. 1878. N.

* Ib. v. 203, p. 1464 ; see Com. Zeal. H. Jls. 1880. App. A. 2, p. 13.


capable of doing further work the Treasury may recall
him, and if he does not answer to the recall he forfeits
his pension . b

Pecuniary While every salary and the classification of every
should be office is duly submitted in the annual estimates for the
Trea^ur^ 6 CI> iti c i sm an ^ sanction of Parliament, it is the peculiar
duty of the executive government and of the heads of
the several departments to enter into the particular and
minute considerations by which the rate of salaries, the
annual increments, and the prospect of promotion are
adjusted. This duty is discharged by the lords of the
Treasury, and should be left to their unfettered dis-
cretion, inasmuch as they are responsible for the
expenditure incurred in every branch of the public

Appiica- By a Treasury minute, dated February 26, 1866,

increase which embodies the substance of regulations previously
f salary, established in various departments of the civil service,
it is provided that henceforth, as a general rule, no
application in relation to increased pay or allowances
(or for promotion, where such rests with the Treasury)
will be entertained by the board unless transmitted
through the head of the department to which the
applicant belongs. But in the event of the depart-
mental head refusing to forward any such application,
the Treasury will receive it direct from the subordinate
officer, if it be accompanied by a copy or statement of
the refusal, and will determine whether or not the
communication was one which should have been ad-
dressed to them.

This minute has originated in consequence of a
practice recently introduced by employes in the civil
service of memorialising the Treasury for increase of
salary or improved departmental position through mem-
bers of Parliament or other influential persons, or by
direct petition to the board itself.

b Hans. D. v. 235, p. 1420.


In enforcing a stricter rule upon the service, the
Treasury expressly disclaim the desire to debar any
classes or individuals in the public service from making
a respectful complaint of any matter of personal
grievance. Still less do they intend to offer any ob-
stacle to the most free action of members of the legis-
lature who, on public grounds, may consider it their
duty, whether in Parliament or by communications to
the Treasury, to call attention to cases of grievance on
the part of individuals, or who may think fit to enter
upon the investigation of questions affecting the re-
muneration and other conditions of service under which
classes of public officers are employed. It is equally
the duty and the desire of the Treasury to afford every
proper facility for such representations, and to give
them their impartial attention.

Nevertheless, a due regard to the principles of sub- Political

,.. , , . ,, r , . influence

ordination, and the maintenance 01 proper relations forbidden,
between the various officers employed in the civil
service, requires that for the future the Treasury
should insist upon the observance of the rule which
forbids subordinate officers from seeking advancement
by means of pressure put upon the executive govern-
ment by persons whose only knowledge of the cir-
cumstances of the case is derived from the ex parte
representation of the applicants themselves. 4 And by
a minute, dated May 2, 1867, and directed against the
' growing practice on the part of gentlemen employed
in the public service to endeavour to influence the
Treasury to accede to their applications for increase of
salary or additional retiring allowance by means of the
private solicitation of members of Parliament and other
persons of political influence,' the lords of the Treasury
declare that any such attempt hereafter will be treated

c For example, Hans. D. v. 193, Pap. 1866, v. 39, p. 339; Hans. D.

p. 1407 ; v. 217, pp. 303-306. Com. v. 181, p. 1806 ; v. 186, p. 391 ; v.

Pap. 1873, v. 7, pp. 683-689. 194, pp. 1586, 1595 ; v. 230, p. 251.

d Copy Treasury Minute, Com.


by them as an admission on the part of the applicant
that his case is not good upon its merits, and it will be
dealt with accordingly. On the other hand, any such
representation which reaches them in the recognised
way will receive their most careful consideration. 6

The system of superannuation allowances now exist-
ing in the civil service was first introduced early in
the present century. Prior to that time provision for
public officers on their retirement from active service
was generally secured by methods which would now be
considered as objectionable. The first Act for esta-
blishing a system of superannuations applicable to
public officers generally was passed in 1810. In 1822,
owing to the efforts of certain economical reformers, it
was enacted that deductions should be made from the
salaries of all civil servants as a contribution towards
the superannuation fund. But this Act was repealed in
1824, and about 90,000/. which had been collected
under it repaid to the contributors, upon the principle
that such deductions were in violation of the terms
on which public officers had entered the service. In
1828 a finance committee of the House of Commons
recommended the re-adoption of deductions, but Par-
liament would not sanction this proposal, so far at least
as existing interests were concerned. In 1829, how-
ever, a Treasury minute was passed for the purpose
of lessening prospectively the public charge for super-
annuations by which deductions were imposed on the
salaries of all civil servants to be thereinafter appointed.
This was ratified by Parliament, and a new Act passed
in 1834, authorising deductions towards the super-
annuation fund to be made from the salaries of all civil
servants appointed after August 4, 1829, but exempting

e Com. Pap. 1867, v. 40, p. 323 ; of revenue officials were, until 1868,

Hans. D. v. 187, p. 1095 ; v. 193, debarred from exercise of the fran-

p. 1088. In order to prevent the chise, and are still prohibited from

exercise of political influence for taking active part at elections. Ib. v.

aggrandisement the numerous class 188, p. 1033 ; v. 194, p. 1586.


those who held office prior to that date from any such Superan-
payment. The distinction thus made between two
classes of civil servants, according as they received
their first appointments before or after 1829, gave rise
to much dissatisfaction. This, together with other
anomalies and irregularities attending the working of
the system, induced the Government in 1856 to appoint
a commission to enquire into the operation of the
Superannuation Act. The commissioners made an
elaborate report in the following year, wherein they
reviewed the whole question in all its bearings. Ad-
mitting that the first impression in entering on the
enquiry had been favourable to the retention of deduc-
tions, they concluded, upon a careful review of the
whole case, and * with a view to public interests alone,'
to recommend * the total abolition of deductions for the
purpose of superannuation, without any corresponding
reduction in the salaries on which such deductions had
been charged,' as being the only settlement of the
question which was ' likely to be permanent and satis-
factory.'* This recommendation was approved by Par-
liament, and an Act passed to repeal the section of the
Act of 1834, under which the deductions had taken
place (20 & 21 Yict. c. 37). In certain minor depart-
ments such as the lighthouse boards, the endowed
schools board, and some branches of the police service,
the employes contribute to an annuity fund, which is
supplemented by government^ But there has been a
growing disposition of late years to grant superannua-
tion allowance in all public establishments, without
requiring any deductions from salaries. 11

In 1859 another Act was passed to extend the
operation of the Act of 1834 to all persons who had
served in an established capacity in the permanent civil

f Com. Pap. 1857. Seas. 2, v. 24, pp. 217-237.

Third Rep. Civ. Serv. Exp. Com. Pap. 1873, v. 7, p. 624.

* Ib. p. 637.


Online LibraryAlpheus ToddOn parliamentary government in England : its origin, development, and practical operation (Volume 1) → online text (page 61 of 85)