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MORE ABOUT THE COUNTY CLERKSHIP. Lively Debate at the Connty Council. Xr Richard Lloyd Versus Mr Edward Powell. Some warm passages at arms occurred between Mr Richard Lloyd and Mr Edward Powell at the County Council meeting held in Welshpool on Monday, over the County Council Clerkship. Oar readers are familiar with the circumstances. Following the resignation of Mr G. D. Harrison, the Standing Joint Committee appointed Mr G. R. D. Harrison to the offices of Clerk of the Peace, County Council Clerk, Finance Clerk, and Clerk to the Local Taxation Authority at a combined salary of £ 87~>. The majority on the County Council did not dispute that Committee's autho- rity to appoint the Clerk of the Peace and County Council Clerk, but repudiated their right to officer the other two positions, and upon the motion of Mr Edward Powell, a representation to that effect was addressed to the Home Secretary. It will be remembered that at a meeting of the Standing Joint Committee a letter was received from the Home Secretary intimating that he had been advised that as no alteration was proposed in the amount of the salary of the Clerk of the Peace and Clerk of the County Council, the order of the 10th of January last held good. Upon the reading of that letter Mr Richard Lloyd dealt in severe terms with Mr Edward Powell's proposal to review the matter, arguing that Mr Powell's opinions and statements were wrong1 and that they showed that a little knowledge is a danger- ous thing." At Monday's meeting of the Council the follow- ing letter was read from the Home Office in re- gard to the matter "Having laid your letter of September 16th before the Secretary of State, I am directed by him to say for the information of the County Council that he is advised that in the absence of any recommendation from the Standing Joint Committee for an alteration of the amount of salary of the Clerk of the Peace and of the County Council, the Secretary of State has no jurisdiction over the matter to which you refer." MR POWELL'S CASE. Mr Edward Powell said it was quite clear that the salary of the Clerk of the Peace was fixed at .£550. It was equally clear that Mr G. D Harri- son was appointed Finance Clerk at 2225, and Local Taxation Clerk at a salary of tIOO. The two latter offices, as far as this Council was con- cerned, were distinct appointments. In the schedule of the Finance Committee before them to-day they were asked to sanction payment of the quarter's salary of the Clerk of the Peace, the Finance Clerk, and the Clerk of the Local Taxa- tion Authority, showing that the'three offices had been kept, as far as the Council was concerned, quite distinct. They all agreed that the Clerk of the Peace was appointed by the Standing Joint Committee, and as Clerk of the Peace he became Clerk of the County Council. They could not help themselves in regard to that, although no doubt in a short time that arrangement would be altered, and the Council would be able to appoint their own clerk. But at present they had no control over the appointment of their own clerk. The difficulty which had arisen in the present circumstances appeared to have come about in this way, and he was not aware of it until that day. Sometime ago the Home Secre- tary was asked to sanction the payment of .£325 to the County Council for extra financial and local taxation work, and now they had it that the salary of the Clerk of the Peace was an inclusive one of .£815. He did not suggest foi a moment that anything had been held back from the Home Secretary, who had no doubt been informed of everything, but they had it in their accounts that the Clerk of the Peace's salary was .£875. A minute in 1898 showed that Mr G D. Harrison resigned his position as financial clerk, and that the matter was referred by the Council to a com- mittee. That fact proved that the Council had control of Finance Clerk. They could ap- point, as was done in other counties, a finan- cial and a local taxation clerk, but it was made to appear that the Council had no control over financial appointments, and that the Standing Joint Committee could appoint whoever they pleased to do the local taxation work. He was not saying a single word against Mr G. R. D. Harrison. On the contrary he had the highest opinion of him and his ability, his willingness and assiduity; but it was their duty to protect them- selves in regard to the appointing of their own officers (bear, hear). The Standing Joint Com- mittee, in what he considered an unseemly manner, accepted the resignation of the Clerk of Peace, and proceeded, without giving the Council any sort of notice, or without consulting them, to appoint another behind their backs; not simply another Clerk of the Peace, but also the Finance Clerk and Local Taxation Clerk. That seemed to '•him aa extraordinary proceeding, and the Council oould not calmly submit to it. If the Standing Joint Committee made good their claim to appoint Mr G. B. D. Harrison as the financial and loeal taxation clerk they would ti- the County Council's hands for ever; thay would be able to receive the resignation of the present Clerk at any time and appoint someone else at an inclusive salary of X875. He thought thpy should make further representation to the Home Secretary with the view to having restored to the Council the right to makthose appointments which clearly be- longed to them (hear, hear). And for that pur- pose he moved that a committee consisting ot the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Mr Marshall Dugdale, Colonel Pryce-Jones, and himself, if they would agree, be appointed with power to communicate with the Hzme Secretary if they thought fit in order to preserve the rights of the Council over their own officials (hear, hear). Mr David Hamer seconded. "UNDIGNIFIED AND UNSAVOURY." Mr Hurlbutt: Do I understand that this Com- mittee will have not so much to do with what has already happened as to safeguard the interests of the Council in future? Mr Powell: No; they will deal with what has happened. We say that the salary of the Clerk of the Peace is .£550. That is the salary put down on our own schedule. Mr Hurlbutt: If Mr Powell had meant that the interests of the Council should be safe- guarded in future I should have supported him, but I cannot support him in upsetting what has already happened. Mr Powell himself says that Mr Harrison is an excellent clerk. I offended him at the last meeting-for which I am sorry-by suggesting that there was some personal bias in this matter, and he turned on me, as he had a perfect right to do, and said, "nothing of the sort." Well, I am at a loss to know his motive. Mr Powell said there was only one man for the post, and I think it is not only undignified but unsavoury business to go on squabbling over it. I find that of the 24 members of the Standing Joint Committee, half are appointed by the magistrates, and no less than seven of them are members of the County Council. Therefore this Committee, which is charged with throwing away the rights of the Council, is composed of nineteen members of the Council. I don't think we can complain very much. Even if we have got the I right—which I think we have not—it is no use bringing up this question again, But if a com- mittee were appointed to recommend that in future we have the appointment of our Clerk. which is much further than Mr Powell goes, I should support it. I think we are making much ado about nothing in raking up a thing that is past. Mr Marshall Dugdale: I don't agree to have my name on the committee. We are told that the Standing Joint Committee had the power to make this appointment, and that Comnittee did make it. The Committee's right was then ques- tioned, and the Home Secretary, to whom an an appeal was made, has upheld the appointment. I don't see the need of going any further. If you want it altered in future I agree, and you might discuss how it might be altered, but I don't see the good of appointing a committee to go into a question which has been settled and backed up by the Secretary of State. A "YOUNGISH" MEMBER'S "COMMON SENSE." Mr J. W. Poundley: Mr Poweli has admitted that Mr G. R. D. Harrison is an excellent clerk, and the only effect of this discussion will be to stir up ill-feeling in the County Council. No ob- jection can be raised against Mr Harrison. The reason of appointing Mr Harrison's father to all the offices was to have the whole thing carried on in one office. That was the most convenient ar- rangement, instead of having officials communi- cating with one another all over the place. As regards the Council maintaining its dignity, surely Mr Powell's eloquence would do that. I am strongly against appointing a committee. Let the appointments be left as they are. As a young- ish member of the Council I give my opinion for what it is worth, but I think it is common-sense. Mr 'Richard Lloyd: I should not oppose the question of getting powers to the Council in regard to its own clerk, but that is not the course proposed. The course proposed is to say that the Standing Joint Committee rushed this appoint- ment through in a very HURRIED AND UNSEEMLY MANNER. Mr Powell went further than that in a previou3 speech to the Council. Now he says the Standing Joint Committee exceeded their right. It is clearly proved that they did not exceed their right, authority or duty. Plenty of notice was given on the last occasion. The Clerk sent out a circular to every member of the Standing Joint Committee to say that he was resigning; it was put on the notice calling the meeting, and the resolution requiring five days' notice was complied with. There was nothing rushed or unseemly in any way. Every member of the Committee knew that it was coming forward a week before it came, and the reasons which the objectors gave against the appointment were not considered sat- isfactory by the majority of the Committee. The Committee acted within its authority in appoint- ing a gentleman whom Mr Powell says is a most excellent clerk. But he says there might be some desire to divide the offices. You cannot, however, break through a section of the Act of Parliament and divide the offices. At the passing of the Local Government Act of 1888 the Clerk of the Peace was then Clerk for all matters connected with the maintenance of the roads and bridges, and he did all the work. That Act merely trans- ferred a part of the work done by the magistrates in Quarter Sessions to the County Council; but it safeguarded the Clerk of the Peace, and the existing Clerk then had to be the Clerk of the County Council. What did the County Council subsequently do? It imposed additional burdens upon the Clerk, who said, You are imposing upon me all this additional work which does not belong to me." A SIGNIFICANT "HEAR, HEAR!" Mr Newell: Hear, hear; hear hear! Mr Lloyd: Wait a moment. I am standing up for nothing but what is right.—(A Voice: Oh, oh ")—We shall see who will be right in the end The Clerk says, "If you want me to do all this, you will give me extra payment," and the Council replied, We are prepared to do it." But that ex- tra payment, when it came up, did not rest en- tilely with the County Council, because the Clerk had been appointed, not by the Council, but by the Standing Joint Committee, and that extra salary had to come before that Committee. They sent up the recommendation to the Home Secre- tary for the increased salary in respect of addi- tional work, and it was sanctioned. Even the last increase of £ 100, under the Local Taxation account, which the Counuil decided should be paid to the Clerk for new work-to the Clerk of the County Council and not to a new Clerk, as Mr Powell said-waa recommended to the Home Secretary through the Standing Joint Committee. It is three different payments to the same person. He does not hold three different appointments. These three payments are made to the one person —to the Clerk of the County Council. Unless it be on the recommendation of the Standing Joint Committee," says the Home Secretary, I have no power." Therefore the question stands good. Mr Powell said I had made use of some remarks in another place. I made use of no remarks or words but what I I STAND BY, and I repeat it to-day. If there was any rushing of the matter it was at the County Council, for Mr Powell brought forward this question without giving a single day's notice of what was coming forward. We were all in ignorance until his brief was prepared, and in stating his case he used strong remarks in regard to the Standing Joint Committee. As chairman of that Committee I protested against the language, and I repeat it to-day. Mr Powell acted in a way he ought not to have acted, according to the rules and regula- tions of this Council. What do you think of a member rushing forward a matter without giving you a single day's notice of it ? That is what he did, and yet he says, I always do what is fair. and right, and stmightforward-I I say that his statements are misleading and inaccurate, and I am supported in that by the Secretary to the Home Department. Mr Newell: This Council had no idea when they appointed Mr G. D. Harrison as permanent clerk that they were handing over such an ap- pointment in future to the Standing Joint Com- mittee (hear, hear). They voted under a complete misapprehension. Mr Harrison, before the salary of e225 was paid, resigned that office, and we ap- pointed him again at an increased salary. Why did he resign that office to the Council if the appointment was not in the Council's hands ? (hear, hear). We all understood that it was in the hands of the Council. We shall know for the future that we must not put a fresh duty on the Clerk of the Council if we want to have control hereafter. Apparently it goes out of our hands entirely, when we give the Clerk a new duty aDd pay him for it. It is in the hands of the Standing Joint Committee, half of whom are not respon- sible to the ratepayers for their position on that I body. Mr Howarth: I think it is desirable that the two offices should be distinctly considered, and I have great pleasure in supporting Mr Powell's motion. MR. POWELL'S REPLY. I Mr Powell: Every member of the Council must, I think, be sorry to hear the language used by Mr Lloyd. I do not propose to repiy to the style of the attack which he is constantly making in regard to myself (hear, hear). What I stated was in good b.stA. Everybody else said so, at least. I took the earliest and only opportunity of objecting to the action of the Standing Joint Committee, and I believe if outside this Council you consulted any dozen impartial men, eleven of them would condemn the action of the Joint Committee (hear, hear). What is the position? Here we have an old and highly esteemed Clerk, the Clerk of the Peace, and Clerk to this Council. He resigns. We had no idea that anything of the kind was contemplated. The Standing Joint Committee is called, and a new Clerk is appointed without this Council having received one word that such was contemplated. As a matter of courtesy, if nothing else, they should have con- sulted this Council before the appointment. What Mr Lloyd seems unable to comprehend is that the Council has a perfect right, without con- sulting the Joint Committee to appoint its own financial and local taxation clerk. It has the right of appointing whoever it thinks fit for those offices (hear, hear). It is clear from the minutes that Mr Harrison was appointed to do that work which was regarded as quite distinct from the duties of Clerk of the Peace. It is not a fact that further duties were imposed upon him for which this money was supposed to recompense him. That is not a fact. The finance work of the Council in the old days was done by a treasurer. At present there are many County Councils who have thought fit to give that work to a different man altogether, and this Council had the right to#k> that. THE COUNCIL DEPRIVED. But what is the effect of the Joint Committee's action ? It means that we are to be deprived of that right. We are not to have the right of having anything to do with our financial clerk. If we do not raise a protest we must calmly sub- mit to this kind of thing. The Clerk of the Peace is paid a salary of .£550, and a quarter's salary we are asked to pay to-day. He is also paid for financial work, which is a distinct office. The Home Secretary was under a misapprehension when he said, "I cannot interfere with this appointment because yoa have not altered the salary." The sum paid over and above the £ 550 was for separate offices. Mr Hurlbutt remarked that I said there was only one man to discharge the duties. Mr George Harrison is competent in every respect, and I cannot speak too highly of him but I don't say he is the only man capable. No man is indispensable in this world. Mr Hurlbutt: As far as I remember what you said was, if not in these words, that there was no intention of displacing Mr Harrison. Mr Powell: That is not the same thing. I have servants whom I have no intention of dis- placing, but there are others who might do the work as well. Mr Dugdale say3 we disputed the right of the Standing Joint Committee to appoint the Clerk. We never disputed that. We asked the Home Secretary not to sanction the appoint- ment, because it included other offices. Mr Dugdale; And he didn't agree with you. UNDER A MISAPPREHENSION. Mr Powell: He has not said that he disagrees with us. The Standing Joint Committee has appointed a new Clerk of the Peace at a new salary. The Secretary of State is under a mis- apprehension that the increase of the salary has been agreed to at .£875. It is not a question of dividing the offices, as, Mr Lloyd says. The Act of Parliament gives Us full power to do financial work which is not necessarily the duties of the Clerk of the Peace. I press my motion, and I hope Mr Dugdale and Colonel Pryce-Jones will agree to act upon the committee. Mr Dugdale: I cannot act on the committee, and thus criticise what has already been done, and done in good faith. But if Mr Powell will ask for a committee to go into the case, and see how best to safeguard the Council in regard to its officials in future, I have no objection to serve upon it. Mr Powell's motion was then put as follows :— "That the communication of the Home Secretary having been read, the whole question be referred to a committee consisting of the. Chairman of the Council, Vice-Chairman, Mr Dugdale, Colonel Pryce-Jones, M.P., and Mr Powell, in order to inquire into the matter and take such steps as they think fit." THE WHOLE QUESTION. Mr Lloyd: What does the whole question" mean P The Clerk: The whole question referred to by the Home Secretary. Mr Lloyd: The whole question" is the ap- pointment. Mr Powell has said he does not ques- tion that for a moment. Mr Powell: You are, I submit, out of order. You cannot make another speech. Mr Lloyd: This is a resolution, and this is an alteration of it. Mr Powell: It is no alteration all. The Chairman (Mr Richard Jones, who presided in the absence of Mr Hugh Lewis): The broader you make the resolution the better. We are more likely to come to a decision. We want it settled once and for all. Mr Lloyd: But what is the whole question ? Mr Powell: The Clerk of the Peace, the Finance Clerk and the Clerk to the Local Taxation Authority. Mr Lloyd: We have no power. Mr Powell: That is for the chairman to deoide. Mr Dugdale: I ask my name to be withdrawn. I believe in keeping the power of the County Council as much as anybody, but I cannot criticise work I have donemyself. Mr Dagdale's name was therefore deleted, and upon a division Mr Powell's motion was carried by 19 votes to 15.



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