HC Deb 04 May 1820 vol 1 cc95-6
The Lord Advocate,

adverting to the conversation which had taken place a few evenings ago in the House on the subject of the appointment of a fourth baron of the exchequer in Scotland, observed, that when the vacancy in question occurred, he had been required, in the discharge of his official duty, to make a report, on the recommendation of the commissioners, on the courts of justice in scotland, to abstain from filling up any such vacancy that might occur after that recommendation. In order the better to enable himself to execute this task, he had submitted the subject to the consideration of the highest law authorities in Scotland, namely, the lord president of the court of session, the lord justice clerk, the lord chief commissioner of the jury court, and the lord chief baron of the exchequer. Those high authorities were unanimous in their opinion as to the expediency of filling up the vacancy. He was solicitous that the House should be put in possession of tin's report; not because it stated the opinion of the humble individual who addressed them, but because it comprehended the opinion of the highest legal authorities in Scotland on the subject. He would therefore move, "That an address be presented to his majesty, praying that he would be graciously pleased to order that there be laid before the House a Copy of the report made by the lord advocate of Scotland on the recommendation contained in the sixth Report of the commissioners on the courts of justice in Scotland, regarding the discontinuance of one of the Barons of the Court of Exchequer in Scotland."

Mr. Abercromby

rose, not to oppose the motion, but to express his extreme regret that, when a report had been made by commissioners appointed by that House, expressing the opinion of those commissioners, that the office in question should, in the event of a vacancy, not be 611ed up, his majesty should nevertheless have been advised to fill it up. He was happy that the learned lord had moved for the production of this paper, as it was an admission on the part of the learned lord that what related to that court was a fit matter for parliamentary investigation. He was unequivocally of opinion, that into the nature of the court of exchequer in Scotland it behaved that House to institute a diligent inquiry.—an inquiry founded on the large and extended principle of separating from official duties branches of business that were not properly compatible with those duties. It was most essential to public justice that the duties of a judge should never assume a political character. On these grounds, and mainly on the admission which the motion implied, of its being the duty of parliament to investigate the subject, he gave his cordial assent to it.

Lord Binning

said, that the hon. and learned gentleman spoke as if his learned friend had himself originated the inquiry. It was not so. His learned friend had acted only ministerial. The secretary of state having required a report from his learned friend on the recommendation of the commissioners, he had done his duty by appealing on the subject to the highest law authorities of Scotland.

Mr. Abercromby,

in explanation, observed, that it was substantially the same thing. From whatever source the inquiry proceeded, it was evident that the act of government was in hostility to the opinion of the commissioners. He begged, however, to be distinctly understood, that nothing could be more foreign to his intention than to intimate any thing that was not entirely respectful to the learned lord.

Sir J. Newport

supported the necessity of an inquiry into the constitution of the court of exchequer in Scotland. It was evident that the information which was to be afforded on the subject, was absolutely forced from government by the observations made by his noble friend.

The motion was agreed to.

Forward to