HC Deb 20 April 1815 vol 30 cc0-710
Sir John Newport

rose, in pursuance of his previous notice, to move for leave to bring in a Bill for the abolition of certain great offices in the courts of law in Ireland. It calling the attention of the House to this subject, he felt how much his anxiety am trouble must be diminished by the House having, on many former occasions, recognised the principle on which his propose Bill was established. Several resolution had been passed at different periods, sanctioning the propriety of such a measure and leave had been given to introduce Bill of a similar tendency. He would not, therefore, anticipate any oppositon to his intended motion, for the abolition of certain great offices after the expiration of the present existing grant. Those offices were accompanied by large emoluments, were for the most part performed by deputy, and held by persons of the highest rank in the country, who, from their situation, could have no cognizance of the conduct of their deputies, and troubled themselves no more about them than to receive the immense profits drawn from the country and the public suitors of the courts. To give the House some idea of the greatness of those sinecures, he would mention the emoluments attending come of them. The Clerk of the Crown had from 8,000l. to 10,000l. per annum; the Prothonotary of the Common Pleas had 10,000l.; the Clerk of the Pleas, in the Court of Exchequer, 11,000l. This last office was held by one of his Majesty's ministers (the earl of Buckinghamshire), who, although possessed likewise of a valuable place at the East India Board, made a demand for a very considerable sum from the consolidated fund. But however great those sinecures, and however desirable it would be that they were immediately abolished, he was not willing to affect them in any other degree than to prevent a renewal of them after the expiration of the present grants. Besides those already mentioned, his Bill would include the office of Chief Remembrancer of the Court of Exchequer, the Second Remembrancer of the same, and also the Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper; and in speaking of this last-mentioned office, he could not forbear lamenting that, notwithstanding some votes of that House recommending its abolition, it had been revived this year, on, the death of the noble earl who lately held it, so that another life was interposed to retard its dissolution. The right hon. baronet concluded by moving, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to regulate the fees and emoluments of certain offices of the courts of law in Ireland after the determination of the now existing grants thereof respectively."

Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald

said, that he had the less regret at not being present when the right hon. baronet commenced his address to the House, as it was not his intention to oppose his proposition. He did not now mean to offer any opinion upon the various points alluded to by the right hon. baronet; but upon the principle which had formerly been adopted by the House, he should not oppose the motion for leave to bring in the Bill. He begged, however, to observe, that with regard to the office held by a noble lord (the earl of Buckinghamshire) to which the right hon. Baronet had adverted, the net receipts of that office did not amount to near so large a sum as that which had been stated, and which included, he believed, the salary of the deputy, and other expenses of the office. With regard to the office which had become vacant this year, viz. the Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper, he might be permitted to observe, that, with every respect for the Bill which passed that House, it was rather too much to assume that the Crown ought to be deprived of the power of granting that office, because one branch of the Legislature had disapproved of its continuance. The right hon. baronet, however, he was sure, would be glad to hear, that as the event which would augment the fees of that office to a very large; amount, was one which every one must deprecate, namely, a demise of the Crown, Government had made a stipulation with, the noble lord to whom it was now granted, by which either Parliament or the Crown would have a right to regulate the amount of the fees on the occasion alluded to (which, from the number of commissions which must in that case be renewed, would be very large), allowing the noble lord a certain portion of them and providing that the remainder should be paid into the Exchequer.

Mr. Bankes

approved of such a bargain, and hoped that, while it was fresh in their memories, some plan would be carried into execution for better regulating the emoluments of other great offices.

Sir J. Newport

said, that be had collected his information as to the amounts of those sinecures from the statements of the officers themselves.

Leave was given to bring in the Bill.

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