§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
There is a motion down on the Paper in my name for an address to Her Majesty, asking for an additional judge to be added to the Chancery Division of the High Court. There was an addition to the judges of the Chancery Division, which was asked for, I think, authoritatively, by a Committee over which Lord Esher presided now a good many years ago, and subsequently to that I think two successive Governments, in 1886 and 1888 respectively, announced their intention of asking the House to grant this additional strength to the Chancery Division. For reasons which it is not necessary now to mention, these intentions never were carried out, and reforms which Lord Esher intended to inaugurate by the appointment of a new judge have in consequence never been carried into effect. Hence we are not only suffering from arrears of business due to an insufficient staff, but from arrears of business due to the imperfect condition of the courts which are dealing with Chancery business. I do not know that it is necessary for me to remind the House that, if these evils of arrears of business were already manifest as far back as 1886 and 1888, they have not diminished but increased since then; and inasmuch as the courts show no power to deal with the arrears which exist, it seems to be high time that steps should be taken to strengthen them. An hon. friend of mine put a question to me the other day on this subject, suggesting that additional strength to the Chancery Division should be taken from the Common Law Division, and cited a case which occurred recently, where a judge went down to Wales and found no judicial business laid before him, except that of releasing a youth upon his own recognisances—not a function of sufficient importance to make it necessary 883 to send a judge of the High Court down to Wales. But, Sir, while I am far from denying that in existing circumstances there may be, and perhaps must be, some undoubted loss of judicial strength, I doubt whether it is possible to have a circuit system at all in which a certain amount of waste is not necessary—I may go further and say that I am not prepared to deny that improved organisation may result in something material to prevent that waste; but when my hon. friend and those who think with him go a step further and say that, because there is now a certain waste of judicial strength, it is desirable that a judge should be lent by the Queen's Bench Division to the Chancery Division, I would point out that nobody, as far as I know, suggests that a judge could be permanently transferred from the Queen's Bench Division to the Chancery Division; and any relief from that source would take the form of lending a judge for a certain number of days in each year. Of the propriety of that course I am not in a position to form an opinion from any original observations or experience of my own; I have to take my opinions on trust; but those who are competent to advise me upon the point seem clear that the idea of lending a judge temporarily for a certain number of days in the year by one division to another is but a makeshift, and is likely to produce, on the whole, many inconveniences. I therefore, after consideration, reject that proposal, and I am more strengthened in that view by the fact that I understand that the Queen's Bench Division is not at the present moment of more than the proper strength to carry out the work that comes before it. I believe the Lord Chief Justice gave a somewhat rosy view of the condition of work in that division; but in recent years we have had to throw more work on the Queen's Bench Division than it used to have. A Railway Commissioner has been taken from amongst the judges, additional bankruptcy work has been thrown on it, and under an ecclesiastical Bill of a year or two ago further work of a different kind has been entrusted to it. In these circumstances I feel obliged to reject the suggestion. We are, therefore, brought face to face with the Chancery Division and the Chancery Division alone, and all we have to ask ourselves is, Can that division do the work the 884 public require of it? Ten years ago there; were arrears, fifteen years ago there were arrears, and if we compare the statistics of the court at present with what they were ten years ago, we shall find that the arrears have been actually augmented. In those circumstances one of the primary duties of the House and the Legislature is to see that justice is administered to Her Majesty's lieges. I think there can be no doubt as to the propriety of the resolution I propose to the House. Cheap justice we shall never be able to give. That is an ideal to which no reformer has ever been able to attain; but if we cannot give cheap justice, we may do something towards speedy justice, and I think it would be a pity if the House should allow a state of things to continue under which one of the chief courts of the kingdom remains avowedly and undoubtedly undermanned.
Motion made, and question proposed—
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, representing that the state of business in the High Court of Justice is such as to require the appointment of an additional judge, and praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a new judge of the said High Court in the Chancery Division thereof, in pursuance of the eighteenth section of The Appellate Jurisdiction Act, 1876."—(Mr. Balfour.)
§ * SIR H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I cordially agree with the closing; remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House—that it is one of the primary duties of this House to secure, as far as possible, a speedy administration of justice. I also agree with him that in the present state of affairs in our courts there is very good ground for complaint as to delays, and I might also say the confusion which takes, place under our present system. But I am not prepared at once to accept the remedy which the right hon. Gentleman proposes without venturing to submit one or two considerations to the House bearing on the question. I think we must remember that we are dealing on this occasion with an exceptional state of things. There is no doubt that the administration of justice has, during the last three months, been very seriously interfered with in this country by the absence from England of the Lord Chief 885 Justice, and of one of the Lords Justices of Appeal. Now, I should be the very last man to use any word which would imply any doubt—if any doubt at all existed—as to the extraordinary capacity and qualification which these two judges possess for the public duty they have undertaken. But I venture to think that the first duty of the Lord Chief Justice of England is the administration of justice in England, and that no public duty which could possibly be imposed upon him, at all events of an ordinary character, is any sufficient justification for the Government of the day removing him from the high judicial duties which he, and he alone, so long as he fills that office, can fill. I am aware that the lamented death of Lord Herschell created a vacancy which we all deplore, one which, perhaps, it was not unnatural the Government should for the moment think might best be filled by the appointment of another great judge. But Lord Herschell's position was essentially different from that of the Lord Chief Justice. The Lord Chief Justice has public duties at home to discharge—duties that I think are of greater importance to the suitors of this country than the settlement of the dispute on which he is at present arbitrating. Lord Herschell, on the other hand, had no such primary duties devolving upon him. I think the circumstances are aggravated by the fact that a very learned and eminent Lord Justice of Appeal was also taken away. at the same time. In passing, I would only make this remark, that I do not think the resources either of diplomacy, or of statesmanship are exhausted, and I think, with all my admiration and respect for Lord Chief Justice Russell and Lord Justice Henn Collins, two other distinguished men might have been found whose selection would not have involved. the very serious injury which I think has been inflicted upon the administration of justice in this country. But, passing from that, I admit that the normal state of affairs, even if these two judges had been at home, is most unsatisfactory, and I think the time has arrived when a remedy should be found. But I would ask the 886 House, whether the first consideration should not be whether our existing judicial time, and our existing judicial power, should not be better economised than at present, and whether we are getting—I will not say the most advantage—but the ordinary amount of advantage which we ought to get from so powerful, so expensive, and so valuable a machine as the judges of our Supreme Court constitute. Our difficulties arise both in criminal and civil trials, and it is to be regretted that our criminal judicial system, even now, allows so long an interval often to elapse between the committal of a prisoner for trial and his trial. It is a very poor consolation to a man who has been in prison three or four months to be discharged without a stain on his character. That is an evil which ought to be remedied at all costs, but is the course the right hon. Gentleman now proposes the best course to take? The circuit system is a very expensive and extravagant way of spending judicial power, and when I see judges sent round to try, not only quarter sessions cases, but insignificant quarter sessions cases, I feel that those who advise the Government have not considered the question of the readjustment of judicial time. So far as quarter sessions are concerned, I think they are steadily improving in their judicial character. There was a time when there was a just outcry for the appointment of officers to preside over quarter sessions similar or equivalent to the recorders who preside over borough sessions. But so far as I have been able to watch the trend of opinion amongst magistrates, the tendency of the last few years has been for magistrates to elect as chairmen of quarter sessions men who, though, perhaps, not practising lawyers, have displayed to a great extent the judicial faculty, and who have made excellent chairmen of quarter sessions. Without saying whether it is desirable or not to add to our Courts of Quarter Sessions trained judges, the extension of the jurisdiction of those courts would be an economical and a speedy mode of relieving the criminal business of the High Court, leaving to the judges of that court the criminal business of the more serious character: Then there is another waste of judicial power, irrespective of the distribution of circuit work—I mean the Divisional Courts. In the Chancery Division of the High Court one judge is considered sufficient to decide in court of 887 first instance matters of the gravest character, involving the largest amount of property and the most difficult questions of law. By what I think was not the intention of the Legislature in 1875, we have Divisional Courts consisting of two judges, and, as one of the judges said to me the other day, that means a divided responsibility and, to a great extent, so far as one judge is concerned, no responsibility at all. I think it is a waste of judicial power that two judges should be sitting on one side of the Courts of Justice to decide matters not comparable in magnitude and importance to those which on the other side are decided by one judge, and if that were reformed there would be great saving there of judicial power. There is another point, and perhaps this is the most important of all, and that is the anomalous and unsatisfactory condition of the county court jurisdiction. That jurisdiction is at present limited to£50. We have an expensive and elaborate system of county courts, an evolution from the old debt-collecting system. Many of the county court judges are most capable men and qualified to sit on the bench of the High Court. They, together with the registrars, administer, no doubt to some extent, a system of justice, but devote a great part of their time and energy simply to debt-collecting, fixing the times in which debts can be paid and ought to be paid. I think before the Government asked the House to make an addition to the High Court, they ought to have dealt with the question which was before the House in 1888, and again and again since—namely, the extension of the jurisdiction of the county courts, so that they would have the power to deal with a larger class of cases than they have now, leaving to the High Court the cases of greater magnitude. The question has been repeatedly brought before the House by the hon. Member for Gloucester, and those who have preceded him in the office of President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, and an extension of the county court jurisdiction is the desire of all the commercial classes of the country. In 1888 a few reforms were introduced by means of the Consolidation of County Courts Act. I well remember that Mr. Gladstone was rather severe upon some of us who thought that that was an appropriate opportunity of trying to make some 888 amendments of the existing law in regard to the administration of county courts. I am happy to say that, notwithstanding his undoubted reluctance to introduce any Amendment in that Consolidation Act, laying down the sound and wise principle that a Consolidation Act should not alter the law, certain Members of this House, one of whom was the present Lord James, did effect some very valuable improvements in that Bill. But a great many improvements which were then suggested have never been carried out. There are some county court judges who do the full amount of judicial work that it is possible for judges to do, and they do it remarkably well. There are other county court judges who do not sit a hundred days in the year, and whose appointments are practically sinecures. There was a power given in the Consolidation Act to alter the districts and to distribute the judges; there was power given to the Executive to make the idle judges work harder and to relieve the judges of the great towns in their judicial work by the addition of other judges. But practically nothing has been, done. There has been no redistribution of the circuits, and the old evils have gone on. We have not availed ourselves of the remedies at our hand, we have allowed these arrears to accumulate; and now, when the hereditary instincts of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to resist the appointment of an additional judge have been overcome, this rough-and-ready-method is proposed, and things will go on as before. I very much regret that in the course of the session more time has not been given to the question of the administration of justice. I do not ask for more time in this House. I quite understand the great labour that devolves on the House of Commons and the Ministry of the day; but I think, if there was a branch of public administration which deserved and demanded the attention and supervision and reform of another place, it is the administration of justice. If a scheme of utilising, both in criminal and civil jurisdiction, our present staff of judges, of the readjustment of the limits of county court authority, had been matured in another place, this House and the country would have been very much indebted to that House, and some solid progress towards law reform would have been made. At all events, the present proposal does nothing; but we cannot refuse, and 889 certainly I shall not refuse, to join in the motion of the right hon. Gentleman. I believe it to be a necessity, although I do not think it is the most excellent way of providing a remedy for the present state of things. The right hon. Gentleman has given up in despair the idea of cheap justice. Our justice is a long way from being cheap. It is the dearest system of justice in the world. I admit that it is the best; but I think that every reform that has been made in the administration of justice, at all events during the last thirty years, has added enormously to the cost of justice and to the delay, has prolonged the time given to individual cases, and has produced, and is producing, a general state of dissatisfaction amongst all classes of the community. The present system cannot go on. The right hon. Gentleman has proposed a stopgap, and that may, perhaps, stand the strain upon it for some little time, but sooner or later our judicial system will have to be reconstructed. It can be carried on, and ought to be carried on, at a much less cost and with much greater rapidity than at present, and I hope that some day a Minister will arise who will endeavour to carry out that reform, which is, perhaps, a greater reform than many others on which public attention is more generally concentrated.
§ * MR. SYDNEY GEDGE (Walsall)
I wish to associate myself generally with everything which has been said by my right hon. friend who has just sat down. I have been professionally connected with the administration of the law for five and forty years. This has certainly given me some experience in the matter, and I doubt whether matters were ever really in a worse condition during that time than they are now. All the reasons, I think, have not been mentioned. In the earlier days, I remember, it was the custom of the Lord High Chancellor himself to sit as a judge almost daily, except when he was engaged in the House of Lords. The work of a distinguished judge of that, description was, of course, of very great assistance in clearing off arrears and in giving that speedy justice which is desired. I have even known a Lord Chancellor—Lord Selborne—to sit as a Judge of First Instance when there was a difficulty in the work being done. It is a very rare thing indeed for the present Lord Chancellor to sit, except, in the 890 House of Lords, and now and then, as one of the members of the Court of Appeal Great advantage would be gained if his Lordship would occasionally—I do not say regularly—when not engaged in the House of Lords, sit as a judge in the Court of Chancery. Another reason why there are these arrears is that the work is not got through as it might, be by the judges, and also the fact that there are a great many appeals which might be avoided. It is always a very disagreeable thing to say anything about anyone who is not present, and especially one does not like to make any invidious remarks with regard to any of the judges. At the same time, there is no doubt that a great deal of the way in which justice is administered depends upon the men who are selected to be judges, and the manner in which they are selected. It has been stated, not in this House, but in newspapers—not in newspapers of a party character, but in the law journals—that there is a great want of confidence in the manner in which judges have been selected by the present Lord High Chancellor.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I do not see how that is relevant to the question as to whether a new judge should be appointed.
§ * MR. SYDNEY GEDGE
I will show the relevancy. The relevancy is that if this judge is to be appointed by the Lord High Chancellor, some of us may have such a want of confidence in the appointment as to vote against this motion.
§ * MR. SYDNEY GEDGE
I must, of course, bow to your ruling. I understand it is not open to me, in discussing the question whether another judge should be appointed, to make comment upon the manner in which judges are appointed. If that is your ruling, of course I must cease doing so, pointing out, however, that while every other public official is open to the criticism, of this House, that particular public official is not so open, but can do what he pleases without interference from us. I will therefore go on to the other part to which I wish to call attention. 891 Under the old system you could choose your judge. You cannot do that now. The judge to whom a particular cause goes is fixed by ballot, and the consequence is that when you have a question of a particular character to be decided you have to take your chance of the matter being dealt with by a judge who is simply incompetent to decide such a question. I have in my mind the case of the construction of a will. It was a friendly suit. We would if we could have selected the judge to decide it, and all parties would have been content with his decision. The ballot took us before Judge B. His decision was so hopelessly and ridiculously wrong that on appeal it was laughed out of Court.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! Upon the motion which is now before the House, it is not competent for the hon. Member to discuss the decision or the conduct of a judge in the High Court.
§ * MR. SYDNEY GEDGE
I bow at once to your ruling, but I regret that it is not possible for me to justify, by instances inside the House, what is common talk outside.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE (Plymouth)
Before this resolution is accepted, I should like to say a word or two on the larger question mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton. The acceptance of this resolution must be a matter of course to the House, because, as has been said by my right hon. friend, it is perfectly clear that the Government have felt, after many representations at different times, that it is impossible to refuse that relief which is required by the state of business in the Chancery Division, and the question of the expense of a new judge is a very small matter indeed, compared with the importance of enabling the Chancery Division to carry on its work. I entirely agree that the administration of justice in this country is now a matter which ought to be very seriously considered by the Government and by both Houses of Parliament. I am not prepared to agree entirely with some of the suggestions of my right hon. friend the Member for Wolverhampton, but it is clear that, with regard to the administration of the law at Quarter Sessions and the calls made upon judges of the High 892 Court to go about the country trying what are very often small and unimportant cases, there is room for a rearrangement of judicial work which would save a great deal of time, and—what I look upon as still more important—would save the inexcusable delay there is at present in the administration of criminal justice. A far more important thing than the question of the wasting of a day of the judges' time is the detaining of a man who may turn out to be innocent for three, four, or five months before he is tried. That is a much more important side of the question. I believe that, with regard to this question, we have something like a promise from Her Majesty's Government. I understand that the Lord Chancellor has said that it is not proposed to appoint a Commission. I am very glad that is so with regard to this matter, because all the facts are easily ascertainable, and the Lord Chancellor and the legal advisers of the Government are perfectly competent to make proposals on the subject. It was said that here, or in another place, proposals are to be made at an early period. I am glad that promise has been made, and I think we may wait with some confidence for the fulfilment of that promise especially as the present Lord Chancellor is one of the most experienced lawyers in regard to the administration of criminal justice. He has distinguished himself as a Chancellor by the diligence with which he has discharged his judicial duties both in the House of Lords and in the Privy Council, and, when necessary, in the Court of Appeal. He is one of the greatest judges we have, and certainly one of the most diligent. No doubt there is room for some rearrangement of the work in connection with the county courts. The present county court judges all over the country are almost overburdened with work, and it would be impossible, without making considerable changes in the staff of county court judges, to deal with the jurisdiction of the county courts owing to the important matters which are remitted to them from the High Court. Of course, this proposal before the House refers to the Chancery Division, and is intended only for the relief of the Chancery Division; but the administration of justice in the Queen's Bench Division is at the present time in a very unsatisfactory state. We are now deprived of the presence in the law courts 893 of two of our most distinguished judges. I do not know why the Lord Chief Justice was taken away from his proper duties and removed from that which ought to be the occupation of his life—the superintendence and direction of the affairs of the Queen's Bench Division—in order to sit upon an Arbitration Commission in Paris. But there is one matter in regard to the administration of justice in the Queen's Bench Division, which is not only a mischief to the public, but is also a great inconvenience and disadvantage to the judges themselves. The judges now, in consequence of the change which has done away with the three divisions of the Common Law Courts, have become, practically, a crowd of judges having no special duty or relationship one to the other, and the arrangements for the discharge of their work are not superintended by any judicial direction at all, so far as I know, but depend upon a casual list drawn up by some under officer, and no judge of the Queen's Bench Division knows from day to day what he has to do, or where he will be called upon to sit. It is a very grave misfortune, and I hope, if there is to be any serious attempt to consider the administration of justice in all its branches in this country—and the time is quite ripe for it—there may be serious consideration to see whether it is not possible to restore the old plan under which there were three divisions of the Common Law Courts, under which we had the Exchequer dealing mainly with revenue matters, the Queen's Bench dealing with Crown affairs, and the Court of Common Pleas dealing more especially with commercial business, and in which we had a Court of Appeal which was the best ever invented. The old system of three divisions created esprit de corps among the judges, and it made each judge interested in the success of his own division. I do trust that the question of restoring that old system of the threefold division of the Common Law Courts will be seriously considered when an inquiry is made into this matter. With regard to the appointment of an additional Chancery Judge, I think every lawyer will be grateful to the Government for relieving the pressure by consenting to the appointment of another judge. I only hope that they will also undertake the larger and more important task, and that in the near future they will make some pro- 894 posals which will have the effect of giving a more satisfactory administration of justice in all the High Courts.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
In giving notice to oppose this by a Division, it is not my desire and intention to say one word wanting in respect to the judges of the High Courts. We have known many of them here, and we have known them outside. We have the greatest regard for all their merits, and all of them we respect when once they become commissioned as one of Her Majesty's judges. We do that on account of our desire to gain respect and consideration for the law as well as for those who administer it. My objection to this motion is that I cannot help thinking that if the Government like to take the trouble to rearrange and reorganise the judicial system, they will find that there are plenty of judges to do the work that is necessary to be done, and it might be done well and probably in less time than it is now done. There is the case which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton has mentioned, of a judge going on circuit for three weeks to pick up a little case which might just as well have been dealt with by some county court judge. There are numerous instances where judges go on circuit and practically have no work to do. The South Wales instance is a notorious case, where a judge goes prancing about from town to town at enormous cost, and involving an enormous waste of time; and whilst cases are waiting to be tried in London, our judges are careering about round a remote part of the United Kingdom with nothing whatever to do except to kill time and to incur cost. Why should we not make the re-arrangement roughly sketched by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, and then this increased expenditure with regard to the judges would be altogether unnecessary. My opinion is that the judges might systematically sit a few hours longer than they do now. They are highly paid, and they hold positions of great dignity. They hold positions which are sought after by many members of the Bar. I know there are members of the Bar earning so much money in their profession that they would not leave it in order to take the position of a judge; but it is not always the best 895 lawyers who make the best judges. I have seen—
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member is getting away altogether from the question before the House.
§ MR. BROADHURST
Yes, I think, perhaps, I am. My contention is that there are at present quite sufficient judges if the time and work were so distributed as to employ them a reasonable number of hours per day, and a reasonable number of days per year. I should think the long vacation could very easily and advantageously be shortened. The judges take three months' holiday in the autumn; they have holidays again at Christmas, and I believe there is another vacation at Easter; and then a large portion of the time of the judges is spent on circuit, which is very much of the nature of holidays also, and the duties of a judge may become a succession of holidays. I think, when we are so parsimonious in dealing with other branches of the public service, we ought to review the position of the judges. It was only the other day that we learned from one of the Ministers of the Crown that all men between sixty and sixty-five years of age, according to their physical capacity, were to be discharged from the public service without any pension or any consideration at all.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must point out to the hon. Member that the matter he is discussing does not arise upon the question as to whether the time of one judge can be saved without any new appointment.
§ MR. BROADHURST
My intention was to show that the money which is now going to be expended in the appointment of another judge, which I consider to be unnecessary, would have been much more profitably expended in connection with the pensioning of some of our old public servants; but, if I am out of order, I will not further pursue that argument. It was strongly in my mind, and I could not suppress it, and I apologise for letting it out. I do appeal to the Leader of the House, whose sweet reasonableness is susceptible to appeals even from this side of the House, whether it would not be advisable for him to withdraw this motion this session, and take the time between now and the next session in framing such a scheme or rearrangement of the judicial 896 work of the country as will make this motion unnecessary. That is my point, and I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will take that course. I am not a lawyer, and that is my misfortune, but I cannot help thinking that some arrangement might be made whereby circuit work might be concentrated in particular parts of the country. Of course, the objection to this would be that it would be costly to the litigant who lived a long way from the court; but in my judgment it would be far cheaper to the country to pay the personal expenses of the litigant, for in that way you might save sufficient of the judges' time to more than compensate for the cost of travelling and other expenses of the litigants. In the case of North Wales, for instance, you might have Chester as the centre, or some other equally important place, such as Carnarvon, where all the North Wales cases might be concentrated. Look at the enormous saving of time and money this concentration would accomplish. If you take this reasonable and commonsense course in the reorganisation of your judicial system, there is no reason why you should appoint an additional judge at all, and in all probability, in the course of a year or two, you may be able to discharge a few judges. I really think that would be the case, and we should get justice more quickly administered than it is now. I feel that this motion on the part of the Government is one which is unnecessary, although I make no reflection on the judges, for they are simply the creatures of the system. If a judge is idle for a day, a week, a fortnight, or three weeks, as was the case in South Wales, it is not the judge who is to be found fault with and criticised, although he has to bear the blame at the hands of a great many laymen who do not understand the present organisation. A judge is the creature of circumstances, and he must go where he is bidden to go; and if time is wasted, and money is poured out like water, it is not his fault, but the fault of the Government, who do not take the trouble to carry out a little reform in the way of reorganisation, which is certainly wanted and highly necessary in many parts of the country, and which would save all necessity for mischievous motions such as the right hon. Gentleman has moved to-night. From my experience as a layman I do think that there is a 897 great deal of work now done by the judges which might be perfectly well dealt with by Quarter Sessions. He is perfectly right in saying that in many Quarter Sessions districts the chairman is no longer the old port-drinking squire In most cases he is at present a man of large experience in public affairs, and is often quite as capable of dealing with many of the small cases now sent to the assizes as the judge himself. I think if the Government would take the advice of my right hon. friend in that respect, an enormous amount of time might be saved in our assize courts. I also believe that much of the work of Quarter Sessions might be given to Petty Sessional Courts, which ought to have the power to deal with many of the cases which are now sent up to Quarter Sessions.
§ MR. BROADHURST
Perhaps the hon. Member for Plymouth does not practise in Petty Sessional Courts, for he is a past master in the High Courts. By increasing the powers of Petty Sessional Courts, I think the work of Quarter Sessions might be considerably lightened with advantage. Why cannot this work be undertaken, for the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have plenty of time? He has the highest skilled advice he can get, and if the advice of the Solicitor-General is insufficient, surely the Member for Walsall might be called in for assistance. I cannot imagine why the right hon. Gentleman does not take that course, instead of coming to the House to make further calls upon the public revenue for work which could easily be done by the present bench of judges if their work was properly re-arranged. I shall certainly divide the House, if anyone will vote with me, against this motion, because I think the proposal is entirely unnecessary and unwise in the public interest.
§ MR. RICHARDS (Finsbury, E.)
After the speech we have just heard from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester, I think we shall all agree that his experience as Under Secretary to the Home Department has not made him acquainted with the necessity of having trained lawyers to deal with matters of this kind. Does anyone contend that the humble peasant would prefer to be tried at Quarter Sessions 898 instead of by one of Her Majesty's judges? I venture to say it is the inalienable right of every Englishman to be tried by one of Her Majesty's judges in the county in which he has been committed, and I cannot help remarking that the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester shows his ignorance of circuit matters. I can tell him that Her Majesty's judges do sit late and early in order to enable them to get to the next Assize town on the day when the Commission is opened. I have been in towns where the present Lord Brampton has sat till twelve o'clock at night, and I have known Mr. Justice Vaughan Williams sit from eight o'clock in the morning until twelve o'clock in the evening, in order to be at the next town by the Commission day. But what I want the House to realise is that all this has nothing whatever to do with the question of appointing an additional Chancery Division judge. The experiment of sending Chancery judges on circuit has been tried, but it was not continued for more than two years. I think it would be equally unsatisfactory to transfer judges from the Queen's Bench division to try Chancery cases. Does the hon. Member for Leicester, or the hon. Member for Walsall, suggest that the Chancery Division is too fully equipped with judges? I am sorry the hon. Member for Walsall has departed, because I am very much surprised that he did not deal with the matter touched upon by the Member for Wolverhampton in reference to the question of cheap justice. I can only say that the ratepayers of London found cheap justice impossible while the hon. Member for Walsall was connected with the London School Board. As one who knows something of the circuit system, I venture to say that it is not on the criminal side that we have to look for any alteration. With regard to the administration of justice in reference to crime in this country, I think Her Majesty's judges are the proper persons to deal with it in each county. I believe the Lord Chancellor has under consideration a scheme for concentrating the work of the circuits, but I am sure nothing will be done which will deprive the humblest peasant in every county of the opportunity of having his case tried by one of Her Majesty's judges. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton has spoken of a Chairman of Quarter Sessions with whom he is acquainted; but I know some- 899 thing of a Chairman of Quarter Sessions in other districts who is not a port-drinking squire, but who is one of the most incompetent Chairmen I ever came across. He is a teetotaler, and presides regularly at the meetings of the Young Men's Christian Association, and it would be a disgrace to send cases before that man which ought to be tried before a judge. A great deal is said about the waste of time on circuit, but what about the number of cases that are continually left over in the Chancery Division? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton is quite wrong in his opinion with regard to Divisional Courts. I think it is only right that when an appeal comes from a judge in chambers or from a county court judge it should be decided by two judges and not by one. I only rose to protest against the suggestion that those who know anything of circuit work from practical experience have any desire to alter the circuit system, so that the trial of prisoners could be transferred to Quarter Sessions or that counties should be grouped. Both would be unjust to prisoners and to the witnesses for the defence. I should have thought that the experience that the hon. Member for Leicester had at the Home Office would have taught him that one of the great difficulties which prisoners of the humbler class have to face is to get witnesses to attend at the assize town unless the county pays the expense. To ask those witnesses to come 100 or 200 miles away from their own homes would be a gross injustice on the humbler classes of society.
§ MR. RICHARDS
I am glad the hon. Member is a convert to that extent, but his remark is not an answer to the question, Does the Chancery Division to-day need another judge? I am sure the hon. Member is only influenced by a desire to do justice, but I hope he will not prevent this resolution from being unanimously carried. I regret that the hon. Member for Walsall, who used this opportunity to make an attack on a judge, was not present to hear my remarks upon it.
§ * MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
Many topics of a varying degree of interest, and of a still more varying degree of relevancy, have been discussed in connec- 900 tion with this motion, which, after all,. only relates to the appointment of an additional judge in the Chancery Division. I was extremely glad to hear from the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth that the Government are about to make some proposals for the reform of the judicial system of the country, which would afford an opportunity of full discussion in this House. I am sure such an occasion would be of great interest, and that the whole matter of the administration of justice would be debated very fully, with a view to the removal of what is conceded to be the very great evils of the existing system. The present state, of business in the Chancery Division is somewhat serious. It is business of a. peculiar kind, which cannot be patched up or dealt with by importing temporary assistance, and which is quite different from the business at assizes or quarter sessions, or even in the Queen's Bench. Owing to the way in which the Government keep the accounts, one would imagine that the cost of the Chancery Division is excessive, but a large part of the Chancery business is concerned with the administration of funds in court which result in a very great profit to the Exchequer. They do not come into the ordinary judicial estimates, but they fully justified the Government in seeing that the administration of funds and property is sufficiently and satisfactorily carried on. The more efficient the provision is for that business, the more revenue there is for the Exchequer. But this is a question of more than money. In the Chancery Division there are tried suits of a more particular degree of intricacy and pecuniary importance than on the other side. They go to the Chancery Division because they have that characteristic, and the public chooses that division because they want a careful and thorough sifting of complicated and intricate issues, which: can only be done by a judge armed with the peculiar machinery possessed by the Chancery Division, and which is available for the purpose of working out that peculiar kind of legal problem. In the present congested state of business in the Chancery Division there is a system of sending down cases to be tried, elsewhere, with the result that the cases are mangled, and great dissatisfaction is manifested on the part of suitors. Surely, the business of the Chancery Division is important enough to have it efficiently 901 performed. That, however, cannot be done by asking the judges to sit longer hours. I think the long vacation might be curtailed, but as far as the hours are concerned, speaking from twenty years' experience, I should like the House to note the diary of the life of a Chancery judge. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday he sits in court from half-past ten a.m. to four p.m., and on Saturday from half-past ten to four, working as hard as any man can work. On Monday he sits in Chambers from half-past ten a. m., not until four o'clock, but until five o'clock, six o'clock, or seven o'clock in the evening, and I think it is impossible to put more work on the shoulders of the existing Chancery judges. Some are quick and some are slow, but as far as I have been able to observe, there is no more hard-working and conscientious set of public servants in the country. The Government have been pressed for a long time to appoint another judge, and if they are to be blamed at all, they are only to be blamed because they have not brought forward this resolution before. The motion has my support, and among those who are really familiar with the deplorable state of the case, there can be only one opinion.
§ MR. COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)
I think the First Lord of the Treasury somewhat misunderstood the proposal which I ventured to make to him the other day. I suggested that a judge from the Queen's Bench Division should be transferred, not temporarily, but permanently to the Chancery Division; I meant that in future there should be six judges in the Chancery Division, and only fourteen in the Queen's Bench Division, because, although Chancery judges are hard worked at the present time, I do not think that the same remark applies to judges of the Queen's Bench Division. We have the Report of the Bar Counsel, stating that a great waste of time takes place on circuit, and I think some alteration of that system ought to be made before we appoint an additional judge. Those who read the newspapers cannot have helped noticing that a judge of assize recently adjourned his Court in order to be present at a cricket match. If the First Lord of the Treasury made a similar proposal to us, I for one would support him, but then we are not paid at the rate of £5,000 a year. This question ought to be looked 902 at, not merely from the point of view of the practising lawyer, but also from the point of view of the tax-payer. From the latter point of view, I cannot understand the attitude of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When he introduced his Budget, he lectured us on our extravagance, and now he puts this additional burden on the tax-payers, which it seems to me might well be spared, because if we get more work out of the existing staff of judges there is no need for it. The question arises, Can we get more work out of the present staff? The hon. and learned Member for Haddingtonshire said that the judges could not sit longer hours, and I quite agree; but if the vacations were curtailed, I think we could get much more work from the judges than at the present time. The judges have now three weeks' holidays at Christmas, ten days at Easter, ten days at Whitsuntide, and two and a half months during the long vacation. That amounts to nearly four months in the year, which is too long a holiday for those drawing £5,000 per annum. I think we ought to see whether the judges would not put up with a much shorter vacation. If you appoint an additional judge, it will only mean one extra judge sitting for eight months of the year; but if twenty judges sit one month more in the year than at present, you get twenty months of additional judicial time per annum. I would venture to suggest that the Whitsuntide vacation should be given up altogether. It is not too much to ask a judge to sit from Easter until the 11th or 12th of August, after which he will have over two months' vacation. The point I wish to submit to the First Lord of the Treasury is whether, before he asks us to incur this additional charge, he could not see whether the judges could not work one month more a year without breaking down in health. If there were any sign of a judge breaking down under the strain placed upon him, I would be the last person to ask that the judicial holidays should be curtailed.
§ * MR. BAINBRIDGE (Lincolnshire, Gainsborough)
I wish to bring before the House one point which has not been mentioned in this Debate. I presume that the Government would only be too glad to have suggested to them any means by which the present Chancery judges and the existing Chancery Courts can carry on their work without increase of 903 staff. I will put a common-sense and practical suggestion before the House. In doing so, I would wish to draw attention to the contrast which exists between the mode of procedure in the Chancery Courts and in the Court of Session in Scotland. It is perhaps not known to the House and to the First Lord that at the present time the Chancery judges take down in longhand nearly every word given in evidence by a witness, whereas in the Court of Session the evidence is taken down by a sworn shorthand writer, and the work is naturally done in a very much shorter time. If this proper and necessary change were made, and an effete and an out-of-date system was abolished the whole work of the Chancery Division could be easily done by the present judges. I am speaking, not in the interests of hon. and learned Members who shine in this House, and who earn their livelihood elsewhere, but in the interests of suitors and of the taxpayer; and I venture to think that if my proposal were adopted, thousands of pounds would be saved by the country, and scores of thousands of pounds would be saved by litigants, and the judges themselves would have the advantage of a much more accurate report than if they depended on their own notes. I venture to recommend the suggestion to the First Lord of the Treasury and to the House.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
I will not attempt to cover the very wide field traversed by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth. I will only say that I quite associate myself with his observations, except in so far as he approves of the appointment of an additional Chancery judge. I may say at once, in order to remove all misconception, that I recognise that the present Chancery judges are, if anything, overworked, and I recognise the zeal and diligence they display in the discharge of their duties, and also that the character of their work is exceedingly difficult and responsible. But, although I make these concessions, I shall certainly associate myself with my hon. friend the Member for Leicester in dividing against this proposal. I should like to know whether the new judge is to be a judge simply for the trial of causes, or is it proposed that he shall have chambers, and all the paraphernalia attaching to a Chancery judge who 904 has to deal with other matters. It is said, and said truly, that judges are overworked, but let me invite attention to the fact that the total number of days on which a judge sits, including Chamber work, averages 206 per year. That is the: return in the latest judicial statistics. That is not the fault of any particular judge; it is the result of our system of legal vacations. Then, with regard to the trial of actions; the Chancery judges sit five days a week for that purpose. The total number of actions tried by Mr. Justice North during the last year for which statistics are available was thirty-seven, and the total number tried by Mr. Justice Stirling was precisely the same. Curiously enough, Mr. Justice-Kekewich tried no fewer than 139 cases, and I do not pretend to know the cause of the disparity. Mr. Justice Romer tried seventy-eight, and Mr. Justice Byrne 128. Compared with the number of cases tried by a judge in the Queen's. Bench Division, the disparity is remarkable. I draw attention to those figures for the purpose of asking what is the cause of the extraordinary slowness with which cases are disposed of in the Chancery Division. It is very largely due to the considerable number of cases involving long technical investigation that are now imported into the Chancery Division. Hon. and learned Members will confirm me when I say that a single cause, say a patent case, relating to a bicycle or sewing machine, will occupy a judge ten, fifteen, or even twenty days. I have had an opportunity of talking this matter over with persons competent to express an opinion, and I venture to suggest that, if we could relieve the Chancery judges of these long technical causes, instead of Mr. Justice North and Mr. Justice Stirling being only able to try thirty-seven cases, they would be able to try double and triple that number. It would be perfectly possible for cases of this sort to be sent to experts or to official referees, who would deal with the expert evidence and report to the judge, who would then be able to frame his judgment. This is no crude suggestion, and, although I will not, mention names, I know it has the approval of at least two eminent judges. Then, again, there is another cause of the; congestion of the Chancery Division. It. is the common practice of solicitors to set down actions there when they might properly be tried elsewhere. One of the 905 most eminent solicitors in the City of London told me that, whenever he had an opportunity, he always set down cases in the Chancery Division. Something may be said about a more careful trial, but the chief reason is that the scale of remuneration for solicitors is higher in the Chancery Division. I have given these two reasons against the appointment of a new judge. I can assure hon. Members that I am not approaching this question in any Party spirit, but I ventured to intervene in this Debate, because I have taken some interest, very ineffectual I am afraid, in the reform of the administration of the law. The Bar Committee has condemned in the most unqualified way the present Circuit system, as a disgraceful and scandalous waste of judicial time. The Press of the country, from The Times downwards, has, by leading articles, and by correspondence from eminent lawyers, drawn attention to that scandalous state of things. But no attention whatever has been paid to these representations, although they have extended over a number of years. Do hon. Members really appreciate what the circumstances are? Do they understand that, although the vacations eat up nearly one-half of the whole calendar, half of the remaining moiety is appropriated by the judges, who ought to be trying actions in London, to travelling about the assize towns? I do not blame the judges; I do not say a word against the bench in that respect, although I should not be afraid to do so if necessary. But a couple of learned judges go down to some remote Circuit town, where one prisoner is set down for trial, and three or four days are given to that trial. Then they go on to an adjoining county town, and four days are there occupied with, perhaps, no prisoner at all to try. That is a true and not exaggerated statement. Now, why, in the name of common sense, is this archaic system not dealt with? I am not going to enter at large into this matter, but at least, if you will not change the system, you should have some plan by which a learned judge might go and deal with the crime of a district at a convenient centre. Many of the crimes might as well, however, be tried at the Quarter Sessions. A man ought only to have the right of being tried by a judge if he is charged with having committed a crime of a given gravity; but there are a great number of cases which are dealt with now by judges 906 of Assize, which might very properly be sent to the Quarter Sessions. For these reasons, and I might give many more, I object to the present proposal. I fully recognise the strain that is on the Chancery judges, but I ask the Solicitor-General to give a plain answer to these questions—What is the difficulty in the way of referring these long patent cases, which eat up so much time, to some referees who would take the technical parts of the evidence? and, What is the reason why solicitors are encouraged and permitted to enter on the Chancery side actions which might very properly be tried on the Queen's Bench side? Unless I have more cogent reasons than have been given in the very general observations of the late Solicitor-General for the appointment of a new judge, I shall feel myself bound to associate myself with the hon. Member for Leicester, and to vote against the proposal.
§ * MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
If anyone were to take the estimates of the expense of judicial administration, and deduct the amount received in fees, he would inevitably come to the conclusion that there must be courts which more than pay expenses. That must be so, at any rate, in the Chancery Division. And it is right that it should be so, because it deals with large quantities of property, and those who call upon the judicial system of the country to administer their property should pay for it. The more cases, therefore, which are heard, the larger the surplus from the fees that come in, If you increase the judicial staff, the more you will increase the fees, and consequently the appointment of a new judge in that Division will not cost the country anything.
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)
The speeches of more than one hon. Member have been so full, that there is very little for me to say in accepting the proposal which the Government has made for dealing with the present administration of the law. That proposal has been subjected to a great deal of criticism, and there is a very obvious feeling that the Government's suggestion does not adequately settle this complicated and extremely important question. The remedy proposed for the block of business in 907 one division of the courts is to relieve the congestion of causes by the very simple expedient of appointing a new judge. Now, anyone familiar with the administration of the business of the courts knows that this congestion of work is not confined to one division, and no adequate method of dealing with this question can be effective until many reforms, some of which have been foreshadowed during the Debate, have been considered by competent authority and dealt with by the Government. As I have said, the proposal now is to remedy the congestion in the Chancery Division; but I must point out to the House that there is another important Division—the Queen's Bench Division, where difficulties are scarcely less great than in the Chancery Division. The Queen's Bench has more than once come to the assistance of the sister courts. The company business and the bankruptcy business has been taken from the Chancery Division to the Queen's Bench, and has absorbed the time of one of the judges in the Queen's Bench Division, and the result has been that at this moment the Queen's Bench Division is in a condition which has scarcely any parallel—at all events in the recent experience and history of the courts. The metropolitan courts administer justice for over five millions of people living in London. They also administer justice in these courts to parties not only in London, but from every part of England and Wales. For the last few weeks there have been some three or four courts, and sometimes only two courts, dealing with the litigation of this large number of people. I often wonder that the Members for the metropolis don't insist upon a guaranteed minimum—a few years ago there was some talk that there should be a guaranteed minimum—of six courts administering justice in the High Courts of Justice in the metropolis. The condition of the metropolitan courts now indicates a complete collapse of the machinery of the Queen's Bench Division. Are there any explanations for this state of things? A common cause assigned is the existence of the much-abused circuit system. No lawyer is wedded to the circuit system; it is antiquated, troublesome, and costly; but the friends of the circuit system are the members of the various counties in this country who sit 908 in this House, and are most anxious that that time-honoured method of administering justice locally at the hands of the Queen's Justices should not be seriously impaired. It is this strong feeling which has hedged the circuit system from all attacks, and I doubt whether Her Majesty's Government would have the courage to bring forward any proposal to interfere with it. Accept that as a condition of the administration of justice in this country. The people of the country prefer the circuit system, and they are I willing to pay for the circuit system, and I do not see any reason for failing to gratify the popular wish. What is the next suggestion? It is that made by my right hon. friend the Member for Wolver-hampton. He told us that we might relieve the courts of some of the cases by sending them to be tried by the County Court judges. If these judges are to do the work of some of the High Court Justices, you will require a new order, a subordinate order in the judiciary to dispose of the business of the present County Court judges. I fail to see how that argument can be founded on any consideration of expense, or that the change would do more than complicate the system of justice as it exists. The only remaining suggestion is an increase in the number of judges. Of course I don't object to the staff of the courts being sufficient to administer justice in a way to command public confidence and general satisfaction; but until there has been a thorough examination of this question I doubt if this expedient will be accepted as the only expedient which, under existing conditions, should be adopted. Why should we not take into consideration the very grave difficulties connected with the present position of the Court of Appeal? The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth said that under the ancient system we had an admirable Court of Appeal, which dealt most efficiently with the business before it. But at this moment there are no less than 170 cases standing for hearing in the Court of Appeal. Appeals arising out of the Workmen's Compensation Act and questions of mere legal procedure have, since the abolition of the Divisional Courts, been sent to judges of exceptional position and qualification, and the result has been that for weeks, if not months, the Court of Appeal is in arrear with their ordinary 909 work. It is obvious that something must be done. My hon. and learned friend the Member for Plymouth suggested—and I was glad to see the suggestion was welcomed in authoritative quarters on this side—that if we could revive the old method of having three Divisional Courts in the Queen's Bench Division; if we could fan once more into flame the espritde corps which used to animate Her Majesty's Judges in the conduct of business before them; if, instead of having one Chief Justice to preside over a large body of judges, you had smaller bodies of judges of exceptional experience dealing with special classes of cases, we should find it unnecessary to increase the present staff. I hope that the First Lord of the Treasury will take the suggestion I have made into serious consideration between now and the next session.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir R. B. FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
I do not propose to go at any length into the various suggestions made in the course of the Debate in reference to the work of the Queen's Bench Division. Indeed I doubt whether I should be altogether in order in doing so. I do not think there is any probability of a return to the system of having three separate Divisions of the High Court. I do not believe that is practicable. We must look in another direction for a solution of the difficulty by which we are beset. There was very great force, I think, in what has been said as to the uncertainty of the sittings in London. One week you have only two or three judges sitting, in another week you have so many judges that there are not courts sufficient for them to sit in, and they must either crowd together in greater numbers than are wanted or take a compulsory holiday. I believe a very great deal could be done by the adoption of another system, telling off, some time before the beginning of every term, so many judges for work in town, each to sit in his own court during the term, just as the Chancery judges do, the other judges to hold sittings in the country. The old circuit system has undoubtedly broken down, but sittings in the country might be arranged so that you would have in every term so many judges sitting regularly in town and so many sitting regularly in the country. Now, 910 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton said that some reform was wanted with regard to the Divisional Courts. That is a matter on which I have felt strongly, and I had the honour, as a private Member, of carrying through the House a Bill which took away new trials from the Divisional Courts to the Court of Appeal; and that has been supplemented by other legislation in the same direction. But I think the right hon. Gentleman overlooked the fact that there is a certain class of business in the Queen's Bench Division for which you must have more than one judge. There is all the Crown work, all the Revenue work, and the appeals from inferior courts. What is really wanted with regard to the Divisional Court or the Court in Banc—for I prefer that time-honoured name—is more uniformity in its composition. I should like to see a strong Court in Banc with the Chief Justice presiding, and if you had that, I believe four sittings a year of ordinarily limited duration would be quite sufficient to keep Under all the work. From that court I would have no appeal except to the House of Lords, and I believe the Court of Appeal might be materially relieved by transferring to such a Court in Banc such appeals as those brought under the Workmen's Compensation Act and from the judge in Chambers. I will turn from this tempting subject—for it is tempting to develop the views I have upon it—and only say one word with reference to a matter which concerns both divisions. It has been said that the scale of taxation ought to be not merely in theory but in practice uniform for the two divisions. I cordially agree with that. In theory the scale of taxation is the same, but in practice, for some inscrutable reason, the scale of taxation in the Chancery Division is more liberal. After all, the question is whether there should be a new judge for the Chancery Division. What are the alternative suggestions? One is that the Queen's Bench Division should lend a judge. That, I think, is quite impracticable. It would disorganise the business of the Queen's Bench, and it would not be satisfactory to the borrowing division. Another suggestion is that a judge should be transferred permanently from the Queen's Bench to the Chancery Division. There are two answers to that. In the first place the Queen's Bench Division cannot spare a judge, and, in the 911 Second place, for Chancery work you want an Equity man, and I think either of those answers would be sufficient. It has been suggested that the vacations might be shortened, and that time might be saved by having an official shorthand writer. There is a great deal to be said for both those suggestions, but I do not believe either of them or both of them together would supply the pressing want which is now experienced in the Chancery Division of another judge. The question is whether the Chancery Division should have another judge. That judge, of course, must have his clerk, but if any question should be raised as to whether he should have a staff, such as is attached to most of the judges of the Chancery Division, it would come up for after consideration. The hon. and learned Member below the gangway opposite said that the work of the Chancery Division might be lightened by transferring a great many of the heavy cases to official referees or experts. I say at once I think that would be a most mischievous system.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
I did not suggest the reference of cases; I suggested that scientific or expert evidence might be referred to an official referee, or some other person, whose duty it would be to report thereon to the judge.
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
One has often heard such a suggestion made, but I think the general experience of the profession is that a double trial of that kind is most unsatisfactory. When you come back to the report of the expert you do not know where you are. Very possibly it may be found necessary either that the judge should take a leap in the dark or send back to the expert in order to clear up a point. I cannot agree with my hon. and learned friend that that suggestion of his presents even the possibility of a solution; and having examined all the other suggestions which have been made, we come back to that made by my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury, which I hope the House will adopt unanimously.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
The discussion has travelled over a very wide field; and indeed it is impossible ade- 912 quately to debate the question whether a fresh judge should be appointed to the Chancery Division without glancing at the general features—many of them very unsatisfactory—of the present system of administering justice. For my own part, I confess that I look with reluctance, and even with suspicion, at the proposal to increase our judicial staff. It is so much the easiest way of avoiding difficulties, and blinding your eye to the existence of abuses, that one is tempted to take it. But I must say I am satisfied, not only with what has been said, but by my knowledge and experience of the ordinary working of the courts, that this is a case in which the appointment of an additional judge is irresistible and unanswerable. The condition of suits in the Chancery Division, the long arrears of cases untried, and the impossibility of the judges, who. are already overworked, overtaking the duties which the law imposes upon them, is a condition so undeniable and so scandalous as to make it imperative for Parliament to increase the present staff. But while I entirely assent to the motion which the right hon. Gentleman has made, I trust that, after the discussion which has taken place, Her Majesty's Government will not regard this as a solution of the difficulty. It has been admitted by every speaker, and by no one more than by the Solicitor-General, that the present arrangements are chaotic, unbusinesslike, and in the highest degree unsatisfactory. Some reference was made to the simultaneous absence on a. foreign mission of the Lord Chief Justice and another of Her Majesty's judges of the High Court. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton and the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, when they referred to that, did not mean to cast any blame whatever either on the Lord. Chief Justice or the Government which selected him for the position. I am perfectly certain the task was undertaken from a high sense of public duty. When you consider that the United States are represented by the Lord Chief Justice of their Supreme Court, as well as by another eminent judge, and that this country was lamentably deprived of the services of the late Lord Herschell, I doubt whether any other appointment could have been made which would have given so much satisfaction, and I believe that the country is unanimous that it 913 was Lord Russell's duty to accept the appointment. But the fact remains that we are increasingly liable to these drains on our judicial reserves, and that may be an additional reason for this new judge. What I wish to impress upon the Government is, that between now and next session they should take the opportunity of reconsidering the whole of our judicial arrangements, not merely in Chancery, but in the Queen's Bench, with the view of dealing adequately and permanently with the question.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E)
If you are short of judges in this country, we have twice too many in our country, and if an appointment is to be made to strengthen the Chancery side of the courts of this country, I see no reason why that judge could not be drawn from the Irish Bench. There is additional and strong reason why the Government should keep in mind the fact that they can draw from the Irish Bench, without injury to its strength, three or four of its members. I noticed with interest that the Solicitor-General, in his speech, pointed out that the difficulty with which you have to deal in this country when you appoint a Chancery judge is that you require an
§ equity man. In Ireland no such thing exists, and I personally do not know an Irishman who, if he is appointed, is not prepared to act as a Chancery judge without knowing anything of equity whatever.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order!The hon. Gentleman is out of order in discussing the Irish Bench on the motion before the House.
§ MR. DILLON
The only object I had was from the point of view of expense. If my point of view is accepted by the House, the country would save a large sum of money.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
That is a separate question. The first question is, whether a judge shall be appointed. Whether, in order to save expense, an Irish judge shall be abolished is a wholly difficult question.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 159; Noes, 28. (Division List, No. 319.)915
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)|
|Asher, Alexander||Charrington, Spencer||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Clarke, Sir Edward (Plymouth)||Gull, Sir Cameron|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Haldane, Richard Burdon|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.|
|Balfour. Rt. Hn. J Blair (Clackm||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale.|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H.||Henderson, Alexander|
|Barnes, Frederie Gorell||Cox, Irwin Edward B.||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter|
|Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith-(Hunts||Cranborne, Viscount||Hill, Arthur (Down, West)|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Curzon, Viscount||Holland, W. H. (York, W. R.)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Dewar, Arthur||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Houston, R. P.|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Howard, Joseph|
|Bethell, Commander||Donkin, Richard Sim||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Joicey, Sir James|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Doxford, William Theodore||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William H.||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Keswick, William|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Kimber, Henry|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Fisher, William Hayes||Lawrence, Sir E Durning- (Corn)|
|Butcher, John George||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)|
|Caldwell, James||Fowler, Rt Hon. Sir Henry||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Fry, Lewis||Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. E. H.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward||Gedge, Sydney||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.||Goschen, Rt Hn G. J. (St George's||Lowe, Francis William|
|Lowles, John||Percy, Earl||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Pirie, Duncan V.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Purvis, Robert||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf. Univ.|
|Maclure, Sir John William||Richards, Henry Charles||Tennant, Harold John|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Rickett, J. Compton||Thornton, Percy M.|
|M'Crae, George||Ridley, Rt Hon. Sir Matthew. W||Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray|
|M'Ewan, William||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Ure, Alexander|
|M'Killop, James||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Wallace, Robert|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Molloy, Bernard Charles||Robson, William Snowdon||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Monk, Charles James||Round, James||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.|
|More, Rbt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Moulton, John Fletcher||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm|
|Muray, Rt. Hn. A. Grahm (Bute)||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath||Sidebottom, William (Derbys.)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Wyndham, George|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.)||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Oldroyd, Mark||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Abraham, William(Cork, N. E.)||Donelan, Captain A.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Doogan, P. C.||Steadman, William Charles|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Blake, Edward||Hogan, James Francis||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Cameron, Sir Charles (Glasgow||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Woods, Samuel|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lambert, George||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'lnd.|
|Crilly, Daniel||Lewis, John Herbert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Broadhurst and Mr. Coghill.|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Dermott, Patrick|
|Dillon, John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
§ Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, representing that the state of business in the High Court of Justice is such as to require the appointment of an additional judge, and praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a new judge of the said High Court in the Chancery Division thereof, in pursuance of the eighteenth section of The Appellate Jurisdiction Act, 1876.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors and such Members as are of Her Majesty's Household.