§ House in Committee according to Order.
§ The EARL of POWIS
suggested to the Lord Chancellor that, in the appointment 280 of judges in Wales, preference should be given to those persons who were acquainted with the Welsh language.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that undoubtedly it would be a great recommendation that those candidates should be appointed in Wales who were acquainted with the Welsh language; but he was afraid that if Members of the English Bar were to be appointed to these offices, some difficulty would be found in obtaining persons possessing the qualification: he would, however, take care that they should have the preference.
§ Clauses from 1 to 7 were agreed to.
§ Clause 8 being proposed,
The LORD CHANCELLOR
observed, that there were many ancient courts having jurisdiction over small debts, but the far greater number existed under the provisions of modern Acts of Parliament, and these latter courts had judges. As far as he could gain information, the number of judges now existing of these several courts competent to preside over courts of an enlarged jurisdiction would be about fifty. The Bill, as it stood, proposed that all these courts should be made permanent, and that the judge now presiding over the court should be confirmed as judge of the court. The effect of that would be to supply judges for fifty or sixty courts, but would leave a large number of courts which it was necessary to establish under this Act without any judge; and these fifty or sixty would be without full occupation for their time. He had, therefore, thought it better, not only for the purpose of securing more competent judges, but for the purpose of diminishing the patronage to be exorcised under this Bill, to alter the scheme in this respect, and to appoint the same person judge of as many courts within the neighbourhood of the principal court as he could find time to preside over. That would enable one judge to perform the duties of four or five courts, and would diminish in the same proportion the number of individuals to be selected. In all these courts in which it was proposed to continue the judges, they were appointed under separate Acts of Parliament; and in all these Acts it was provided that their functions should cease after a general measure should have passed. They had no right, therefore, to complain of the operation of this Bill; but they had strong claims to be continued, and in all probability it would be for the benefit of the public that they should continue. The clause, there- 281 fore, as it stood, enabled the Lord Chancellor to select those individuals who had presided in these courts to preside in the new district courts to be created by this Act. The effect of this would be, that it would be found there were judges enough of the now-existing courts to take the superintendence of the several districts into which the country would be divided.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
said, there was no clause to that effect; out the nature of their duties, having four or five courts to preside over, would make it perfectly impossible that they should practise at the bar. The noble and learned Lord then stated the Amendments he proposed to introduce respecting the appointment of sheriffs and sub-sheriffs, and the regulation of the salaries of the judges. It was as yet very uncertain what the fees would amount to; but he proposed to allow the salary to be made up from fees, the amount not exceeding 1,200l. a year for the chief judge, afterwards to be converted into a fixed salary.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
thought care should be taken, while the salaries were raised from fees, not to allow a vested interest to be created that might be alleged as an objection to fixing the salary afterwards. This had sometimes been the case, and if the fees exceeded the amount of salary, a claim was made for compensation; if they were less, a demand was made upon the public fund to bring them up to that amount.
said, the noble and learned Lord had very properly extended the standing of the barristers who were to hold office under the Act to seven years; but he thought in that seven years should be included the time that in many cases was most efficiently spent in practising as a special pleader under the bar.
§ The remaining clauses, with some verbal Amendments, agreed to, and the Report was received.
§ House adjourned.