A clerk of the Crown and Peace may with the sanction of the Lord Chancellor exchange office with any other clerk of the Crown and Peace on such terms as to their respective salaries and pensions, and otherwise as may with the like sanction be agreed, and on any such exchange being made between a clerk of the Crown and Peace in' Southern Ireland and a clerk of the Crown and Peace in Northern Ireland, each of them shall become an officer of the Government of which the other of them was an officer immediately prior to such exchange.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."
The object of this Clause is simply to enable two clerks of the Crown and Peace to exchange offices with one another. I do not think there can be any serious objection to that. It is a small matter, and does not affect more than one or two clerks of the Crown and Peace in Ireland
My hon. and gallant Friend suggests that this Clause is quite harmless, but, on the contrary, I regret to say that I cannot accept it. It proposes to empower a clerk of the Crown and Peace in Southern Ireland to exchange offices with a clerk of the Crown and Peace in Northern Ireland, and vice versa. It enables two of these clerks to negotiate a transfer and fix their own salaries and pensions quite independently of the two Governments.
I know that it does require the sanction of the Lord Chancellor, but he is not an officer of either of the Governments, and is not responsible for providing the money. He has a freehold office. The salaries and pensions and the tenure of the existing clerks are already safeguarded, and if my hon. and gallant Friend will look at Clause 51 of the Bill he will see what the safeguards are. If this particular Clause were accepted it would lead to very remarkable results, and if we were to accept it we could not possibly refuse it in connection with other members of the Civil Service.
I should have thought my right hon. Friend, without refusing altogether to accept the Clause, might have suggested the necessary alteration to meet the point which he has raised. I do not think it was in the contemplation of those who prepared the Clause that that particular point would arise which my right hon. Friend has drawn attention to, but surely it is better in such cases as this, if it is possible that there should be such interchanges as are suggested in the Clause between officers of the North and the South, rather than that either, or both, should have to depend upon the provisions of the Clauses in the Bill, and if my right hon. Friend would intimate that he would accept the Clause subject to alterations which would safeguard the question of salary, it would, of course, be impossible that the officers should fix their own salaries, but it would be quite easy to make a verbal alteration, to meet that particular criticism, which could be made before the Report stage if he would intimate, as he has practically done, that that is the only point on which he objects to the Clause.
I forgot that we have already promised to put down an Amendment which will enable these clerks to retire on full pension after the appointed day. That will have to come on the Report stage, and I will see between now and then whether I can go any further distance to meet my hon. and gallant Friend. He, himself, will see that the Clause is impossible as it stands, but it may not be impossible to find a proper authority who can deal with the salaries, and it may be possible to give them the right to retire and offer themselves for re-engagement to the other Parliament, and it may be that that will really secure the hon. and gallant Gentleman's main object. However, I will look into it between now and Report.
Would there be any objection to such interchanges taking place at the existing salaries? That is to say a man who effects an exchange and goes from North to South would take the salary of the existing man in the South and vice versa.