HC Deb 04 March 1835 vol 26 cc572-4
The Lord Advocate

said, the Motion which it was now his duty to submit to the House was intended to carry into effect the recommendation contained in the Report of the Commissioners appointed under a Royal Commission to inquire into the Courts of Law in Scotland. The first point to which the Bill he sought to introduce would apply, was the saving in the expense to suitors in the Court of Session, which would be effected by the reduction of the number of clerks and other officers, and by an arrangement of fees. The present expense of that court was, now 32,000l. per annum, and by the reduction of the clerks and other officers from eighty-one (the number at present) to forty-six, the expense would be reduced to about 17,000l., thereby lessening the number of officers thirty-five and effecting a saving to the country of about 15,000l. annually. This saving coupled with those which had been made by him on former occasions, would make the annual reduction of expenditure in respect to the Courts of Law in Scotland altogether amount to about 51,000l. He could not entertain a doubt but that with this statement he should have the sanction of the House for the introduction of the Bill of which he had given notice. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving for leave to bring in a Bill, "for making certain alterations and reductions in the establishment of clerks and officers attached to the Court of Session in Scotland, and to diminish the expense of judicial procedure in that Court."

Mr. Robert Wallace

then observed that the measure which the right hon. Gentleman sought to introduce could not fail of being gratifying to every person connected with Scotland. He would, however, submit to the learned Lord that the saving of 15,000l. a-year of which he had spoken, ought not to go to the Consolidated Fund, but to the benefit of suitors in the Courts of Law in Scotland. A further saving might be effected by the reduction of the fees chargeable in all the Scotch Supreme Courts.

Mr. Murray

said, that while he condemned some measures which had heretofore been introduced for regulating the Supreme Courts in Scotland, he considered that on the present occasion, the learned Lord opposite was performing a very great, useful, and important duty. The country was deeply indebted to those who had issued the Royal Commission from which the proposed measure of relief originated, and to the learned individuals who as Commissioners had executed it. He thought the hint thrown out by the hon. Member for Greenock highly deserving attention, for it was not to be disputed that the fees in the Court of Session especially were not only much too heavy, but that they were a great impediment to the course of public justice, and he trusted that the learned Lord would, in any measure he might bring forward, keep in view the necessity of a diminution in the expenses in all civil causes.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

hoped the proposed Bill did not in any degree refer to points upon which the Commissioners had yet to report. He concurred in the opinion that no country had so much reason to complain of the expenses of law proceedings as Scotland, and he had ever regretted that the provisions of the Bill carried through Parliament by Mr. Home Drummond, for the reduction of the expenses of Sheriff's Courts in Scotland, had not been extended to the Court of Session. The present Bill, as he understood, only effected a reduction in the number and expenses of the clerks, and was silent upon the subject of fees.

Leave given.