§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, the object of the measure was to abolish the office of Vice President of the Board of Trade and substitute in his stead a Secretary of that Department, with power to sit in Parliament. The Vice President of the Board occupied a very anomalous position. He had the same rank and precisely the same salary—namely, £2,000, as the President, and when the President was absent he was paramount; but when he was present he was really nothing. The President had no power to desire the Vice President to do anything, nor could the Vice President claim to be allowed to do anything while the President was present. In that state of things it had been thought advisable to introduce a Bill abolishing the latter office, reducing his salary to £1,500, and giving him the rank of Secretary to the Board of Trade; thus placing him in the same position as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Poor Law Board.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Duke of Richmond.)
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
asked whether it was true that Sir Emerson Tennent had retired upon a full pension from the office of permanent Secretary to the Board of Trade, although he was perfectly competent to perform its duties, and that another gentleman had been appointed to that situation who could hardly be supposed to be as well qualified for it, having recently come from Australia. There seemed to be a waste of public money also incident to such an arrangement. He should be glad to know likewise what were the reasons for the change in organization of the Department.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
said, that if the noble Lord had been good enough to give notice of his questions he should have been in a position to answer them; but all those alterations took place before he went to the Board of Trade, and therefore he was not now able to afford the noble Lord the information he required. However, he could state that none of the alterations alluded to had any reference whatever to the Bill which their Lordships were now asked to read a second time; he believed they were founded upon a Report containing the results of an inquiry into the state of the Department. The late Government, he understood, had in contemplation a thorough revision of the Department in order to ascertain any and what changes should be made in its internal economy.
said, former experience proved that the old arrangement of that Department was not inconvenient when properly worked, and there was no doubt that under its existing constitution the business of the Board could be well carried on. There was no advantage in changing the name of a public officer. It was of no consequence whether he was called a Vice President or a Secretary. What had really to be considered was his qualifications and his efficiency. No doubt, the constitution of our Public Departments might be improved; but petty alterations of that kind ought not to be made without some adequate reason for them being assigned.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, the most convenient mode of satisfying the minds of noble Lords on the points which had just been raised would be by laying on the table for their perusal copies of the Report on that subject which had been placed before the other House of Parliament. He might add that the Bill had passed the other House without opposition.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
suggested that, besides the Report in question, other documents should be laid before their Lordships showing what had been done by the Board of Trade in re-modelling the whole Department.
§ Motion agreed to: Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday the 30th. Instant.