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instance. Members generally acknowledged ' the extreme inexpe-
diency ' of ' making the House a court of appeal in questions of this
sort.' Even Mr. Hume, that staunch supporter of the people's rights,
declared that he ' could not conceive anything more mischievous '
than for the House to interfere where it had not a right to do so ;
and that the House was ' called upon to decide whether the legisla-
ture or the executive should determine what salaries are to be given
to the servants of the public.' The petition was by leave with-
drawn. 8

On May 1, 1838, Mr. Hume moved for leave to bring in a Bill to Pension to
suspend the payment of the annuity granted by Act of Parliament jj^wver.
to H.R.H. the Duke of Cumberland, so long as he should continue
king of Hanover, being of opinion that it was inexpedient and un-
called-for to continue a pension granted to an English prince after he
had become an independent sovereign. The motion was opposed by
the chancellor of exchequer (Mr. T. Spring Rice), on the ground that
the annuity had been granted for the term of ' the natural life ' of
his royal highness, and that Parliament had no right to put a new
construction on the grant, so as to deprive him of it. This view was
sustained by the House, and the motion rejected. Similar motions
were again proposed by Mr. Hume, on March 27, 1840, and on June
30, 1843, but were opposed by the ministry on the same grounds as
before, and negatived by the House.

On February 27, 1840, the attention of the House of Commons Sir John
was directed to the grant of a pension to Sir John Newport, on his ewpo '
retirement from the office of comptroller of the exchequer. This was
an office which was held under a statute ' during good behaviour.'
It was wholly independent of the crown, and did not entitle the in-
cumbent to receive a pension on his relinquishing office. It had been
held by Sir John Newport for five years only, previous to which he
had performed various public services during a long public career,
but none of them of a nature that authorised him to claim a retiring
allowance. The government, however, being desirous of rewarding
Sir John's long and faithful services, determined upon his retirement
from the comptrollership to allow him a pension of 1,000. a year out
of the royal bounty fund, which was set apart, under the Act 1 & 2
Viet. c. 2, to enable the crown to reward persons who had just claims

9 Mir. of Parl. 1834, pp. 3101-3104.





Eev. Dr.


on the royal beneficence for discoveries in science, &c., or the per-
formance of special duties to the crown or public. This proceeding
was called in question in a series of resolutions submitted to the
House, setting forth that the peculiar office lately held by Sir John
Newport disqualified him from the receipt of a pension from the
crown ; that it was contrary to the spirit and intent of Parliament
in respect to civil service pensions to allot him an annuity for public
political services out of a fund set apart for the reward of merit of a
different kind ; and that, for these and other reasons set forth, the
House deems it expedient to express its decided opinion that the
pension in question ought not to be drawn into precedent. The
ministry met these resolutions by an amendment, asserting the nature
and value of Sir John Newport's services upon which his claim to a
retiring allowance was based, and declaring that, on reviewing the
whole case, 'this House is satisfied that the grant of a pension to a
retired comptroller of the exchequer, in circumstances so peculiar,
cannot be drawn into precedent.' The House, however, was not
satisfied with the explanations and excuses of ministers, but passed
the original resolutions by a majority of twenty-eight. 1

In 1840, a retired public servant petitioned the House of Com-
mons, complaining of the insufficiency of his superannuation allow-
ance, and declaring that he was legally entitled to a larger amount.
A motion to refer this petition to a committee was opposed by the
chancellor of the exchequer, who explained the merits of the case,
and said that ' it would have a very bad effect on the public service
if the House should interfere with the retired allowances of public
officers.' The motion was negatived on a division."

On March 26, 1844, a motion was made in the House of Com-
mons for an address to the Queen, requesting that a suitable provision
might be made for the widow and children of the late Rev. Dr.
Morrison, on account of the eminent public services in China of the
doctor and of his eldest son, both deceased. The prime minister
(Sir R. Peel) fully admitted the value of the services rendered to the
country by the Morrisons, but declared that the rule in respect to
pensions to civil servants could not be extended to this family, and
that there was no other means available for the purpose ; adding that
1 the House should be exceedingly cautious how they established a
precedent in such a case of special interference with the conduct of
the executive government, and in some degree with the prerogative
of the crown.' The motion was accordingly withdrawn. v

On April 8, 1862, the attention of the House of Commons was

* Mir. of Parl. 1840, p. 1323.
u Ib. 1840, p. 1810.

* Hans. D. v. 73, p. 1581. See,
also, a discussion in the H. of C.

Hans. D. v. 161, pp. 938-946, on
Feb. 26, 1861, on an address to the
Queen respecting forage allowances
to cavalry officers.


called to the case of the clerks and officers of the late Insolvent Prece-
Debtors Court, whose interests had been injuriously affected by the
operation of the Bankruptcy Act of 1861. The ministry stated that Officers of
it was not their intention to introduce any measure for the relief of p 1S u] v ^ nt
these persons, but that they would offer no objection to the reference Court,
to a select committee of any petition setting forth their claims ; and
that they would agree to carry out any recommendation from such
committee as to the amount of compensation which should be awarded
to these persons. Whereupon a select committee was appointed
accordingly, which reported on July 9. Pursuant to this report, a
Bill for the relief of these complainants was introduced, and passed
into a law. w

On July 22, 1862, Sir George Bowyer moved the House of Com- Post Office
mons for the appointment of a committee to enquire into alleged
grievances complained of in a petition from upwards of 1,500 persons
in the post office department. The chancellor of the exchequer (Mr.
Gladstone) opposed the motion, ' as being of a most dangerous char-
acter, not only to the good order of the post office department, but
to the entire public service.' 'The question had been settled by com-
petent authority, namely, the executive government.' ' If the House
thought the executive government to blame, let them take the proper
course and pronounce their censure upon them ; but he was satisfied
that no worse policy could be adopted than for the House to take
into its own hands the management of the public services.' Sir S.
Northcote (a leader of the opposition) ' entirely assented to this
doctrine, that it was most mischievous for the House of Commons
to take out of the hands of the government the details of arrange-
ments made in the various departments.' The motion was accord-
ingly withdrawn.*

On March 6, 1865, Mr. Ferrand (who represented a large dock- Dockyard
yard constituency) called the attention of the House to the great 3rs>

inequality and inadequacy of the wages paid to men employed in
the Royal Dockyards, with a view ' to elicit an expression of opinion
by the House which would induce the Admiralty who had hitherto
refused redress to take their most reasonable claims into considera-
tion.' The alleged grievances were explained away by the Secretary
to the Admiralty, who called upon the House not to countenance
the principle of interference with the discretion of government in
the remuneration of public servants, at the instigation of members
whose constituents were in the receipt of wages from the public
treasury. The subject was then dropped. y

" 25 & 26 Viet. c. 99. See the " Ib. v. 177, p. 1136. Also case

case of Divorce Court proctors, ante, of third class clerks in Admiralty, Ib*

p. 637. v. 196, p. 1621.

1 Hans. D. v. 168, p. 672.






of Leeds

On April 28, 1865, a motion was made in the House of Com-
mons to refer a petition from certain merchants of Liverpool com-
plaining of the inadequate remuneration of the out-door officers of
Customs, to a select committee to enquire into the alleged griev-
ances. The chancellor of the exchequer (Mr. Gladstone) admitted
that if any public servant could complain of any grievance by
reason of the acts of the government, ' it was the duty of the
government to render an account of their proceedings to the House,
and it would be perfectly within the rules of prudence to risk an
enquiry by a committee.' Nevertheless, the executive government
should be held responsible for the regulation and the pay of the
public servants, and nothing would tend so much to the disorganisa-
tion of the public service, or do more to lower the character of the
House of Commons, than any attempt to take this duty out of the
hands of government. Upon an assurance that the grievance com-
plained of should receive the attention of government, the motion
for a committee was negatived on division. 21

On May 12, 1865, a motion was made in the House of Commons
to declare the expediency and propriety of increasing the salaries
of postmasters, upon whom additional labour had been imposed by
the establishment of post office savings banks. The secretary of
the treasury and the chancellor of the exchequer explained that
the Government were considering all cases of hardship arising from
this cause, and were dealing with them equitably ; but that they
were not prepared to introduce any wholesale and sweeping change
in the present system. Whereupon the motion was withdrawn.*

On May 15, 1865, enquiry was made of the attorney-general as
to the circumstances attending the resignation of Mr. H. S. Wilde
of the office of registrar of the court of bankruptcy at Leeds, and
the appointment of his successor, and in regard to the act of lord
chancellor Westbury in sanctioning the grant of a retiring pension
to Mr. Wilde, though his conduct in office had disentitled him to
any such advantage. 1 * On the following day, the papers connected
with Mr. Wilde's resignation of office were ordered to be laid before
the House, and on May 19 were ordered to be printed. On May
23, with the consent of the government, and especially of the lord
chancellor, who caused it to be stated that he courted enquiry into
the matter, a select committee was appointed to enquire into all
the circumstances attending Mr. Wilde's resignation of office, the
grant to him of a pension, and the appointment of his successor.
Subsequently it was agreed that this committee should be nominated

* Hans. v. 178, p. 1205 ; and see engineers, Ib. v. 197, p. 134.

Ib. v, 180. p. 671. b If>. v. 179, p. 293; and see p.

^ Ib. D. v. 179, pp. 194-206. 489.

See case of civil officers of the royal c Com. Jour. May 16.


by the general committee of elections, and should consist of five Prece-

ordinary members, and two additional members being lawyers, who dents -

should be empowered to examine witnesses and conduct the case on

either side, but should not have a right to vote. d On June 22, the

report of this committee was brought up, and ordered to lie upon

the table, and to be printed. The report, which was accompanied

by copious evidence, acquitted the lord chancellor of all charge but

that of haste and want of caution in granting a pension to Mr.

Wilde. Nevertheless the committee recorded their opinion, that

the general impression created by the sudden retirement of Mr.

Wilde, and the pecuniary transactions which took place between

Mr. Bethell (the eldest son of the lord chancellor) and Mr. Welch,

who was appointed to succeed Mr. Wilde, ' were calculated to excite

the gravest suspicions,' and that their investigation had been

'highly desirable for the public interests.' 6 On July 3, a motion,

to resolve that the conduct of the lord chancellor in reference to

the appointments in the Leeds Bankruptcy Court and in the case of Mr. L.

Leonard Edmunds/ which had been reported upon by a committee Edmunds -

d Hans. D. v. 179, pp. 781-785.
The committee decided upon con-
ducting their enquiry with closed
doors. Ib. v. 180, p. 881.

e Rep. Com. Leeds Bankruptcy
Court, p. x. Com. Pap. 1865, v. 9.

f On Feb. 14, 1865, Leonard Ed-
munds, reading clerk and clerk of com-
mittees of the House of Lords, peti-
tioned the House for leave to resign his
office, and for the grant of a retiring
allowance. The petition was presented
by the lord chancellor, upon whose
motion the resignation was accepted,
and the petition referred to the select
committee on the office of the clerk
of the Parliaments, &c. On Feb. 17,
the lord chancellor acquainted the
House that he had appointed his
second son (the Hon. Slingsby
Bethell), to the office vacated by Mr.
Edmunds, which appointment was
approved of by the House. On the
same day, the committee reported in
favour of allowing to Mr. Edmunds
the usual retiring pension, which
report was agreed to by the House
on Feb. 24. On March 7, the lord
chancellor, being moved thereto by
various discreditable rumours which
were afloat, informed the House of
certain circumstances connected with
the conduct of Mr. Edmunds while

holding a situation in the patent
office, and subsequently when in the
employ of the House, which de-
manded investigation. Whereupon,
on his lordship's motion, a select
committee was appointed to enquire
into all the circumstances connected
with Mr. Edmund's resignation of
both the said offices, and with the
grant of a retiring pension to him by
the House. This committee reported
on May 2. On May 9, on motion of
Lord Redesdale, a member of 'the
pension committee,' a passage from
the report of the committee ol' enquiry
was read, which appeared to reflect
upon the previous committee for
recommending a pension to Mr.
Edmunds, without duly considering
the imputations upon his conduct.
Lord Redesdale then moved two
resolutions, to exonerate the ' pension
committee ' from all blame in the
matter. After a long debate, the
previous question was put thereon,
and negatived ; and the resolution of
the House of Feb. 24, agreeing to the
recommendation of the committee in
favour of a retiring allowance of 8001.
per annum to Mr. Edmunds, was re-
scinded. Before putting this motion
to the vote, a petition was presented
to the House from Mr. Edmunds that


of the House of Lords, a copy of whose report had been laid before
dents. -j-jj-g jj ouse was ' highly reprehensible, and calculated to throw dis-
credit on the administration of the high offices of state,' was moved
by Mr. Hunt : to this an amendment (of which no notice had been
given) was proposed by the lord advocate, acquitting the lord
chancellor from all charge except that of haste and want of caution
in granting a pension to Mr. Wilde, but declaring the opinion of the
House that some further check should be placed by law upon the
grant of pensions to the holders of legal offices. Previous to the
commencement of the debate, Mr. Bouverie had given notice that
he should move, as an amendment to the main motion, to resolve,
that this House, having considered the report of the committee on
the Leeds Bankruptcy Court, and the evidence, &c., are of opinion
that, while the evidence discloses the existence of corrupt practices
with reference to the appointment of P. R. Welch to the office of
registrar of the said court, they are satisfied that no imputation can
fairly be made against the lord chancellor with regard to this
appointment ; but that such evidence and also that taken before
the Lords' committee on the circumstances connected with the re-
signation by Mr. Edmunds of the offices held by him, ' show a laxity
of practice and a want of caution with regard to the public interests
on the part of the lord chancellor in sanctioning the grant of re-
tiring pensions to public officers against whom grave charges were
pending, which, in the opinion of this House, are calculated to dis-
credit the administration of his great office.' The lord advocate's
amendment was first proposed ; but, although Mr. Bouverie's amend-
ment was not technically before the House and could not be dis-
cussed until it should be moved, its terms were known, and generally
preferred by those who took part in the debate, including Mr. Hunt,
the mover of the main motion. K The question, ' that the words pro-
posed to be left out [i.e. Mr. Hunt's motion] stand part of the
question,' was therefore put and negatived without a division. On
the question that the lord advocate's amendment be then added,
Lord Palmerston (the premier) moved, that the Debate be now
adjourned. This was negatived on division by a majority of 14.
Lord Palmerston thereupon agreed to accept this division as con-
clusive in favour of Mr. Bouverie's amendment. The lord advo-
cate's amendment was accordingly put and negatived, and then Mr.

he might be first heard, by counsel, successful attempt to induce the

in his defence ; but Earl Granville House of Lords to re-open the ques-

(the leader of the House) said that tion, see Law Majr. N. S. v. 28, p.

he felt it impossible to accede to this 374. Com. Pap. 1872, v. 5, p. 196,

roijuust. For the final result of the &c. Hans. D. v. 216, p. 963 ; v. 220,

proceedings instituted by government p. 1500.
against Mr. Edmunds, and his un- Hans. D. v. 180, pp. 1C92, 1117.


Bouverie's amendment was agreed to without a further division. Prece-
On the following day, Lord Palmerston announced that, owing to " ents -
this vote, Lord Chancellor Westbury had tendered his resignation,
which had been accepted, and that he would merely retain the seals
for a few days for the convenience of public business. 11 On July 5,
the lord chancellor informed the House of Lords of his resignation.
He added that, had he followed his own judgment, he would have
retired from office when the charges were first raised against him,
as he felt that the holder of the Great Seal ought never to be in
the position of an accused person. But he had been dissuaded
from this step by the prime minister, who said it would not do to
admit this as a principle of public conduct, for the consequence
would be that whoever brought up an accusation would at once
succeed in driving the lord chancellor from office. Since then he
had repeatedly pressed his resignation upon Lord Palmerston, but
without satisfying him that the time had come when it should be
accepted, until after the vote of the House of Commons on July 3,
which had determined him no longer to consent to retain office. 1
In the session of 1866 an Act was passed requiring the lord chan-
cellor to transmit to the lords of the treasury all applications for
superannuation allowances on retirement of which he may approve,
from any officer connected with the court of chancery, or in bank-
ruptcy or lunacy, or any of the superior courts of common law,
and empowering the treasury to decide thereon.J This statute is
intended to take away from the lord chancellor the absolute right
which he had hitherto enjoyed, and .to give to the treasury the
power of determining upon the report of the lord chancellor the
amount of pension to which any such officer is entitled by law upon
his retirement. k

On July 4, 1873, a resolution was carried, in the House of Com-
mons, on division (against the Government) in favour of redressing
the present inadequate scale of salaries of the civil servants in
Ireland. Whereupon ministers undertook to appoint a depart-
mental committee to enquire into this matter. 1

On May 12, 1874, the House of Commons was moved to appoint
a select committee to consider the salaries, &c., of the officers
of the two Houses of Parliament, with a view to their being more
equitably apportioned. The mover pointed out that salaries in the

h Hans. D. p. 1103. had been filed against Mr. Welch and

1 Ib. p. 1174. On Feb, 13, 1866, the Hon. R. Bethell for corrupt

the Attorney-General informed the practices in obtaining, or attempting

House that, in accordance with the to obtain, a judicial appointment.

recommendation of the Leeds Bank- J 29 & 30 Viet. c. 68.

ruptcy Court Committee in tbe pre- k Hans. D. v. 183, p. 1938.

vious session, criminal informations ' 76. v. 216, p. 1860; v. 217, p. 149.


Preee- Lords offices were relatively much higher than in the Commons
offices. But the chancellor of the exchequer deprecated the motion
as an objectionable interference with the discretion of the House of
Lords, and the motion was negatived. m

On June 14, 1877, the attention of the House of Lords was
called to a hardship resulting from the transfer of Mr. W. Woods
from the treasury to the colonial office, whereby, through no fault of
his own, his pecuniary interests had been injuriously affected. The
colonial secretary agreed to lay before the House papers on this
matter ; but severely censured Mr. Woods for printing and circulat-
ing amongst members certain confidential minutes in relation to
his case. n

"> Hans. D. v. 219, p. 184. n Ib, v. 234, p. 1753.




WE have next to consider the prerogative of the Preroga-
crown in regard to supply and taxation, and the con- g^to"
stitutional rights of Parliament in reference thereto. supply

. -, and taxa-

The true doctrine on this head has been briefly tion.
stated by May, in the following words : ' The crown,
acting with the advice of its responsible ministers,
being the executive power, is charged with the manage-
ment of all the revenues of the country, and with all
payments for the public service. The crown, therefore,
in the first instance, makes known to the Commons the
pecuniary necessities of the government, and the Com-
mons grant such aids or supplies as are required to
satisfy these demands ; and provide by taxes, and by
the appropriation of other sources of the public in-
come, the ways and means to meet the supplies which
are granted by them. Thus the crown demands money,
the Commons grant it, and the Lords assent to the
grant. But the Commons do not vote money unless it
be required by the crown ; nor impose or augment
taxes unless they be necessary for meeting the supplies
which they have voted, or are about to vote, and for
supplying general deficiencies in the revenue. The
crown has no concern in the nature or distribution of
taxes ; but the foundation of all parliamentary taxation
is its necessity for the public service, as declared by
the crown through its constitutional advisers.' a

a May. Parl. Prac. pp. 650, 651 ; ed. 1883. See also Mill, Rep. Gov. p. 9Q t
VOL. I. Y y


In entering upon a more detailed investigation of
the relative functions of the Crown and of Parliament
in the matter of supply, it is proposed to divide the
subject into three parts, and to consider, first, the con-
stitutional restrictions upon Parliament in respect to
(a) supply and (b) taxation ; secondly, in the following
chapter, the rights and privileges of Parliament, and
especially of the House of Commons, in the grant of
money for the public service ; and thirdly, in vol. ii.,
the oversight and control of the public expenditure.

I. (a) The Restrictions upon Parliament in matters
of Supply.

NO supply According to ancient constitutional doctrine and
grafted practice, no moneys can be voted by Parliament for
mamfof 6 ' ^J P ur P ose whatsoever, except at the demand and
the crown; upon the responsibility of ministers of the crown. b

In former times, when any aids and supplies were
required for the public service, the crown made known
its wants to the House of Commons by message ; this
message was taken into consideration by the Commons,

Online LibraryAlpheus ToddOn parliamentary government in England : its origin, development, and practical operation (Volume 1) → online text (page 65 of 85)