§ MR. WISE,
seeing the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Nottingham (Mr. Strutt) in his place, would venture to put a question to him with reference to an appointment to what had hitherto been considered a sinecure office. He wished to know what were the circumstances under which the appointment of Mr. Bertolacci to the office of Auditor of the Duchy of Lancaster took place?
§ MR. STRUTT
said, he was very glad to be able to give the hon. Member the information he desired, the more especially as there had been an erroneous impression that the appointment was altogether of a sinecure character. When he held the office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster his attention was directed to the state of the accounts of the duchy, which, although kept with perfect accuracy, were not kept in accordance with a system which afforded that clear, intelligible, and full information which such accounts ought to give when laid before Parliament and the country. Being, therefore, most anxious that those accounts should be placed before the country in all improved condition, the gentleman to whom he most naturally looked to effect this object was the auditor of the duchy, which office was at that tithe held by the late Mr. Lockhart. Nothing could be further front his (Mr. Strutt's) intention than to disparage the memory of that gentleman; he was a man distinguish- 374 ed in literature, and who was originally appointed in consequence of his literary eminence, and who performed his duties with punctuality and ability; but it would be perfectly obvious that a gentleman who throughout the whole of his life had been devoted to the pursuits of literature could no be expected to be perfectly conversant with public accounts, and it would have been unreasonable and unfair to assign to him such a task. As, however, it appeared to him (Mr. Strutt) that it was his duty to take care that the opportunity should not be lost of placing the office of auditor upon a new footing, with a view to efficiency, economy, and improvement, and as it appeared to him that the duties were not very laborious, and might be discharged during his leisure hours by some gentleman holding another official appointment, he thought that he could not do better than follow the example set with great advantage in the Duchy of Cornwall, where a gentleman had been appointed auditor who had great experience in public accounts, and who held another office in the public service. He therefore applied to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to recommend him some gentleman well qualified for the appointment, then filling some public office, whose vocations would allow him to undertake the duties of this also; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after making inquiries, recommended Mr. Bertolacci, a gentleman holding an appointment under the Board of Ordnance, as a person well qualified in every respect for the duty. The right hon. Gentleman had informed him that Mr. Bertolacci had had great experience in the public accounts, and had on more than one occasion done much service in disentangling accounts of great perplexity and difficulty, and was a gentleman of strict integrity and the highest character. The Chancellor of the Exchequer recommended that he should also consult those gentlemen under whom Mr. Bertolacci had more immediately served in Government departments. He did so, and they all concurred in giving him the highest character, and testifying as to his fitness for the vacant office. Under those circumstances he made the appointment; not, however, at the previous salary of 100l. a year, but at the reduced stipend of 200l., which he considered a fair remuneration for the services performed. He would only add, that he had no personal acquaintance with Mr. Bertolacci whatever, and he believed it was not until he 375 was recommended to him by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he had ever heard his name. His only object in making the appointment was to secure efficiency and economy in the conduct of that department of the service.