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Army — Officers Of Volunteer Corps—Evesham Rifle Corps

Volume 203: debated on Friday 22 July 1870

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Resolution

said, he rose to call attention to the circumstances under which two tradesmen of Evesham had been refused commissions in the Rifle Corps on account of their social position. About two years ago the Evesham Rifle company was, through unwillingness to serve, left entirely without officers. After a great deal of persuasion, the Mayor consented to be the captain, and Messrs. Cox and Phelps, two of the most respected and respectable tradesmen of the town, were afterwards induced to allow themselves to be proposed as lieutenant and ensign. The commandant of the corps to which the Evesham company belonged, Colonel Scobell, wrote to the Mayor that their names had been placed before the Lord Lieutenant, but that his Lordship did not consider their position such as to justify their appointment to the rank of officers. The Under Secretary of State for War, with whom he (Mr. P. A. Taylor) had communicated on the subject, had informed him that that statement in Colonel Scobell's letter was not strictly accurate, no formal application having been made to the Lord Lieutenant; and Lord Lyttelton was certainly one of the last men whom he should have expected to act in such a manner. As far as he himself (Mr. P. A. Taylor) was concerned, he could only say that he was entirely disconnected with the part of the country in which the gentlemen in question resided. Their political opinions were, he believed, entirely opposed to his own, nor did he know until after he had given Notice on the subject that the Lord Lieutenant who was concerned in the matter was Lord Lyttelton. These gentlemen were absolutely unexceptionable. They were members of the Town Coun- cil, and had been members of the corps ever since its formation in 1860, and their appointment was essential to the well-being of the corps; and nevertheless the commissions were refused simply on account of their social position. At a meeting of the Rifle Corps, resolutions approving of their nomination were passed unanimously, and those resolutions were concurred in by the previous captains of the company. He had, he might add, brought the matter under the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, who had received him, as he did on all occasions, with a courtesy which was not remarkable in him, but which contrasted very favourably with the receptions of other right hon. Gentlemen who sat on the same Bench. As to the reason why the commissions had not been given there could be no doubt. He was informed by a gentleman resident at Worcester, that all persons resident in that city who were in a similar walk of life with those proposed for commissions were highly indignant at the affront put upon them; and the local Press had emphatically protested. He had heard that the real obstacle in the way of granting the commissions was the objection raised by certain officers of a neighbouring company, which constituted part of the same corps, the 2nd Worcestershire battalion. It seemed to him well-nigh impossible, however, that such a spirit of snobbery should prevail among gentlemen who only met for battalion drill during a few days in the year. Rank and station were regarded less and less every day in the Army and Navy and the Civil Service, and à fortiori they ought not to be taken into account in the appointment of officers to a popular body like the Volunteers. He might mention, also, that the system of exclusiveness, of which he complained, was not in operation in other parts of the country. His Worcester correspondent remarked, however, that "cathedral cities are always, more or less, aristocratic places, and we are no exception to the general ride in this respect." Capacity for usefulness, and not social position, was the proper test of fitness in such cases. In conclusion, he begged to move the Resolution of which he had given Notice.

, in rising to second the Motion, said, he would lay before the House the actual circumstance connected with this unfortunate affair. It was doubly unfortunate, because it happened at a juncture when we knew not what a day might bring forth, and it might tend to prevent a large number of those who took an interest in the Volunteer movement from joining it at the present time. In the first place, however, he might state that the Lord Lieutenant of the county had been somewhat unfairly treated, for, as far as he could learn, he was by no means to blame in regard to this transaction. He might remind the House that although all appointments of Volunteer officers were vested in the Lord Lieutenant, they in reality emanated from the colonels-commandant of the various regiments. Had the names of these gentlemen been properly placed before the Lord Lieutenant, he felt convinced there would have been no objection on his part to sign the commissions. The facts of the case were as follows:—Originally the Evesham corps consisted of about 100 members; but from one cause or another the officers gradually seceded from it. Two of them had held commissions in the Army, one having been a field officer. They found, however, that they could not give the time required for the discharge of their duties as Volunteer officers, and eventually it was found that the corps was dwindling down almost to nothing. Accordingly, a public meeting was called, at which there were present the major, the two late commanding officers, and the adjutant. The names of several persons were suggested for commissions, but they declined the proffered honour, and at last Mr. Phelps and Mr. Cox were induced by the meeting to allow their names to be submitted to the Lord Lieutenant for approval. Both of them, he might remark, were members of the Town Council, and highly-respectable tradesmen. Moreover, they had both served in the Volunteers since the commencement of the movement; both were sergeants, and one of them had acted as secretary of the corps; so that as far as drill was concerned they were highly efficient. It was with great reluctance that they allowed their names to be submitted to the Lord Lieutenant, and they only did so in deference to the wishes of their fellow-townsmen. Consequently, they had, in his opinion, been very hardly dealt with. Having himself been a commanding officer of Volunteers, he might state that these two gentlemen would have conferred credit on any corps, and if they had offered themselves to his regiment he should have been exceedingly pleased. He trusted that on a reconsideration of the facts the Lord Lieutenant would be pleased to reverse the decision he had come to, and would now no longer hesitate to sign their commissions.

Amendment proposed,

To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "to make the appointment of Commissioned Officers in the Volunteer force dependant upon social position would, in the opinion of this House, be at variance with the principles on which that force has been established, and on the maintenance of which the hope of its permanence mainly depends,"—(Mr. Taylor,)

—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

said, he had no complaint to make as regarded the temper with which this question had been introduced, but an omission had been made in the statement of facts. There was no doubt that the Evesham corps had been languishing for a considerable time, owing to the deficiency in the number of its officers, and that, at a certain meeting, these two most respectable tradesmen were pressed to take commissions, and that eventually they consented to do so. The proposal that they should be appointed was, of course, discussed at the time, and Colonel Scobell, commanding the battalion, on hearing a statement of the facts from the adjutant, made a communication to his noble Relative, the Lord Lieutenant, informing him, without making any reflection on their respectability, that the appointment of these men would not be received with satisfaction by the battalion, and that, in fact, their appointment would be unpopular. The Lord Lieutenant, knowing that Colonel Scobell was a competent judge of the feeling in the corps, advised him not to send in their names formally to him, and their names were not sent in. The anticipations of the colonel were justified, as was proved by the fact that when it was known that such appointments were contemplated, dissatisfaction was expressed by the officers. The Lord Lieutenant having received no formal recommendation was technically free from any part of the responsibility in the case; but he had no wish to escape from any responsibility which might be thought to attach to him. It had been the invariable custom for Lords Lieutenant not to send up to the War Office any names for commissions which had not been expressly recommended by the commanding officer of the battalion — and probably the House would not be inclined to disturb that rule—and fearing dissatisfaction would arise not only among the officers, but among the men, if these appointments were made, Lord Lyttelton, for the sake of securing the harmony and efficiency of the corps, did not wish to have the names in question recommended to him. He (Mr. Lyttelton) did not complain of the hon. Member for Leicester for having imputed a feeling of exclusiveness as to the motive which had actuated Lord Lyttelton—

said, those who knew the noble Lord would not suspect him of any aristocratic or exclusive basis in a matter of this kind. The Lord Lieutenant found the battalion had existed for 10 years in a high state of efficiency, and had never been officered from a class below a certain position, and he did not think it his duty to disturb that satisfactory state of things. He acted from no personal motive; and if the Resolution was adopted, as the feeling of the House seemed to be in its favour, the Lord Lieutenant would readily act in accordance with it, immediately the decision come to was convoyed to him through the War Office. For himself, he (Mr. Lyttelton) would add that, in his opinion, the principle of the Motion was in no way objectionable. He would be the last person to prescribe that want of high social position should disqualify a man from a commission in the Volunteer force. The state of affairs on the Continent impressed this upon him no less than the lamentable inadequacy of officers among Volunteers generally. [Colonel LINDSAY: No!] This was at least the case in his district. For these reasons he would be sorry to say "No" to the Motion; but, at the same time, he would deprecate its adoption as far as it might be construed into a censure upon the Lord Lieutenant. He there- fore appealed to the hon. Member to withdraw his Motion, in the assurance that Lord Lyttelton would be the last man to allow want of social position to stand in the way of the real interests of the force, for whose harmony and efficiency he was mainly responsible.

said, as the first Volunteer sworn in in Worcestershire, and the first colonel of the first battalion raised there, he wished to explain that the course adopted in most of the towns of Worcestershire had been to appoint for officers the natural leaders of the men—namely, the merchants, manufacturers, and professional men. All that Lord Lyttelton had to do in the matter was to appoint such officers as the commanding officer of the corps recommended. It was contrary to the principle that regulated Volunteer corps that persons who stood behind the counter should be appointed officers. As far as aristocrats were concerned there was only one in his corps, and that was the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House, who was his second major, and an excellent officer he was too. It was absolutely necessary that the officers of the Volunteer corps should be gentlemen who left their offices when the working men who formed the rank and file of the corps left their work, and to whom they were well known.

said, that as a commanding officer of a Volunteer corps, he selected his officers not on account of their social position, but because they were the best fitted to perform the duties to be discharged. When men were serving their country as Volunteers they all stood upon an equal footing, whether they were the sons of Dukes or served behind a counter. The commanding officer in appointing officers must look to the efficiency of the regiment, and not to the social position of the candidates, and were he to appoint a man who had rendered himself unpopular among his comrades, he would be defeating that object. He apprehended that no Lord Lieutenant would refuse to appoint men recommended for commissions by the commanding officer of the corps, unless he had some very good and sufficient reasons for so doing. While fully concurring in the sentiment of the Motion, he trusted that the hon. Member for Leicester would be satisfied with the feeling he had elicited from the House, and would withdraw it; otherwise he should feel bound to vote against it.

said, he cheerfully admitted the temperate tone in which this question had been brought forward, and he thought that after the admirable speech of the hon. Member behind him, the son of the Lord Lieutenant (Mr. Lyttelton), and after the general unanimity of opinion which had been expressed by the House, the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor) would not be inclined to press his Motion. He (Mr. Cardwell) was convinced that nothing could be more fatal to the efficiency and value of the Volunteer Force than the notion that commissions in it were to be given away not with the view to promote the efficiency of the service, but on the ground of social position and other accidental circumstances. Among the many advantages that the Volunteer movement had conferred upon the country was the signal one of having tended to obliterate social distinctions, and to remove mischievous and ridiculous feelings of caste among men mutually engaged in the pursuit of an object which conduced to their own recreations and conferred great benefit upon the country. The hon. Member behind him had stated the facts of this particular case, and had shown that his noble father had not, in the slightest degree, been actuated by the ridiculous notions to which he (Mr. Cardwell) had alluded. Indeed, Lord Lyttelton held too distinguished a place in the republic of letters to be encumbered with any such cobwebs of prejudice. He (Mr. Cardwell) was therefore certain that his noble Friend (Lord Lyttelton) had acted in the manner he believed would, on the whole, best conduce to the efficiency of the corps. The Regulations of the Volunteer Force had placed the power of recommending individuals for commissions in the hands of the Lords Lieutenant, whose practice it was to consult the commanding officer of the corps with reference to the character and the fitness of the applicants for the position they sought to obtain. He was sure that the hon. Member for Leicester, however much he might have disapproved the circumstances of the present case, would not desire to take this power of recommending persons for commissions from the Lords Lieutenant, who, by means of the commanding officers, ascertained the local feeling of the dis- trict with respect to the fitness of the applicants much more accurately than the Secretary of State would be able to do. The hon. Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Lyttelton) had said that Lord Lyttelton did not dispute the general bearing of this Resolution, but thought that if it were agreed to its effect might be misapprehended. The House was not under the necessity of expressing any formal opinion upon the Resolution, because the first Motion before them was that they should go into Committee of Supply. He was satisfied that the hon. Member had no desire that any slight should be shown to Lord Lyttelton; and as it was quite clear that Lord Lyttelton was perfectly free from any of those nonsensical notions which might be supposed to be entertained by persons inclined to oppose the Motion, he trusted that the hon. Member would withdraw it.

said, it was impossible for anyone who enjoyed the friendship of Lord Lyttelton to hear that anything like censure was about to be passed upon him without the greatest anxiety. As the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Lyttelton) was the son of the noble Lord, it was possible that some persons might think that the remarks he had made might be open to some suspicion, and therefore he (Sir John Pakington) felt bound to express an opinion upon the matter. He earnestly hoped that the explanation which had been given would be considered satisfactory by the hon. Member for Leicester. He could assure the hon. Member that no gentleman in Worcestershire would be found to join in a censure on Lord Lyttelton.

said, he had stated distinctly that he had not the slightest intention of casting any reflection on Lord Lyttelton. When he gave Notice of his Motion, he did not know that noble Lord was Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire; but the moment he heard that Lord Lyttelton was the Lord Lieutenant, he said he did not believe the mischief could be traced to him (Lord Lyttelton), as he was the last man in the country who would adopt an unworthy course. After the statement of the Secretary of State for War, he should ask leave to withdraw his Motion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Case Of Mr Mason—Resolution

said, he rose to call attention to the case of Mr. Mason, a candidate in the last competitive examination for employment in the Civil Service of India, and to move a Resolulution thereon. The whole case rested upon the question whether a young man who was 16 years of age in 1864 was not more than 19 in 1870. The main proposition which he had to place before the House was that he must be. Mr. Mason, from whom he presented a Petition a few days ago, was the son of a bookseller; he was the first of the unsuccessful candidates, or, in cricketing language, what was called "the twelfth man." The gentleman before him was Mr. Borooah, and the case now put forward by Mr. Mason was that Mr. Borooah was disqualified by age. He had taken the trouble to go to the India Office, and he had examined The Calcutta Gazette and The Calcutta University Calendar, and he found that The Calcutta University Calendar for 1865 gave the name of Mr. Borooah as that of a gentleman who had taken the preliminary degree in the Calcutta University in the month of December, 1864, and The Calcutta Gazette stated that no one under the age of 16 could be admitted to that degree. One of the conditions of admission to the last examination for Civil Service appointments in India was the production of a certificate to show on the 1st of February, 1870, the candidate was above 17 and under 21 years of age. In the paper giving the result of that examination Mr. Borooah was stated to be 19 years of age. He had heard of a lady who, when interrogated as to her age, said—"Oh, no age in particular; the same age as anybody else." It was said of one eminent personage that—

"Panting Time toiled after him in vain;"
but Mr. Borooah seemed to be sometimes before Time and sometimes after him. The father of Mr. Mason, seeing the prize thus ship from his son's hands, felt himself aggrieved, and addressed himself to the Civil Service Commissioners; and he was told, in reply, that the matter had been duly considered, and that, as the result, Mr. Borooah appeared on the list as the successful candidate. Members of that House might differ on the subject of the Irish Land Bill, or on that of Elementary Education; but he thought that all of them, of whatever party, must agree that, if Mr. Borooah was 16 in 1864, he must be more than 19 in 1870. There was no medium in competition; it must be perfectly fair, or it became a failure altogether. He was aware that the India Office could not interfere with the Civil Service Commissioners; but one man was as good as another in deciding upon the age of a candidate under such circumstances, and he thought that he was justified in placing the terms of his Resolution before the House.

Amendment proposed,

To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Civil Service Commissioners be instructed to produce the evidence in opposition to that aforded by entries in the Calcutta Gazette and Calcutta University Calendar, on which they considered Mr. Borooah (who was a successful candidate on the occasion of the last competitive examination for employment in the Civil Service of India, to the exclusion of Mr. Mason), duly qualified according to the existing regulations as to age, to become a candidate,"—(Mr. Scourfield,)

—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

said, that the Civil Service Commissioners had no representative in that House. If they had, he presumed that representative would begin his speech by telling a story of a remarkable man who was said once to have addressed a young barrister in these words—"Avoid a logical fallacy as you would poison. The facts remain at your disposition." The fact which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Scourfield) had not mentioned to the House—only, he was sure, because he did not know it—was that there was the greatest doubt as to what was meant by a native of India saying that he was 16. Strange as it appeared, they had the most conflicting evidence as to this most simple matter, some of the natives understanding the proposition as was the case in this country, while others thought it meant that he had entered on his 16th year; and he had no doubt the Civil Service Commissioners had had the same before them. However, as he had said, his business was not to answer for them; he answered for the India Office, which was only collaterally interested, and, answering for the India Office, he regretted to say that he had little to add to what he said on that subject some days ago in reply to a Question which the hon. Gentleman put to him. The Civil Service Commissioners were not under the jurisdiction of the India Office. It was the India Office which, so far as the Indian examinations were concerned, were under their jurisdiction. Both this year and last very difficult cases had arisen with regard to the age of natives of India, and the Civil Service Commissioners, after taking the greatest possible trouble, had decided those cases in favour of the eligibility as candidates of the young Indians about whose age there was a doubt; and this, it was to be observed, they had done contrary to their first opinions upon the points raised. He was very glad that it had happened that they had decided that Mr. Borooah was eligible, for he was a young man of great merit, who, born in a very remote part of India, high up the Bramahputra, had distinguished himself at the University of Calcutta, had won a Government Scholarship, and had come over to this country to complete his education. He had no doubt he would make an excellent public servant. The fact which he mentioned the other day, that the Civil Service Commissioners had proposed to ask for certificates of age, signed by the proper local authorities in India, with respect to the age of the young men coming home to compete for our Civil Service and to accept them as final, showed that they had no desire to settle the troublesome and knotty questions which arose about the ages of natives of India, and the India Office, as in duty bound, would help them as much as it could, imitating therein the vast majority of Members of the House of Commons; for it was most remarkable and most creditable, considering what pressure was constantly brought to bear upon Members to get them to interfere in that House on behalf of disappointed candidates, that so few had thought fit to earn the gratitude of friends or constituents by attacking men who were raised by their position out of and above politics, and who could only discharge their duties efficiently if they were supported in their neutral and judicial position by all influential and responsible persons. He need hardly say he had no power to assent to the production of the Papers for which the hon. Member asked, many of which were of a confidential character. If the Civil Service Commissioners were required to give up Papers of this kind, they might as well abdicate the functions which they discharged so much to the satisfaction of the House and the public.

said, he thought it would have been more satisfactory if the hon. Gentleman who spoke last had told them on what evidence the Civil Service Commissioners had decided. The hon. Gentleman had claimed for those Commissioners something like infallibility, and spoken as if neither that House nor any other tribunal was to exercise control over them. The Mover of the Resolution had made out a primâ facie case, and given substantial evidence of the age of that young man. The Civil Service Commissioners had ignored that evidence, and the House had not been told the ground on which they had ignored it.

said, that the method adopted by the Chinese in calculating the age of a child had reference to the date of the accession of the reigning Sovereign. For example, if a child were born on the 31st of December, and that day happened to be the day of the accession of the Sovereign to the throne, the child would be considered one year old on the following day, the 1st January. The practice in India in that matter might very well be equally different from ours. He also thought that if the decisions of the Civil Service Commissioners were to be contested in that House the Commission would be worth nothing.

said, that nobody questioned the decision of those Commissioners in respect to the result of their examination; but this was a question of fact, and the Commissioners could not, any more than other people, make a youth 16 or any other age if he really was not so. It was immaterial what the habits of the Chinese or the Hindoos were in reckoning ago. What had to be considered was the rides and regulations prescribed in this country in respect to the candidates at those examinations. Whether the Civil Service Commissioners were really in the irresponsible position described by the Under Secretary for India he did not know; but he should have thought they were under the control of the Government of the day, or the Treasury, like analogous bodies. The bringing forward of that case was, in his opinion, perfectly justifiable.

held that there was more in that question than the case of a mere individual. The Civil Service of India was now regarded by many young men in England, Scotland, and Ireland as a profession, and when the friends of those young men incurred a large expense in educating and qualifying them for that service, they ought to know that the rules and conditions of the examination were of an inflexible character. If errors were made and the Civil Service Commissioners were asked to correct them, the House ought not to be told that there was not a Department of the Government which could give any information on the subject. This case was not that of an individual, for the faith of all the young men in the country would be rudely shaken if no inquiry was to be made about the operations of the Civil Service Commissioners.

said, the question raised by his hon. Friend was one of very great importance, because it affected that system of competition which the Government proposed to extend. The issues were, whether an unsuccessful candidate should be allowed, after a competition was over, to go into questions relating to the qualifications of those with whom he had competed; whether the Civil Service Commissioners ought to be requested to give information about the facts on which they decided as to a candidate, and whether the House ought to assume the functions of an appellate tribunal from the decision of the Commissioners. The House, he contended, ought not to listen to the complaints of unsuccessful candidates, for although a case of hardship might occasionally happen, owing to a mistake having been made, yet he could not imagine that hon. Members could attend to it or do the justice which the case might require. There would be much less evil if they shut their ears to all complaints than if they allowed an appeal in any case; for as Civil Service appointments were very much sought after and great disappointment was frequently felt, if the House entertained such appeals, the number of cases coming before it would be very great, and he contended that it was not property constituted for dealing with them. It was important that the decision of the Civil Service Commissioners should be final in all cases, and it would be better for the interests of all concerned that they should be so. He happened to know that they took great pains with their decision in the case before the House; they took the opinion of counsel upon the facts, and by that opinion they were wholly guided. It was quite conceivable that they might commit errors, but it would be much better that those errors should remain unredressed than that the House should reopen the cases. One of the Commissioners was Sir Edward Ryan, who had been for many years Chi of Justice of a Court in India, and was therefore most competent to decide in all such cases. One point for the consideration of the House was that the Commissioners had to consider other qualifications besides age—they had to inquire into the moral conduct and health of the candidates, and in the course of their inquiries they received a number of confidential communications which could not possibly be made public; and to insist that the evidence on which they acted should be given to the House would materially cripple them in the discharge of their duties. He, therefore, without pretending to go into the merits of the case, submitted that the wisest course the House could adopt was to lay down a rule that unless some charge amounting to misconduct on the part of the Commissioners was brought before them, they would not review these matters, and to resolve that it would be better for injustice to be done and errors committed than that uncertainty should be allowed to prevail; for nothing could be more injurious to the system of competition than that those who had accepted the terms should have a power of appeal. He, therefore, submitted to his hon. Friend (Mr. Scourfield) that it would be better for a hardship to be done in this case than that the House should assume a jurisdiction which it was not capable of exorcising.

said, he had rarely heard a doctrine so objectionable as that just laid down by his right hon. Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer). He dissented in toto from such a doctrine. He saw no reason, if an injustice were known to have been done, that some attempt should not be made by the House to remedy it. The Civil Service Commissioners were not so exceedingly free from giving causes of complaint as the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India seemed to think. He had had occasion to transmit complaints from a number of gentlemen who had come all the way from India, at a heavy expense, and at the sacrifice of the employment which they had been obliged to give up, to attend an examination which they were informed was to take place in July. On their arrival, however, in this country they were told that that examination had been postponed to another part of the year. If the errors of the Civil Service Commissioners were to be passed over, then the object of getting the highest class of native talent by means of competition would be defeated.

said, he believed that confidence in the fairness of these examinations would be destroyed if it was found that when an error had been committed the Civil Service Commissioners could refuse to give any explanation. The doctrine of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was most dangerous, and would increase the dissatisfaction which now existed.

said, he thought that an incorrect construction had been placed upon the views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who sought to show the House that this was not one of the questions on which hon. Members could exercise immediate and authoritative control. As a general rule, such control could not be exercised too sharply or strictly over the Executive Government; but this was a case in which the House ought to modify its views, because the functions of the Civil Service Commissioners were judicial, and those gentlemen would be unfit to hold their office unless they discharged every detail of their duties in a judicial spirit. If the Commissioners were capable of anything like unfairness, they ought to be dismissed and others substituted for them. Another important consideration was that if facility were afforded for the discussion of individual cases, there would always be found hon. Members who, from honourable motives of friendship or commiseration, would be ready to call attention to them under circumstances in which the Commissioners could not be heard. If the Inland Revenue Department or the Customs Department was arraigned before the House upon a questioned exercise of discretion, the authorities of the Treasury would meet the accusation. The Civil Service Commissioners were differently situated, and they could not publish the particulars in every case which might be brought under review; while if the particulars could be furnished, they would be submitted to a tribunal which felt itself to be incompetent to institute a strict and a sufficient investigation. It might be desirable that there should be control over the Civil Service Commissioners; but it would be dangerous if it were to consist in nothing else than the effect of a Motion made in this House. The Civil Service Commissioners were in no way responsible for bringing gentlemen over from India to no purpose; if there had been any error, it was apparently that of the authorities in India who issued the advertisement; and, at any rate, the judgment of the Commissioners gave no support to the supposition that there was any indifference to the interests of the natives of India, whom, on the contrary, it seemed to favour. So far from having, as was assumed, acted with carelessness, they had acted, with the utmost pains, and they had fortified themselves with a legal opinion—that of the hon. Member for the Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Watkin Williams). He did not deny the title of the House to interfere, it might be its duty to do so in certain cases; but there was nothing to show that this was such a case; and if it were proved to be necessary that there should be a means of reviewing the proceedings of the Commissioners, this was not the proper time to determine in what way it should be done. The Government had lately endeavoured, with the approval and under the pressure of the House, to carry out a great reform, and to get rid of the exercise of patronage in regard to first appointments under the Government. The Commissioners were the body upon whose integrity and efficiency the working of the reform depended; and if they were to be arraigned it was impossible they could exercise the authority necessary to enable them to stand against the pressure of private interests. He hoped his hon. Friend would not be disposed to force the House to a judgment upon the general question upon a Motion such as this.

said, he believed the proceedings of the Civil Service Commissioners gave general satisfaction in the country, and he thought they ought not to be called upon to give any additional evidence in support of a decision, unless a much graver case than the present were adduced.

said, he wished to remark that the dates in the official Paper were irreconcilable on the supposition that the 15th and the 16th years might be confounded. After what had been said on the part of the Government, he thought it unnecessary to occupy time by dividing the House.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.