HC Deb 10 July 1856 vol 143 cc568-613

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair."


expressed his acknowledgments to the noble Lord at the brad of the Government for bringing on this Bill for discussion as soon as circumstances would permit. The noble Lord said, the other night, that compromises were often expedient, necessary, and justifiable. From that general proposition no Member of the House would dissent, but every individual compromise must be judged on its own merits; and we were bound to ask whether each particular compromise was compatible with principle and honour? Agreement, no doubt, was a good thing, but adherence to conscientious convictions, from which important consequences sprang, was still better. He was not going to raise a discussion as to what category the compromise made by the Government came under, but he wished respectfully to observe that the noble Lord held his seat on the Treasury bench by a compromise. The noble Lord was willingly supported by a great body of persons in that House who, though not agreeing exactly in all their opinions, called themselves generally the Liberal party. This Liberal party, at least an important section of it—the bone and sinew of the party—advocated vote by ballot, a large extension of the suffrage, and the entire abolition of church rates. The noble Lord advocated none of those measures, but manfully maintained his own opinions. The Liberal party long supported the noble Lord in his foreign policy when it was vigorously and continuously assailed, and together with the noble Lord fought the battle of free trade. The Liberal party also remembered, far more than all these things, that when the reputations of experienced statesmen fell scattered around like leaves in autumn, the noble Lord stood firm, nailed his colours to the mast, threw energy into the councils of the Crown, maintained the honour of the country, and restored peace to Europe. Therefore, he was glad by a compromise, which he believed to be honourable to both parties, to call the noble Lord his leader. But to leadership and allegiance correlative duties belonged. A great party could not be knocked down one night and put up another night, whenever it suited the purpose of its leaders so to act. The noble Lord the other night performed an extraordinary manœuvre. Supported by a small band of mercenaries, whom he so designated not from any offensive intention, but because they were persons with respect to whom certain agreeable associations connected with quarter-day would be dissolved if they, voted against the noble Lord—supported by this select band, the noble Lord crossed over to the other side of the House, and there, rallying a numerous phalanx, belonging to the Conservative or Tory party, turned round, challenged his own party, and put them to rout. When, next morning, the noble Lord walked over the field of battle, and counted the numbers and examined the bodies of the slain, accompanied by his aide-de-camp, the right hon. Member for Wells—in other words, when the noble Lord analysed the division list, he must have been inclined to say with Pyrrhus, that one more such victory would be his ruin. He hoped the noble Lord did not mean to repeat such a manœuvre to-night. He felt certain the noble Lord could not. The noble Lord had ability and dexterity enough for almost anything, but there was one thing which the noble Lord was told by the highest authority he could not do— namely, serve two masters. The noble Lord must cleave to one and forsake the other; he could not lead the Liberal party in the House of Commons, and do the bidding of Lord Derby, and register Lord Derby's edicts in that House. He had spoken frankly, for, as a real friend of the Government, he was bound to tell them openly what was said by a great number of people behind their backs. He would now address a few words to the House in general on this question. He felt his own inefficiency properly to bring forward this matter, the importance of which could not be exaggerated. The right hon. Leader of the Opposition was pleased to allude to him, the other evening, as being a desultory and independent Member. It was perfectly true that he sat rather loosely to that House, but he would yield to no one in an earnest wish that the House of Commons should hold a high position in the country and in the affections of the people; for he sincerely believed that the danger which beset and was calculated to overthrow any free Government was its popular assembly losing the confidence of the people. Then how, he asked, could that House maintain the confidence of the people if, on a matter deeply affecting the interest of every subject in the realm, the House refused to give it grave and deliberate attention before a Select Committee, and showed an inclination to huddle up the whole business, and hurriedly to register the edict of the House of Lords? His proposition was a most reasonable one, and he hoped the House would assent to it. All sorts of motives had been attributed to him for taking this course; his right hon. Friend the Member for Wells, for instance, had told somebody, he understood, that he was a monomaniac; he had, indeed, put this notice on the paper without consulting any one, but since he had given notice of it, he had received numerous communications from all quarters; and, if the House would grant a Committee, he would engage that it should be attended by men of the greatest eminence, Judges both of Common Law and Equity, who would show that the Bill contained as much mischief and as little good as could well be embodied in the same space of paper. Surely the House of Commons would not refuse to consider calmly and deliberately a measure which infringed on the prerogative of the Crown, and took away the right which he and everybody else had always hitherto considered to be inherent in Her Majesty as Sovereign of these realms, to summon to Parliament any one of her subjects whom she pleased, whoever he might be, to aid her with his counsel. That was a subject grave enough, not only for a Select Committee, but even for the most protracted discussion. No man could be in a position to give an opinion worth anything at all upon it without having first carefully studied the subject. But the Bill dealt with another question also of the greatest possible importance. The construction of an appellate tribunal in the last resort required the utmost care and deliberation, but the hasty and off hand manner in which this Bill had been disposed of was so extraordinary that he was completely at a loss to understand it. He had observed the right hon. Gentleman opposite blandly smiling the other night; no doubt he was hugging himself with the consciousness that his enemies were "delivered into his hand." The noble Viscount at the head of the Government seemed to be somewhat in the predicament of the knight in the old ballad, who made a compact with one who should be nameless—a compact rather opposed to the noble Lord's ideas of free trade, and in which the mortal generally got the worst of the bargain. There had been a good deal of talking and skirmishing the other night, but it all ended in nothing. The debate reminded him of one of those battles of the condottieri in the Middle Ages, where, after a long day's thumping and banging, all ended in nobody being killed and nobody wounded. None of the speeches except those of the noble Lord the Member for London and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle went to the point. The lawyers applied themselves to drawing the House away from the real question; just as one might see a partridge fluttering about to draw away attention from her eggs, so the lawyers do their best to lead the House away from the real eggs here. He hoped, however, that there would be a good stand-up fight to-night, and that everybody would speak his mind—as he intended to do. He hoped hon. Members had carefully considered the very remarkable debates on this subject in another place. Did the Bill recommend itself to them by its antecedents? He had heard it stated publicly that Lord Derby had said that in case the proviso of the hon. Member for Malton, saving the prerogative of the Crown, was carried, the Bill might go wherever it pleased; he should not care what became of it. That furnished an important clue as to the real object of the Bill. It was a distinct attempt to limit the prerogative of the Crown. In order to get a clear insight into the antecedents of the Bill it would he necessary to trace its history from the beginning. A short time before the Session began the Government—actuated, no doubt, by a laudable desire to strengthen the appellate tribunal of the House of Lords—created Baron Parke a peer for life. It soon appeared when Parliament met that a hare was to be started. The first to commence the sport was a noble Lord of wonderful activity, on which age seemed to have no effect, and to whom might be applied—slightly altered, the well-known lines of Gray— Full oft within those gilded halls, When he had seventy winters o'er him, The Lord Chief Justice led the brawls, While law and reason danced before him. He was seconded by a noble Earl who never in his life could resist a bit of mischief, and who, from some reason or other, entered heartily into this question. The Government made a good fight, but were beaten. An observation made the other night by the right hon. Member for Carlisle—that there was nothing new in the world—was remarkably applicable to the whole of this affair. It would seem as though the theory of the ship's carpenter in Peter Simple—that everybody would be doing just the same thing as at the present moment 2,222 years hence—had some foundation, and that every thing which passed in the world was merely a repetition of something which had happened before. In Lord Campbell's Life of Lord Nottingham would he found the following passage, which would really seem to show that that eminent man—he was a North Briton by the way—enjoyed the privilege of scond sight— The Chancellor had the sagacity to see the trap laid for the Government, but he had not the address to avoid it. He could not control the fervour of those friends of the Government who, mad on the question of privilege, disregarded all party predilections, and stood up for their own notions of the rights of their order. During these debates the ex-Chancellor and the reigning; Lord Chancellor being pitted against each other, the latter suffered severely. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had spoken of this matter as a comedy which had been played up to the very foot-lamps, and, following up this curiosa felicitas of the noble Lord, he would endeavour to describe to the House how he viewed this matter in a theatrical point of view. This was about the tableau presented— the Government in a very ridiculous position, Lord Derby committed against the prerogative of the Crown—(not a very pleasant position, he should imagine, for a Conservative leader)—he jurisdiction of the House of Lords condemned by the discussions which had taken place in that House, and Lord Wensleydale in the distance, in bed with the gout,— perhaps the best off of the whole party. He was glad to avail himself of a happy accident which enabled him to quote past events in order to describe present ones. Most hon. Gentlemen in that House no doubt had read the "Imaginary Conversations" of Walter Savage Landor, and he had come into possession of an extract from an imaginary conversation, not written in the elegant English of Mr. Landor, but containing what might, perhaps, be considered to border a little upon slang, which he would beg to read to the House:— [Scene, Venice. A Gothic library looking out on the Grand Canal. Two senators seated at a table.] First Senator: You're in a fix, and there's but one in Venice Can help you out of't, and that I am he Full well thou know'st; when rogues on Rialto Are growing seedy they've an ancient custom— Each draws a little bill and each accepts it, And then they spout their paper, and the house That takes it is done brown (a house we wot of). Nobles may learn from knaves—say, do'st thou twig me? Second Senator: Alas! too well. First Senator: Then, mark me, 'Villagrande,' I, too, have run my head against a wall Right at the Doge's power, of which I boasted To be the best, if not the sole defender; Yet I will curb this curst prerogative, But hide the hand that does so. ' Campobello' (Bellow he 's rightly named) doth roar and bluster About his 'Res decreta,' but we know 'T is worth the ink that writes it, and no more. I want a statute with all forms of law; We'll wrap my dig at the prerogative In some sham semblance of a law reform,— The very cry you 've started,—and the Commons Will toss their noses to the wind, and open Full on the false scent and o'errun the true one. Old 'Campobello' is the man to do it! For well he knows so to embalm a rat That none shall nose him Ah! you hesitate, But I have more to offer, and, besides, Will find some plaister for your broken pate; Two golden rings and twice six thousand ducats To oil the legal wheels and set them whirring; And they shall whirr and whiz on this suggestion Down there below, until the wretch who hears them Shall stop his ears, and, bothered by their pother, Surrender at discretion. Here's a plan In which I think you trace a master's hand. Second Senator: But then the Doge, my lord? First Senator: The Doge be d—d! Sweet 'Villagrande,' if you sign this paper And do my high behests, I 'll bear you harmless Out of this ugly scrape; but if, by Heaven, You pause or falter—ere the chimes of six Strike on St. Mark's—I open on the Senate And thunder o'er it, till the 'stones of Venice' Turn on their sides to mock thee with their grinning. Sign, then! Second Senator (with great trepidation): I sign! First Senator: Why, there 's a clever fellow! [Exit First Senator with the paper in his pocket.] second Senator: The Doge! 'the Doge !! I fear I have betrayed him!!! [Opens the window, gazes on the Grand Canal, shuts the window, and rushes frantically out of the apartment.] He should be happy to furnish any Gentleman privately with the means of referring to that extract, which appeared to him to be very pertinent to the present case. But to return to the House of Lords, it was not possible to arrive at the second tableau without passing through the greenroom and seeing what went on behind the scenes. The position of certain parties in that House reminded him of a theatrical entertainment which he had attended, given by his right hon. colleague, in which a country yokel, or, as he would be called in Kent, "chaw-bacon," fell among persons who hustled him and picked his pockets. Let the House fancy the President of the Council, got up in the true chawbacon guise, thus treated, and then turned out, evidently very uncomfortable, and looking as if he had swallowed something which he could neither digest nor get rid of, and they would have an idea of the result of the Committee. He now came to the second tableau, which exhibited everybody complimenting everybody else, including the Lord President, who himself did riot appear very comfortable, while his colleagues freely admitted that they were completely puzzled, and did not know what had been going on. All, however, were seen occupied in tossing the Bill down upon the table of that House.

He could assure the House that, if he had appeared to treat the subject with levity, it had been because he wished, in the observations which he felt himself bound to make, to avoid giving anything like offence to any one. And if I laugh at any mortal thing, 'Tis that I may not weep. Every one knew what the real meaning of the Bill was. It was a measure to settle and limit the prerogative of the Crown, and that brought him to another curious part of the case. He had some time back put on the paper a notice of a question which he intended to put to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, with regard to the form in which the measure was to be introduced into that House. His attention had been drawn to the subject by what was stated to have been said by a noble Lord in another place. It appeared that Lord Grey stated that— He felt himself bound to express his regret that the Government had introduced this measure in a less formal manner than he believed they ought to have done. By the law and practice of Parliament it had been always usual, when the House was called upon to pass a Bill which limited the prerogative of the Crown, to signify the consent of the Crown, and, as he believed that the Crown at the present moment had the power of creating life peerages which would confer a seat in their Lordships' House, he believed that the consent of the Crown should have been formally signified before their Lordships were called upon to agree to the present Bill. Now, he should have imagined that, if it had been necessary to signify the assent of the Crown, that assent would hare been signified at the introduction of the measure; but, instead of that, it was only signified at the third reading. Now, it appeared that another noble Lord (Lord Derby) had said— Probably many of your Lordships will agree with me that the Crown had no prerogative to waive, and that, therefore, no Royal consent was necessary; and, undoubtedly, if that consent had taken a more formal shape, and had been communicated to your Lordships as a message, I, for one, should have experienced great difficulty in receiving such a message, and in consenting to the adoption of an address in answer thereto which would appear to imply a recognition of that prerogative. This was a very remarkable and pregnant declaration. He thought, therefore, that the compliment might be paid to that House of allowing something like inquiry into the subject. What he wished to impress upon the House was the absolute necessity of referring the Bill to a Select Committee; and if the House consented to adopt that course, he had authority for saying that persons would offer themselves to be examined whose authority every Member of that House would respect, and who ought to be examined upon the subject. As regarded life peerages, he did not agree with what had been said by the right hon. Member for Carlisle; he had hoped that no one in this House would desire to extinguish the power of the Crown to create them. We were all too apt to look upon the phenomena which surrounded us as permanent laws of nature, whereas, in point of fact, they were continually changing. Many opinions of our great-grandfathers appear to us absurd and benighted, so may our own most cherished ones seem to our great-grandchildren. A late Whig nobleman, whom everybody respected, was wont to observe that there were two great prizes which the higher aristocracy of this country did especially covet; one was the garter, the other the lord-lieutenancy. The noble Lord, an experienced judge of human nature, particularly of the class to which he belonged, said that they coveted those great prizes because they were never given to merit. That observation looked very much like irony or satire, but it was nothing of the kind. It might be quite logically and reasonably accounted for. Among the aristocracy the summum bonumwas not merit—because merit might be, and was, shared with the base-born, the poor, and the outcast—but great political power, high rank, and enormous wealth; and they valued those honours as the test and proof that they pre-eminently possessed these things. Nor were these remarks inapplicable to the general community, for there could be no doubt that, in comparison with continental nations, the people of England did bow in the most prostrate manner, in the first place to wealth, and next to rank. But was that always to be so? Was the world advancing or was it not? No doubt it advanced very slowly; but he was one of those who believed that it did improve, and, without being over sanguine, he looked forward with confidence to the time—be it twenty, fifty, or a hundred years hence— when men would be more valued than at present for moral and intellectual qualities apart from mere rank and wealth. He believed the day would arrive when it would be important to the House of Lords itself to attract brilliant talents, public spirit, virtue, though unendowed with the gifts of fortune. Now, it would be thought a strange thing if Mr. Macaulay were to be made an hereditary Peer, though his works would live as long as the English language, giving pleasure and instruction to millions yet unborn. And that gallant man who lately returned to England after performing the most heroic deeds—the hero of Kars—would he not be an ornament to any assembly? The power, then, of creating life peerages might remain dormant, but was not one of which he should like to see the Crown deprived, and when they recollected with satisfaction how much younger Her Majesty was than the majority of Members in that House, they would agree with him that the time might come when she might regret the attack now made upon her prerogative, and when her feelings of sorrow might be shared by the House of Lords itself. But, whether life peerages were good or bad, he objected to parting with so important a prerogative of the Crown by a side-wind, and in a manner which left the question in doubt and difficulty. Such was one reason why they ought to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. He now came to what he might call a plunder of the public purse, because everything was a plunder, be the amount £50 or £100, or even as many pence, which could not be justified by necessity. Were these new appellate Judges at £12,000 a year justified by any such necessity? He had letters in his pocket from some of the most learned Judges on the bench, men whose names—if he were to mention them—would command universal respect, all concurring in the statement that hearing appeals only would spoil any Judge. Law, like every—thing else, was progressive, and to enable a Judge to do his duty it was necessary that he should remain conversant with the practices of the Bar. One of his learned correspondents assured him that he was a different man after the long vacation than when he came off circuit, and that if he were to attend to appeals only he would be good for nothing in the course of two years. Again, one of the highest authorities in that House—one of the most experienced statesmen in the country—had told them that the Bill, if carried, would have the effect of corrupting all the puisne Judges. In point of fact, the Government appeared—but, of course, it was only an appearance—to be angling for the puisne Judges. There were two golden baits in the shape of deputy speakerships, precisely the things which those learned Gentlemen would bite at; for as men advanced in life their great object was to obtain not so much high salaries as a respectable position, dignity, and rather less work. Therefore, another great defect in the Bill, and one which called loudly for inquiry, was that it was likely to debauch the Bench. He now came to what to his mind seemed, however it might strike others, to be the worst feature of the Bill. It was their duty as a Legislature to raise the tone of public feeling and opinion, which they could do only by speaking and disseminating truth, and by being themselves true men. Yet they were asked by the advocates of the Bill to establish a monstrous sham. If the proposed court were to sit, there ought to be inscribed over it a very short but very expressive Saxon word which he would not mention, but of which they could not fail to be reminded by the monosyllable "sham." The court was to be called the House of Lords. Did they suppose anybody would be deceived by such transparent humbug? It was to sit not as the House of Lords sits, but during the recess of Parliament, and consist mainly of two Deputy Speakers, who could no more be called an integral part of the House of Lords than he himself. The truth was, the Bill was nothing less than a miserable attempt to stave off the discussion of the great question whether the appellate jurisdiction should remain with the House of Lords. The extraordinary speech delivered by the Solicitor General the other night, containing so many assertions and assumptions, filled him with dismay, and sent him home in a state of mind which he would not describe, but which enabled him to understand what the late lamented Dr. Arnold meant when he said that he would sooner see his sons starve than educated for the Bar. He did not wish to libel that noble and glorious profession, and no doubt Dr. Arnold referred to a passage in Burke describing the effect which the practice of the law produced on particular minds. However that might be, he should doubtless now be told that, whatever an ignorant layman like himself might say to the contrary, the proposed court was and should continue to be the House of Lords. That reminded him of a passage in Dean Swift, which he would take the liberty of reading to the House. The Solicitor General maintained that the court was the House of Lords. "Lord Peter," with scarcely less audacity, asserted that a crust of bread was a leg of mutton:— 'My Lord,' said he, 'I can only say that to my eyes, and fingers, and teeth, and nose, this seems nothing but a crust of bread;' upon which the second put in his word, 'I never saw a piece of mutton in my life so nearly resembling a twelvepenny loaf.' 'Look ye, gentlemen," cries Peter in a rage,' to convince you what a couple of blind, positive, ignorant, wilful puppies you are, I will use but this plain argument,—by ——,it is true, good, natural mutton as any in Leadenhall Market; and——confound you both eternally if you offer to believe otherwise!' Such was the kind of argument with which he expected to be met by the hon. and learned Solicitor General; but, nevertheless, he confidently asserted that the proposed Court could no more be the House of Lords than the three clerks at the table could be the House of Commons, even although empowered by the Bill to sit during the recess, and to exercise certain regulating or taxing powers.

Under all these circumstances he asked the House whether they would give the sanction of an Act of Parliament to this daring infringement of the prerogative of the Crown; whether they would lend themselves to a flagrant job, a wanton and unnecessary inroad on the public purse; whether they would organise a machinery for the corruption of the Judges,—one which at all events must throw suspicion and distrust upon that venerable body; whether they would deliberately establish and inaugurate a solemn sham? If, indeed, they were minded to do all these things, he entreated them to adopt at least the form of an inquiry beforehand. Affect a virtue if you have it not. If they were really prepared so to legislate, let them, he besought them, if only for decency's sake, assume the forms of deliberation; let them grant his Committee. The worst that could happen would be the postponement of the Bill till all had had time for reflection. Then, let bygones be bygones; let them bury in silence and oblivion the miserable antecedents of this miserable measure; treading lightly and walking backwards with something of filial shame, let them cover the frailties and eccentricities of a venerable assembly in another place. Then, at the beginning of another Session, the Commons House of Parliament might proceed with calmness, with dignity, and with that earnest and truthful search for the more excellent way which the subject so entirely demanded, to apply itself to one of the noblest and gravest questions that could occupy the councils of a free people—how best to construct, build up, and establish a High Court of Appeal, appeal final, and in the last resort; to determine the rights, privileges, and property of every corporate body, and of every individual in the kingdom. He trusted that they might rise to the height of their great argument, that they might approach the question in a spirit of wisdom and caution, but, at the same time, firmly and fearlessly, not seeking abstract theoretical perfection by any unnecessary innovation, but, on the other hand, throwing away with scorn the bugbear of a prescriptive jurisdiction, because, digging down to the roots of the constitution, they found amid its gradual growth and its hoar antiquity, that this boasted jurisdiction of the Lords was no part and parcel of the ancient trunk, but a fungus vegetation of yesterday, a mere parasitical excrescence; or, to drop all metaphor and to speak the sober truth—that in the Life of a Commonwealth it was nothing more nor less than an ephemeral usurpation. The hon. Member concluded by moving that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.


seconded the Amendment. His observations would, he feared, be in painful contrast to the amusing speech of so distinguished a performer as his hon. Friend (Mr. R. Currie), but, as he was suffering from indisposition, which would, perhaps, prevent his addressing the House at a later period of the evening, he should at once trouble it with a few remarks. His hon. Friend had spoken of a compromise. His (Mr. E. Denison's) habits of mind were not in favour of violent measures or extreme opinions, and a reasonable compromise upon a matter of difficulty would be to him rather a recommendation than an objection. Upon examining this subject, however, he could not find in it the elements of a compromise at all. It involved two questions perfectly different and distinct—the prerogative of the Crown to make Peers for life, and the reform of the appellate jurisdiction. Now, it appeared to him that certain parties, having involved themselves in difficulties, had turned round upon an absent one who ought to have been ably represented, and had said, "Let us solve the difficulty by"—doing what? Not by making a compromise, but by totally extinguishing and destroying the prerogative of the Crown to make life Peers; because that was the real effect of this measure. The House of Lords chose to enter upon a contest with the Crown upon the subject of life peerages, and made itself the judge in its own quarrel. That was a very convenient course when you were quite sure that the judgment would be final, and that there would be no appeal from it; but in this case, no sooner was the judgment given than the House of Lords themselves disturbed it by sending that measure to the House of Commons, and so calling on that House to be umpire between themselves and the Crown. He had no pretension to undertake the office of arbitrator—it required great calmness, gravity, and consideration properly to discharge the duties of arbiter in a quarrel of such importance; but as he had read the whole of the Blue-book, and also gone into the entire history of this transaction, he would call the attention of the House to a few particulars, which might assist it in forming its judgment. One circumstance which had struck him most forcibly was the extraordinary contradictions and shiftings of ground which had been exhibited in the course of this affair. In the first instance, when the power of the Crown to grant life peerages was questioned it was announced, with the utmost gravity, in the House of Lords that that House was never more competent to discharge the duties which it was required to fulfil than at the present moment. No sooner, however, was that question decided than it was discovered that the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords, instead of being in a satisfactory and efficient, was in a most unsatisfactory and very weak and rotten condition; so much so, that it was held by the House of Lords themselves that it was not capable of improvement or restoration by its own power, but that they must apply to the other branches of the Legislature to give it strength. It was said in the Upper House that it would be devoured by a flight of lawyers, and this remark was made at a time when there was no question but of the introduction of a single Lord from the regions of Wensleydale. In a short time, however, it was proposed by the very author of these predictions, that, under this Bill, a whole covey of lawyers should be introduced. These were both striking contradictions; but there was a third more remarkable still. It was said that the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords was the very essence of the peerage, that it was inherent in the hereditary principle, and very unfavourable contrasts were made between an hereditary Peer and a Peer for life. One noble Lord of great wit, looking to the extreme east for a simile, said that a Peer of the latter class would, after all, be only a "second chop" Peer. Yet, no sooner was the question of the creation of life peerages settled than a noble Lord proposed to make not one, but two or three "second chop" Peers, and to pass over to them from the great body of the Lords this appellate jurisdiction, and to call them the House of Lords, and that they should sit during the recess, exercising the full power and authority of the House of Lords. Really, if a Peer for life created by the Crown—the fountain of honour—deserved such a designation as that which he had quoted, he should like to know what term might not be applied to such a Peer, manufactured with the assistance of the rude hands of the Commons? These certainly struck him as remarkable contradictions, and gave' him rather an unfavourable impression of the judgment with which this contest had been conducted. It seemed to him that passion rather than discretion had presided over their councils. He would not enter minutely into the legal question of the right of the Crown to create peerages for life. The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. R. Palmer), although favourable to this Bill, had placed the right of the Crown to create life Peers in a light that was quite unanswerable. If the Crown could grant a peerage to A for life, with remainder to B and his heirs, it surely could grant a peerage to A for life simply. With regard to the proposed tribunal, what did the proposed tribunal really amount to? Two Peers for life were to be made, to be selected from the body of the Judges; but the inducements offered to men to fill a rank inferior to that of the hereditary Peers were so inadequate, that men of active minds, and in the full vigour of their faculties, would not take them—they could only tempt members of the judicial bench who were past their vigour, both of body and mind, and whose law would soon become rusty. Yet these life Peers were to have the power of reversing the decisions of the fifteen Judges of the realm who were in the full exercise of their faculties and in the constant practice of the law. Such a Court of Appeal as that would be simply ridiculous. He would, before he sat down, address a few words to the noble Lord at the head of the Government on the position in which that—the Ministeria—side of the House was placed by this Bill. They had arrived near the close of a Session which had been successful and honourable to the noble Lord's Administration. They were proud of the noble Lord as their leader. He had not only been ever foremost in the battle, but had taken more than his share of the daily drudgery of the trenches. The noble Lord, he hoped, was satisfied with his soldiers. Then let him not suffer this miserable Bill to come between them and him at the close of their campaign. The noble Lord's time was fully occupied, but if he could find a moment to look at the division list of the other night it was worthy of the noble Lord's consideration. It showed a large array of his usual supporters who had voted against him on this particular question. They could not enter into that contest with the noble Lord at the end of the Session without great regret and infinite annoyance to themselves; and he ought to spare them that painful necessity. He put it entirely to the good feeling of his noble Friend, and would remain silent on the possible result of driving them to extremities. Let him reflect that there was nobody who said a word in favour of this Bill, in public or in private. In private, indeed, it was criticised very freely. He (Mr. E. Denison) had heard it described by Gentlemen on the other side, as a very bad Bill, which, nevertheless, they were under an obligation to support. He had heard it condemned by a gentleman of the highest authority in even stronger terms—as being, in fact, the very worst Bill that had been introduced into the House of Commons for the last twenty years. That was also his own opinion of it. The noble Lord ought, therefore, hardly to force it through the House against the wish of 140 Gentlemen, many of whom were his warm supporters. An opportunity for inquiring into the matter ought at least to be afforded them. That was the reasonable and moderate proposition which had been made that night; and he felt confident that when the noble Lord came to consider the objectionable nature of this measure, and the position in which it would place him in relation to his supporters, he would not persevere any longer in the course that he had thus far pursued. All they asked was, to be allowed to close the Session and return to their homes with satisfaction and contentment. He trusted that the noble Lord would spare them the painful feelings which a further conflict on this measure must excite, and would accede to the request for inquiry.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Bill be committed to a Select Committee," instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that in the course of a discussion in that House, which arose in August last, on a subject not immediately bearing on the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords, he drew attention to the grievous evils connected with the exercise of that jurisdiction. Since then the accuracy of the views that he had expressed had been established by the evidence taken before a Committee of the other House, and had also been adopted by the House of Lords itself, as testified by the sending down of the present measure. The intolerable delay and expense attendant upon appeals to the upper House being universally acknowledged, he would pass them by without further remark; but he wished to make a few observations on the nature of the existing tribunal. Now that public attention had been so much turned to the administration of justice, the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords, exercised by a single Judge, even though by a Judge like Lord Eldon, would not be endured any longer. From the year 1832 downwards, owing to the frequent changes of Ministry following the Reform Bill, there had been collected in the upper House a Lord Chancellor and some two or three ex-Lord Chancellors, so distinguished for ability and learning that their like would never, perhaps, be seen again. The consequence was, that the country had been perfectly satisfied with the administration of justice in an assembly adorned with the presence of three or four such noble and learned Lords. Since then, however, the state of things had gradually changed. For various reasons those eminent men had discontinued their attendance. Lord Lyndhurst was excused by his advanced age, and Lord Brougham was rapidly approaching the period when he could claim the same privilege. Lord St. Leonards, too, although as full of zeal and activity as ever, had not been present to hear appeals during the present Session. The result was that for a large portion of last Session it had been impossible to secure the attendance of more than two law Lords; in the present Session they had never had more than two, and the number had even dwindled down to one. Such a state of things was intolerable. The question arose, then, what was to be done? It was universally admitted that some alteration must take place, and the question was, whether the House of Lords were to retain their present appellate jurisdiction or not. He, for one, should have rejoiced if the House of Lords had consented to relinquish that jurisdiction; but they had determined to retain it; and, although he could not concur in their decision, many distinguished Members of the House of Lords, and many gentlemen of great ability and experience out of that House, thought it essential to the maintenance of the position of the House of Lords that the appellate jurisdiction of that tribunal should be retained. He understood, however, that by the House of Lords was meant the House at large, and as it was well known that their appellate jurisdiction had devolved entirely upon learned Lords, he was unable to understand what connection the maintenance of that jurisdiction had with the position of the House itself. The question the House of Commons were now called upon to determine was what was to be done? Would any man say it was right or proper that the existing state of things should be allowed to continue? At present the Lord Chancellor was sitting alone to hear the most important appeals; and could anything be more ridiculous than to call such a tribunal the House of Lords? There might be some concealed reason, but he could not imagine any substantial reason, for retaining such a system. If he thought there was any reasonable prospect that the House of Lords would part with their appellate jurisdiction, and consent to transfer that jurisdiction to a properly constituted ultimate Court of Appeal, he would vote against the second reading of the Bill, and in favour of the Amendment. He confessed that he had never given a vote that had caused him so much anxiety, and he wished it to be fully understood that he did not give his vote for the second reading because he was at all enamoured of the Bill, but because the evil being great and pressing, he did not see any better remedy available than that which was afforded by this measure. They were now approaching the end of the Session, and if the Bill were referred to a Select Committee it would be virtually "shelved." It could not be expected that the number of law Lords would be increased next year, or that the House of Lords would consent to part with their appellate jurisdiction; and he, therefore, thought the best plan was to endeavour to effect some improvement, so far as it could be accomplished by this measure. Let the constitution of the ultimate Court of Appeal be what it might, they must remember that the rights, privileges, and liberties of all might depend upon it. There were three principal objections to the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords as it at present existed. The first was, that as the House could only sit as an appellate tribunal during the Session of Parliament, great delay was occasioned; and the Bill proposed to remedy this evil by enabling the appellate Court to sit throughout the judicial year. The expense of proceedings before the House of Lords was also a ground of objection; but that expense would be materially reduced by this measure. The third objection was that the presence of only one law Lord could be secured in the House of Lords when it was sitting in its judicial capacity; but this Bill would secure the attendance at every appeal of not less than three law Lords. It bad been said that by this measure a direct blow was struck at the prerogative of the Crown, because it authorised the creation of peerages for life; but it was a complete delusion to suppose that the Bill would in the slightest degree fetter the prerogative of the Crown. The Crown could create as many Peers for life as it might deem fit; but he thought, it must be admitted that the House of Lords constituted the proper tribunal to decide who were members of their own body, and that House had decided that a Peer for life was not a Peer of Parliament. How, then, would this Bill interfere with the prerogative of the Crown? It provided that the Crown might create a limited number of Peers for life who should be Peers of Parliament. But that provision did not limit the prerogative of the Crown; in fact, it left the prerogative just where it was before, and merely provided that, with the consent of the House of Lords, a certain number of Peers created for life might have the privilege, which they did not now possess, of sitting in that House. There was a general concurrence of opinion in the House that the court of appeal, whatever it might be, should consist of at least three judges, and in that opinion he agreed. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) seemed to think that Peers for life would not be on a footing in power to that occupied by hereditary Peers; but he believed they were mistaken in that view, and that there would be no more distinction between life and hereditary Peers than there was between Scotch and Irish representative Peers and those who sat in their own right. It would be for the advantage of the public and of profession to which he belonged, if appellate jurisdiction remained with House of Lords, that these peerages to some extent should be for life and not by inheritance. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle had remarked that the profession of the law was as profitable now as it ever had been. But he (Mr. Malins) ventured to assure him that if he would inquire he would find that the recent alteration in the law, however beneficial to the public generally, had not been so to the Bar, and that the income of both juniors and leaders had been considerably diminished. Undoubtedly the profession of the law generally did not yield such incomes as would provide a sufficient number of men able to sustain the honours of the hereditary peerage. Now, it was essential that there should be men of the legal profession in the House of Lords, for it would be a calamity of no common kind if there should be loft only the Lord Chancellor as the representative of the legal profession in that House. Though it was sometimes said there were too many lawyers in the House of Commons—and perhaps so said correctly—yet how could they expect to deal efficiently with legal questions if they had no lawyers of experience to guide them with their opinions? But if their presence was essential in the House of Commons, how much more so in the House of Lords? At the present moment there were only four or five of the legal profession in the Upper House, three of whom were above seventy years of age, and in such circumstances was it not necessary to make provision for the presence of a sufficient number of law Lords? In this point of view it seemed to him important that Parliament should concede to the Crown the power of creating a certain number of Peers for life who should be entitled to seats in the House of Lords; and therefore he supported the present Bill as a practical measure, though he would gladly have seen a better remedy provided. A good deal had been said about retaining the appellate jurisdiction in the House of Lords; but, really, when they found that this court was to sit when Parliament was not sitting, and that it was to consist of a particular body of persons, the most staunch friends of the principle of appellate jurisdiction would have to admit that in substance the thing was gone. When the public knew that in November, December, and January there were three law Lords sitting to hear appeals, well knowing that Parliament was not sitting, they would say, "This is not a House of Legislature, but a court of justice." They were told that they ought to have more information; but what further information did they want? No information was required as to the imperfections of the present system; he was sure most people thought it would be desirable that the House of Lords should give up the jurisdiction they now possessed; there was at present no prospect that they would consent to give it up; but if in a few years they felt that the body constituted by the Bill was a distinct body, they might be induced to part with in name what they had already parted with in substance. Was there not a probability that the Lords would gradually, by gentle degrees, be induced nominally to give up that which they had already actually and substantially given up? The Bill was a great advance in this respect—that it secured the attendance of a proper number of competent Peers; because he took it for granted that the noble Lord in filling up the offices about to be created would have nothing in view but the due administration of justice; he did not expect that any jobbery would take place. He entirely objected, however, to that part of the Bill which limited the choice of the Crown in filling up these judicial offices; and he had given notice of an Amendment in Committee for its removal. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle that the Government ought not to have it in their power to hold out inducements of those appointments to the puisne Judges. The chiefs of the common law courts were commonly selected from the Bar; and although Lord Cranworth had held a judicial office before his appointment as Lord Chancellor, yet five Lord Chancellors out of six were also chosen directly from the Bar. What an absurdity would it be to allow the head of a tribunal to be so chosen, while the inferior judges could only be selected from the holders of judicial offices! There could be no reason for the exclusion of the law officers of the Crown. He strongly objected to this restriction as unnecessary, and even the Solicitor General, the only witness who recommended it to the Committee, did not, he believed, adhere to the opinion he then expressed. There were some other parts of the Bill to which he also objected. [Ironical cheers.] He understood that cheer to mean that his was, after all, but a faint support of the Bill. He admitted that he thought something better might have been done, but, considering the magnitude of the evil, and the necessity for an immediate remedy, which this Bill provided, he could not support the proposition to get rid of it by sending it before a Select Committee.


said, he was anxious to join his voice to those who made the moderate and reasonable request that before they committed themselves to irrevocable legislation on this momentous question a pause should be allowed for inquiry and investigation. What were the circumstances usually held to constitute a case for a Committee of Inquiry? When for a great and admitted grievance a remedy was proposed which even its advocates declared to be imperfect and unsatisfactory, the course adopted by this great inquest of the nation was to pause and inquire, and, through the agency of a Committee, to obtain the information necessary to enable them to arrive at a wise conclusion. What were the circumstances of the present case? At the latest period of the Session, at the time of the introduction of the Appropriation Bill, a measure had been sent down from the other House dealing with the constitution of the other House, with prerogatives of the Crown, and with the rights and interests of every member of the community. They had been asked why they were so anxious to defend the prerogatives of the Crown; but it was one of the privileges of the free Government under which they lived that no man could remain an adviser of the Crown who did not enjoy the confidence of the popular branch of the Legislature, and it followed as a corollary from that position that the prerogatives of the Crown were part of the inheritance of the people, and must therefore be faithfully guarded by them. The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. Malins) said that the Bill did not limit the prerogative of the Crown: no, because according to him there was no prerogative to limit. No one disputed that the Crown could create life Peers, but it was a great question whether or not Peers so created could take their places and vote as Members of the House of Peers. With that question the Bill before them dealt, and if it dealt ambiguously and uncertainly with it, the reason for inquiry was so much the stronger. The hon. and learned Gentleman had himself furnished them with other and abundant reasons for deliberation. The Lords, in the hon. and learned Gentleman's opinion, did not understand the Bill; and their determination not to part with their judicial status was his reason for supporting the Bill which took that status from them. The hon. and learned Gentleman stated that the House of Lords had passed the Bill for the purpose of preserving their appellate jurisdiction; yet he also said that this very Bill did away in fact and substance with that appellate jurisdiction. If there was such doubt and contradiction upon the face of the Bill, even to the apprehension of its supporters, surely time and opportunity for investigation should be given before the House of Commons gave it their sanction. The hon. and learned Gentleman had given notice of an Amendment to strike out one of the most important provisions of the Bill—that applying to the persons from whom the new tribunal was to be selected; and there were also other portions of this short Bill to which he objected. The advocates of the Bill had, indeed, much reason to exclaim, after hearing the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, "Save me from my friends!" while those who were less favourably disposed towards the Bill found in it additional reasons for demanding more time for its consideration. Under what circumstances had this Bill come down to the House, and how had the Bill been received in debate? Upon the Opposition side of the House but little had been said, and silent votes had been given in favour of the Bill. Upon that (the Ministerial) side of the House the strongest speeches and the most earnest votes had been given against the second reading. As yet the guardians of the Queen's prerogative in that House had taken no part in this discussion. He mentioned this with pleasure, for the demand for more careful inquiry was so reasonable that he hoped the Government would see the wisdom and propriety of consenting to it. Again, what had been the statements made by the supporters of the Bill? What Member who had spoken in its favour had failed to condemn it. The Attorney General spoke of it as a mode of getting out of a difficulty. The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. R. Palmer) described the Bill as weak and unsatisfactory in its details, and said that if the Bill passed, appointing only two Judges, whose salaries did not exceed those of the puisne Judges, it would be a miserable failure. The other hon. and learned Member for Plymouth admitted that the Bill was capable of improvement. The Solicitor General wished that its basis was larger, and reserved himself for Amendments in Committee. These were the speeches in favour of the Bill. When they heard it so "damned with faint praise," not by one, but by all its advocates, was it not a serious warning to the House to pause? Ought a measure and so important a measure, for which no more could be said, to be hurried through the House at the fag-end of the Session? What was it, indeed, that they were going to do? Law reform was greatly demanded by the public, and the House of Commons were devoting a great deal of time and attention to the subject. What was the keystone and head of the column but the constitution of that appellate tribunal to which all legal cases were taken, and the decisions of which were themselves the models and the unwritten law by which all the inferior tribunals were guided? The House had delayed one measure of law reform on the ground that there was no use in going on with it until Parliament had settled the constitution of the final Court of Appeal. That certainly was not an argument for passing the present Bill in haste, but for making that Court of Appeal as perfect as possible, and for carefully considering every step for reconstituting it. He would ask the House to remember what was the present situation of the supreme appellate jurisdiction of the country? At present there were two Courts of final Appeal—the Committee of Privy Council and the House of Lords. Was it wise for any community to have two Courts of final Appeal? or, rather, was it not a question for the House of Commons to consider whether it would be wise to maintain two Courts of Appeal, and whether it would not be possible to create one Court of Appeal, composed of all the wisdom of the law and conciliating all the confidence of the public? The Court that gave universal satisfaction, not one of whose decisions had been complained of—the judicial Committee of the Privy Council—was entirely ignored by the Bill: in truth, as it seemed to him, the Bill evidenced a future intention of entirely getting rid of that tribunal. What ought to be the general principles of a first tribunal and of a tribunal of appeal? Was it not manifest that the principle of a first tribunal was the great individual responsibility of the Judge, and of the Court of Appeal, that it should embrace the collective wisdom of the wisest and most experienced Judges? If these two principles were sound, he would ask the House to consider the state of the tribunals of the country as they would be left if this Bill was passed. Take a case in equity. A case opened in chambers was adjourned into Court, and heard by a Vice Chancellor. An appeal lay from the Vice Chancellor to the two Lords Justices sitting with the Lord Chancellor. From their decision an appeal then lay to the tribunal in the House of Lords, proposed to be constituted by that Bill, where it would be reheard by three Judges, one of whom (the Lord Chancellor) was one of the very Judges who had heard the matter in the Court below. Here were four stages of appeal, constituting an amount of vexation, anxiety, and expense which, if it were premature to condemn, were at least matter for most reasonable inquiry. [Mr. MALINS: There is no appeal from a Judge in chambers. The case is adjourned from chambers.] Then take a case of common law—here the matter was still worse. The matter was first tried before one Judge, and was then heard before a full Court. It was then heard in the Exchequer Chamber, and thence removed to the House of Lords. Was it not matter most worthy of careful investigation, whether all these appeals were necessary for the due distribution of justice, or whether they were not accompanied by an amount of vexation and expense upon the suitor, from which it was the duty of that House to relieve him? The appellate tribunal was to be composed of the Lord Chancellor and the two Deputy Speakers—a court of three. That was the number of the Judges in the Court of Equity, from which the appeal was brought. Take the common law appeal. The Queen's Bench might be unanimous. Their decision might be affirmed by the ten other Judges in the Exchequer Chamber, and from the whole body of the common law Judges the appeal would be to the Lord Chancellor and the two Deputy Speakers sitting in the House of Lords. Was that obviously a wise and practical arrangement, or did they think that a plaintiff who had had the opinion of the fifteen common law Judges in his favour would be satisfied if their decision were reversed on a final hearing before the three Judges of the appellate tribunal, not one of whom might have practised in or presided over a common law Court? There were a number of other questions, all of the most important practical bearing, and every one of which not only deserved, but ought to command the most careful inquiry on the part of the House. There was, for example, the question of Scotland. The Dean of Faculty, the Lord Justice General, a most able man, with whom they were well acquainted as a Member of that House, and other influential persons, represented that provision ought to be made for Scotland by this Bill. Yet no provision was made for that subject by this Bill; and, surely, it was a matter well worthy of consideration. Then, again, as to India and the Colonies, he would submit it was a grave question, whether something might not be done to alter the state of the law of appeal as it affected those great countries. There had been also a petition presented to that House from a person of great weight and authority—Lord Wensleydale—which deserved consideration. It was not the habit of that House to deal lightly with the interests of private individuals, when it was represented their interests would be affected by public legislation, and certainly in this case that petition was well deserving of consideration. Did the House, by proceeding at once with this Bill, intend utterly to reject that petition? He would remind the House that the whole subject to which the Bill referred had been considered at length in another place, and occupied so much, time that it was only now, at the close of the Session, that it had been brought under their attention. The hon. and learned Member who spoke last had said, that this was a matter for the House of Lords, as it altered and affected its constitution; but he (Mr. Cardwell) said, it was a matter for the House of Commons, as it affected the fortunes, the property, and the wellbeing of all the Queen's subjects. Then, was not that a strong argument in favour of a deliberate minute inquiry on the part of the House of Commons into that which had occupied the attention of the other House for so long a period? When it was stated by the last speaker that it was necessary to pass this Bill, because the House of Lords would consent to no other, he would observe that there was another consideration which should not be lost sight of. Judging by the terms in which the hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken of the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords, of its imperfect constitution and consequent working of mischiefs, and that it was necessary for something to be done, he (Mr. Cardwell) did not believe the House of Lords would offer an impregnable resistance to any wise measure of reform which had been well considered and well supported by the House of Commons. So far from feeling the force of the implied threat of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he drew a completely opposite inference. The true conclusion was, that the exigencies of the case were such, that not only the House of Commons, but the House of Lords also, would feel themselves called upon and obliged to adopt some wise and deliberate legislation on the question. But, if the House was to be called upon to give its sanction to a mere stopgap measure, which would be regarded as its opinion of what was a reform adequate to the occasion, then a pretext would be furnished for an allegation, that all the mischiefs to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had referred had been cured by this Bill, to which the House of Commons had given its concurrence; and it would be remembered against them, that an appeal made to the House of Commons to take time for a deliberate inquiry had been overruled; that they had precipitately adopted a crude and imperfect measure, strongly condemned on the one hand and faintly supported on the other; and their own act of precipitancy would be the answer given to any future demand for further measures of improvement.


said, he did not see any necessity for referring this Bill to a Select Committee, for he did not recollect any subject discussed in that House on which so much information appeared to have been, generally attained. Every speaker, including the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, appeared to be acquainted with the details of the subject, and well qualified to deal with it. He gathered from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, that we were not to touch the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords until we had reviewed the whole system of our jurisprudence, and adapted a Court of Appeal to it. But if all collateral questions were to be discussed before we dealt with that of the Court of Appeal it would be years before the question was settled. The subject would get into the same unfortunate condition as the proposed reform of the Ecclesiastical Courts. Year after year, a reform had been promised in those Courts, the imperfections of which were admitted on all hands; but immediately any specific remedy was suggested, so many objections to it were raised that the evils which all admitted remained untouched. It was from an earnest desire to get rid of an admitted evil of magnitude in the present constitution of the Court of Appeal that he should give his assent to going into Committee on this Bill at once. Many hon. Gentlemen had been led astray from the main question. The Bill contained one leading point and several details, and those who were ready to concur in the main point, should not hesitate to go into Committee and consider the details. The main point proposed was the creation of two more salaried officers in the House of Lords, and there, in his apprehension, the principle of the Bill stopped. As to the question whether the appointments were to be confined to persons who had filled judicial offices, or were to extend to the profession at large, that was a matter of detail for consideration in Committee, and he was himself prepared to leave the appointments open to the profession at large. The question of salaries would be easily adjusted in Committee. The question of life peerages had nothing to do with the principle of the Bill. It, indeed, gave power to Her Majesty to create certain life peerages. But it would not be necessary that the new judicial officers should be made life Peers; and it was matter of detail whether to retain this power. The only other matter of detail was whether the judicial department of the House of Lords should sit during the vacation of Parliament; and that was open to consideration. He thought the most convenient course would be to modify the clause and to provide that the House of Lords might, if it thought fit, appoint a Committee to hear appeals, with authority to sit during the recess. The Bill only intended to supply the deficiency of Law Lords, which by aid of the retired Chancellors had, until now, constituted the Court of Appeal in the House of Lords. But the object of the opponents of the Bill evidently was to abrogate the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords altogether. To that he was entirely opposed; and he was of opinion that it would be far better to improve the existing tribunal of the House of Lords, than to create a new Court of Appeal. As to transferring all appellate jurisdiction to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, he thought hon. Gentlemen were carried away by the reputation of the existing Committee of the Privy Council. He did not wish to say anything disrespectful of that Court during any period of its existence, but he had known that tribunal from its very commencement, and it was a mistake to suppose that it gave the same satisfaction during the first years of its existence that it did now. The real fact was, that its reputation was coincident with its being joined by a right hon. Gentleman, to whom allusion had often been made in these debates, who, on leaving the Bar, gave his assistance to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and with the aid of his eminent abilities the decisions of that body had since given great satisfaction. Besides which, they had had the aid of the Lords Justices, two most eminent Judges, and of Dr. Lushington. Now by this Bill it was proposed to do with the House of Lords what was done when you constituted the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The old Committee of the Privy Council gave dissatisfaction, and a remedy was applied by an Act of Parliament which constituted the existing court, which had been so lauded. If the same good fortune attended a new constitution of the House of Lords the same result would follow. But everything in each case depended upon the working of the Bill by the Government, and the appointments they made. They should select the best men—those whom the country and the profession considered the best. If the appointments were made from political considerations or private feeling—if the very best men who could be found were not appointed to these situations—this scheme and every scheme would prove worse than useless. He should assume with regard to this Bill, as he must, that the Crown meant to exercise the power given to it in the best manner that it could, and he should vote for going into Committee upon it. In Committee he should suggest that the House of Lords be asked to delegate its judicial functions to a Committee of their body, who should hear appeals in the same manner as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Reserving to himself full liberty with regard to the details of the Bill, he should support the Motion for going into Committee.


I hope the House will excuse me if I attempt to detain them for a very few moments on a question of an interest and importance so extraordinary as that now before us. I have to regret—although this may be a pledge to the House that I shall not long occupy their attention—that, owing to indisposition, I have been prevented from hearing many of the most effective speeches which have been delivered by persons intending to object by their votes to the Bill now under consideration. I have, however, been fortunate in hearing several speeches delivered by men of great eminence in favour of the Bill; and, as an opponent of the Bill, I am bound to say that I have every reason to be satisfied with those speeches, and that, if any doubt had remained on my mind with respect to the inexpediency of proceeding with a measure of this character under present circumstances and at this time, the speeches which I have heard from eminent Members of the legal profession, who thought they were speaking on behalf of the Bill, and who intend to support it with their votes, would have sufficed to remove the very shadow of such a doubt. I take the speech with which the hon. and learned Attorney General introduced the Bill. He ran over the scale from top to bottom, reciting all the objections which might be urged against it; but he did not attempt to extenuate the force of one of them—he did not enter into any reasoning or statement of facts to show that any one of them was unfounded or exaggerated—but to one and all he replied by declaring that the present evil was vast, intolerable, and insufferable; that he had nothing else to offer but this Bill, and that the House had no option but to pass it. I am bound to say that I do not think the House of Commons is reduced to such a sorry pass as that when a question of this kind is presented to it, touching most nearly the very foundations of one House of Parliament—touching most delicate matters with respect to the prerogative of the Crown—and also involving most important topics with respect to the administration of justice—I say, when such a question is presented to the House at a time when the Appropriation Bill has begun to run its rapid course, I do not think the House is reduced to such a pass that every reason is to be confuted, every authority to be silenced, every argument to be set aside, and every objection to be met by the simple statement that the present condition of things is intolerable, and that the House has no choice but to accept what is offered to them. This, indeed, is paying but a very bad compliment to the House of Lords. What says the hon. and learned Member for Wallingford (Mr. Malins)? I hope every Gentleman in this House has heard his speech, which was worthy of the eminent position which that hon. Gentleman holds in his profession. The hon. and learned Gentleman, thought it beneath him to make an uncandid statement of his views, and I thank him for his candour; but, at the same time, I hope he will not think it unfair on the part of those who are friendly to further inquiry to take what they consider a just advantage of his statement of the grounds on which he intends to vote for the Bill. In the first place, the hon. and learned Gentleman said that he never had so much difficulty in making up his mind, and he described the oppression on his breast with respect to the vote he should give. Really, that part of his speech sounded like an appeal to our sympathy and compassion; and I assure him that if he will simply alter his intention with respect to his vote—as he may in perfect consistency, as all the substantial arguments he urged were against the Bill—he will find all those disagreeable feelings he has referred to immediately disappear, and he will pass at once from a state of trouble to a condition of ease and tranquillity, with the perfect consciousness that he has done a real service to his country. The hon. and learned Gentleman says he entirely objects to the retention of the appellate jurisdiction by the House of Lords, and he thinks that there is not the slightest doubt that, when three gentlemen are found sitting in some corner of the House of Lords during the prorogation, the public will begin to perceive that the appellate jurisdiction is reduced to a fiction. Therefore, he says, as a practical man, that, inasmuch as he perceives that this Bill destroys the substance of the appellate jurisdiction, though it does not professedly go the whole length of his opinion, which is in favour of destroying the shadow as well as the substance—yet, because it leaves only the shadow, he accepts the Bill. After that it was with some surprise that I heard my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Wigram) get up and say that he entertained some suspicions that the opponents of this Bill—that is to say, those who are against proceeding with it at present—harboured ideas unfavourable to the retention of the appellate jurisdiction by the House of Lords. I know not whether there is any great disloyalty to the prerogative of the House of Lords with respect to the appellate jurisdiction on the part of those who recommended further time for consideration; but I am quite sure that no one can entertain more dangerous views in reference to that matter than the hon. and learned Member for Wallingford. Now, I know not in what sense the noble Lord at the head of the Government was about to address the House on this question when he rose; but I never was more strongly convinced of the reasonableness and moderation of any proposition than I am of the reasonableness and moderation of the request contained in the Amendment before the House. It is not pretended that this is anything else but an Amendment, which, if carried, must for the present Session put an end to the Bill; and I seriously ask whether, in the present period of the Session, and under the circumstances in which we stand, we are fit to open up all the great questions which this Bill involves? Does not even decency require—I will not say duty to our constituents—but does not even that docorum, which our constituents have a right to demand that we should observe, require that for some short weeks we should deliberate on a question of this kind, before finally committing ourselves to an arrangement over which our control ceases when once we adopt it? What questions are involved in it? If we were to consider only the private rights of Lord Wensleydale, I must confess it is not too much to say that we ought well to scrutinise our proceedings before we venture to damage those rights which, he contends, have been created by a solemn act of the Queen, and which it may be in his power to submit to a court of law. Is it not desirable that time should be taken to reconcile the serious discrepancies among the supporters of this Bill? The Bill has been objected to as a compromise; and the answer made is, that many great measures of former legislation are founded on the basis of compromise. That is most true; but are those compromises on which those great measures are founded, of a character analogous to the compromise in respect to this Bill? Of the former kind of compromises, it may be said that they are always arrived at after great deliberation, and when, by repeated discussions, you have well tested the state of the public mind and judgment, and the strength, not only of parties, but of arguments, so that you are enabled, on the whole, to come to a conclusion most agreeable to the general interests, and which commanded the confidence of every party. Is that the case here? On the contrary, this compromise is of a totally different character, and one which those who support it support without approval, either in consequence of the imaginary horrors conjured up by the Attorney General, or with the declaration of an intention of altering the Bill in Committee, as intimated by the hon. and learned Member for Wallingford—a declaration creditable to his acumen and candour, but which, if acted upon successfully, would obviously be fatal to the character of the Bill as a compromise. Compromise it may be, but it is entirely different from those respectable compromises which represent the conscientious conclusions of men after full investigation and deliberation. It is a compromise huddled up for the convenience of parties in some Committee-room in another place, then brought down to the House of Commons, and presented to us for our acceptance in such a shape, and under such circumstances, that it is not too much to say that if we pass this Bill, in the wretched fag-end which remains of the present Session, we shall be doing nothing short of abdicating our functions as legislators. Most of the points which concern this matter have been already treated with so much ability that I need not trouble the House by going over them again; but there is one point in particular to which I venture to call the attention of the House, because it affords a very strong ground of objection to proceeding with the Bill during the present Session. It is said that this Bill may be amended in its details. It is, however, sometimes difficult to judge what are details. If this Bill is a compromise, it is eminently desirable to know what are the essential parts of the compromise. If you take the lax and latitudinarian doctrine of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, it appears that there are no essential parts in the compromise except the creation of two great salaried officers of the House of Lords, and anything else may either be excluded or inserted. If, again, you were to adopt all the alterations suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Wallingford, I know not what security he gives that, after we have passed the Bill on the footing of a compromise, it would not then be rejected in another place as being something different from what was intended—as not representing the compromise. This I may assume, that if there is any one part of the Bill which is the essence of the compromise, it must be that portion which bears on the prerogative of the Crown. I take it for granted that the whole aim and object of the compromise were to save the consistency and to reconcile the opinions of those who were placed in conflict with respect to an important prerogative of the Crown, asserted by a minority and denied by a majority in the House of Lords. I therefore assume that the Bill represents the sense and spirit of that compromise with respect to the prerogative of the Crown. Well, what does the Bill say and do with respect to that prerogative? Is there any man who will answer me that question? I wish I had heard the noble Lord at the head of the Government deliver his authoritative judgment as to the effect of this Bill on the prerogative of the Crown. I did not hear the Attorney General express his opinion, nor do I believe that the Solicitor General—though I did not hear his speech—declared his opinion upon this point. This question is touched mainly in the fourth clause. I do not presume to give any opinion with respect to the important inquiry whether the Crown is entitled to create life Peers of Parliament or not. I do not dispute the doctrine of my hon. Friend the Member for Wallingford, that the House of Lords was acting within its competency when it thought fit to take a proceeding which had the effect of negativing the exercise of that prerogative. But on the other hand, I think it is perfectly plain that, when we are called upon to legislate upon the matter of life peerages, the House of Commons is entitled, nay bound, to have an opinion with respect to that prerogative. The claim I make is this—and I think it is a resistless argument in support of the Motion of my hon. Friend—that we shall be permitted to deal with this question of prerogative in the daylight, and not in the dark. If we are about to limit the prerogative, let us know it; or if we are about to save it, let us know that it is saved. It is quite plain that it would be unworthy of the framers of a Bill to propose to this House a measure couched in terms of studied ambiguity in reference to that point, and, if there could be a man who would frame a Bill for the purpose of deluding the House, it would be unworthy not only of our dignity, but of our intelligence, to allow ourselves to be taken in by such a delusion. This Bill says, in the fourth clause, that if Her Majesty shall have granted a peerage for life to any person who shall be appointed Lord High Chancellor or Deputy Speaker, such person shall be entitled to receive a writ of summons as a Peer of Parliament. I do not now animadvert—because it is a point of secondary importance—upon the somewhat indecorous if not unconstitutional course of providing by Act of Parliament for the compulsory exercise of the Queen's prerogative with regard to the issuing of a writ of summons; I do not enter into that question now, because it is possible that it may be amended as a verbal question in Committee; I simply confine myself to the meaning of the clause. I find here a clear enunciation in an Act of Parliament, that when Her Majesty shall have granted a peerage for life to a Lord High Chancellor or Deputy Speaker such person shall receive a writ of summons as a Peer of Parliament as a matter of right. Is not the maxim inclusio unius exclusio alii, I ask, most clearly applicable in this case? If you say that a person receiving an appointment as Deputy Speaker, with a peerage for life, shall be entitled to sit in Parliament, do not you thereby inevitably and irrevocably declare that no other person appointed a Peer for life shall be entitled to sit in Parliament? If there be any doubt on the matter, turn to the 6th clause which says that nothing shall in any wise abridge or affect the right of Her Majesty to appoint other Deputy Speakers than life Peers. If you mean to preserve the prerogative of the Crown to appoint life Peers of Parliament, why do you not say, in like manner, that nothing shall in any wise abridge or affect the right of Her Majesty to appoint life Peers? Do you mean to preserve the right or not? If you do not mean to preserve it, let us know that we are proceeding on that basis. You have granted the right of appointing other Deputy Speakers besides the two to be appointed under this Bill; you have also granted the right of appointing four life Peers of Parliament under this Bill, and I want to know why, while preserving the right to make other Deputy Speakers you do not preserve the right to make other life Peers? Taking this fourth clause in connection with the rest of the Bill, I say that if you meant to enact an absolute extinction of any claim on the part of the Crown to exercise such a prerogative, you have done it most effectually here. Look at the first proviso in the fourth clause, "Provided always" (and I beg the attention of the Government to this point) "that not more than four persons shall have seats in the House of Lords at one time as Peers for life only." Are there any words in the English language which could more clearly express a Parliamentary declaration that the number of four Peers for life was to be the absolute maximum fixed by law? It may be right that that should be so; I do not enter upon that point; but, if we are to deal with a compromise on this question, I think we have a fair claim to know what is the meaning of that compromise. If you say that we must not inquire—that all we have got to do is to vote, it is not too much that before we vote we should ask you to explain to us what it is that we are going to vote. But even if we had before us an explicit and satisfactory declaration as to the question of life peerages itself, I should still be precluded from giving my vote in favour of this Bill without further inquiry by the simple consideration of the manner in which it deals with that great question. I think it is impossible that there could arise in this country a graver question than that involved in the creation of Peers for life. It may be that that question has been hastily and inconsiderately raised. That, I confess, is my own opinion, but the fact that it has been inconsiderately raised does not justify us in inconsiderately fixing and fastening it down by legislation. I can see great force in the argument for peerages for life. Your peerage, meant to be transmitted to remote descendants, is no doubt much connected with the possession of large property in all cases, except those where the personal distinction is so great as to render it nugatory to inquire what property the person raised to the peerage possesses, that it is a matter of great importance to consider whether in the professions from which you now-a-days mainly feed the peerage there is a fair chance of the acquisition of such a property by the persons distinguished in those professions as will make it desirable, either for their own sakes or for the sake of the country, that they shall have peerages transmissible to their descendants: that is a matter of great importance, and above all it is a matter on which this House has a right to ask for some time to deliberate. On the other hand, there are the considerations so powerfully stated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham) the other night. This is an opinion which we must all entertain—that it is better not to open this question of life peerages until we are prepared to deal with it in a manner which shall probably both open and close it. I do not mean close it in such a manner that it cannot he opened again, for of such doctrines we are not accustomed to hear much here, nor do I think their reasonableness is very generally admitted; but it will be allowed that the subject of life peerages is one which, if it be made the basis of a legislative measure, ought so to be dealt with that it shall both give satisfaction to the public mind at the time, and shall hear upon itself such marks of deliberation and adaptation to the wants of the period in which we live, that, at any rate, we shall have the chance afforded to it of a fair consideration without a perpetual recurrence of agitation. Does this Bill, I ask, fulfil this reasonable condition? It is quite plain that this measure opens the question of life peerages; but it deals with that question in entire and exclusive subservience to the constitution of a court of appeal. Surely that is not the scope to which the question of life peerages is confined? Is there anything in the question of life peerages which has any inevitable relation with a court of appeal? On the contrary, will any man tell me that you cannot constitute a court of appeal without touching the question of life peerages? These two great subjects stand in no such relation to each other as that one of them ought to be made the accessory and the victim, so to speak, of the other. If the House will recall the precedents which have generally guided its conduct on great constitutional questions, I am confident it will never consent to pass, without due inquiry, a measure on the subject of life peerages, which fixes us with the responsibility of understanding the full importance of the subject, and of all the possible consequences which may flow from it, and which raises the question, too, for a purpose so small and narrow, and to which it stands in no immediate connection. I know not whether it is undue prudery which influences my mind, but I cannot bring myself to see compensation given for the discharge of a duty which the House of Lords has hitherto cheerfully performed as a virtue, and part of its functions as a legislative body. The doctrine of our constitution certainly is, that legislative services are unpaid services, and I am bound to say that in my conviction there is no maxim which lies nearer the very root and foundation of the institutions of our country. If we are to be told of what is radical and revolutionary, there is no change which I should be inclined to view—I will not say with such suspicion—but with such aversion and detestation as the substitution of paid services in the Legislature for the gratuitous services which we now freely and efficiently render here. I do not mean to say that this is the same thing as if we were to proceed to vote salaries to ourselves and to the House of Lords; but an enemy to the House of Lords could hardly wish them to take a step more unwise than that of making a draught on the public purse. I think that the dignity of the House of Lords will suffer from the adoption of such a principle:—and I believe that the independence of the House of Peers will be most secure so long as all the functions which that House has to discharge are discharged gratuitously, as they have been from time immemorial. ["Hear, hear!"] These opinions may be disagreeable to some hon. Gentlemen; but even those to whom they may be disagreeable, will admit that it is only fair and just that those persons who entertain them should freely and frankly express them; and, for my own part, I am only giving utterance to my candid conviction upon the subject. I am jealous for the independence and dignity of the House of Lords, and I firmly believe that the appointment of salaried officers, sitting as Peers, to perform those judicial functions which that House has always discharged, will have, I will not say an immediate effect, but it will have a tendency dangerous to the dignity and independence of that body. I object to the measure on these grounds. I object to it also—most strongly object to it—on the ground of its connection with, and the influence it may have on the independence and purity of the judicial bench. We have been told, indeed, by those who have spoken in favour of the Bill, that this part of the measure must be modified—and that it will not do to confine the choice of the officers to be elected to the judicial bench; and I conceive that, whatever vote we may come to to-night, it is impossible for the House to pass a Bill containing the provisions which this Bill contains with regard to that part of the subject. If you agree to those provisions, you not only introduce a principle with regard to the judicial staff which the practice of many years has excluded, but you introduce it in the most objectionable way, by holding out a prospect of advancement to judges in connection not only with their judicial, but also with their political services. You will bring the maximum of temptation to bear upon human infirmity, when you call upon these life Peers to perform legislation as well as judicial functions, for in fact you say to them, "make yourself agreeable to the Ministry of the day, not by your judicial, but by your legislative services, in order that you may hope for the further advancement to the hereditary peerage." Now, Sir, let us review the circumstances which have transpired in the course of this debate, and the speeches of those who have supported the measure. It must have been obvious to the House, that all the good which those hon. Gentlemen have said of the measure, has been much more than counterbalanced by the censure of it contained in their own speeches. For my own part, I believe that if all the opponents of the Bill had been content to take self-denying ordinance and to take no part in the discussion, but to listen to what was said of it by its supporters, they would have had no reason to complain of it being treated with too much favour. It cannot be denied that the question is one of the greatest difficulty and delicacy, and one which involves a vast number of considerations. You have to constitute a Court of Appeal in the last resort; but it ought to be considered, among other matters, whether it would be desirable to have one or more Courts of Appeal, and whether means may not be adopted to avoid the multiplication of appeals. As regards the great question of life peerages, you are called upon to legislate in the dark as regards the prerogative of the Crown; because, although in that respect the meaning of this Bill is not subject to much serious argument, yet it is not too much to say that it is in diametrical contradiction of the declaration of the Government of the Queen upon the subject. Under these circumstances, is it too much to ask, that we may have accorded to us as much time for the consideration of this subject, as is ordinarily afforded to the House of Commons, for the consideration of subjects of not onetwentieth part of its importance and magnitude? It is vain to say that the present state of things, with regard to the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords, is intolerable. It is true that there may be five or six months' delay; but that delay has always existed; and yet the persons who use that argument, tell us that even thirty years ago the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords was most satisfactory, when the same gap of six months in every twelve, which is now objected to and urged as the chief ground upon which you are to adopt a measure, doubtful in itself even according to the statements of its promoters, and involving principles of the greatest difficulty and delicacy, and which most nearly bears upon the very foundation of the constitution, occurred every year. Under these circumstances, it is hardly too much, I think, to ask the noble Lord at the head of the Government to consent to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, and to consent to refer this Bill to a Select Committee, to weigh well not only the difficulties by which the subject is surrounded, and which this Bill will tend to indefinitely complicate, so that we may not discredit ourselves and the British Legislature; but that by the exercise of prudence and by refraining from pressing extreme opinions, we may be able at some future period, and I venture to hope at no distant period, to present the country with a measure worthy of a great country.


It must be admitted, Sir, by all that what has been stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Malins), that the meaning of this Motion is not so much to obtain an inquiry by a Select Committee as it is to get rid of the Bill for the present Session, is a correct view of the case, and upon that issue every hon. Member must be prepared to give his vote to-night. I very much regret the circumstances under which my hon. Friend has made this Motion, and also the manner in which he and my right hon. Friend have adverted to it. There is, I am sorry to say, a strong difference of opinion upon this subject, and I am sorry to be obliged to differ from many of those who in general afford me their support. We have, however, felt it to be our duty to recommend this measure to the acceptance of the House; and, however painful it may be to find that in the performance of our public duty we stand at variance with those who generally give us their support, still, having felt it to be our duty to propose the Bill, we were bound to discharge that duty, whatever the consequences might be. Now, Sir, this measure has been occasioned by the conviction which we have entertained that the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords is in a condition in which it would not be for the public good that it should continue. Let it not be understood that I agree with those who think there is something inherent in the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords which is in itself objectionable; on the contrary, I should be sorry to see that jurisdiction transferred to any other tribunal. I think that the proposal to transfer that jurisdiction to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is founded upon very imperfect considerations, both as regards the tribunal from which it is proposed to take that jurisdiction, and also of the court to which it is proposed to transfer it. I think that to transfer the appellate jurisdiction, which has so long been exercised by the House of Lords, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is a body of very recent origin—from a body of greater stability and independence to one which, from its nature and constitution, is dependent upon the act of the Crown—would be a measure not, in my opinion, in harmony with the practice of the constitution, nor would it tend to the maintenance of principles which we have always upheld. What was it, then, that, in our opinion, rendered some change necessary with regard to the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords? It was, that by the course of nature many of those eminent men who had been the legal ornaments of the House of Lords, and who had constituted the strength of the appellate jurisdiction of that House, had passed away; and the number of law Members of the House of Lords capable of constituting an efficient and satisfactory Court of Appeal had largely and visibly declined. Under these circumstances it had become necessary to strengthen that court by the addition of legal talent. Then comes the question of life peerages. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) has stated that the question has been inconsiderately mooted by the Government. Now, upon that point I beg leave to differ from him. The question is one which is mooted by the Government for the first time this year, but one which has for a long period occupied the attention of successive Governments, and which has been most carefully considered. As regards the general principle of life peerages, it is my own opinion that the House of Lords acted upon an erroneous judgment when they arrived at the conclusion at which they did arrive with regard to the admission of Lord Wensleydale to a seat in that House. There is a great distinction between the House of Lords and the House of Commons in respect to their source of power and influence. The great influence of this House arises from its being an elected body, and thus being a representation of the feelings and opinions of the great mass of the people of this country. The influence and power of the House of Lords, on the other hand, are founded upon the character of its members, upon their local influence, their personal character, or the political ability which they may display. There can be no doubt that the House of Lords would derive great influence and consideration in the country if there were the means of placing within its limits men who had distinguished themselves, either by their legal attainments or by great military or naval achievements, but who, not having that fortune which would enable them to transmit to their descendants the means adequately to maintain the dignity of the peerage, would be placed in an improper, and to themselves a painful, situation by being made hereditary Peers. That being our opinion, a life peerage was conferred by Her Majesty, acting on the advice of Her Ministers, upon Baron Wensleydale. The House of Lords differed upon the point, and a majority decided against the admission of Baron Wensleydale as a life Peer to a seat in the House. Then came the question, what course should be pursued? We have been told by the right hon. Member for Oxford University, that the present Bill is the result of a compromise huddled up in a Committee-room for the convenience of parties. It is no such thing. It was not the convenience of parties, but a compromise arising from a conflict of opinions upon a question of very great importance, and which promised a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. Thus, the Bill comes down to us from the House of Lords as an arrangement, which, on the one hand, is consented to by those who object to life peerages in the abstract; and, on the other, furnishes such a reinforcement of strength to the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords as will in some degree remedy the evils which now exist. Many hon. Gentlemen think that a better arrangement might be made. That is not impossible; but the question is not whether this is the best possible arrangement for reinforcing the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords, but whether the Bill which is now presented to us, and which, if we agree to it, would no doubt be carried into law, does give such an accession of strength to the appellate jurisdiction as would render it satisfactory to the country. My opinion undoubtedly is that it does. I am of opinion that the appointment of two salaried Members of the House of Lords would strengthen that Court sufficiently to enable it to perform its duties with more effect and with more satisfaction to the public. The right hon. Member for Oxford University says we are introducing a new principle to pay Members of the Legislature for the performance of their Legislative functions. But we do not mean to pay the Deputy Speakers for the performance of their legislative functions; nor is it contrary to the principle of the constitution to pay for the performance of important judicial functions, when performed by Members of the Legislature—on the contrary, it is a recognised and well-known principle of the constitution. My right hon. Friend might as well object to pay the Lord Chancellor, who presides in the House of Lords, and exercises not only judicial but also legislative functions. The objection founded upon principle goes beyond the limits of the present Bill; but in my opinion there is no constitutional objection whatever to giving to certain legal Members of the House of Lords that salary which would enable distinguished lawyers to abandon either their practice at the bar—if the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University were adopted; or their judicial situations, according to the present arrangement of the Bill, for the purpose of undertaking the important duties which the Deputy Speakers will have to perform in the House of Lords. I say, then, that what is called a compromise is simply the result of conflicting opinions entertained upon a subject of great importance—the result of a contest and a discussion—not, as my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment represented by his theatrical allegory, acted as a farce upon the stage, but carried on openly in the face of day, known to everybody, and ending in mutual concessions on the part of those who differed upon a question of considerable magnitude. But it is said that this is a matter of such importance that we ought not to come to a decision upon it without much more lengthened and deliberate consideration. Why, seeing that it has been a matter of public discussion ever since March in the present year, I cannot imagine what a further delay would do for those who have given their mind to it. When I hear the arguments of those who contend for further investigation and inquiry, I am reminded of the doggrel lines about Dean Swift, who was said to have —defended the ancients so well That he perfectly proved the moderns excel. The hon. Gentlemen who have asked for further investigation have shown that they have so completely sifted and mastered the question in all its bearings—so thoroughly examined every part of the measure now under discussion—have made themselves so perfectly masters of every objectionable point—that no more lengthened or deliberate consideration is necessary to enable them at least to come to a decision. I therefore respectfully submit to the House that it is admitted on all hands that a great evil exists—that the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords has been weakened, not by anything inherent in the constitution of that body, but by the accidental circumstance of a diminution in the number of Members competent to take part in its judicial business; and here is a measure which provides a permanent remedy for that occasional inconvenience—a measure which I think would secure to the Appellate Court that strength which would enable it at all times to be efficient for the purposes which it has in view; and it appears to me that it would be a great misfortune if this House were to reject the Bill and determine that an inconvenient state of things, of which such complaints have been made, should continue to exist. It is said that you will lose nothing by rejecting this Bill, because during the interval between the end of the present Session and the beginning of the next, the ordinary cessation of the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords would take place. But I apprehend, looking to the arguments which have been used in this debate, that if the matter were to be referred to a Select Committee, leaving it to be taken up at the beginning of next Session, there would be little probability of the House passing the measure, so as to allow it to come into operation before the end of the Session; and therefore the question does not relate merely to the interval between this Session and the next, but to the continuance for a much longer period of a state of things which both those who are for and those who are against the Bill have condemned. A great deal has been said as to the effect of the Bill upon the prerogative of the Crown. It is manifest, I think, to everybody who reads the Bill that it acknowledges the prerogative and limits it; that, on one side, those who object to life peerages have acknowledged the prerogative of the Crown to create them, and, on the other, those who maintain the prerogative have consented to a limitation for the purpose of establishing the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords on a satisfactory basis. Such is the compromise which the Bill carries into effect, and I have only, in conclusion, to express my hope that the House, rejecting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton, will consent to go into Committee.


would wish to say a word on the question of the prerogative of the Crown as affected by this Bill. In another place a noble Lord had stated that this Bill did not touch the prerogative of the Crown; while the noble Lord at the head of the Government appeared to hold a contrary opinion. He should wish the; House to ask the law officers of the Crown what was their opinion, as without it the House were about to legislate in the dark. He had been struck by the wording of the measure, and he felt convinced it would take away the power of the Crown to make life Peers. He should wish to know whether it was the opinion of Ministers that such would be the case, or whether they agreed in the opinion expressed by their colleagues in another place? He hoped, therefore, he was in order in asking the law officers of the Crown for their interpretation of the measure.


said, that it was impossible to give a positive answer to the question of the hon. and learned Gentleman, without first ascertaining whether the Crown had the prerogative of creating life Peers. If there were such a prerogative, beyond question this Bill, as now worded—the wording being a matter for the consideration of the Committee—limited the exercise of that prerogative, so that by virtue of it there could not be in the House of Lords more than four Peers for life at one time.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 133; Noes 155: Majority 22.

List of the AYES.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Langton, W. G.
Baird, J. Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C.
Ball, J. Liddell, hon. H. G.
Baring, T. Lindsay, hon. Col.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Littleton, hon. E. R.
Bethell, Sir R. Lockhart, W.
Biddulph, R. M. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Bignold, Sir S. Lowther, Capt.
Blandford, Marquess of Luce, T.
Bouverie, rt. hn. E. P. Macartney, G.
Bramley Moore, J. Mackinnon, W. A.
Brand, hon. H. Malins, R.
Bruce, Lord E. March, Earl of
Buck, Col. Massey, W. N.
Buckley, Gen. Matheson, A.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Matheson, Sir J.
Burrowes, R. Miles, W.
Cayley, E. S. Monck, Visct.
Chaplin, W. J. Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.
Christy, S. Monsell, rt. hon. W.
Cockburn, Sir A. J. E. Morgan, O.
Cocks, T. S. Mostyn, hn. T. E. M. L.
Codrington, Sir W. Mowatt, F.
Cole, hon. H. A. Mowbray, J. R.
Coles, H. B. Mullins, J. R.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Naas, Lord
Cowper, rt. hon. W. F. Napier, rt. hon. J.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Neeld, J.
Davies, D. A. S. Newdegate, C. N.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Newport, Visct.
Duncan, Visct. Nisbet, R. P.
Ferguson, Sir R. North, Col.
FitzGerald, rt. hn. J. D. Osborne, R.
Follett, B. S. Paget, Lord A.
Freestun, Col. Paget, Lord G.
Freshfield, J. W. Palmer, Roundell
Galway, Visct. Palmerston, Visct.
Gooch, Sir E. S. Peel, Sir R.
Graham, Lord M. W. Peel, F.
Greaves, E. Repton, G. W. J.
Greene, T. Rolt, P.
Gregson, S. Russell, F. W.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Rust, J.
Grey, R. W. Seymour, H. D.
Grogan, E. Sibthorp, Major
Hall, rt. hon. Sir B. Smith, M. T.
Hamilton, Lord C. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Hamilton, G. A. Smyth, Col.
Harcourt, Col. Spooner, R.
Herbert, hon. P. E. Stanhope, J. B.
Hildyard, R. C. Steel, J.
Horsfall, T. B. Stracey, Sir H. J.
Hughes, H. G. Sturt, H. G.
Johnstone, J. Taylor, Col.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Thesiger, Sir F.
Jolliffe, H. H. Traill, G.
Jones, Adm. Uxbridge, Earl of
Kingscote, R. N. F. Vane, Lord H.
Knatchbull, W. F. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Waddington, H. S.
Walcott, Adm. Willoughby, Sir H.
Walpole, rt. hon. S. H. Wilson, J.
Walsh, Sir J. B. Woodd, B. S.
Welby, Sir G. E. Wrightson, W. B.
Whatman, J. Wynne, W. W. E.
Whiteside, J. TELLERS.
Whitmore, H. Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.
Wigram, L. T. Mulgrave, Earl of
List of the NOES.
Acton, J. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Agnew, Sir A. Greenall, G.
Alcock, T. Greene, J.
Anderson, Sir J. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Antrobus, E. Hadfield, G.
Bailey, C. Hankey, T.
Baillie, H. J. Harcourt, G. G.
Baldock, E. H. Hastie, Alex.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T. Hastie, Archibald
Barnes, T. Headlam, T. E.
Bass, M. T. Heathcote, Sir W.
Baxter, W. E. Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Beaumont, W. B. Hotham, Lord
Bell, J. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Hutt, W.
Biggs, W. Ingham, R.
Black, A. Ingram, H.
Blackburn, P. Johnstone, Sir J.
Boldero, Col. Kendall, N.
Bonham-Carter, J. Kennedy, T.
Bowyer, G. King, hon. P. J. L.
Bramston, T. W. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Brocklehurst, J. Lacon, Sir E.
Brotherton, J. Langston, J. H.
Brown, W. Langton, H. G.
Bruce, H. A. Lascelles, hon. E.
Byng, hon. G. H. C. Layard, A. H.
Cairns, H. M'C. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Campbell, Sir A. I. Lindsay, W. S.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Locke, J.
Cavendish, hon. G. MacEvoy, E.
Child, S. MacGregor, James
Clay, Sir W. MacGregor, John
Cobbett, J. M. MacTaggart, Sir J.
Colvile, C. R. Maguire, J. F.
Cowan, C. Mangles, R. D.
Dashwood, Sir G. H. Masterman, J.
Denison, E. Meagher, T.
De Vere, S. E. Miall, E.
Dillwyn, L. L. Milligan, R.
Duke Sir J. Milnes, R. M.
Duncan, G. Mitchell, T. A.
Duncombe, hon. Col. Moffatt, G.
Dundas, G. Morris, D.
Dundas, F. Murrough, J. P.
Dunlop, A. M. North, F.
Egerton, W. T. Northcote, Sir S. H.
Evelyn, W. J. O'Brien, P.
Ewart, W. Palk, L.
Ewart, J. C. Parker, R. T.
Ferguson, Col. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Ferguson, J. Pellatt, A.
FitzGerald, Sir J. Perry, Sir T. E.
Forster, C. Phillimore, J. G.
Forster, J. Phillimore, R. J.
Fox, W. J. Pilkington, J.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Price, W. P.
Glyn, G. C. Pritchard, J.
Goderich, Visct. Ricardo, O.
Gordon, hon. A. Ricardo, S.
Rice, E. R. Thornely, T.
Rich, H. Thornhill, W. P.
Richardson, J. J. Tite, W.
Ridley, G. Tollemache, J.
Robartes, T. J. A. Vernon, G. E. H.
Roebuck, J. A. Walmsley, Sir J.
Russell, Lord J. Walter, J.
Sawle, C. B. G. Watkins, Col. L.
Scholefield, W. Wickham, H. W.
Seymour, W. D. Wilkinson, W. A.
Shafto, R. D. Willcox, B. M'G.
Shelley, Sir J. V. Williams, T. P.
Sheridan, R. B. Williams, W.
Smith, J. B. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Somerville.rt.hn.SirW. Wyvill, M.
Strutt, rt. hon. E. TELLERS.
Stuart, Capt. Currie, R.
Tempest, Lord A. V. Denison, J. E.
East, Sir J. Adderley, C. B.
Russell, H. Cecil, Lord R.
Herbert, Sir T. Coffin, W.
Pennant, Col. Divett, E.
Pugh, D. Duncombe, T. S.
Gilpin, Col. Evans, Sir De L.
Bective, Earl of Fergusson, Sir J.
Hayes, Sir E. Fitzgerald, W. S.
Bond, J. W. Gaskell, J. M.
Newark, Visct. Grenfell, C. W.
Waddington, D. Gurney, J. H.
Pollard-Urquhart, W. Heywood, J.
Stewart, Sir M. S. Hogg, Sir J. W.
Cubitt, W. Hutchins, E. J.
Goddard, A. Jackson, W.
Chelsea, Visct. Martin, P. W.
Michell, W. Norreys, Sir D.
Raynham, Visct. Paxton, Sir J.
Forester, rt. hon. Col. Peacock, G. M. W.
Carnac, Sir J. R. Pigott, F.
Mundy, W. Sandars, G.
Vernon, Capt. Shee, W.
Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J. Strickland, Sir G.
Seymer, H. K. Tomline, G.

Words added:—

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Ordered, that the Bill be committed to a Select Committee.