Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 10, Officials of Royal Commissions of Inquiry 1870-1939. Originally published by University of London, London, 1995.
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Lists of Commissions and Officials
1. King's Inns, Dublin 1870-72
To inquire into the total amount received by the King's Inns, Dublin on admission of attorneys and solicitors ... and the suitability of accommodation of members of the Incorporated Society of Attorneys and Solicitors of Ireland.
2. Supersession of Colonels 1871
To inquire into and examine the recommendations made by the Select Committee to consider complaints of hardship on behalf of British Army Colonels, that an amalgamated list should be made of Colonels from British, Staff Corps and Indian local lists.
3. Megaera 1871-72
To inquire into the circumstances in which the ship Megaera was sent to Australia; the extent and cause of the leak and any other defects in her hull at the time she was beached at St. Paul's; the previous history of the ship and her classification at successive dates.
4. Oxford and Cambridge 1872-73
The Heads of the Oxford Colleges had questioned the legality of the earlier (1850-52) Royal Commission (fn. 1), and the issue of the 1872 Warrant was accompanied by a letter (24 Oct 1871) from Gladstone to the Vice Chancellors of both Universities asking for permission to make the inquiry; this, and subsequent correspondence is printed with the report.
To inquire into the property and income belonging to, administered, or enjoyed by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and their Colleges and Halls, including prospects of increase or decrease of such property and income, and all matters of fact bearing on its state and circumstances.
The year of signature and publication of this report is given as 1874, although it is included in the sessional volume of the Parliamentary Papers for 1873, and was presented to Parliament on 4 Aug 1873. Treasury records show that members of the Commission's staff continued to be paid throughout 1874 (PRO.T.108/6/14298 and 7438) so it may be surmised that the documents presented in 1873 were the Commission's evidence, and that the collation of report and evidence in the sessional volume for 1873 took place some years later. A similar case occurred in the Commission on Indian Decentralisation of 1907 (no. 137).
5. Mauritius 1872-74
6. Endowed Schools and Hospitals (Scotland) 1872-75
To inquire into all endowments of educational funds not reported on by the Commissioners under the Universities (Scotland) Act of 1858; and into the administration, and courses of study in any Hospitals or Schools supported by such endowments; and to recommend any necessary changes for the increase of their usefulness and efficiency.
7. Unseaworthy Ships 1873-74
To inquire into alleged unseaworthiness of British Registered ships from overloading, deckloading, defective construction, condition, form, equipment, machinery, age, improper stowage and also the present system of Marine Insurance, state of law as to liability of shipowners for injury of their employees, and alleged practice of under-manning ships; and to suggest amendments to the law to remedy or lessen the above.
8. Legal Departments 1873-74
To inquire into the Administrative Departments of the Courts of Justice, as recommended in the 2nd Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons into expenditure for the Civil Services. The Commission was to investigate the numbers, salaries, superannuation and cost; administration; manner of appointment and promotion; to recommend who should be responsible for the organisation of the establishments and their relation to Treasury Commissioners. Also how to employ, or otherwise compensate, those formerly connected with the Courts of Justice on abolition of their judicial offices.
Bramwell did not sign the first report and published a minority report. The second report was signed by all the Commissioners, but a Supplementary Report was issued on 'Responsibility for Organisation of Establishments of Courts of Justice' signed by all members except Lisgar and Bramwell. Lisgar also published a Memorandum containing alternative proposals which was endorsed by Bramwell.
9. Army Officers 1873-74
10. Labour Laws 1874-75
To inquire into the working of the Master and Servant Act 1867, and the Criminal Law Amendment Act (34 & 35 Vict. c.32), and whether any amendments or alterations were necessary. Also whether it was expedient to limit or define the law relating to conspiracy, either generally or as it affected the relation of masters and workmen.
11. Railway Accidents 1874-77
The Home Office files (PRO.HO.45/9364/34882) indicate that the report could have been finalised in 1875, but was held up due to the absence of the Chairman and Secretary who had left for India before it was signed. Despite Home Office assurance that it was believed to be 'usual in the absence of the Chairman the Commissioner next named in the Commission takes the chair and acts as Chairman' (Henry Selwin-Ibbetson [Under Secretary of State], replying to the Secretary of the Commission on behalf of Home Secretary Sir Richard Assheton Cross on 2 Nov 1875), the Commissioners appear to have decided to await the return of the Duke of Buckingham before presenting their report. This file also contains notes regarding the order of precedence of peers on the Warrant appointing the Commission; the order was decided according to the date of creation of the title, thus Aberdeen (1682) precedes de la Warr (1761) and Belmore (1797).
12. Army Promotion 1874-76
To inquire into matters of army promotion having reference to previous enquiries and legislation on the subject and specifically to report on the rapidity of promotion under the purchase system; how this might best be secured in the future with justice to the officers of all ranks in those corps which were under the purchase system; how adequate promotion of officers could be achieved in order to maintain efficiency throughout the whole army; recommendations to achieve justice in relations between Officers of British Forces and those of the Indian Staff Corps.
13. Pollution of the River Clyde 1874-76
To inquire into what towns and places contributed to pollution of the River Clyde and its tributaries; how the sewage and refuse from such places could be got rid of without risk to public health or to the disadvantage of manufacture; and the best means of purification of the river.
14. Factory and Workshop Acts 1875-76
To inquire into the working of the Factory and Workshop Acts with a view to their consolidation and amendment, especially whether they could be made more consistent and harmonious and their provisions extended to other industries, trades and occupations not previously included; whether further provisions were needed for the health and education of young persons and children.
15. Spontaneous Combustion in Ships 1875-76
16. Vivisection 1875-76
To inquire into the practice of subjecting live animals to experiments for scientific purposes, and to consider and report what measures, if any, it may be desirable to take in respect of any such practice. (In full.)
17. Copyright 1875-78
Earl Stanhope (d. 24 Dec 1875); Earl of Rosebery (fn. 2); Hon. R. Bourke (fn. 3); Sir C.L. Young; Sir H.T. Holland; Sir J. Rose; Sir H.D. Wolff; Sir L. Mallet; Sir J. Benedict; T.H. Farrer (fn. 3); J.F. Stephen; F. Herschell; W. Smith ; H. Jenkins (fn. 3); F.R. Daldy.
The Warrant naming this Commission was revoked following the death of Stanhope; the revised Commission of 17 Apr 1876 was chaired by Lord J.J.R. Manners and additionally appointed the Earl of Devon; E. Jenkins; J.A. Froude; and A. Trollope. Secretary: J. L. Goddard.
Only the Earl of Devon, Holland, Benedict, Herschell and Froude signed the report unconditionally; the other members (including the Chairman) attached a series of dissenting notes and/or reports. Mallet did not sign and appended a separate report.
18. Fugitive Slaves 1876
Duke of Somerset; Sir A.J.E. Cockburn; Sir R.J. Phillimore; M. Bernard; Sir T.D. Archibald; Hon. A.H. Thesiger; Sir H.T. Holland; Sir L.G. Heath; Sir H.J.S. Maine; Sir G. Campbell; J.F. Stephen; H.C. Rothery.
To inquire into and upon the nature and extent of such international obligations as were applicable to questions as to the reception of fugitive slaves by British ships in territorial waters of foreign states; into instructions issued to ships' commanders; bearing of any engagements with other countries on such matters; and the relation of such instructions and engagements to the maintenance of rights of personal liberty by officers of ships; and steps to be taken to give them greater freedom of action in this respect.
Phillimore signed subject to a reservation. Campbell did not sign, and issued a minority report, dissenting from the Commission on the question of when legal obligations were outweighed by social and moral duties.
19. Municipal Corporations 1876-80
To inquire into, and report on, the existing state of Municipal Corporations not subject to the Act (5 & 6 Will. IV c.76) providing for the regulation of Municipal Corporations in England and Wales and the acts amending this (other than the City of London); and generally in what manner it was expedient that Parliament should deal with such Corporations.
20. Scottish Universities 1876-78
J. Inglis; Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry; Lord Moncreiff; L. Playfair; Sir W. Stirling-Maxwell (d. 15 Jan 1878); J. Craufurd (Lord Ardmillan; d. 7 Sept 1876); W. Watson; J. Muir; J.A. Froude; A.C. Swinton; T.H. Huxley; J.A. Campbell.
To make diligent and full inquiry into each of the Universities of Scotland: their Constitutions; administration; courses of study; examinations; appointments and conditions of academic staff; scholarships; financial position; and condition of buildings.
Dr Muir appended a note of reservation which he stressed was not a dissension from the main recommendations of the Commission, but concerned matters on which he had not made a definite judgement. Froude appended a number of suggestions concerning the Law and History School.
21. Noxious Vapours 1876-78
To inquire into the working and management of gas works and manufacturies from which vapours and gases are given off, to ascertain the effect produced thereby on animal and vegetable life, and to report on the means to be adopted for the prevention of injury thereto arising from the exhalations of such acids, vapours and gases.
22. Trinity College and Dublin University 1877-78
The Warrant for this Commission was very long. The Commissioners were to inquire into administrative, teaching and financial matters relating to Trinity College consequent upon the passing of the Irish Church Act, 1869, and of the Dublin University Tests Act, 1873; their report to be made within twelve months of the date on the warrant. The Commission was subsequently extended for a further three months in a Warrant dated 11 Feb 1878.
23. London Stock Exchange 1877-78
To inquire into the origins, objects, present constitution, customs and usages of the London Stock Exchange, and the mode of transacting business there, whether existing practices were in accordance with the law and requirements of public policy; and if not to advise how they might be beneficially altered.
24. Grocers' Licences (Scotland) 1877-78
To inquire into the laws regulating the sale and consumption of excisable liquors sold not for consumption on the premises in Scotland, and to report and recommend any alterations that might be needed in the law.
25. Extradition 1877-78
26. Penal Servitude Acts 1878-79
27. Registration of Deeds, Ireland 1878-80
Two further Commissions were issued: the first dated 1 March 1878 appointed C.W. Wilson to the Commission because of his particular knowledge of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland; he subsequently resigned and was replaced by C.N. Martin in a Warrant dated 9 Jan 1880.
The Warrant cites previous acts regarding the registration of title in Ireland, and authorises the Commissioners that having regard to the changes in the system for England, they were to enquire into the system of registration and the claims of creditors on land and hereditaments in Ireland, and generally into the law relating to Judgments, Decrees, Orders, Crown Bonds, Recognizances, and Lis Pendens in Ireland, and whether any alterations and improvements needed to be made.
The Warrant also specified that the Commissioners must complete their enquiries within twelve months from the date of the Warrant, although this time limit was twice extended by Supplemental Commissions issued on 18 Jan 1879, and 24 March 1880. This and the inquiry into Trinity College (no. 22) were the only Royal Commissions during this period which were subject to time constraints.
May, Palles and Meldon signed the first report subject to dissents. O'Conor did not sign it and also published a dissent. Flanagan was unable to attend any of the Commission's meetings and therefore did not sign. The second report was signed subject to dissenting observations by Meldon and 0'Conor. Armstrong also attached observations to this report but stated that they were not a dissent. Longfield had attended only one meeting, and Flanagan again none, so neither signed.
28. Ecclesiastical Benefices 1878-80
29. City of London Charities 1878-80
To inquire into and ascertain the rights of those persons who might have claims on various parochial charities in the City of London; and those who have been habitual recipients; and to make recommendations concerning the future administration of the charities.
30. Indictable Offences 1878-79
App. 17 Aug 1878. Rep. pres. 16 June 1879 (fn. 3) 1878-9, C.2345, xx, 169. Cost £2,924.
To inquire into and consider the provisions of a Draft Code relating to Indictable Offences prepared for the purpose of being submitted to Parliament during the ensuing session, and to report thereon, and to suggest such alterations and amendments in the existing law as might seem desirable and expedient.
31. Endowed Institutions in Scotland 1878-81
App. 20 Aug 1878. Rep. (1) 1 Oct 1879: 1880, C.2493, xxiv, 459. An unnumbered report dated 15 Nov 1880, C.2768; (2) 30 Dec 1880, C.2790, 237; (3) 30 July 1881, C.3076, 1019. All in 1881: xxxvi. Cost £2,645.
The Commission was appointed to carry out the provisions of the Endowed Institutions (Scotland) Act, 1878 (41 & 42 Vict. c.48). The members were to hold office during Her Majesty's pleasure and were not to exceed seven in number. The Warrant also states that the Secretary should be paid.
32. Accidents in Mines 1879-81
The delay between the appointment of the Commission and the publication of its final report was explained by the Commissioners as unavoidable because the experiments they had needed to conduct led to wider fields of enquiry which they had felt it was important to pursue.
33. Wellington College 1879-80
To inquire and report on the foundation, development and present condition of Wellington College, an institution set up by subscription for the education of orphan sons of officers in the Army and the former Army of the East India Company.
The Commission's findings were not accepted by the Governors of the College who had requested the appointment of a Royal Commission in the first place. They appointed a further committee, chaired by Earl Cairns, to investigate what they regarded as various errors of fact and in the interpretation of financial statements in the Commission's report, and sent their report to the Home Office on 24 March 1881. (PRO.HO.45/9578/83612)
34. Cathedral Churches 1879-85
App. 4 July 1879. Rep. (1) 8 Feb 1882, C.3141, xx, 13; (2) 20 Aug 1883, C.3822, xxi, 15; (3) 23 March 1885: 1884-5, C.4371, xxi, 453. Cost £3,198. 1883, xxi and 1884-5, xxi also contain the reports for individual cathedrals, each issued under a separate command number.
To inquire into the condition of cathedral churches of England and Wales, and the cathedral church of Christ Church, Oxford, and the duties of their members and ministers and whether there was a need for further legislation. The Commissioners were to produce a separate report for each cathedral, and were to give each Dean and Chapter eight weeks' notice of their visit so that their respective Dean and Canon might attend the meetings of the Commission with the same authority as if they were named in the Warrant of appointment.
Cranbrook approved the final report, but did not sign it as he was out of the country when it was completed. Tait's place on the Commission was taken by his successor as Archbishop of Canterbury, E.W. Benson, formerly Bishop of Truro.
35. Agricultural Interests 1879-82
App. 14 Aug 1879. Rep. (1)14 Jan 1881, C.2778-i, xv; (2) pres. 25 July 1882, C.3309-i-ii, xiv. Other papers: 1880, C.2678, xxviii; 1881, C.2778-ii, C.2951, xvi, C.3096, xvii; 1882, C.3375-i-vi, xv. Cost £24,226.
Duke of Richmond & Gordon; Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry; Earl Spencer; Lord Vernon; G.J. Goschen; Sir W.H. Stephenson; R.N.F. Kingscote; H. Chaplin; J. Clay; J. Cowen; M. Henry; C. Howard; J.L. Naper; R. Paterson; B. Price; J. Rice; C.T. Ritchie; B.B.H. Rodwell; W. Stratton; J. Wilson.
An additional warrant of 4 June 1880 appointed Lord Carlingford and J. Stansfeld to the Commission. Goschen retired from the Commission on 7 May 1880 upon his appointment as Special Ambassador at Constantinople. Earl Spencer became Lord President of the Council and retired on 19 May 1880. Lord Carlingford retired 2 May 1881 when he became Lord Privy Seal; and Rice ceased to act as a Commissioner when he was appointed a Sub-Commissioner under the Land Law (Ireland) Act of 1881. The Commission appointed thirteen Assistant Commissioners who prepared regional and international reports: J. Coleman; S.B.L. Druce; A. Doyle; W.C. Little; G.J. Walker; J. Hope; Professor Baldwin; Major Robertson; J. Clay, Jnr; A. Pell; C.S. Read; H.M. Jenkins; C.L. Sutherland.
To inquire into the depressed condition of the agricultural interest, and the causes to which it was owing; whether those causes were of a permanent character, and how far they had been created or could be remedied by legislation. (In full.)
The Preliminary Report contained a Memorandum by Price. Carlingford, Stansfeld, Henry, Cowen, Clay and Rice did not sign the report and produced a separate one on the subject of Ireland. The final undated report contains supplementary memoranda by Lord Vernon, Stansfeld, Chaplin, Clay, Howard and Paterson. It also notes that the Commissioners had not received the assistance they were led to believe they could expect from the Assistant Commissioners for Ireland (Baldwin and Robertson).
36. Colonial Defences 1879-82
The third report was signed subject to additional remarks by Milne, Barkly and Hamilton, and an additional memorandum by Lord Carnarvon, Holland, Milne, Simmons and Barkly. The results of the inquiry were not made public; a letter from Lord Carnarvon to the Treasury (13 Jan 1883) confirmed that he no longer had any of the Commission's papers; that the limited number of copies of the report were in the keeping of the Secretary of State for the Colonies; and that the extremely confidential nature of the report and many of its annexed papers meant that it could not be treated as an ordinary Parliamentary paper. (PRO.T.1/14983/14995/83) Sir H.T. Holland's bound copies of the reports are held at PRO.CAB/7-4. PRO.CAB/7/7 is the Commission's Minute Book.
37. Sewerage and Drainage in Dublin 1879-80
To inquire into the present system of sewerage and drainage in the city of Dublin, in so far as such sewerage and drainage affect the sanitary condition of the said city, and the state of the River Liffey flowing therein; and to inquire whether such system is directly or indirectly prejudicial to the public health, and whether any and what changes are necessary therein with a view to sanitary improvement. (In full.)