HC Deb 02 June 1809 vol 14 cc858-60

The report was brought up from the Committee, to whom was referred a consideration of the expediency of increasing the Salaries of the Judges, and the resolutions agreed to.

Mr. Whitbread

said it was not his wish to oppose the increase of salary intended to the judges; but he gave notice that he should, in the progress of the bill, take the liberty of suggesting to the house some propositions on the subject, and particularly for preventing the sale of the office of clerk of assize, and also for preventing the Welsh Judges from holding other places of profit under the crown, and from occupying seats in parliament, both of which he considered as incompatible with the independent and impartial administration of justice, as well as with the principle upon which the judges of England held their appointments. There was another point to which also he should take occasion to advert; namely, the great grievance under which the remote parts of the kingdom, and particularly the county of York, laboured under from the delay of justice, as being only visited by the judges of assize once in a year, and that only for a week; a circumstance extremely oppressive, not only to suitors in that great county, but to all persons there awaiting the course of justice, civil or criminal.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that the judges, on going a circuit, certainly allotted by anticipation the time they should remain at the different towns on their respective circuits, according to their calculation of the time the business to be done at each would probably occupy; sometimes certainly the business occupied more time than they expected, and, rendered it impracticable to accomplish the whole, consistently with their arrangements made for other places; this, however, seldom happened; and where it was conceived the business would occupy more than the ordinary time, two judges went to York instead of one, whereby double the business was disposed of within the same period. It would be for the wisdom of parliament to make such arrangements on this head as might seem necessary hereafter; but he hoped the house would not clog the present bill by such regulations.

Mr. Bunkes

coincided in the necessity of rendering all the judges equally independent of the crown with those of England, and therefore agreed in the propriety of precluding them from seats in parliament, as well as from other lucrative offices under the crown, in order that they might not only be removed from the influence of the crown in that house, but even from the suspicion of it; and he thought that a clause for this purpose, as well as for preventing the sale of the office of clerk of assize, ought to be inserted in the bill.

Mr. I. H. Browne

deprecated the idea of precluding the Welch judges from seats in that house, under any idea of their dependence on the crown, their places being for life. By such an exclusion, the house would be deprived of a valuable portion of talents: and he begged leave to instance the speech of one of those judges upon a late important occasion (that of Mr. Burton, in the case of the duke of York) as one of the most lucid and eloquent ever uttered within the walls of parliament.

Leave was given to bring in a Bill pursuant to the Resolutions.