HC Deb 01 June 1820 vol 1 cc745-68
Mr. Frederick Campbell

rose, in pursuance of the notice which he had given of a motion relative to the situation of the Welsh Judges, and the regulation of the court of judicature in Wales. The subject, in his opinion, deserved the most serious consideration of the House, as it was an attempt to remedy some of the defects, as he must term them, of the court of judicature in Wales. The remedy which he should propose for those defects was not founded on any newfangled theory, but on the opinions of men who could only desire change, because in their consciences they believed change to be necessary. Indeed, one of them, lord Colchester, whilst practising as a barrister on the Chester circuit, had pointed out the defects of this system most clearly, and had even gone so far as to propose a specific remedy for them. The evils of which he complained had arisen from the change of circumstances which had occurred in the lapse of years. The present system of Welsh judicature was first adopted at a period when a distinct line could be drawn between England and Wales, and when great animosity subsisted between the inhabitants of the two countries. At hat period it might be perfectly proper; and a court like the court of great session night have been absolutely necessary. Now, however, that the boundaries of England and Wales served for no other purpose than that of a geographical distinction, and that the interests of their inhabitants had become so closely inter woven that they could never again be easily separated, the case was completely altered, and the necessity for the existence of a separate court, like the court of great session, was materially diminished. A petition had been presented to the House from a number of most respectable individuals, stating that any alteration in the present system of Welsh judicature would be attended with injurious consequences, as the law was administered under it in Wales at a less expense than it could be administered under any other system. He had taken a former opportunity of stating, that, highly as he respected those petitioners, he did not agree in opinion with them; and he must now again state, that, if he thought that any of the alterations which he wished to be made in the present system were calculated to produce such effects as they anticipated, he should be the last man in the world to propose them. But how did the case really stand at present? Why, if an individual brought an action, the pleadings must be drawn, the witnesses must be collected, and the cause must be tried in one week. Could this be done with security? He thought not. If the individual did not choose to have his cause so hastily decided on, what was there left him to do? He must either refer his cause to arbitration after all the expenses necessary to enable him to go to trial had been incurred, or he must postpone it for six months, and wait till the next assizes. If he did not like this plan, he might try it in the next English county; but in that case he would beg leave to remind the petitioners, that they lost two of the advantages on which they principally rested—that of trying the cause at home, and of trying it, as they stated, at a cheap rate. He thought that the statement which he had just made would show the disadvantages of the present system; but he would state another fact, which would show that it was not quite so cheap as the petitioners represented it to be. The fees to barristers were, he understood, quite as heavy in the Welsh court as in the English; and he understood, when barristers drew up pleadings, a greater fee was given to them for doing so than was given to special pleaders. Now, no special pleader had yet been found bold enough to go down into Wales in quest of business, and therefore the pleadings, which were drawn in England by special pleaders, were obliged to be drawn in Wales by barristers. This of course saddled the Welsh suitor with a greater expense than it did the English. "But then," said the petitioners, "if you abolish the present system of judicature, you will abolish also that kind of action called concedit solvere, which can be conducted at so very cheap a rate." To this objection, allowing it to be founded in truth, he would answer, that the kind of action alluded to could only be used to recover small debts; and, if it was so useful, he saw no reason why it might not be retained, when other parts of the system were altered or abolished. But an attorney in South Wales with whom he was acquainted, and to whom he had shown the minutes of evidence taken before the last committee—a gentleman who had practised in the Welsh courts for 35 years with the most unblemished reputation—had let him a little into the secret as to the cheapness of this kind of action, and had informed him, that the fees allowed to attornies for conducting it were pretty nearly the same as those allowed to them for conducting an action on a common capias in the Court of Common Pleas. Another objection to the present system of judicature was, the heavy rates at which fines and recoveries were effected in the Welsh courts. Lord Dynevor, in his evidence, had stated that they were eight or ten times heavier than they were in the courts at Westminster. There, too, they could be suffered four times; but in Wales they could only be suffered twice. Neither were they the same in all parts of Wales. In South Wales they were higher than they were in North Wales. The hon. gentleman then went on to point out several defects in the administration of justice in Wales. Amongst others, he mentioned that in North Wales a writ of certiorari could not be moved, but in the South such writ might be obtained. He should also mention, as another and no unimportant defect, that a motion for a new trial must be made immediately after the first trial is concluded, and before the same judge on the ground of whose misdirection to the jury such motion might have been made. It was not generally to be expected, under such circumstances, that any judge should, without time for calm consideration, acknowledge himself to be wrong, and decide contrary to that which he had just before decided. The case was quite different in England, where, in a motion for a new trial, the judge who tried the case had the benefit of the assistance of the other judges, and where of course the same question could be put a second time for his sole decision. It also happened, in some of the equity cases, that where the two judges did not agree no decision whatever was given. This was not a mere problematical case, for it was one which sometimes had occurred, and it arose out of the ignorance (he spoke it with no disrespect to any particular quarter) of the judges and others connected with those courts in matters of equity. For this reason it appeared to him as most desirable that an equity court should be established; for, from the rapidity of the course of proceeding now pursued (to use the phrase of Mr. Burke), "the most authentic absurdity of form," that justice could not be done in many cases which their nature required. There were few indeed connected with those courts who were acquainted with equity proceedings: and it was not unusual for only one equity barrister to attend the northern circuit, and he need not describe how those must be circumstanced who could not get the benefit of his assistance. Indeed, equity proceedings seemed to be only of secondary consideration in those circuits. No fixed day was appointed for hearing them, and they were only brought on in some idle time, when the weight of other matter did not press. Besides the delay on this ground, there was another strong objection to their mode of proceedings, as they went upon a supposition that no such place as England existed; for the courts had no power to serve any process in England, or to enforce the attendance of any witness from thence; and in the result of any civil action, the party may avoid any costs or penalties by escaping to England. With all these delays and disadvantages, the fees in those courts were as great as those in the court of chancery in England, and that too in matters of inferior moment. He could say a great deal more upon this subject, but he would not then take up the attention of the House. He would only observe, that from those circumstances many persons were prevented from applying for redress; and to those who did, there was no appeal from this miserable tribunal but to the House of Lords. He would pass over the obvious defect of the judges of those courts being allowed to practise as barristers in other courts, and the circumstance of one judge always going the same circuit; and he would come to the manner in which those judges were appointed. The appointment lay in the Treasury; and when a vacancy occurred, instead of looking about at the bar, for the most proper person to fill it, they looked at the House of Commons, of1 which they knew much more; and if a seat could be secured or a vote gained by it so much the better. They were not very nice in their selection, as the salary I was so small, and the situation itself so undignified, that few lawyers of respectability could bear to lose so much of interest and character as the acceptance of this situation might suppose. These circumstances created a feeling in many of the inhabitants of Wales, towards the I judges, the very reverse of that which ought to be held for persons acting in a judicial capacity. The hon. member then went on to contrast the situation and character of the English and Welsh judges. The character of an English judge was, "be observed, honourable, dignified, and independent. His situation had been made independent of the Crown by an act of his late majesty. It was one of the first, and might be considered as one of the best and most important, acts of his reign. The English judge held his situation free and independent of the Crown; he discharged the duties of his high office without dependence upon those by whom he was appointed. The situation of the Welsh judge was, on the contrary, dependent and obscure, the administration of justice vague and uncertain. Indeed, the inhabitants of Wales might well complain that they were deprived of those advantages of equal administration of justice, which it was declared by several statutes in different reigns, that they should enjoy. They had now a system of judicature which seemed, as it were, but a mockery of their rights; and the more so, as a separate one for them was not necessary. It was impossible, under those circumstances, that they could look with that respect on their judges, which the situation of judges required. They saw the Welsh judge appointed by, and dependent on, the Crown; and at the close of his judicial career, looking to the Crown for a pension, or some other remuneration for his services. He wished to know why it was that eight judges should be considered necessary for V/ales, while only twelve were thought sufficient for England? He considered, that if there were only four judges, the business might be done as well or better, under particular regulations, than it now was. He had heard the noble lord (Castlereagh) state, on the discussion with respect to the appointment of a judge in the Scotch Exchequer Court, that his majesty's ministers would not forfeit their public duty by making such situations a subject of patronage. He was anxious to put this declaration to the test, by moving a resolution that the judges in Wales should be held incapable of holding seats in that House. He would not detain the House by pointing out the remedies which might be necessary for the evils he had detailed. They had been ably stated by lord Colchester in his remarks upon the Welsh courts. He had observed, that if the business of Wales were added to that which the English judges had already to discharge, which was in itself fully sufficient for their attention, it would be too great a weight upon them; but he thought that three judges in addition might be sufficient to answer the purpose—to assist at the Old Bailey, and also to go occasionally to the northern counties. The hon. gentleman then alluded to the changes which had been made in the number of the judges in some of our courts under different reigns, to show that the present number had not been invariably adhered to; and concluded by moving, "That a select committee be appointed to consider the state of the court of judicature in Wales; the propriety of abolishing the same; and the means by which Wales may be most readily included within the English circuits, and to report their opinions thereupon to the House."

Mr. Warren,

chief justice of Chester, said, that in the violent tirade which the hon. gentleman had just delivered against Welsh judges, he had made no exception. Welsh judges in times past and time present, were equally denounced, and even Welsh judges in time to come were to be affected by the contagion of their example. With respect to those observations which applied to himself—

Mr. F. Campbell

denied having made any personal observations.

Mr. Warren

resumed. The hon. gentleman had certainly said that all were obscure and all were ignorant. The hon. gentleman, living in the part of the country in which he did, could not but know that there were persons who filled situations of as high honour and integrity, and as much professional knowledge as ever presided over any court of justice. One of them was a friend of the hon. gentleman, a most esteemed friend of the late Mr. Fox, and appointed by Mr. Fox to the situation. Nothing but the desire of sinking Welsh judges to the lowest abyss of infamy, could have induced the hon. gentleman to assert, not only that all who now existed, but that all who ever had existed, were corrupt. Did the hon. gentleman ever hear of sir William Grant? He thought not. Of lord Kenyon, of lord Redesdale, of sir Vicary Gibbs, of the present lord chief justice of the Common Pleas? He thought not. If the hon. gentleman had recollected that all these distinguished persons had, at one period of their lives, presided over the courts of Wales, he would scarcely have passed such a sweeping censure upon all Welsh judges. He did not know whether he was himself considered an obscure and ignorant person. Pie had once many friends on the opposite side of the House [Hear!]; and he hoped he still continued to retain their friendship, though he was aware that little dependence could be placed on the continuance of friendship where party considerations interfered. In looking round the House, he saw many gentlemen on both sides of the House who had done him the honour to employ him [Hear, hear!]. He would take that opportunity of alluding to some observations of a noble lord opposite, which he had seen in the public prints, and which evidently alluded to himself; they were in the same spirit as the tirade which had been just uttered by the hon. gentleman, and he begged to assure the noble lord and the hon. gentleman, that he had too much respect for both of them to feel any thing like anger. He gave them credit for saying what they felt themselves bound to say, and he would take the same credit to himself.—He knew not whether the House would feel disposed to go into the inquiry proposed by the hon. gentleman, but for his part he certainly should not oppose it. He could not help observing, however, that the hon. gentleman had treated the subject as if no inquiry had ever been instituted by parliament. It would be in the recollection of many members, that in the year 1817, a committee was appointed to inquire into the mode of administering justice in Wales. The committee, after a full examination; of the subject in May, made their report in July, and had, in fact pointed out all the defects upon which the hon. gentleman had argued this evening. So far, however, from coming to the conclusion, that the courts ought to be abolished, they recommended them on account of the cheapness and expedition with which justice was administered. The hon. and learned gentleman observed, that it was his intention himself to bring forward a I bill to remedy the defects in the system of administering justice in Wales, but that I he thought proper to wait the result of the hon. mover's proposition. To that proposition he could not think it necessary to accede, because no information of any importance could be expected through any new committee, which was not already before the House, through the committee which sat upon the subject on a former occasion. Before that committee I no less than thirty-five very intelligent individuals were examined, among whom were barons Wood and Garrow, and that very respectable person Mr. Benyon. the attorney-general for Chester. Could the hon. mover then suppose that any further I review of this case was requisite, or that I any new committee was likely to reverse the decision of that to which he had alluded?—Here the hon. and learned gentleman adverted to a petition from a number of most respectable gentlemen in the county of Carnarvon, praying for the correction of the errors of the existing system, but deprecating the idea of totally abolishing the Welsh judicature. The bill prepared by Mr. Jones, which was in his possession, and which he meant to submit to the consideration of the House, was quite in accordance with this petition, that bill being fully calculated to remedy all the defects pointed out in the report of the committee which before sat upon this subject. That bill, therefore, he thought would give satisfaction to the people of Wales, as well as promote the ends of justice.—The hon. and learned gentleman apologized for the length of his speech, and especially for those remarks which referred to himself, but such remarks he felt to be necessary, in consequence of the tirade against him, which had been uttered upon a former occasion by a noble lord opposite (lord J. Russell). But that tirade was unfounded in attributing to him a selfish motive for accepting the office which he at present held, as it was well known that were he to accept the Chiltern Hundreds he could, even from his practice before committees above stairs, soon contrive to earn enough to purchase a moiety of the fee simple of the salary. which that office afforded. The hon. and learned gentleman concluded with expressing his intention to decline voting upon this motion, as he was in some degree personally concerned.

Mr. Creevey

declared, that he was not able to see upon what ground, while the English judges were excluded from seats in that House, the Welsh judges should be allowed to sit there. The object of the law which excluded the English judges obviously was, to preserve the bench from any taint of political or party bias, and with the same view those judges were rendered independent of the Crown. If, then, it was deemed proper to keep the judges from among those who were within the sphere of political action or influence, why should the Welsh judges be allowed to sit in that House? The conduct, indeed, of the learned gentleman himself, who had just sat down, furnished a strong argument, if any were wanted, to show that the judges should not be allowed to have seats in that House.—He had known his learned friend, if he would allow him now so to call him, for above twenty years, during which he could not say that he agreed with the learned gentleman in political opinion, as that learned gentleman went generally much farther than he could [Hear, hear!]. The learned gentleman, indeed, usually concurred with the hon. baronet, the member for Westminster, who was uniformly the subject of his most fervent panegyric. What, then, was the inference from the extraordinary change which had taken place in the learned gentleman's politics (a change, by-the-by, which justified the old adage, as to the proximity of extremes), but that his new judgeship was connected with his new opinions [Hear, hear!]? But the sudden change of the learned gentleman's sentiments, of which he had never heard until the learned gentleman became a judge, was not more remarkable than the ardent zeal which he displayed for his new adherents. This zeal, was, however, very possibly the effect of that apprehension which generally haunted inconsistent politicians, that to appear more ardent than others, was somewhat necessary to avert the suspicion of a disposition to relapse. The hon. gentleman concluded with repeating it to be his opinion, that the learned gentleman's own conduct afforded ample reason to convince the House and the country, that a Welsh judge or a chief justice of Chester should not be allowed to sit in that House.

Lord John Russell

disclaimed the tirade attributed to him by the hon. and learned gentleman. He indeed recollected to have seen such a tirade ascribed to him, in what purported to be a report of his speech, in one of the newspapers usually devoted to the service of administration, namely, that the hon. and learned gentleman was always ready to support the unconstitutional measures of his majesty's ministers. What could induce the reporter to ascribe these words to him, or the learned gentleman to conclude that he uttered them, he could not pretend to say. But he certainly had never said any thing of the kind. What he really had said on the occasion alluded to was this, that the judgeship which the learned gentleman occupied was usually granted as a reward or retainer for the support of ministerial measures, while that judgeship was generally a step towards other offices, the holders of which were always the supporters of the minister of the day—that is, that the chief justice ship of Chester was usually a step towards the offices of either attorney or solicitor general, which was an observation fully justified by experience. It was well known that the act which rendered the English judges independent of the Crown had given universal satisfaction; and looking to the principle and purpose of that act, he was at a loss to imagine any defence that could be framed for placing the Welsh judges in a dif- ferent situation from that of the judges of England, or how it could be supposed that human nature was likely to be so different in different places, that when a lawyer was appointed to an office in Wales he was not as liable to be influenced by those motives which usually operated upon mankind as when he held a similar office in England. Under those impressions he supported the argument of his hon. friend, that Welsh judges should not be allowed to sit in that House, and would vote for the motion. The hon. and learned gentleman had that day endeavoured to make an extraordinary display of his purity and disinterestedness, by alleging that he took his present office without any view to emolument, and that if he had vacated his seat, which he had scarcely occupied when he became a judge, he would have an opportunity of earning much more money by attending as a barrister before the committees above stairs than the salary of that judgeship afforded. Therefore as the learned gentleman maintained, that in taking office he had no view whatever to profit, it must be supposed that he regarded that office as an accession to his character; which he perhaps concluded would be more elevated by the connexions which he had lately formed, and the opinions which he had lately adopted, than by those connexions and opinions which he happened to maintain while he associated with his hon. friend who had last addressed the House and others holding the same political sentiments. If this were really the learned gentleman's impression, and he actually thought his character stood higher in the country in consequence of his recent change, he should only say, that he wished the learned gentleman joy upon his taste and judgment.

Mr. Wynn

regretted the personalities that had been indulged in. When the former report was made, the present chief justice of Chester was not a member of that House. The committee of 1817 did much; but in the absence of so many members, they did not give any positive opinion as to the Welsh judges. With respect to the motion, he felt some difficulty. His own opinion always was, that the abolition of the present system of Welsh judicature could not all at once be effected, or effected with immediate advantage. At the same time, he or to those alterations that were at variance with long established practice.—But still he considered that Welsh judges should not be allowed to act as barristers for many obvious reasons. He should be glad, under all the circumstances, when the committee was revived, that the former evidence should be referred to them, as in consequence of the lamented death of Mr. Ponsonby, the chairman of the committee, together with other circumstances, the effect and bearing of the evidence taken before it had never been fully discussed.

Colonel Wood,

who had also been a member of that committee, said, that the opinion of Mr. Ponsonby, whose name would always be looked up to with respect, had at one time been strongly in favour of abolishing the Welsh system of judicature altogether; and it was but fair to state the manly and candid manner in which that lamented individual acted as chairman. He did distinctly understand Mr. Ponsonby's opinion to have been completely changed by the evidence laid before the committee, and that he thought, on examination into the subject, that the Welsh judicature: possessed many advantages, and should not be done away with altogether.—Among all the witnesses examined before; the committee, there was only one, a; Mr. Owen, who wished the system to be abolished. No question had been put to any of the witnesses, as to the propriety of these judges sitting in that House; nor was there any occasion for hearing evidence on that point before a committee, because it was a question on which the House was able to judge without any such inquiry. One ground of complaint had been, that in consequence of the ambulatory habits of the equity barristers who attended the circuits, the suitors in the courts of equity; in Wales could not sometimes get their causes heard for six months. This he I thought a less hardship than it had been represented; for he believed that many; of the suitors in the equity courts of England would be very well satisfied if they could obtain a hearing in six years. The hon. gentleman proceeded to state various arguments against; the abolition of the present system. One: reason for not including Wales in the circuits was, that many of the witnesses I could not speak a word of English. But he would suggest, that the most serious inconvenience would arise, if the present chief justice, for instance, of the King's-bench, or any other of the bench of judges, were to be required to travel the Welsh circuit. The state of the roads would go far to make their arrival at their destination a very questionable matter. And, in proof of this, he well remembered the unfortunate adventure of Mr. Justice Harding, who was proceeding upon the circuit in that country, when his horse fell down and broke his leg,; so that, if it had not been for the friendly assistance of a brother judge, Mr. Justice Harding, would not have been enabled to arrive in time for the opening of the session. He wished hon. gentlemen would view the thing dispassionately, and getting rid of all party feeling, only consider the claims of Welshmen, They were certainly in a state of gradual improvement, which was manifested more and more every year; and were rapidly getting rid of the use of the Welsh language. But he was sure that they would be much dissatisfied if their judicature was ever altered. He thought that the effect of the present motion, so far from giving to the Welsh any advantages beyond what they at present possessed, would rather be to excite dissatisfaction throughout the principality. He could see no good that was likely to result from the revival of the committee: all the evidence which could be procured, through the labours of a committee, had been already laid before the former.

Mr. Wrottesley

thought it his duty as the evidence which had been brought before the committee which was formerly appointed by the House to inquire into this subject had been so frequently alluded to this night to say, that as much of it was procured as every member of the committee thought necessary. And it was but justice to say, that every possible I diligence was used by the late right hon. gentleman who was the chairman, to enable them to come to a proper and final determination upon the question submitted to them. It had been determined to meet, for the purpose of making a full report, when, in the mean time, that deplorable event which all the country sincerely regretted took place. Consequently the committee never did meet again; but it was thought necessary that a report of some kind should be agreed upon; and, accordingly, those members of the committee win were in town concurred in thinking that it was proper to call the attention of the House to such parts of the judicature as they considered to require alteration. The impression on Mr. Ponsonby's mind was clearly and decidedly this—that, on the whole it would not be a good thing to abolish the system of judicature entirely. The reason of that impression he believed to have been founded upon the general feeling of the country, and upon the opinion of Mr. Serjeant Heywood on the subject.

Mr. Chetwynd

thought what had passed in the House that night quite a sufficient reason for a change of system with regard to the Welsh judges. For to see a gentleman who wore the robe of a judge, standing in that House to plead and at liberty to decide in a cause in which he was personally interested, appeared to him a very great anomaly. He really thought that ministers would do well to give up the source of patronage which they possessed, from having Welsh judges sitting in that House. He had no doubt, indeed, that such a surrender would serve very considerably to advance the character of his majesty's ministers, and he was as anxious as any man that that character should stand high in public estimation. At an early period of the reign of Geo. 2nd, it was enacted that the Scotch baron should not be allowed to sit in that House, and the English judges were also excluded. The judges then both of England and Scotland being prohibited from sitting in that House, he could not see upon what ground the Welsh judges should be allowed to sit there. Another objection to the present system of the Welsh judges was, that they were allowed to practise as barristers in this part of the kingdom; and thus a suitor on the Chester circuit had an opportunity of ascertaining, perhaps of prepossessing the mind of the judge who was to try he cause. On these grounds he should support the motion.

Mr. Allen

said, that the hon. colonel, who was not, he believed, a Welshman, although he represented a Welsh county, had given a representation of the opinions of his constituents and neighbours upon this question very different from that which lie (Mr. Allen) should give of those entertained in that part of the country with which he was himself connected. With respect to the petition which had been presented recently from Carmarthen, and which had been alluded to that night, he was disposed to believe that it was, in a great measure a party petition. He did not by any means intend to attribute such paltry motives to the hon. member for Carmarthen, but he did think that it originated in a spirit of party. As to the question before the House the only merits he had heard ascribed to the system of Welsh judicature were its superior cheapness and dispatch. If he should be able to prove however that this cheapness and des-patch were counterbalanced by very great and serious evils, he presumed he should remove the sole argument which the advocates of that judicature had yet brought in its support. Now, upon the point of cheapness, it might indeed be said that the items, the details of legal expanses, were cheap; but if they would take any town or district of Wales, they would find that the total sum expended there in litigation would far exceed that of any town or district of the same extent in England—a circumstance which arose, no doubt, from the tendency which the cheapness of laws had to excite litigation. With respect to all this cheapness and despatch of judicial proceedings, however, although he certainly would not attempt to dispute the advantages they yielded, yet, if they were outweighed by more than tantamount evils, he must consider the principle a pernicious one. So it might be said that the English system of judicature was the dearest, and the Turkish the cheapest in the world. The advantage of superior cheapness of litigation was to he estimated by the feeling of security which it threw round the subject, and by the confidence with which it inspired him of the protection and safety of his property. It was as a member of this principality that he now claimed for his countrymen that they should be admitted to all the advantages of the British constitution—advantages which they could not be said to possess while they had inferior judges, an inferior bar, and inferior attornies. He would here beg to guard himself from any imputation of wishing to speak with the least disrespect of those individuals who now administered the law in their judicial capacities to the principality of Wales; and indeed, so far as he was connected with them, he had pleasure in saying that the judges of the Carmarthen circuit stood very high in every point of legal and moral character, and well deserved any office which it was in the power of his majesty to bestow upon them. But it was to the principle of their appointment that he objected. No man would say, that to choose judges from political motives and opinions was not an evil, the nature and extent of which were incalculable. He remembered being struck with the observation which was made in the other House of Parliament by an eminent prelate upon a very different kind of debate—namely, the admission of the clergy to seats in the House of Commons. Bishop Horsley, upon that occasion, expressed himself to this effect—"I am adverse to the admission of clergymen to seats in the House of Commons; not that I suppose any one will say, at this time of day, that the habits of the clergy render them unqualified to undertake the duties of legislation: I admit the advantages of their education and pursuits; but it is because I believe that the arts which are made use of to obtain seats render it improper that they should fill them."* He would beg leave to apply this argument to the present question, by saying that the arts by which these judges might be appointed to their situations were not such as the friends of the principality could wish. Another objection to the present judicature was, that the celerity of proceedings became the favourer of litigation. The number of attornies in the principality exceeded, unfortunately, that in any other district of the kingdom. The number in the town represented by his hon. friend, alone, was no less than thirty, and every other town was overstocked in proportion. It was hardly possible to calculate how much the spirit of litigation was encouraged by such multitudes of attornies; and whatever had been objected to the tendency of the popular disposition to litigate, there was a much greater tendency to it in the system of Welsh judicature. The hon. member for Brecknock had related the misadventures of the judges in going the circuits, which he seemed to attribute to the state of the roads in Wales; but he could assure them that the roads, at any rate in his part of the principality, were as good as those of England, and no difficulty would be experienced in travelling those circuits. Another objection which had been urged was, that the Welsh business could not command a sufficiently respectable bar; and the question would be * Parliamentary History, vol. 35, p. 1546. found upon the papers before the House, whether, if the two circuits were joined together, there would not be sufficient inducement to respectable practitioners? Now, suppose they took the three counties of Oxford, Gloucester and Monmouth, and joined them to the southern circuit, would not there then be sufficient business, he would ask, to procure them at least as respectable a bar as any other circuit? The spirit of litigation was best evinced by the number of actions entered in the county courts. Such an excess of suits must have a tendency to increase the number of attornies to a very great amount. But he would beg hon. gentlemen to look at their sheriff-courts, which formed the greatest curse under which the principality laboured, and which could only be remedied by the abolition of the present system of judicature. It had been asked, why it had happened, if this evil were really felt in Wales, that no petitions had been before presented to the House upon the subject? He would answer, that this circumstance resulted from one or two causes, and principally because, he supposed, the gentlemen of the principality had a worse opinion of his majesty's ministers than he had; for those of them with whom he had conversed upon the subject had said, "Oh, ministers will never part with the patronage; they will never give up the appointments." Now, he did think that ministers would readily part with that patronage, whenever they were convinced it was proper and advisable to do so. In conclusion, the hon. gentleman declared he saw nothing at present which should prevent his majesty's ministers from going into the committee.

Lord Castlereagh

said, that the hon. gentleman who had just spoken had done no more than justice to his majesty's ministers in supposing that they neither had nor could have any other object, upon this question, than that that should be done which was best calculated to render justice to so large a class of his majesty's subjects. For himself he had no difficulty in saying, that he had come into that House under this general impression upon the subject—that it had already undergone, the most elaborate examination—that every possible inquiry had been made, and every possible evidence obtained from the most able and intelligent persons; and therefore he had conceived that all topics which could now be proposed to be submitted to a com- mittee had been so entirely exhausted, that it would be the more natural and proper course for the House to urge some gentleman to propose a remedial measure, either altering or remodelling the judicature of Wales, rather than that they should again go into a committee. He had no hesitation, however, in acknowledging, that observations had been made in the course of the debate, and particularly by an hon. friend of his, which led him to rather a different conclusion. They led him to consider, that the labours of that former committee had terminated under circumstances less satisfactory, certainly, than they would have been, if after hearing all the evidence to be brought on the subject, and that with the additional advantage of hearing the manner in which it was given, they had gone on to make a report which should have been of that clear and ample nature which generally resulted from the labour of a committee. It was therefore, what had fallen in the course of the debate that had induced him to suppose that their information upon the question was less perfect and satisfactory than he had imagined it to be when he came into the House. But he was sure, that if the House should concur in thinking some further proceeding advisable, it would yet be quite impossible for them to adopt the motion of the hon. gentleman, as it was at present worded. He had carefully looked at that wording and though it did not pledge the House exactly to the abolition of the Welsh judicature, yet it was so framed, as to do so by implication, and to convey a charge against it, by supposing that abolition necessary, for it concluded with a charge to such committee, "to consider the propriety of abolishing the Welsh judicature, and the best means by which the same could be effected." The hon. gentleman would allow him to observe, that this was to ask them to abolish a judicature, not only in direct defiance of the opinions expressed by members of the former committee, but before they had suggested any means of substituting another system. The noble lord went on to observe, that without disparagement to the opinions of any of the individuals who had given before the committee their opinions upon the case, or to the opinions of the hon. gentleman, he did not see how one authority or so, was to weigh against that of 24 others, among whom he found the names of sir William Grant, Mr. Leyces- ter, sir James Mansfield, and many others of the highest authority. He had no objection, however, if the House felt so disposed, to have the question farther investigated; but he should wish that to be done without prejudice to the existing judges, who were distinguished by every quality that was honourable in society,—a judicature to which, if he might believe the greater part of the evidence which had been offered on the subject, that part of the country was most warmly attached. And although, with that partiality with which every man viewed his own national institutions, he might prefer our own, he did think that it must require some time to prove the advantage of substituting our system for theirs. He could not by any means jump to the conclusion, that that which was good for one part of the kingdom must necessarily be good for the other; for, if our system were intended to operate at all, it must take some time before it could do so with all that facility of action which it was found to do in England. He should have no objection to a committee moved for in the same terms it was originally moved for. He could easily suppose that those members who on a former occasion had heard the evidence, were much better calculated to extract the proper inferences from it than the House itself; but he did not know why the new committee should be more competent to judge upon it than the House itself; and therefore he begged to be understood that he would not wish such committee to be precluded from asking for further information. To the hon. gentleman's motion, therefore, if this amendment were substituted, he saw no objection. He would suggest the words of the original motion for a committee, instead—"to inquire into, and report to the House, their observations touching the laws relating to the administration of justice in Wales." And in the propriety of not limiting a committee to the former evidence, the House would the more readily concur when they knew that the late Mr. Ponsonby (no mean authority) went into the former committee, with a persuasion of the necessity of abolishing the judicature of Wales altogether, and carrying into the principality the laws of England, but, with the candour of a legal mind, his expressed opinion subsequently, so far as it could be traced, was of a different character; he abandoned his first idea, and considered that they should best consult the interests and feelings of that part of the population of the united kingdom by leaving to them their ancient institutions as they then existed. He could not sit down without expressing his sorrow that any hon. gentleman, whatever were his opinions upon the subject should have indulged in any observations upon the respectable individuals who filled the offices in question. Appealing to the feelings and observation of individuals, it was only necessary to look over the list of distinguished persons who had filled the offices in question, to be convinced that they did not deserve the severity of remark that had been applied to them. He protested against the mode in which some hon. gentlemen had argued the question; professional merit only had been the guiding principle of choice whenever a vacancy had occurred, nor had the reward been conferred from any other motive. With regard to the charge against his hon. and learned friend, he would only ask, whether it was to be presumed, because he had public duty to perform in parliament, that he would carry the feelings of party into his judicial situation? There was a refinement in this mode of reasoning and accusation beyond what was fair, and it would be quite as reasonable to charge hon. members who acted as magistrates at quarter sessions, judges in civil and criminal matters, with being influenced there by the part they took in the political measures of the day. Looking back to the history of these appointments, he could not perceive any of that strong desire to choose the Welsh judges from members of the House; at present the only individual filling an office of the kind, and a member of the House, was his learned friend. Whatever disposition any hon. gentleman might feel to point remarks against that learned individual, because he sat on one side of the House rather than on the other, he could only reply, that if the opinion of the profession were taken upon the conduct and character of the present chief justice of Chester, it would be found to imply a severe censure upon the imprudence and inaccuracy (to say the least of it) of those who had thought fit to indulge in such unmerited aspersions. His lordship had ever held those men in greatest respect in this country who knew how to look at political events as they were passing, and to mould their opinions accordingly. It had been stated by an hon. gentleman, that the chief justice of Chester had abandoned opinions he formerly held; and supposing this were the ease, he was not aware that it had lowered the learned chief justice in the estimation of his friends even on the opposition side of the House; he could not name an individual who, either as a lawyer or a man, was entitled to higher respect or greater regard: he had always thought so; but this sentiment was confirmed by the opportunity he had lately enjoyed of judging of his character. His lordship concluded by moving as an amendment, to leave out all the words after "appointed" for the purpose of inserting the following: "to inquire into and report to the House their observations, touching the laws relating to the administration of justice in Wales."

Mr. Barham,

as a member of the committee to which this subject had been formerly referred, said, that the last time he asked his lamented friend Mr. Ponsonby, what he thought would be the result of the investigation, respecting the system of Welsh judicature, his answer was in the singular terms, "that he thought it would be the best way to get it into the great boat." He had heard his right hon. friend express the most decided opinion, that the system of the appointment of the Welsh judges was most corrupt. He used to say that it was generally a job. Certainly the hon. mover had never declared any thing so preposterous as that every Welsh judge who had been appointed was ignorant and corrupt. But he said that they were not appointed as the English judges were, on whose appointment no suspicion ever rested; as they were obviously selected for their character and learning. If he were asked if he had not heard of sir William Grant, and other eminent men who had been Welsh judges, he would reply, yes; but he would ask, in return, if his interrogator had never heard of a Welsh judge who was appointed after having relinquished his profession for ten years, and who was the clerk of the king's kitchen at the time; and whether he would lay his hand on his breast, and say that he did not believe the appointment of that individual grew out of some transactions in a borough in the county of Surrey? There had been several other Welsh Judges; among the rest two of the names of Lloyd and Popham, who were by no means fit for that situation. In proof of the evils arising from allowing any man to hold a judicial situation, who might be consulted elsewhere as a counsel he instanced the case of an attorney of the name of Matthews, who having obtained the written opinion, as a counsel, of the Welsh judge Lloyd, on a case that was to be tried before him, when Lloyd charged the jury in contradiction to that opinion, held up the paper in his face, and exclaimed, "how could you take three guineas of me for giving one opinion, and then take the king's money for giving another? It had been said, that the abolition of the present system of Welsh judicature would cause great dissatisfaction. He was of a different opinion. He believed that, in South Wales especially, if there was any one thing in which the people were unanimous, it was in their wish for the introduction of the English system of judicature. The hon. member proceeded to state a variety of arguments in favour of his opinion; but concluded by saying that he was satisfied with the noble lord's proposition.

Mr. Bathurst

defended the character of the Welsh judges from the imputations which he conceived had been unjustly thrown upon them. It was true that A or B might have received an opinion from one of those judges in his capacity of barrister, but was that judge to be taunted with having held a different opinion on a subsequent occasion on the bench? It was known that the great lord Mansfield had, when a barrister, held opinions which he had subsequently found it necessary to change. But surely that learned judge did not deserve to have this alteration of opinion held up as a reproach against him. He supported the amendment of his noble friend.

Mr. Barham

wished to take the earliest opportunity of rectifying a mistake into which he had unintentionally fallen. In speaking or Mr. Justice Lloyd, he had imputed to that gentleman certain matters which'he believed were chargeable not against him, but another individual.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that his early recollections impelled him to do justice to the Welsh bar and bench. Unless a great change had taken place in the judicature of that part of the country within the last twenty years, which he believed was not the case, both the bench and bar were entitled to the greatest respect. He recollected when he had the honour of practising at the Welsh bar that the bench was filled by men of the highest respectability and talent. Mr. Lloyd, whose name had been so often alluded to, was selected from his great ability at the Chancery bar to fill the office of judge. That appointment was wholly unconnected with any political or party feeling. He could also mention the names of sir William Jones, lord Redesdale, lord Manners, sir W. Grant, and several other eminent men who had held similar situations. These were enough to show the respectability of the Welsh bench. He concluded by giving his support to the amendment.

Mr. W. Parnell

had heard with the utmost pain the observations upon his learned friend the present chief justice of Chester. It was impossible for his learned friend to have accepted the situation from any base or unworthy motive; he took it probably from an honourable love of influence and power, that he might enjoy more extensive means of doing good, and contributing to the welfare of his country.

Mr. R. Martin

regretted extremely to have heard so many pointed allusions hurled at his hon. and learned friend, from the opposite side of the House, where his hon. and learned friend had long sat, although he was now transferred to his side. But he did not learn that he had belied any principle on one side, which he had professed on the other. He remembered an expression of the late Mr. Ponsonby, who had long been considered by the gentlemen opposite as a staunch patriot and an ornament to their ranks, an expression worthy of being recorded. It was, that a man who had been a patriot out of office, might be doubly a patriot in office; and he hoped that maxim would be repeated now with some advantage to the country, and be favourably received by the gentlemen opposite, and induce some of them to come over to his side, and display their patriotism with so much more advantage to their country. The imputation suggested against his hon. and learned friend, of delivering opinions as a judge different from those he had professed as a barrister, might with equal justice be applied to every judge on the bench. It was in the very nature of things, that a gentleman of the bar, feed to support one side of a cause, and bound to use his best exertions for his client, should urge arguments, and profess opinions which, as a judge, calmly viewing both sides of the case, he would not avow from the bench; and on this ground he would venture to appeal to her majesty's solicitor-general, and ask him, if, by any train of fortuitive events, he should, at some future period, find himself elevated to the bench of this country (and as all things were in the hands of Providence, such an event was by no means unlikely), how he would like to have hurled against his judicial dignity any former opinions which he might have professed in that House or elsewhere?

Mr. Denman,

in answer to the question put to him by the hon. member, hoped he should never have cause to be ashamed of any opinion he had ever delivered in that House, or elsewhere; nor did he fear that any opinion he had delivered or should deliver in that House or any where else would ever rise in judgment against him; nor should he desert those opinions in any situation in which he might be placed.

Mr. Scarlett

said, that the anecdote about the Welsh judge acting as counsel, and delivering an opinion in the one capacity which he reversed in the other, was certainly possible, and as such it was a good illustration of the inconvenience of uniting the two characters.

Mr. Campbell

addressed the House in reply. After some allusions to the salaries of Welsh judges, and to the opinion given by lord Bulkeley before the last committee, he observed, that he had no personal enmity to any of those gentlemen; on the contrary, he had the highest respect for many of them. There was one for instance, Mr. Heywood, for whom he had the highest esteem and friendship. There was no man more respectable in his profession—there was no man whose character was more strikingly contrasted with that of another individual spoken of that evening. He had accepted his situation without any compromise of principle; he had never held a seat in that House. He had no objection to accede to the amendment of the noble lord.

The amendment was then agreed to, and a committee appointed.