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On August 13, 1839, a motion in the House of Lords for the
production (with other papers) of a letter from Sir Peregrine Mait-
land, tendering his resignation of the command of the Madras
army, and of his seat in the Indian Council, was objected to by the
administration, because there was no charge against the ' character
and conduct ' of that officer, and nothing which called for a vindi-
cation of either. Whereupon the mover consented not to press his
motion, so far as this letter was concerned. 11

h Mir. of Parl. 1838, pp. 6181, 5517. ' Ib. 1839. p. 307.

J Ib. pp. 353-359. k Ib. p. 4976.


In 1844, a petition having been presented to the House of Com-
mons from a Mr. Heathcote, complaining of his dismissal, by the
secretary of state, from the office of sub-inspector of factories,
upon a false charge, founded upon misapprehension, it was moved
'that the petition be taken into consideration. The mover admitted
' that in most cases it was inexpedient for the House to interfere
with the exercise of that discretionary power which must be pos-
sessed by every government over its subordinate officers,' and that
in his opinion, ' the only cases to justify the interference were when
the head of the department did not seem to have been in possession
of the facts of the case, or that he had laboured under some misap-
prehension. ' l The home secretary (Sir James Graham) opposed the
motion ; giving, however, explanations of the matter complained of,
while at the same time protesting against the House being ' converted
into a court of appeal against the executive : for if he were to be
responsible for the duties that he performed, he must exercise them
according to his own conscience and judgment with reference to the
dismissal of officers who held their offices during pleasure, and with
whose public conduct he was dissatisfied.' m Whereupon the motion
was negatived.

On April 19, 1853, after the accession to office of the Aberdeen
administration, the government acquiesced in a motion made by an
independent member of the House of Commons, for the appointment
of a select committee to ' enquire into the exercise of the influence
and patronage of the Admiralty, in the dockyards, and public de-
partments, connected with the several parliamentary boroughs,'
-it having been alleged that this patronage had been made use of,
for political purposes, by persons officially connected with the Derby
administration." The committee reported to the House on May 23,
with minutes of evidence in regard to the several branches of the
enquiry. They showed that, prior to the year 1847, corrupt practices
in regard to appointments and promotions to office were very preva-
lent in the dockyards ; but that, on February 27, 1847, an Admiralty
order was issued, in the form of a circular, insisting upon the in-
troduction and maintenance of a system of promotion, to depend
solely upon merit and efficiency. This was followed up, in 1849, by
another circular to the same general effect, which was backed by a
personal appeal from Sir Francis Baring, the then first lord of the
Admiralty, to the superintendents and principal officers of the dock-
yards, that they would give him an assurance that they would not
interfere in politics. These measures semed to have worked very
successfully, But when the Derby ministry came into power, the
circular of 1849 was cancelled, with a view to favour the interests

1 Hans. D. v. 76, p. 1623.
m Ib. pp. 1634. 1640.


Ib. v. 126, pp. 33-122.


Mr. Heath-

of Board
of Admi-



Prece- of the party in power ; and though but few political appointments
appear to have been uiade, they were sufficient in number to ' sub-
vert the confidence of the men, and render nugatory all the solemn
assurances of circulars issued by the Admiralty, to the effect that
men should rise by merit, and not by political influence.' The com-
mittee imputed blame for these transactions principally to Mr. Staf-
ford, the then secretary of the Admiralty, to whom the first lord,
upon his accepting office, had given up ' all the civil patronage,
excepting the master shipwrights, and one class of messengers,
which he reserved for deserving sailors and marines.' Recently, the
circular of 1849 was restored, and its provisions rendered more
secure by being embodied in an order in council. The committee
concluded with a recommendation that should the system under
which promotions in the dockyards are now again regulated be
hereafter altered, Parliament should be informed thereof as soon as
possible. On July 5, 1853, a motion was made in the House of
Commons, that referring to said report and evidence, ' this House
is of opinion that, during the administration of the late board of
Admiralty, the patronage of dockyard promotions, and the influence
of the Admiralty, were used and exercised for political purposes, to
an extent, and in a manner calculated to reflect discredit upon that
department of the government, and to impair the efficiency of the
service.' p In order to get rid of this charge, an amendment, impli-
cating ' every administration of the Admiralty ' in a similar offence,
was proposed. After a short discussion, a motion to adjourn the
House was carried, and the debate was never again resumed.i On
May 30, the dockyard committee were instructed by the House to
Case of consider the case of Lieutenant Engledue, R.N., who in 1840 had
Lt. Engle- been struck off the list of lieutenants of the royal navy for an act
of insurbordination. Upon several occasions, afterwards, at dif-
ferent times, Mr. Engledue memorialised the Board of Admiralty
to restore him to his former position, but was invariably refused.
However, on November 30, 1852, he again renewed his application,
and on December 22 he was informed that he was at liberty to
memorialise the Queen in council to be reinstated. This permission
was given two days after the Derby ministry had announced that
they only held office until their successors were appointed. The
memorial was sent in, favourably entertained, and referred to the
Admiralty. On January 4, 1853, the Queen's approval was given
to the restoration of Mr. Engledue. On the 6th inst. before the
transaction was quite completed, a new board of Admiralty was

Report on Dockyard Appoint- q Ib. pp. 1321-1325. See, also in

raents: Coin. Pap. 1852-3, v. 25, pp. this connection, the Churchward case,

3-14; Hans. D. v. 125, p. 595. which is described in another chapter,

f Hans. D. v. 128, pp. 1290-1311. post, p. 772.


appointed. Nevertheless the appointment was confirmed. But soon Prece-
afterwards papers in relation to this case were moved for in the dents -
House of Commons, and being transmitted, were referred to the
committee on dockyard appointments, it having been alleged that
political influence had been made use of to procure the restoration
of Mr. Eiigledue to his former rank in the service, notwithstanding
the repeated refusals of the Admiralty to reinstate him. 1 ' The com-
mittee carefully investigated the circumstances of the case, in view
of which they reported, on July 26, their opinion ' that the restora-
tion of Mr. Engledue to his former rank in the royal navy was not
a judicious proceeding.' But they added, that notwithstanding their
attention having been called to the peculiar time when the applica-
tion was granted, ' they have not heard any evidence which shows
that this favour was bestowed from any political or unworthy
motives.' 8

In 1855, a motion was made in the House of Commons, for the
appointment of a committee to enquire into ' the grounds and
justification of ' the removal from office of the Right Hon. T. F. *J r - T - I? -
Kennedy, a commissioner of woods and forests, and a privy coun- en
cillor, who was dismissed from office by Mr. Gladstone, chancellor
of the exchequer, because ' he could not serve the public with credit
therein,' and had treated his subordinates improperly and unfairly,
so that the government could not be responsible for his conduct. 1
The motion was opposed by Mr. Gladstone (though he had, mean-
while, retired from office) on the ground that it was : entirely con-
trary to parliamentary usage and injurious to the public service,'
and that ' no primd facie ground had been established for it.' u Ad-
mitting the abstract right of the House to institute such an enquiry,
in conformity with the resolution of 1784, v nevertheless 'he found
that the practice of the House had been uniformly to decline en-
quiring into the removal of public servants, when the removal had
taken place according to law, and according to the apparently con-
scientious judgment of those who, by law, were made responsible
for the conduct of such public servants.'" Viewing the motion as
intended ' to impugn his conduct while in office, in one of the most
important functions belonging to a minister,' Mr. Gladstone declared
that he should abstain from voting on it. Accordingly, after an
elaborate speech, he withdrew. x The secretary of the Treasury
(Mr. Wilson) defended the dismissal, and said, it would be impos-
sible to carry on the work of government if the House were to
assume a right to review every transaction of this kind, although

r Hans. D. v. 126, p. 87(3. v See ante, p. 416.

s Com. Pap. 1852-3, v. 25, p. 471. w Hans. D. v. 136, pp. 1998-2001

* Hans. D. v. 136, p. 1991. Ib. pp. 1992-2011.

u Ib. p. 2010.

x x 2




Civil Ber-
vice com-

if a primd Jacie case of injustice was made out it ought not to be
overlooked. 'y Lord Palmerston acquitted Mr. Kennedy of any
conduct reflecting on ' his honour, his veracity, or his character/
but nevertheless resisted the motion, as a dangerous precedent, and
contended that ' a discretion must be left in the hands of the
servants of the crown as to removing from office those whom they
thought incompetent ' for their duties : adding, that ' if the House
were to establish as a precedent that any man removed from a
situation was to appeal to his friends in the House of Commons,
and obtain a verdict as to the propriety of his removal, there would
be an end of all discipline in the service of the state.' 2 Satisfied
with the acknowledgment that Mr. Kennedy's honour stood per-
fectly unimpeached, the mover consented to withdraw his motion. a

A discussion arose in the House of Commons on the case of
Mr. Chisholm Anstey, who was removed from his office of attorney-
general of Hong Kong for ' his violent temper and want of discre-
tion ' in his conduct to his superior the governor of the island, to
whom he had shown ' an excess of personal animosity and want of
respect. ' b See also the debates in both Houses of Parliament, in
1863, upon the removal of two judges in the Ionian Islands, by the
authority of the lord high commissioner, and with the sanction of
the secretary of state for the Colonies. Pursuant to an address of
the House of Lords of April 17, papers on this subject were laid
upon the table ; but as the reasons for the removal of these func-
tionaries did not clearly appear from the same, further papers con
taining ' any charges of conduct inconsistent with their judicial
office ' were moved for in the House of Lords on July 9. This
motion was opposed by the government, on the ground that it was
' a most dangerous precedent ' to authorise an appeal to Parliament
from acts of responsible ministers in the execution of the law, and to
require the production of confidential communications from the high
commissioner to his superiors in office, and of letters from other
persons intended to be confidential, without their consent. Never-
theless, as the sense of the House was in favour of the motion, the
government gave way, and allowed it to pass without a division.
After the production of the papers, no further action was taken in
the matter by either House.

In 1860, a motion for papers was made in the House of Com-
mons, which involved an attempt to induce the House to review the
decision of the civil service commissioners, in respect to a candi-
date rejected upon examination before them. The government pro-
tested against such an interference with public servants engaged
in a judicial enquiry, as being unprecedented and unjustifiable.

T Hans. P. v. 136, p. 2029.
2b. p. 2031.

Ib. p. 2032.

b 76. v. 172, pp. 993-999.


' If,' it was said, ' it can be shown that the commissioners were
not worthy of the confidence of the government, or of this House,
that they act with unfairness, or are incompetent, from literary or
other disqualifications, then let the House interfere by an address
to the crown to remove them from their offices.' The motion was
negatived. Subsequently the House refused to direct these com-
missioners to publish certain information with their annual report,
on the ground that they were not amenable to the jurisdiction of
the House, but only to the crown itself. d

On March 4, 1861, it was moved in the House of Lords, that a
select committee be appointed to enquire into the circumstances
attending the appointment and resignation of Mr. Turnbull to a
place in the Record Office ; but the motion was opposed by the
government, and negatived. 6

On July 15, 1861, it was moved in the House of Lords to
resolve that it is desirable, without delay, to restore the consular
authority at Mozambique, in order to aid in repressing the slave-
trade on the eastern coast of Africa. [In the previous session the
House had addressed the crown, requesting that a consul might
be re-appointed at this place ; but as yet the government had not
done so.] The aforesaid motion was opposed by the under-secre-
tary for foreign affairs, on the ground that it was an undue en-
croachment on the functions of the executive, and not a case in
which Parliament should interfere. He added that the address
last year had been carried by surprise, and because the ministry,
not anticipating a division, had allowed their supporters to leave
"the House. After these explanations, the motion was withdrawn/

A Bill, introduced by Mr. Whiteside, in 1865, to alter the con-
stitution, &c. of the Irish Court of Chancery, contained a clause
providing that certain judicial offices in the said court should be
conferred upon persons at present holding other offices of high posi-
tion. This was opposed by the attorney-general, who said that it
would not be ' for the public advantage to set the example of naming
in Acts of Parliament the persons who were to be appointed to par-
ticular posts about to be created, instead of leaving the appoint-
ments to the crown, acting under the guidance of its responsible
advisers. He did not think it advisable that these appointments
should be made in the House of Commons, because nothing could



c Hans. D. v. 158, pp. 892-907.

d Ib. p. 2083. And see Ib. v. 170,
p. 23. See further, as to the inter-
ference of Parliament with Commis-
sioners appointed by the crown to
conduct an enqirry, post, vol. 2.

e Ib. v. 161, p. 1271. See also Ib.

Consul at

Court of

p. 2101. And see the case of Mr.
Reed's appointment, Ib. v. 172, p.

f Ib. v. 164, p. 855. See a
similar proceeding in the H. of C. in
the case of the consulship at Pesth.
Ib. p. 1001.


be more invidious than to invite personal discussions as to the
fitness of individuals for particular offices.'^ The Bill was shortly
afterwards withdrawn.

On April 29, 1870, it was moved in the House of Commons that
a select committee be appointed to enquire into and report on all the
circumstances which led to the resignation by Colonel Boxer of the
office he held in the royal laboratory. The government had laid a
paper on this subject before the House ; and they gave full explana-
tions of the course pursued ; but viewing this motion as an attack
on the War Department, they gave it ' an uncompromising opposi-
tion.' After debate, the motion was withdrawn.

On May 13, 1870, a resolution was proposed in the House of
Commons, censuring the ' abrupt discontinuance ' of the services of
Mr. Barry, the architect hitherto employed at the Houses of Parlia-
ment, and declaring the same to have been an uncalled-for proceed-
ing, and of doubtful expediency. The action of government was
explained and defended by the first commissioner of works, who was
specially responsible for Mr. Barry's dismissal. And Mr. Gladstone
(the premier) pointed out the bearing of the motion on the principle
of parliamentary responsibility, urging that nothing could more effec-
tually relax and destroy the responsibility of ministers, and weaken
the power of the House to control the public expenditure, than an
attempt to intimate to the government the man whom they should
employ. After a long debate, the motion was negatived, on a
division. 11

On February 15, 1872, a vote of censure upon government was
proposed in the House of Lords for the proceedings taken in the
appointment of Sir A. P. Collier to the judicial committee of the
privy council, contrary to the spirit and intention of an Act passed
in 187 1. 1 After a long debate, an amendment, acquitting the
government of blame, was carried, by a majority of one. On Feb-
ruary 19, a vote of censure, in the same terms, was moved in the
House of Commons, but a similar amendment was agreed to, by a
majority of 27. An informal discussion took place in the House of
Commons on March 8, 1872, upon the appointment of a clergyman
to the crown living of Ewelme, under circumstances alleged to be at
variance with the directions of an Act of Parliament.

On May 7, 1872, a vote of censure was moved in the House of
Commons upon the government for the appointment of a non-resi-
dent to be lord-lieutenant of the county of Clare. After a long
debate, the motion was negatived on division.

Hans. D. v. 177, p. 811. See h Ib. v. 201, pp. 670-729.

filso Mr. "Walpole's observations on ' Com. Pap. 1872, v. 50, p. 200.

this point, Ib. v. 178, p. 525. And see &c.
Jb. v. 184, p. 526. And ante, p. 143.



On May 20, 1828, a motion was made in the House of Co
for a return of pensions granted on the English Civil List ; but the

motion was opposed by the ministry, on the ground that it was a
principle to maintain inviolate the arrangements made with the
crown respecting the civil list, which had been granted for the life-
time of the sovereign ; and that unless the civil list shall become in
such state as to render it necessary to apply to Parliament for assis
tance, or unless some special case of abuse is made out, the House
have no right to enquire into details of this kind. On division, the
motion was negatived.J

The next case that will engage our attention under this head is
one which occurred in 1830, when the Grey Ministry, immediately
upon their appointment to office, took the initiative, and invited the
House of Commons to appoint a committee to consider the amount
of the salaries and emoluments payable to members of the adminis- Official.
tration holding seats in either House of Parliament ; pledging them-
selves to abide by the recommendations of the committee on the
subject. The chancellor of the exchequer (Lord Althorp), in moving
for this committee, on December 9, stated that, while it was neces-
sary, in point of form, that his name, as the mover, should be in-
cluded, he hoped he would be excused for non-attendance, as the
government were desirous that the committee should be exclusively
composed of independent members, and altogether free from the
suspicion of government influence. k [Two members of the late
ministry were placed on the committee in order that they might be
able to give details as to official business. They consented to attend
for this purpose, but refused to act as ordinary members of the com-
mittee. 1 ] His lordship cited a precedent for this course, in 1806,
when the then chancellor of the exchequer, in appointing a committee
to enquire into the state of the finances, selected no one to serve
thereon who was an office-holder under the crown. Lord Althorp's
committee reported on March 30, 1831, recommending very con-
siderable reductions in official salaries, which were agreed to by the
government, and the estimates for the ensuing year framed in accor-
dance therewith. [The committee having recommended a reduction
of the salary of the president of the board of control, which had been
acquiesced in by the government, an independent member of the
House of Commons, on September 29, 1831, moved a series of
resolutions declaring the inexpediency of reducing this salary from
5,000?. per annum at which it had been fixed since 1810, to 3,5001. as

J Mir. of Parl. 1828. pp. 1585-1 593. k Mir. of Parl. 1830, p. 439.

1 Ib. pp. 611), 1285.






proposed by the committee. The government, however, opposed this
motion, and the previous question was put thereon and negatived.
But in 1853 the salary was again raised to 5,000?. per annum, pur-
suant to the directions of the Act 16 & 17 Viet. c. 95, sec. 33, that
this officer should be paid as much as other principal secretaries of
state.] But it would appear that this enquiry was not regarded as
sufficiently complete, for on April 12, 1850, on motion of Lord
John Russell (the first lord of the treasury) a similar committee was
appointed to consider of the diplomatic establishments, and the
salaries and retiring allowances of the judges ; although the proposal
to refer the question of official salaries to a select committee, instead
of determining upon them in council, with the experience and on the
responsibility of the government, was strenuously opposed in the
House. The only minister who sat upon this committee was the
mover himself. The committee reported on July 25th, their recom-
mendations in regard to official salaries were few and unimportant,
as in their opinion the reductions made after the report of the
committee in 1831, had gone far enough. 11 Upon the other branches
of enquiry several important recommendations were made. The
report was ordered to lie on the table and be printed. Before the
next meeting of Parliament, the government undertook, upon their
own responsibility, and according to their own judgment, to decide
upon the manner in which they would deal with the various recom-
mendations contained therein.

On March 14, 1871, a motion was made in the House of Com-
mons by an independent member, for the appointment of another
committee to enquire into the salaries of members of Parliament
holding office under the crown. It was urged that these salaries
required to be equalised, and in some cases increased. But Mr.
Gladstone (prime minister) having declared that no case had been
made out to justify either augmentation or re-distribution of official
salaries, the motion was negatived without a division.?

On May 8, 1833, Mr. Hume moved an address to the crown,
praying that the law-officers might be instructed to enquire into the
validity of a pension or sinecure office granted by his late Majesty
George IV. to Lord Douglas, contrary (as he alleged) to an agree-
ment between the crown and Parliament : with the consent of the
government the motion was agreed to."* Ministers afterwards inti-
mated their intention to apply to the Court of Session to set aside
the grant. r

On July 30, 1834, a petition was presented to the House of
Commons from certain commissioners of customs, complaining of the

m Mir.of Parl. 1813, pp. 2531-2530.
n Com. Pap. 1850, v. 15, p. 179.
Hans. D. v. 11 (i, p. 548.

Ib. v. 204, pp. 1985-2003.
Mir. of Parl. 1833, p. 1681.
Ib. p. 3592.


reduction of their salaries under a treasury minute. The petitioners Prece-
admitted that ' the question of salaries rests exclusively with the dents -
executive, and ought not to be brought before Parliament/ but they
claimed that theirs was an exceptional case, and one of peculiar
hardship. The chancellor of the exchequer characterised this as ' a
most unusual and extraordinary proceeding,' but proceeded to show
that the petitioners had no just grounds of complaint in the present

Online LibraryAlpheus ToddOn parliamentary government in England : its origin, development, and practical operation (Volume 1) → online text (page 64 of 85)