§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he rose to call attention to the circumstances connected with the removal of Anthony J. Duffy from his appointment of permanent clerk in the Circulation Department of the General Post Office; and to move for a Committee of Inquiry. The hon. Baronet said that the father of the gentleman whose name appeared on the Notice was induced to give his son such an education as would fit him for the Civil Service. In the year 1865 Mr. Duffy having received, through the intervention of a noble Lord, a nomination to a clerkship in the Post Office, was appointed to the Savings Hank branch of that Department. Having served some three months in the Savings Bank branch, he received a nomination to compete with eleven other gentlemen, and in that competition he obtained the second place. After the competitive examination he entered upon his duties in the Foreign Office branch of the General Post Office. Both in the Savings Bank and Foreign Office branches Mr. Duffy's conduct was such as to merit the encomiums of all his superiors in the branches—so much so that they felt it but right that he should be appointed a probationary clerk in the Register branch of the General Post Office. He was then appointed a permanent clerk in that branch. The gentleman who had the control of this Department (Mr. Boucher) seemed to have entertained an unaccountable prejudice against Mr. Duffy, and when it became necessary to revise the Department Mr. Duffy's name was omitted from those who were to be employed in it. On inquiry as to the reason of this, he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) received the reply that Mr. Duffy was not suited to this particular office. He then wrote to Mr. Scudamore 1297 in probably rather strong terms; but Mr. Duffy knew nothing of the letter, and there was no reason why this young man should be punished for any mistake he had made in the exercise of his duty as a Member of Parliament. Contemporaneously with the receipt of the letter of Mr. Scudamore this young man was removed from the Post Office. After having served for three years and passed an examination for which he had received a special education, he was turned adrift on the wide world at the bidding of a subordinate. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) addressed the noble Duke (the Postmaster General) and received an answer to the effect that Mr. Duffy was relieved from his appointment both for the interest of the department and for his own. The young man had been dismissed by the noble Duke without any opportunity having been afforded to him of bringing forward evidence in his own behalf, or of hearing the case against him. He regretted that the Postmaster General had not ft seat in that House, for the hon. Gentleman who would reply to the question was not an officer representing the Department, but simply the organ of those officers whose fairness was impugned. Mr. Duffy, who was a clever, well-educated young man, with no stain upon his character, had not been allowed to defend himself in the matter. The whole proceeding had been most unfair, and would deter parents from bringing up their sons for the Civil Service.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the circumstances connected with the removal of Anthony J. Duffy from his appointment of permanent clerk in the Circulation department of the General Post Office,"—(Sir Patrick O'Brien,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. P. WYKEHAM MARTIN
had known Mr. Boucher in his capacity of public servant and also in private life, and he felt sure that on consideration the hon. Baronet would not make such an attack on his character. [Sir PATRICK O'BRIEH: I did not attack his character.] The hon. Baronet stated that, from prejudice and other causes, Mr. Scudamore swayed the mind of the Duke of Montrose to dismiss this young man. Mr. Voucher might make a mistake, but he would not act from such a motive.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, the Duke of Montrose had made inquiries into the case, and had satisfied himself that it was his duty to dismiss Mr. Duffy from his situation. The offences charged against Mr. Duffy arose from irregularity and a want of punctuality. He did not think the character of Mr. Boucher was before this House, and therefore he would not enter on that subject. Mr. Duffy was nine times cautioned for those offences in 1866, and eleven times between February and July in 1867. There was nothing against the moral character or the ability of Mr. Duffy; but repeated errors and mistakes arising from irregular habits and unpunctuality were very serious matters in an establishment like the Post Office. Mr. Duffy had sent letters by the wrong mails, and had made mistakes with respect to Post Office orders and registered letters. It was found at last impossible to submit to these things, and Mr. Duffy had to be dismissed.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
thought his hon. Friend the Member for King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) had made out a good case for the appointment of the proposed Committee of Inquiry. He (Colonel French) thought the Post Office Department ought to have given his hon. Friend the explanation which the Secretary to the Treasury had just given to the House.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he hoped that after the statement of the Secretary to the Treasury the hon. Member for King's County would withdraw his Motion. There was no occasion on which the Government more required to be supported than in dealing with such cases as the present. It was easy enough to get rid of officers who had been guilty of some actual offence; but very difficult to clear the Civil Service of persons who arc, like this gentleman, complained of twenty times in two years, and really not worth their salaries.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.