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Office Of Lord Privy Seal

Volume 202: debated on Thursday 7 July 1870

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Question

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Why the recommendation of the Select Committee on Official Salaries—

"That provision be made for the transfer of the duties of the Office of Lord Privy Seal to some, other Department of the Government, and that the salary he discontinued,"
has not yet been carried out?

In order, Sir, to answer the Question of my hon. Friend why the recommendation of the Select Committee on Official Salaries has not been carried into effect, it is necessary to have regard to the date when that recommendation was made, and the occurrences which have since happened. That recommendation was made by a Committee composed of many eminent and able Members of the House in 1850–20 years ago. Since the recommendation was made by the Committee, however, a higher authority has been invoked, for the question has been twice submitted to the judgment of the House of Commons, in 1859 and again in 1860, and upon both those occasions the House decided by a majority against the abolition of the Office. That is, to a great extent, an answer to the Question why neither the present Government, nor any Government that has preceded it, has acted upon the recommendations of the Committee of 1850, so far as the authority of that Committee is concerned. As to the general grounds for the maintenance of the Office, another hon. Member has given Notice that he will call attention to the subject, and it would not, therefore, become me to enter into them on the present occasion. I freely admit that the presumption is against the maintenance of an Office which has not sufficient duties annexed to it; but the condition of Public Business, both in the Cabinet and in Parliament during the last two Sessions, has been such that I am bound to say it is very important for the Government to maintain the Office and retain the services of the person filling it; and I think the discussion will amply justify us in so maintaining the Office during the period to which I have referred.