§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he wished to ask the Judge Advocate General whether he is prepared to give a general estimate of the sums claimed or awarded for compensation under the Probate Acts (England and Ireland) of 1857:—1st. To Proctors; 2nd. To the Ecclesiastical Judges, the Registrars, and other officers entitled to compensation under the said Acts; 3rd. The probable amount of fees or other charges that will be payable in the Probate Court, and will go to the reduction of the said compensations; 4th. The amounts saved by employing persons whose offices shall have been abolished in any new or other offices under the said Probate Acts, and the probable amount to be allowed to each class under the said Acts (exclusive of the compensation that may be claimed under the Divorce Act); and whether he will be prepared to lay the particulars of said claims and grants before Parliament this Session, or at what other time, and the probable amount that may be ultimately granted under said Acts, distinguishing the several classes herein-before particularized.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, that at present it was impossible to answer the question of the hon. Gentleman in precise detail, but he was ready to afford such information as he was in possession of. It would be in the recollection of the House that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, upon the 26th of March, speaking on a rough estimate furnished him by the clerks in the Treasury, had stated that the possible charge might, in the first instance, be £250,000. Subsequent to that statement a Commission had been appointed 1078 to inquire into the subject, and that Commission commenced its labours on the 12th of April last. Up to the present time they had investigated the claims of thirty-seven London firms, amounting in the whole to £29,647, or giving an average of £801 to each. There were the claims of forty-four more to be investigated, and taking the same average, their claims would amount to £35,244, giving a total of £64,89,1. From calculations made, however, at Doctors' Commons, it appeared probable that the amount would only reach £53,000. Then, with regard to country proctors, there appeared in the Law List the names of about 120 persons, many of them being in partnership, and thirty-five claims bad been investigated, and found to amount to £8,847, giving an average of £252 each. Upon the same average, calculating that there were sixty claims more, which would amount to £15,120, the gross total for the country Proctors would be £23,967. As regarded Ireland, the probable amount would be £15,000. Then, as regarded the Judges, Chancellors, Archdeacons, Registrars, Clerks, Apparitors, and other officers, 236 claims had been received. The income of the claimants amounted to £51,387. The compensation, according to the scale allowed, would be £39,782. A considerable additional sum must be set down for the remaining claimants under this head. As regarded clerical surrogates, the claims received amounted to £206; the incomes of the claimants amounted to £5,800; and the compensation would probably be £4,000 for the rest of the surrogates whose claims had not yet come in, he would put down £2,000 more. The best approximate estimate which he could give from the information before him was, for the London proctors £60,000, country proctors £25,000. Irish £15,000; clerical surrogates, £6,000 judges, officers of courts and managing clerks, £70,000, making together a total of 1£76,000. He was not able to give a more correct estimate at the present moment. All he could state as matter of fact was, that the claims received from the London proctors amounted to £29,647; from the English country proctors, £8,847; Irish ditto, £1,000; Judges, &c., £39,782; surrogates, £4,000. These figures made the total sum absolutely and formally claimed £83,276. Some of these claims however, might be subject to reduction upon further investigation. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's question as to the probable amount 1079 of fees or other charges that would be payable in the Probate Court, and would go to the reduction of these compensations, he had asked for a return from the Inland Revenue Department, according to which he found that a sum of £28,000 had been paid in the shape of Stamp Duties during the six months that had clapsed since the Probate Act came into operation. If this was a fair average, the amount receivable in this form would be £56,000 per annum. With respect to the hon. Gentleman's fourth question, he had to state that he had communicated with Sir Cresswell Cresswell, the Judge of the Court of Probate, who had informed him that he had had to appoint forty district registrars, above thirty of whom had held offices which were abolished, and had a claim to the new registry. In the principal registry three old registrars had resigned, and three new registrars were appointed. All the clerks in the Prerogative Office had likewise been transferred to the new registry by the Lord Chancellor, in compliance with the Probate Act. Sir Cresswell Cresswell had also authorized him to say that if the hon. Member would move for Returns, the fullest explanation would be afforded as to the appointments made under the new Act. As to the last inquiry made by the hon. Gentleman, he (Mr. Mowbray) begged to remind him that the Commission with which he had the honour of acting was only a Commission appointed by the Treasury to investigate those claims. With respect to the probable amount of the claims not yet awarded, the hon. Gentleman must be content with the general statement he had made until the inquiry was fully terminated, when, of course, he would be able to give him much more accurate information.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he wished to know whether the figures adduced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman included Mr. Moore's claim.