Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 3, Officials of the Boards of Trade 1660-1870. Originally published by University of London, London, 1974.
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COUNCILS OF TRADE AND PLANTATIONS 1660-74
Before the Restoration the responsibility for regulating trade and foreign plantations was entrusted to a series of different organisations. (fn. 1) In 1660 Charles II drew upon this earlier experience without reproducing exactly any of the previous expedients. In the first place he restored the Privy Council to its pre-eminent position as the ultimate authority in such questions. On 4 July 1660 a Committee of the Council for Foreign Plantations was established which, in one form or another, continued to exist until 1696. (fn. 2) Before the end of 1660 two standing Councils were appointed and given immediate responsibility for trade and for foreign plantations under the Committee's more general supervision. Both Councils were appointed by commission under the great seal and were composed of leading political figures and prominent merchants who served without salary. The Council of Trade consisted of sixty-two Commissioners and was given power to appoint a Secretary and other officials. An annual grant of £1000 was made available for their salaries and the incidental expenses of the Council. (fn. 3) Since the records of the Council have disappeared its history is largely obscure and, apart from its Secretary, the officials who served it are unknown. (fn. 4) The last clear indication of its activities occurs in 1664 but the fact that a journal of its proceedings between 1660 and 1668 was said once to have existed suggests that it continued, although probably in a moribund state, until the latter year. (fn. 5) In October 1668 the Council of Trade was reconstituted by commission under the great seal. The number of Commissioners, originally forty-one, was increased to forty-six in 1669. (fn. 6) As in the case of its predecessor the records of the Council are lost and, of its officials, the name of only its Secretary is known. The Council was dissolved in 1672. (fn. 7)
The Council of Foreign Plantations, appointed in 1660, was composed of fortynine Commissioners and had power to employ subordinate officials, £300 being provided for their salaries and for incidental expenses. (fn. 8) The activities of this Council are a little better known than those of its counterpart since the journal of its proceedings for the years 1660-4 has survived. (fn. 9) However, of its officials, only the Secretary is traceable. There is a suggestion that the Council had some sort of existence as late as 1667 but it is impossible to say how much longer it continued. In any event new arrangements were made in 1670 when a new Council was appointed by commission under the great seal consisting of the holders of the more important political offices ex officio and of named Commissioners, some of whom were accorded salaries. The salaried Commissioners, who were headed by a President, were originally nine; they were increased to ten in 1671. In addition certain other Commissioners were appointed to serve without salary. Provision was made for one of the salaried Commissioners to act as Secretary and for an Assistant. A sum of £1000 was made available for incidental expenses and the payment of the junior officials who consisted of three Clerks, a Messenger and a Doorkeeper. (fn. 10)
The year 1672 marked the end of the arrangement whereby trade and foreign plantations were dealt with concurrently by two parallel Councils. Henceforth these responsibilities were considered inseparable and, whatever the structure of the bodies exercising them, 'trade and foreign plantations' has continued to be the formal description of their spheres of activity. In institutional terms the fusion of the two functions was achieved by renewing, with appropriate amendments, the commission of 1670 constituting the Council of Foreign Plantations. The structure of its membership and staff underwent relatively little change. The second salaried Commissioner was given the title of Vice President and the officials of the Council consisted of a Secretary, three Clerks, a Messenger and a Doorkeeper. (fn. 11)
COMMITTEES OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL FOR TRADE AND PLANTATIONS 1675-96
The existence of the Council of 1672 was brought to a close in December 1674. (fn. 12) The business which it had undertaken was transferred in March of the following year to the Committee of the Privy Council for Trade and Plantations. As already noted this Committee had been established as the Committee for Foreign Plantations in 1660. It had continued to exist alongside the standing Councils, occasionally taking action in relation to matters within its jurisdiction. It was now reconstituted and given immediate responsibility for those questions with which the Councils had been concerned. It retained this position until 1696. The Committee was constituted as a select Committee of the Council from 1675 to 1688, as a Committee of the whole Council from 1688 to 1689 and again as a select Committee from 1689 to 1696. Its Members, commonly known as the Lords of Trade and Plantations, were unsalaried. (fn. 13)
At first no distinct establishment of officials was attached to the Committee, the necessary work being undertaken by certain of the existing staff of the Privy Council Office. Sir Robert Southwell, one of the Clerks of the Council, was selected to perform the duties of Secretary assisted by two Clerks who appear to have been Under Clerks of the Council. (fn. 14) In September 1675 Southwell obtained authority to employ an assistant and recruited William Blathwayt for this function. (fn. 15) In March 1676 the Clerks of the Privy Council were given the opportunity of serving as Secretary to the Committee for periods of six months in turn. (fn. 16) In June of the same year an establishment was authorised which provided an annual allowance for those Clerks of the Council who served as Secretary and salaries for Blathwayt as their Assistant and for two Clerks. (fn. 17) Shortly afterwards allowances were made available for the two Keepers of the Council Chamber and the Under Keeper of the Council Records in consideration of their additional labour in servicing the Committee. (fn. 18) Salaries were also provided for a Messenger and his assistant and a Cleaner. (fn. 19)
Apart from Southwell, who resigned his office in 1679, there is little evidence that any of the Clerks of the Council played an active part as Secretaries to the Committee. There seems little doubt that Blathwayt was the effective Secretary almost from the time of his entry into the office. Following the accession of William III his duties as Secretary at War and acting Secretary of State inevitably left him with less time to devote to the business of the Committee. In consequence Povey, his principal subordinate, was in 1692 formally authorised to act as Assistant Secretary in his absence. (fn. 20)
So far as the rest of the staff were concerned, few changes occurred in the arrangements made in 1676. In addition to the two ordinary Clerks an 'Extraordinary Clerk' was employed from 1677 to 1683 and when the establishment was renewed in 1685 the number of ordinary Clerks was increased to three at which level it remained until 1696. (fn. 21) However, since the journal of the Committee does not record changes that occurred in the staff of the office and the accounts do not usually specify the names of those receiving salaries, the identities and periods of service of the Clerks and other junior officials cannot be established precisely. (fn. 22)
COUNCIL OF TRADE AND PLANTATIONS 1696-1782
In 1696 the Committee of the Privy Council was dissolved and replaced by a Council or Board, appointed by letters patent under the great seal, which remained responsible for trade and plantation affairs until 1782. (fn. 23) The Board was composed of unpaid ex officio members who were not expected to attend regularly and of a body of salaried Commissioners who undertook the business. The number of salaried Commissioners was fixed in principle at eight. The senior such Commissioner, usually known as the First Lord of Trade, presided. The First Lord was almost invariably a member of the House of Lords; the other Commissioners were usually selected from the House of Commons. The functions of the Board tended to be of an advisory nature, executive authority in colonial matters being vested in the Secretary of State who had charge of the Southern Department. As a result of the efforts of Halifax as First Lord the Board was given increased responsibilities in colonial matters in 1752. However, when Halifax left office in 1761, the most important of these, the right to nominate colonial officials, was withdrawn. In 1766 the function of corresponding with colonial Governors, which had also been conferred on the Board in 1752, was removed from it. (fn. 24) In January 1768 the general responsibility for colonial matters was transferred from the office of the Secretary of State for the Southern Department to the newly created office of third Secretary of State. In July of the same year the office of First Lord of Trade was abolished and the Board was placed under the immediate direction of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. In 1779 this arrangement was discontinued and the office of First Lord was revived. The Board was abolished in 1782. (fn. 25)
The composition and remuneration of the Board's staff, which was subject to the approval of the Treasury, was fixed by letters of privy seal, renewable following the issue of successive letters patent appointing the Commissioners. In the original establishment provision was made for a Secretary, a Deputy Secretary, four Clerks, two Office Keepers, two Messengers and a Necessary Woman at a total cost of £1090 a year. (fn. 26) In 1700 the office of one of the Messengers was suppressed and a fifth clerkship created. A sixth Clerk was appointed in 1701. (fn. 27) A comprehensive revision of the establishment was made in 1708 when provision was made for a Secretary, a Deputy Secretary, seven Clerks, two Office Keepers, a Messenger and a Necessary Woman at a total cost of £1150 a year. (fn. 28) From 1718 a Counsel, who did not form part of the ordinary establishment, was permanently attached to the Board for consultation on routine legal questions. (fn. 29) In 1724 the Treasury authorised the appointment of a Porter on condition that the office of one of the Office Keepers was abolished on the next vacancy. This occurred in 1728. (fn. 30) In 1730 the Treasury sanctioned the creation of the office of Solicitor and Clerk of Reports, the function of which was to relieve the Secretary of the task of making reports and thus to enable him to concen trate on the general business of the Board. (fn. 31) No changes were made in the structure of the office between 1730 and 1764. In the latter year a major revision of the establish ment took place. Authority was given for the appointment of two additional Clerks and a sum of £715 was made available for a general increase in salaries. (fn. 32) From this date until the abolition of the Board the establishment was fixed in principle at a Secretary, a Deputy Secretary, a Solicitor and Clerk of Reports, nine Clerks, an Office Keeper, a Messenger and Porter and a Necessary Woman. (fn. 33)
In addition to their salaries the officials of the Board enjoyed certain fees. At first these were exacted without specific authority but in 1731 an official table of fees was authorised by order in council. The receipts from this source were divided up amongst the officials in fixed proportions. (fn. 34) In 1704 those officials whose salaries were less than £100 successfully petitioned to have their taxes reimbursed. As a result an arrangement was made whereby the taxes of the Deputy Secretary and all those ranking below him were charged to the incidental expenses of the office. (fn. 35)
With the exception of the offices of Secretary and Counsel, to which nominations were made by the crown, the right of appointment was vested in the Board. (fn. 36) Under an arrangement which is traceable to the year 1703 nominations to vacancies were made by the salaried Commissioners in rotation, the First Lord enjoying the privilege of nominating to the first vacancy which occurred after his appointment. (fn. 37) At the time of the revision of the establishment in 1764 provision was made for each candidate nominated for a clerkship to undergo an examination in order that his fitness for office might be assessed by the Board. (fn. 38)
In a single instance an Office Keeper was appointed a Clerk; (fn. 39) otherwise the clerical and subordinate grades of the office remained distinct. Amongst the Clerks the rule was for promotion to be governed by seniority although the Board reserved to itself the freedom, rarely exercised, to vary this arrangement if it thought fit. (fn. 40) The Clerks gradually rose up the list and in due course became entitled to the higher salaries attached to the more senior clerkships. The highest post ordinarily available to the Clerks was that of Deputy Secretary to which the longest serving Clerk was usually held to be entitled when a vacancy occurred. (fn. 41) The right of the Deputy Secretary to be appointed Secretary was never admitted although such a promotion did occur on one occasion. (fn. 42) Secretaries were usually selected from amongst the officials of the Board but appointments were made without reference to seniority. (fn. 43) Similarly the office of Solicitor and Clerk of Reports remained outside the ordinary course of promotion. (fn. 44)
In practice all the officials of the Board, from the Secretary to the Necessary Woman, enjoyed a secure tenure, holding their offices until death or voluntary retirement. (fn. 45) Apart from the cases of Wheelock and Drift, who were removed for political reasons in 1714, the Board appears to have dismissed officials only when they were found guilty of misconduct. (fn. 46) From 1714 arrangements were made in appropriate cases for officials to receive allowances on retirement. In some cases provision was made for these allowances by means of abatements in the salaries of those serving on the establishment. (fn. 47) When, however, the Deputy Secretary and four Clerks were retired by the Board at the time of the reorganisation of 1764, separate allowances were granted to them. (fn. 48)
COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL FOR TRADE AND PLANTATIONS 1784-6
In 1782 the Commissioners of Trade were abolished by act which provided that a committee of the Privy Council might take over the business done by them and all the authority and jurisdiction which had been vested in them. (fn. 49) In 1784 the necessity of considering a representation from the West India planters occasioned the appoint ment of such a committee. At first this body was of a temporary character. Its Members were unpaid and no separate establishment was provided for it. (fn. 50) The necessary work was undertaken by the two active Clerks of the Privy Council, certain subordinate officials of the Council Office, the Under Secretary of the Plantation Department of the Home Office and one of the Clerks of the Home Office who was also a Clerk Extraordinary of the Privy Council. These officials received bounties for their additional work in this connection. (fn. 51)
COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL FOR TRADE AND PLANTATIONS 1786-1871
In 1786 the Committee of 1784 was replaced by a permanent Committee of the Privy Council which provided the formal structure of the Board thereafter. The new Committee was composed of a President and a Vice President who became the political heads of the department, the holders of certain offices ex officio and an unfixed number of nominated Members. Apart from the President and Vice President who were later accorded salaries, Members received no remuneration. (fn. 52) Some of them attended meetings of the Board in the years immediately following its appointment but their position became increasingly nominal and with three exceptions no new appointments were made after 1823. From the early nineteenth century it was unusual for the Board to be attended by any Members apart from the President and Vice President in whom all effective authority came to be concentrated. During the same period the functions of the Board changed considerably. Having begun as a group of Privy Counsellors whose task was to consider and recommend policies relating to trade and the colonies, it was gradually transformed into a predominantly administrative body whose duties were confined to commercial matters. (fn. 53) This tendency became more marked as the century progressed and the Board was given responsibility for collecting statistics and for regulating railways, the merchant marine, harbours, industrial design and joint stock companies. (fn. 54)
The Board of 1786 was provided with a permanent establishment. (fn. 55) Specific which was apparently discontinued in 1853 (BT 5/65, 11 Feb. 1857). The period covered by the minute allowances were made available for the two active Clerks of the Privy Council who were to act as its Secretaries, assisted by the Under Secretary of the Plantations Department who was appointed an additional Clerk of the Privy Council for the purpose. Provision was also made for a Chief Clerk, six other Clerks, an Office Keeper, a Necessary Woman or Housekeeper and three Messengers. In the following year the establishment was increased by the addition of a Law Clerk and a Porter. (fn. 56) It was the practice for there to be one Supernumerary Clerk from 1786; a second was appointed in 1802. (fn. 57) In 1805 the number of established Clerks was raised to seven and a general increase of salaries took place. (fn. 58) In 1810 Cotterell, the Clerk of the Privy Council who had undertaken the bulk of the secretarial duties, resigned and one of the Clerks of the Board was appointed Assistant Secretary. (fn. 59) Thereafter the connection of the Clerks of the Council with the Board was largely nominal and the Assistant Secretary became in effect the senior permanent official. In 1812 the practice of appointing Supernumerary Clerks ceased, the number of established Clerks was raised to eight and a further general increase of salaries took place. (fn. 60) Until 1853 the promotion of Clerks was governed almost exclusively by the principle of seniority. There was, however, no expectation of advancement beyond the clerical grade and the appointment of T. Lack as Assistant Secretary in 1810 remained an isolated case. The Clerks and other officials enjoyed permanent tenure and were granted retiring allowances in appropriate cases.
Until 1817 neither the President nor the Vice President received salaries as such although it was usual for them to hold concurrently some other office to which remuneration was attached. In that year a salary was made available for the Vice President, a course that was followed in the case of the President in 1826. (fn. 61) In 1821 the Board was given statutory responsibility for corn returns. This gave rise to the creation of a distinct Corn Department, consisting of a Receiver, whose title was changed to Comptroller in 1827, a Deputy or Principal Clerk and one other Clerk. (fn. 62)
In 1822 the office was reorganised. The post of Assistant Secretary was separated from the clerkship with which it had previously been associated and made a distinct appointment and the ordinary establishment was divided into one First Class, three Second Class and three Third Class Clerks. New salary scales were introduced which were also applied to the Corn Department. (fn. 63) In 1823 the office of Law Clerk was abolished, an additional Clerk was appointed and a salary was made available for the Private Secretary to the President. (fn. 64) In 1825 the office of Chief Clerk was discontinued and the sum thus saved was used to increase the remuneration of the Assistant Secretary and to pay part of the salary of the Counsel to the Colonial Office who henceforth acted as Law Clerk to the Board. (fn. 65) In 1829 the first class clerkship was abolished and a second office of Assistant Secretary created. (fn. 66) Thereafter the permanent establishment was headed by two Joint Assistant Secretaries or, as they came increasingly to be called, Joint Secretaries. These offices were permanent and nonparliamentary in character. At the same time the terms Senior and Junior Clerk began to be used to describe the holders of second and third class clerkships.
In 1832 the first step was taken in the creation of a Statistical Department. Treasury authority was given for the temporary employment of G. R. Porter for the purpose of arranging and making abstracts from parliamentary returns, assisted by one of the Junior Clerks in the office. In 1834 Porter was given an established post as Superintendent of the Statistical Department. Later in the same year three established Clerks were assigned to the department. In 1838 their number was increased to five. (fn. 67) In 1836 a vacancy occurred in one of the joint secretaryships and it was laid down that one of these offices should henceforth be held by a person with legal qualifications. At the same time the arrangement whereby the Counsel to the Colonial Office acted as Law Clerk to the Board was discontinued and his responsibilities were transferred to the Secretary in question. (fn. 68)
In 1840 the responsibilities conferred upon the Board in connection with railways necessitated the creation of a new sub-department to deal with them. (fn. 69) As constituted in that year the Railway Department consisted of a Superintendent, a Law and Corresponding Clerk, a Junior Clerk and an Inspector General. (fn. 70) A Registrar was appointed in 1842. (fn. 71) In 1844 railway business, which had previously come before the Board in the ordinary way, was transferred to a new Railway Board composed of the President or Vice President of the Board of Trade, the former Superintendent (now known as the Senior Member), the Inspector General or the newly appointed Assistant Inspector General and two Joint Secretaries. One of these Secretaries, known as the Law Secretary, was the former Law and Corresponding Clerk; the other, known as the General Secretary, was a new appointment. The Railway Board was abolished in the following year and railway business was again brought before the Board of Trade. The office of one of the Secretaries was discontinued but otherwise the number and standing of the officials of the department remained unaffected by this change. (fn. 72)
In 1846 railway business was transferred to the Commissioners of Railways, a statutory body independent of the Board of Trade. Provision was made for five Commissioners, of whom the President and two others were salaried. In fact only four Commissioners were appointed and by the end of 1848 the number had been reduced to three, of whom the President and one of the others were respectively President and Vice President of the Board of Trade itself. The Commissioners were abolished in 1851 when railway business was once again transferred to the Board. (fn. 73) The officials serving the Commissioners consisted of a Secretary, an Assistant Secretary, a Registrar, a Statistical and Topographical Assistant who also acted as Private Secretary to the President, a Legal Assistant, three Inspectors of Railways, an Office Keeper, three Messengers and a Porter. (fn. 74) At first there were only three established Clerks who were assisted by two or three temporary Clerks. However, in 1848 the establishment was expanded to included two Senior, two Junior and two Supernumerary Clerks. The Supernumerary Clerks were absorbed into the Junior grade in 1851. (fn. 75) In 1850 the office of Statistical and Topographical Assistant was abolished and that of one of the Inspectors of Railways left vacant. (fn. 76) On the abolition of the Commissioners in 1851 their former officials were transferred to the Board of Trade, remaining distinct from the ordinary establishment but placed under the immediate direction of Booth, one of the Joint Secretaries. (fn. 77)
In 1850 the Board was required by act to undertake the general superintendence of matters relating to the merchant marine. (fn. 78) For this purpose a distinct department of the Board was created, known sometimes as the 'Naval' but more usually as the Marine Department. It consisted of a Secretary, two Clerks, two Professional Members and an Accountant. (fn. 79)
During the period when the Board's functions were being extended to include responsibility for statistics, railways and the merchant marine, its original advisory functions continued to be carried out by a group of officials under its immediate direction. In order to distinguish these officials from those in the new sub-departments, they were known collectively as the General Department. Since 1829 the department had undergone little change. In 1842 a reorganisation took place. The new posts of Registrar and Librarian were created and an arrangement was made for two of the Clerks to be particularly attached to the Joint Secretaries to act as Private Secretaries. The establishment of the General Department was fixed at two Joint Secretaries, a Registrar, a Librarian, four Senior and four Junior Clerks, Private Secretaries to the President and Vice President, together with an Office Keeper and other subordinate officials. At the same time the establishment of the Corn Department was increased by the addition of a Clerk to consist of a Comptroller, a Deputy and three Clerks. Changes were also made in the Statistical Department. One of the Clerks was promoted to be Assistant to the Superintendent and a new agricultural branch was created and placed in the charge of a Clerk of superior standing who soon acquired the title of Assistant as well. As settled in 1842 the establishment of the Statistical Department comprised a Superintendent, two Assistants and four Clerks. (fn. 80)
In 1845 a new post of Legal Assistant was created and given the function of assisting the Legal Joint Secretary but this post was not filled on the resignation of its holder in 1850. (fn. 81) In 1846 a Précis Writer was appointed whose office was united with that of Librarian in 1849. (fn. 82) In 1851 the organisation of the office was made more flexible by the amalgamation of the clerical staffs of the General and Statistical Departments. (fn. 83)
While the last measure made some contribution to the better functioning of the department, there could be little doubt that there was room for a comprehensive investigation of the establishment in its widest sense. This need was recognised in December 1852 when, on the initiative of the Treasury, a committee of enquiry was set up. (fn. 84) The committee was composed of Sir Charles Trevelyan, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Sir Stafford Northcote, an M.P. and former official of the Board and Booth, one of the Joint Secretaries. Their report, (fn. 85) which was made in March 1853, began by pointing out that the department had originally been designed for consultative and not executive functions and that its structure was ill-adapted to perform the important new tasks which had been entrusted to it in the last twenty years. As need arose new officials and sub-departments had been attached to it. The establishment had never been reorganised to deal with the business in the most efficient manner. In order to rectify the deficiencies of the existing system the committee laid down four principles: the subordination of all parts of the work to a single authority, the proper division of work, uniformity in the transaction of business and, so far as possible, a clear distinction between intellectual and mechanical work. Proceeding on these principles, the committee recommended that the discrepancies which existed in the transaction of business should be abolished and proposed a recasting of the whole establishment. This involved the replacing of the Joint Secretaries by a single Secretary who would be responsible to the President for all the work of the department and the division of the office into three branches designated the General, Railway and Marine Departments, each of which was to be placed in the immediate charge of an Assistant Secretary. In addition to the Assistant Secretaries it was proposed that certain other officials should be appointed to act under the Secretary. These included the Inspectors of Railways, the Professional Members of the Marine Department, the Legal Assistant, the Accountant and the Registrar. The Inspectors of Railways and the Professional Members of the Marine Department were to be relieved of routine departmental work in order that they might concentrate on the particular duties for which their skills fitted them. The post of Legal Assistant, which had been vacant since 1850, was to be revived and filled by the former Legal Assistant to the Railway Department, thus rendering unnecessary the requirement that one of the Joint Secretaries should be legally qualified. Similarly the services of the Accountant, who had previously been attached exclusively to the Marine Department, were to be made available to the Board generally. The offices of Registrar, Librarian and Précis Writer were to be combined and their holder given important new functions. He was to be responsible for maintaining a uniform system of keeping the minutes of each department as well as making up serviceable indexes of current business. The whole establishment of Clerks was to be placed under the direction of the Registrar who was to be responsible to the Secretary for their regular attendance and the satisfactory discharge of their duties. The separate existence of the Corn Department was to be brought to an end.
In order to implement the principle of the division of labour the committee proposed that the Clerks should be divided into two classes. Work of an intellectual character should be entrusted to Clerks 'drawn from those ranks of society which usually furnish the supply of the higher appointments in the Government Offices' while the more mechanical duties should be undertaken by Copyists drawn 'from among persons of a humbler sphere, who have not had the advantage of a liberal education, and who do not look to rise above the rank of persons of their own class employed in private establishments'. Candidates for entry into both classes were to undergo examinations appropriate to their rank and Clerks on the superior establishment were to be placed on probation for three months before being confirmed in office. The superior establishment itself was to be divided into senior and junior grades. The committee stressed the need to replace the existing system whereby Clerks were promoted largely by reference to length of service with one in which merit was the sole criterion of advancement. The career structure of the office was to be made more attractive to Clerks by holding out to them the possibility of promotion to the highest posts including that of Secretary which, with a single exception, had hitherto been filled from outside the office. The Copyists were to be distinct from the superior establishment but, in cases of special merit, they should be enabled to receive higher salaries. Finally the committee recommended that there should be a single Office Keeper and a unified corps of Messengers at the disposal of the department.
The recommendations of the committee of 1853 have been set out at some length both on account of their intrinsic interest and because they provide a framework against which to measure the developments that took place in the following years. Not all the changes proposed were implemented at once. The substitution of a single Secretary for the two Joint Secretaries was delayed until 1867. The separate existence of the Corn Department was not finally brought to a close until 1865. No appointment was made to the office of Assistant Secretary for the General Department with which it had been proposed that the post of Superintendent of the Statistical Department should be combined. Nevertheless the Board agreed in principle to the recommendations of the committee with only minor modifications and set about carrying them into effect as soon as possible. The various component parts of the old establishment were consolidated to consist of two Joint Secretaries, two Assistant Secretaries for the Railway and Marine Departments, a Registrar, an Accountant, three Inspectors of Railways and two Professional Members of the Marine Department. The Senior Clerks from the former establishment, henceforth known as Old Senior Clerks, were allowed to retain their positions and salaries on the understanding that they would not be replaced while six fresh appointments were made to the new grade of Senior Clerk envisaged by the committee. The Board agreed to make no appointment to the grade of Junior Clerk until the existing number of eleven had been reduced to eight as proposed by the committee. The Board also began the process of recruiting individuals for the new class of Copyists. (fn. 86) In 1855 arrangements were made for candidates for clerkships in the department to be examined by the Civil Service Commissioners. (fn. 87)
In 1854 the Board was given responsibility for meteorological observations, a development that gave rise to the creation of the office of Chief of the Meteorological Department. In the same year a Surveyor General of Steam Ships was appointed in accordance with the terms of the Merchant Shipping Act. (fn. 88) This act also authorised the employment of Nautical Assessor of whom one was appointed in 1857 and a second in 1862. (fn. 89)
Comprehensive though the reorganisation of 1853 had been, it soon became apparent that the size of the clerical establishment which had then been envisaged was inadequate to cope effectively with the range of responsibilities entrusted to the Board and the growing amount of work which they entailed. This was particularly the case with the Marine Department following the passage of the Merchant Shipping Act. The result was that the Clerks generally were overburdened. Responsible work was entrusted to the Supplementary Clerks, as the Copyists had come to be known, thus blurring the distinction between the two establishments on which the committee had insisted. In 1853 a permanent complement of twenty-six Clerks, composed of fourteen Senior and Junior Clerks and twelve Supplementaries, had been considered sufficient. In 1856 there were no fewer than sixty-four Clerks in continuous employment of whom twenty-seven were Supplementaries and ten were borrowed from the office of the Registrar of Seamen or hired from law stationers.
In these circumstances the Treasury agreed that the establishment should be revised in the light of developments since 1853. It accepted the proposal that the position of the Senior Clerks should be strengthened by allowing them properly qualified assistants drawn from the ranks of the existing Junior Clerks. It agreed that, within the supplementary establishment, Clerks who were doing work of a responsible character should be promoted to the higher grade. Finally the Treasury sanctioned the appointment of enough Junior Supplementary Clerks to render unnecessary the employment of Clerks borrowed or hired from elsewhere. As recast in 1857 the establishment was fixed at sixty-five Clerks. The superior class was composed of twenty-eight who were divided into six First Class, eight Second Class and fourteen Third Class Clerks. The supplementary class was composed of thirtyseven of whom twelve were Senior and twenty-five were Junior Clerks. At the same time adjustments were made in the salaries of the Registrar, Accountant, Legal Assistant and the professional officers of the Board. (fn. 90)
Such was the increasing burden of work, however, that in 1859 the Board was forced to apply again to the Treasury for a revision of the establishment. It pointed out that, although the arrangements made in 1857 were intended to enable it to dispense with the services of temporary Clerks, it had in fact been obliged to obtain help from this quarter in spite of the enlargement of the establishment. A permanent addition of twelve to the clerical staff was now essential. Furthermore, experience had shown that it was impossible to adhere to the firm division of function between the Clerks on the superior and inferior establishments envisaged in 1853. Of the thirtytwo Clerks in the latter class only seven were in fact employed in purely mechanical tasks such as copying. In the circumstances it was impractical to insist on the distinction and the Board proposed that, for the future, all new appointments should be made to the grade of Junior Supplementary Clerk. Vacancies on the superior establishment should be filled, wherever possible, from this class. The grade of Senior Supplementary Clerk should be reserved for those who had given long and meritorious service in the junior grade and any Clerk so promoted should lose all claim to further advancement in the office. (fn. 91)
The Treasury countered these proposals with a completely different plan. The supplementary class should be abolished in its existing form and replaced by a fluctuating number of temporary Clerks paid on a weekly basis who after not less than twenty years' service might be promoted to be Supplementary Clerks with a permanent tenure. The Board declined to accept this suggestion in advance of a comprehensive review of the position of Supplementary Clerks throughout the government service. (fn. 92) Such a review was undertaken by a committee appointed by the Treasury which reported in 1860. (fn. 93) No action was taken on its recommendation to establish a central copying agency for government departments.
In the meantime there was evidence of considerable dissatisfaction with the manner in which the office was organised, which culminated in petitions from the First Class and Supplementary Clerks drawing attention to their grievances. In November 1861 Emerson Tennent, one of the Joint Secretaries, was appointed by the President to investigate the matter. His report, of which no copy appears to have survived, was made in March 1862. (fn. 94) In January of the following year the Treasury decided that a committee should be appointed to make a full-scale enquiry into the establishment.
The committee, whose members were G. A. Hamilton, the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, G. Arbuthnot, the Auditor of the Civil List and Booth, one of the Joint Secretaries of the Board, reported in July 1863. (fn. 95) In the first place they directed their attention to the position of the Secretaries. In 1853 it had been proposed that the number of Secretaries should be reduced from two to one when a vacancy occurred. The committee, however, were of the opinion that there should continue to be two Joint Secretaries at the head of the Board's permanent staff. The situation was complicated by the special position of Farrer, the Assistant Secretary in charge of the Marine Department. The Marine Department now accounted for at least half of the total work of the Board and it was strongly urged that Farrer should at once be promoted to the position of third Joint Secretary. It was pointed out that Booth, the Joint Secretary who was nominally Farrer's superior, had little time to devote to the affairs of the Marine Department particularly since the discontinuance in 1860 of the office of Assistant Secretary for the Railway Department for which he was also responsible. The committee found themselves unable to make a recommendation on this point. Eventually the proposal was rejected by Gladstone, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Farrer was, however, given an increased salary and the title of Marine Secretary on a temporary basis with the promise that he would succeed to one of the joint secretaryships when a vacancy occurred.
Turning to the clerical organisation the committee recommended the discontinuance of the First Class Clerks and their replacement by a new grade known as Assistants. These were to be four in number and to be attached to the General or Commercial, Statistical, Railway and Marine Departments. The Clerks were to be divided into sixteen Seniors and twenty-six Juniors, to be reduced to twenty-four as vacancies occurred. On the subject of the supplementary establishment the committee reiterated the views which the Treasury had expressed in 1859. The grade of Junior Supplementary Clerk should be abolished as soon as practicable, its occupants being transferred either to the superior establishment as Junior Clerks or promoted to the grade of Senior Supplementary Clerk. No new supplementaries should be appointed. As suggested in 1859 they should be replaced by a varying number of Temporary Clerks, engaged to undertake purely mechanical work and paid on a weekly basis who might, in appropriate cases, be given permanent positions after not less than twenty years' service.
The committee recommended the abolition of the office of Registrar whose holder had since 1853 been in immediate charge of the clerical establishment. Experience had shown that his position was anomalous and tended to blur the proper lines of authority in the department. The post of Librarian with which it had been combined was, however, to be continued. The position of Draftsman for the Railway Department, which had previously been held by a First Class Clerk, was to be made a distinct office. The committee recommended that the abolition of the Corn Department, which had been proposed in 1853, should take place as soon as possible and the office of Comptroller of Corn Returns combined with that of Superintendent of the Statistical Department. Finally improvements were recommended in the salaries of the other officials attached to the Board.
So far as possible the recommendations of the committee were carried into effect at once. (fn. 96) The recruitment of Temporary Clerks began in November 1863 (fn. 97) and the process of abolishing the grade of Junior Supplementary Clerk was completed in the following year. (fn. 98) The Corn Department was finally wound up in 1865 when the Superintendent of the Statistical Department was appointed Comptroller of Corn Returns. (fn. 99) In the same year the retirement of Booth made possible the promotion of Farrer to the position of full Joint Secretary. (fn. 100)
In 1865 the Chief of the Meteorological Department died. No successor was appointed and the work was continued on an interim basis while the future of the office was considered. In the event the responsibility for meteorological observations was transferred to the Royal Society. (fn. 101) A number of measures enacted in the parliamentary session of 1866 imposed new functions on the Board. (fn. 102) In particular the Standard of Weights, Measures and Coinage Act transferred responsibility for weights and measures from the Exchequer. Three officials in the service of the Comptroller General were incorporated into the establishment to form a new Standard Department. (fn. 103)
By 1866 the burden of work undertaken by the Board had again increased to the point where a further comprehensive enquiry into the establishment was felt necessary. The Treasury appointed G. W. Hunt, its Financial Secretary, and Cave, the Vice President of the Board, to undertake the investigation. Their report, (fn. 104) which was made in November 1866, began by reviewing the new responsibilities which had been placed upon the Board since 1863 and the existing arrangements for the conduct of business. Its first recommendation was the abolition of the office of Vice President, which had become an anomalous feature of the department, and the substitution for it of the post of Parliamentary Secretary, whose holder was to be directly subordinate to the President and to be given definite duties. Associated with this recommendation was the proposal that, as soon as a vacancy occurred, the two Joint Secretaries should be replaced by a single Permanent Secretary. The report went on to propose that the work of the Board should be divided into six departments with the titles of Commercial, Railway, Harbour, (fn. 105) Marine, Statistical and Financial Departments. The last two were to be presided over by the Superintendent of the Statistical Department and the Accountant respectively. The first four were to be entrusted to the immediate supervision of four Assistant Secretaries, of whom those in charge of the Railway and Harbour Departments were to have legal qualifications. The office of Assistant Secretary for the Commercial Department was to be combined with that of Warden of the Standards. The office of Assistant, which had been created in 1863, was to be gradually abolished as vacancies occurred. The report proposed that the number of Senior Clerks should be fixed at sixteen and that there should be up to thirty-five Juniors. It found that, although the rigid distinction between intellectual and mechanical work which had been recommended by the committee of 1863, had been more strictly observed than similar recommendations made in the past, there were still cases in which Temporary Clerks were performing duties which were more responsible than those of some of the established Clerks. It was recommended that in these cases the Temporary Clerks should not be debarred from obtaining appointments to the establishment. Amongst other recommendations of the report were the appointment of an additional Inspector of Railways and the revival of the office of Registrar although with a status inferior to that which it had previously enjoyed.
The Board accepted the substance of the recommendations contained in the report. Certain modifications were, however, made. It was found that not all of the existing Senior Clerks were capable of undertaking the increased responsibilities which were to be attached to their grade. Three were therefore retired and two others were allowed to remain at a reduced salary, their places being taken by Clerks promoted from the junior grade. The Board was unwilling at once to amalgamate the office of Warden of the Standards with that of Assistant Secretary for the Commercial Department and the former remained a distinct post until after the end of the period. However, Emerson Tennent agreed to retire from the office of Joint Secretary and the Board was thus enabled to implement the recommendation that the whole establishment should be placed under a single Permanent Secretary. (fn. 106)
On the resignation of Cave in 1868 the office of Vice President was abolished and a Parliamentary Secretary appointed. (fn. 107) A new office of Translator was created in the same year, (fn. 108) but no other changes were made in the establishment before the end of the year 1870 which witnessed the introduction of the system of open competition for entry into the Civil Service and which marks the terminal point for the period covered by these lists.