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District Probate Registrars (Ireland)

Volume 280: debated on Tuesday 19 June 1883

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asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been called to the fact that, under the Inland Customs Act, 1881, the five district registrars for Kilkenny, Tuam, Ballina, Cavan, and Mullingar have been deprived of a large proportion of the fees by which they had been theretofore paid; that during the passing of the Bill (now the aforesaid Act) the late lamented Lord Frederick Cavendish had several interviews with the Members for the county and city of Kilkenny, one of whom had placed a question upon the Notice Paper of the House in relation to the district registrar of Kilkenny, Mr. James Roe; that, furthermore, notice of opposition to the Bill was given, and that Lord Frederick Cavendish distinctly promised that a fixed salary by way of compensation would be given; that, in a letter dated May 16th 1881, addressed to the Marquis of Ormonde, the late Lord Frederick Cavendish gave an assurance "that such claim for compensation would be duly recognized by the Treasury;" that, by a letter of the Treasury, dated 26th September 1882, seeking for certain Returns of amounts received by the several registrars, it appears that such compensation is proposed to be calculated upon averages of three years' receipts of fees prior to 1st Juno 1881, whereas the registrars submit that those averages should be calculated upon such receipts during the period including years up to 1st June 1883, during which there has been a large increase in the annual fees with a prospect of augmented increases; that, up to the present moment, no compensation whatever has been received by these registrars, nor even tendered to them; that, under all the circumstances of the cases, Judge Warren, of the Probate Court, Dublin, has expressed his opinion—

"That he concurs in Mr. Roe's view as to the principle on which his compensation ought to be calculated, having regard both to considerations of justice and the promises made on the part of the Treasury before 'The Inland Revenue Act, 1881; was passed;"
that, notwithstanding such opinion, the Treasury have, in reply to the learned judge dated the 12th instant, declined to accede to this suggestion, and have merely alleged general precedents which do not apply to such exceptional cases where the change was sudden, was unopposed upon the faith of assurances as before mentioned, and where the receipts of the office obtained an impetus that occasioned the increased results for the last two years owing to the personal exertions and local inquires made by Mr. James Roe previously to 1st of June 1881; and, whether Her Majesty's Government will, under the exceptional circumstances of this case, reconsider their determination?

This Question has been put down without Notice; but I have been able to refer to the Correspondence which has taken place on the subject. I have every reason to believe that no pledge was ever given that the compensation promised to these gentlemen should be assessed in any particular manner. It has, in fact, been calculated in the manner usual in such cases, and payment of the amounts duo for 1882 was directed in February last. If it has not been received the fault does not lie with the Treasury. Only one method of dealing with the case was possible beyond that actually adopted—namely, that these five Registrars should be given a fixed salary. But, as the Irish Judges have recommended proposals which would materially affect the position of these gentlemen, it is inexpedient to fix salaries for them until these proposals have been considered and decided upon. As I understand the hon. Member, Mr. Poe, one of the district Registrars, thinks his compensation for losses inflicted on him by a change introduced in 1881. ought to be increased, because of the growth of business which has taken place since that date. It would be very hard to justify the adoption of such a course. There is nothing exceptional in the case; and I cannot hold out any hope of any change in the method of calculating the compensation.