HC Deb 13 April 1840 vol 53 cc1068-81

The House in Committee on the Admiralty Courts (Judges Salary, &c.) Bill.

On the first Clause, and on the question that the blank be filled up with the words four thousand pounds,

Mr. Hume moved to substitute 3,000l. instead of 4,000l. It appeared that in 1836 the judge of the Admiralty Courts sat twenty days; in 1837, twenty-one days; in 1838, twenty-four days; and in 1839, twenty-six days. On the average, in the Consistory Court, and the Admiralty Court, the judge sat forty-five days per year, and the salary was between 80l. and 90l. a day. He thought 3,000l. a year was quite enough.

Mr. W. Williams

seconded the motion. On the average of the last four years the salary and fees had amounted to 2,609l., and 3,000l. a year would, he thought, be sufficient. He considered the proposition of his hon. Friend a most liberal one, and he should, therefore, support his amendment.

Mr. M. O'Ferrall

said, the hon. Member for Kilkenny should have opposed the previous bill in common justice, as he now offered opposition to the present, because that measure considerably increased the duties of the judge of the Admiralty Court, whose salary the hon. Gentleman now wished to curtail. It was true, that the judge of the Admiralty Court only sat on the average twenty-six days yearly in his court, but then he also sat in the Privy Council, and adjudicated there on questions pertaining to his office. He likewise lost more in practice, as an advocate, than was proposed to give him as a judge. The office had been offered to the right hon. Gentleman who now held it, in consideration of his having discharged the duties of a Privy Councillor, the duties of a Judge in ecclesiastical matters, and the duties of an Admiralty Judge for a very small consideration. Those duties were now increased by the preceding bill, and if the House did not increase the salary commensurately, it would be quite idle to suppose that any man of high professional eminence would ever accept the office. The opposition given to the present proposition appeared to him to be improper and unworthy.

Mr. Wakley

observed, that though it was true the Judge of the Admiralty had onerous and important functions to perform occasionally, it was also true that these functions had been heretofore satisfactorily performed for a less salary even than that proposed by his hon. Friend—3,000l. He thought it, therefore, a profligate expenditure of the public money. He (Mr. Wakley), however, was opposed to the original sum on other grounds, which were shortly, that in his belief, whatever might be the learning, whatever the ingenuity, and whatever the skill of the man, no lawyer ever was, or, in his opinion, ever would be, worth more than 3,000l. a-year to this or any other country. He should, therefore, vote for the amendment.

Lord J. Russell

The right hon. Member for Finsbury put his opposition to this motion on one ground, and the hon. Member for Kilkenny on another. Which of them is right? As to the argument of the former hon. Gentleman, that the duty of the Judge of the Admiralty Court was performed for less than 3,000l. a-year before, that goes for nothing, inasmuch as the situation was given to Dr. Lushington by my Lord Melbourne, on the express understanding that a bill to the effect of increasing the salary of the office to the sum at present proposed should be brought in. I do not know what the answer of the right hon. Gentleman was to the proposition; but every one knows that his income as an advocate was much larger; and notwithstanding what has been urged against this measure, if you only pay a judge 3,000l. a-year, while an advocate may obtain in the way of his practice three times as much, the consequence will be, that you will have the bar superior to the bench, for no man of eminence will be found to relinquish the one for the other. The whole question is, whether the judge of the Admiralty Court, exercising as he does, such large powers, and performing such important functions, shall have the remuneration for his services fixed at 3,000l. I think it advisable for the dignity of the office, and the good of the public at large, that it should not be at so low a sum, and, therefore, I shall oppose the amendment.

The Committee divided on the amendment:—Ayes 41; Noes 100: Majority 59.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Egerton, W. T.
Baillie, H. J. Ewart, W.
Berkeley, hon. C. Pector, J. M.
Blackburne, I. Finch, F.
Blackstone, W. S. Gillon, W. D.
Blair, J. Hector, C. J.
Broadley, H. Hillsborough, Earl
Brotherton, J. Hurt, F.
Bruges, W, H. Jones, J.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Lygon, General
Copeland, Alderman Morris, D.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Neeld, J.
Duke, Sir J. Norreys, Lord
Duncombe, T. Packe, C. W.
Du Pre, G. Parker, R. T.
East, J. B. Round, J.
Salwey, Colonel Wakley, T.
Scarlett, hon. J. Y. Warburton, H.
Sheppard, T. Welby, G. E.
Spry, Sir S. T. TELLERS.
Tancred, H. W. Hume, J.
Vigors, N. A. Williams, W.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. M'Taggart, J.
Adam, Admiral Maule, hon. F.
Adare, Lord Maxwell, hon. S.
Archbold, R. Murray, A.
Baillie, Colonel O'Connell, J.
Baring, F. T. O'Connell, M. J.
Barnard, E. G. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Blennerhassett, A. Ord, W.
Bradshaw, J. Paget, F.
Bramston, T. W. Palmerston, Lord
Bridgeman, H. Parker, J.
Biodie, W. B. Pechell, Captain
Buller, C. Peel, Sir R.
Byng, G. S. Perceval, hon. G.
Callaghan, D. Pigot, D. R.
Campbell, Sir J. Plumptre, J. P.
Clay, W. Ponsonby, hon. J.
Clive, E. B. Price, Sir R.
Dalmeny, Lord Rundle, J.
Divett, E. Rushbrooke, Col.
Duff, J. Russell, Lord J.
Duncombe, W. Rutherford, A.
Dundas, D. Sandon, Lord
Elliot, J. Sanford, E. A.
Evans, G. Seymour, Lord
Evans, W. Smith, R. V.
Gladstone, W. Somerset, Lord G.
Gordon, R. Stanley, W. O.
Goulburn, H. Stewart, J.
Graham, Sir J. Stock, Dr.
Grey, Sir C. Strutt, E.
Grey, Sir G. Sutton, hon. J. H.
Grimston, Lord Teignmouth, Lord
Grimston, E. Thesiger, F.
Hawkes, T. Trench, Sir F.
Hawkins, J. H. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Heathcote, Sir W. Tufnell, H.
Henniker, Lord Vere, Sir C. B.
Hill, Lord A. M. C. Vivian, Sir R. H.
Hobhouse, T. B Wall, C. B.
Hope, G. W. Wilde, Sergeant
Hoskins, K. Wilshere, W.
Hotham, Lord Wood, G. W.
Howard, R. H. Wood, Col. T.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Wrightson, W. B.
James, W. Wyse, T.
Kemble, H. Yates, J. A.
Lemon, Sir C. Young, J.
Lennox, Lord G.
Lennox, Lord A. TELLERS.
Lockhart, A. M. Stanley, E. J.
Macaulay, T. B. Steuart, R.

On the question that the words originally proposed be added,

Mr. Jones

was understood to designate transaction as an "infamous job."

The Attorney-General

looked on the office of a judge of the Admiralty Court as of as much importance as that of a judge in any other court whatever. He had in times of peace, as well as in times of war, to decide on the most difficult and delicate questions—on the right of search, for instance, the validity of blockades, and other matters of the nicest nature. And though at present the average time of his sitting in a year might not amount to more than twenty-six days, yet, in time of war, he might be occupied for full three hundred, all his attention absorbed by the business of his court. In time of war he was paid more than any judge in Westminster Hall, in time of peace he was paid less than an officer of the court. It became, therefore, absolutely necessary to award him an adequate compensation. And if the judges in Westminster Hall were not (as he believed to be the case) overpaid with 5,000l. a-year, neither would the judge of the Admiralty Court be more than properly remunerated with 4,000l. It was on public and not on personal grounds that he should vote against the amendment.

Mr. Kemble

thought it was no economy to pay low salaries to judges. The Court of Admiralty required a man of commanding talent to preside over it; and that talent could not be had without an adequate remuneration.

Clause ordered to be filled up with the words "four thousand pounds."

On the question that the clause stand part of the bill,

Lord Hotham

rose to move as a proviso to be added to the end of the clause, "That the judge of the Admiralty Court shall, after the present Parliament, be incapable of being elected or sitting as a Member of the House of Commons." In making this motion he (Lord Hotham) was actuated by no personal or party feeling whatever. He did it purely on public grounds, and because he thought it would benefit the country. It would be in the recollection of the House, that in the year 1823, during Lord Grey's Government, a committee was appointed to inquire into the Admiralty, Ecclesiastical, and Consistory Courts. The report of that committee recommended the abolition of the practice which prevailed of paying the judge of the Admiralty Court by fees, the adoption of a fixed salary in lieu thereof, and the making him incapable to sit in the House of Commons. All these recommendations, with the exception of the last, were attended to. Why that was neglected no satisfactory reason had been offered to show. He should not enter on the subject of the duties of that office, as the Attorney-General had already pointed out their great difficulty and importance; but he could not help adverting to the very singular and improper situation in. which a judge of the Admiralty, sitting in the House of Commons for the largest metropolitan constituency, was placed, having at the same time such duties to discharge. In saying that it was the largest constituency in the metropolis he believed he was quite right; and he believed he was equally so in saying that no other constituency in the country furnished a greater proportion of business to the Admiralty Court. He did not, for a moment, mean to insinuate or suggest, that there was the slightest possibility of bias one way or the other on the part of the right hon. and learned Gentlemen who now held that situation; but it was not what he thought, or what any other hon. Gentleman thought, but what opinion the public would come to on the subject, which ought to be the chief consideration. And when people from the country saw the right hon. Gentleman on one day sitting as judge in his own court, and on the next engaging as a partisan in the House of Commons, it was, he maintained, impossible for them to come to any other than a conclusion unfavourable to the connexion of the two functions in one man. He could not, therefore, help thinking that it would be infinitely better to remove the Judge of the Admiralty Court from the possibility of any such imputation as partiality or bias of any kind. As it was deemed advisable to adopt the recommendations of the committee, in regard to extending the business of the Court, and increasing the salary of the Judges, he also thought it advisable to withdraw that functionary from the contentions of party and political warfare: to take him away altogether from the House of Commons; and to leave him no longer exposed to suspicion, or even the chance of censure. On these general grounds, he hoped the House would agree to the proviso.

Lord J. Russell

said; Sir, the noble Lord has proposed the present motion in a manner which, I am sure, nobody could object to, limited as it is to the constitutional grounds on which he has based it. Sir, I have a different feeling on this question; and, on equally constitutional grounds, I hope to maintain the right he seeks to annul. I think, Sir, that the effect of this motion would be to injure the House of Commons and lower it considerably in the eyes of the country by depriving it of the services of persons of weight, talents, and legal acquirements, whom they might wish to send hither to represent them. I think, Sir, it is most desirable and most consistent with the effective performance of the business of the nation, that we should have persons sent to this House, who can give us sound information on the various questions coming under our consideration, and can take an active part in their discussion. You must either maintain things in their present position, or you must go much further in your exclusion than you are now prepared to do; when you have done that, you will find yourself in a very inferior position to the other House. There are two judges of criminal courts in this House, (the Recorders of London and Dublin,) who, by your principle, ought to be excluded; but I should be very sorry to see the idea carried to such a length, and would give a clause to that effect my most decided opposition. I was happy to find, one hon. and learned Gentleman taking such a warm and active part as he did on many interesting questions, and to listen to him stating his opinion with such force, clearness, and eloquence. It was stated, that the appointment of the Recorder of Dublin was not vested in the Crown; but you have latterly altered the law affecting this nomination, and vested the appointment (if he should vacate his judicial seat at any time) in the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland for the time being; yet you have not thought it necessary to insert a clause also providing that he should not sit in Parliament. As you have sanctioned the principle of confiding the nomination of the judicial office in Dublin to the Crown, I hope you will, on the next opportunity, extend it to a similar office in London. But, Sir, with respect to the present motion, I do not like to see invidious distinctions made between judges. It would look very invidious, and probably lead to most injurious party distinctions. Shall we, suppose the proposition extended to the other branch of the Legislature, and for consistency sake, exclude the Master of the Rolls and the other judicial dignitaries? I have known the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chief Baron taking an active share in party debates; the latter, in the case of the Reform Bill, with very great effect, in reference to the sensation it created through the country. Would you, then, allow those learned Lords to continue to take part in political debates, in the other House, to be mixed up and contaminated, as the noble Lord expresses it with party matters, while you would exclude for ever such functionaries as the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets from your own House, and exclude, at the same time, all the learning and talent and eloquence which they bring to aid your debates? I will allude only to the question which formerly occupied the attention of this House at the time of the French revolution, when one of the ablest speeches that appeared on the subject of the Sedition Bill and the suppression of public meetings was made by Sir William Grant; and you are now asked to enact, that whenever some similar important occasion occurs, you will deprive yourself of the opportunity of having the light which the Judge of the Admiralty may be able to throw upon the law of nations for your information and guidance? It is true, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is returned Member for the Tower Hamlets, which is, perhaps, a misfortune. It would certainly be desirable that he should not have been the representative of so large a constituency, but he had no choice in the matter, as they were well satisfied with his conduct, and determined to re-elect him. I think, Sir, there is very little disadvantage in the present system, but that there would be a considerable one in disqualifying the learned individuals aimed at, both as against the people, who claim the right of sending them, and against ourselves, who require their information. I am, Sir, decidedly opposed to altering the constitution of the country without any benefit likely to result.

Mr. Wakley

was far from thinking it an unfortunate circumstance that the learned Judge of the Admiralty should have been elected for the large constituency of the Tower Hamlets—on the contrary, he considered it very fortunate that, after having been selected by the Government for a high judicial office, the right learned and right hon. Gentleman should have been declared by his constituents qualified to represent them, His chief objection to the motion, however, was, that it tended to limit and restrain the choice of the people, and to deprive them of the services of honest and talented men—as they would be compelled to look to the House of Lords alone for dignity and elevation, and would, therefore, become trucklers to the Ministry of the day. As to the judge being excluded for fear he should be interested in judicial questions affecting his constituents—if that principle were good, why not send out all the landholders from that House on the discussion of the Corn-laws—because they were personally, and pecuniarily interested in voting against the repeal in order to keep up their high rents?—["Question."] Why it was too much to the question.—This was a great constitutional question. And he begged the House to recollect that the present Lord Chancellor, when Master of the Rolls, had sat in the House, and was now so noble an ornament to the bench, that the House could not but deem itself honoured by having numbered him among its Members. He thought the constitutional rights of the people would be violated if any more security were required than that they should exercise on any individual appointed to the judicial office the same choice which was required to be exercised at the re-election of those who had been appointed to Ministerial offices.

Mr. Hume

Sir, I differ entirely from my hon. Friend. I think any Member, elected by a large constituency, must, if he performs his duty to them, have the whole of his time thereby occupied. And I think in the same way that the public, after having made an ample provision for the remuneration of the judge are entitled to the whole of his time and energy. Indeed, Sir, I think that no paid officer of the Crown should sit in this House.

Colonel Sibthorp

thought the noble Lord was very politic in keeping all the friendly votes he could in the House, otherwise he would have been out of office long ago. If the hon. Member for Kilkenny brought forward a motion that every person who received public money should walk out of the House he would support him.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, that the noble Lord had advocated the propriety of having the Master of the Rolls in the House on important questions, on account of the information he could afford them? but there were other public functionaries in a similar predicament. There was Mr. Harvey, who lately held a very important office, and the House resolved on his expulsion. There were the Poor-law Commissioners, the Police Commissioners, and the Tithe Commissioners, whom it might be desirable to have on the same principle. The noble Lord said it was desirable the Judge of the Admiralty ought not to have a large constituency; but what number did he think he ought to have? Old Sarum would serve his purpose. Some snug patronage borough. He would venture to say, that they would always find such an individual to vote thin and thick with the Government of the day. He thought the fewer placemen they had in the House the better, and he was happy to see this reform coming from the other side of the House, for, as the thing stood, it was too absurd.

The House divided on the question, that the proviso be added:—Ayes 81; Noes 99: Majority 18.

List of the AYES.
Adare, Lord Heathcote, Sir W.
Arbuthnot, H. Hector, C. J.
Baillie, Col. Henniker, Lord
Baillie, H.J. Herries, rt. hon. J. C.
Baring, hon. F. Hodgson, R.
Blackburn, I. Holmes, W.
Blackstone, W. Hope, G. W.
Blair, J. Howard, P. H.
Blennerhassett, A. Hurt, F.
Boldero, H. G. Ingestrie, Lord
Bradshaw, J. Jones, J.
Bramston, T. W. Kemble, H.
Broadley, H. Lockhart, A. M.
Bruges, W. H. L. Lowther, J. H.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Lygon, hon. General
Copeland, Ald. Mahon, Lord
Darlington, Earl of Maxwell, hon. S. R.
Dick, Q. Neeld, J.
Douglas, Sir C. Norreys, Lord
Duncombe, T. Packe, C. W.
Duncombe, W. Parker, R. T.
Du Pre, G. Peel, Sir R.
East, J. B. Pemberton, T.
Eaton, R. J. Perceval, J. G.
Egerton, W. T. Plumptre, J. P.
Estcourt, T. Round, J.
Fector, J. M. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Finch, F. Salwey, Colonel
Gaskell, J. M. Sandon, Lord
Gladstone, W. E. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Gordon, Capt. Sheppard, T.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Sibthorp, Colonel
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Somerset, Lord G.
Grimston, Lord Spry, Sir S. T.
Grimston, E. H. Sutton, hon. J. H.
Hamilton, Lord C. Teignmouth, Lord
Hawes, B. Thesiger, F.
Trench, Sir F. Young, J.
Vere, Sir C. B.
Villiers, Lord TELLERS.
Williams, W. Hotham, Lord
Wood, Col. T. Hume, J.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Maule, hon. F.
Adam, Admiral Melgund, Visct.
Aglionby, H. A. Mildmay, P. St. J.
Anson, hon. Col. Moreton, A.
Archbold, R. Morpeth, Visct.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Morris, D.
Barnard, E. G. Murray, A.
Bellew, R. M. O'Brien, W. S.
Berkeley, hon. H. O'Connell, J.
Berkeley, hon. C. O'Connell, M. J.
Bridgeman, H. O'Ferrall, K. M.
Brocklehurst, J. Ord, W.
Brodie, W. H. Paget, Lord A.
Brotherton, J. Paget, F.
Buller, C. Palmerston, Visct.
Bulwer, Sir L. Parker, J.
Byng, right hon. G. Pease, J.
Callaghan, D. Pechell, Capt.
Campbell, Sir J. Philips, M.
Cavendish, C. Pigot, D. R.
Clay, W. Ponsonby, hon. J.
Clive, E. B. Price, Sir R.
Dalmeny, Lord Rundle, J.
Divett, K. Russell, Lord J.
Duff, J. Rutherfurd, A.
Duke, Sir J. Sanford, E. A.
Dundas, D Seymour, Lord
Elliot, hon. J. E. Smith, R. V.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Stanley, hon. W.
Evans, G. Stewart, J.
Evans, W. Stock, Dr.
Ewart, W. Strutt, E.
Gillon, W. D. Tancred, H. W.
Gordon, R. Townley, R. G.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir C. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Tufnell, H.
Harcourt, G. G. Vigors, N. A.
Hawkins, J. H. Vivian, Sir R. H.
Heathcoat, J. Wakley, T,
Hill, Lord A. M. Wall, C. B.
Hindley, C. Warburton, H.
Hobhouse, T. B. White, A.
Horsman, E. Wilde, Sergeant
Hoskins, K. Wilshere, W.
Hutt, W. Wood, G. W.
James, W. Wrightson, W.
Lemon, Sir C. Wyse, T.
Lennox, Lord G. Yates, J.A.
Lennox, Lord A. TELLERS.
Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B. Stanley, hon. E. J.
M'Taggart, J. Steuart, R.

On clause 5, providing for a retiring pension of 2,000l. for the judge of the Admiralty and the Dean of Arches, being put,

Mr. W. Williams

wished to know upon what grounds it was proposed for the first time to give a retiring pension to the judge of the Admiralty? He desired to be in- formed why this retiring pension should be sought for the present judge of the Admiralty, when Lord Stowell and his predecessors required no such provision? Still more was he anxious to be informed why the Dean of Arches, an officer appointed not by the Crown, but by the Archbishop of Canterbury, should have the boon extended to him? To adopt this proposition would be to throw away the public money without consideration. Last year he had moved to expunge this clause and he begged to make the same motion now.

Mr. Hume

seconded the amendment. The proposition for retiring pensions to the judges of the Bankruptcy Court had been rejected, and on the same grounds he trusted the committee would altogether reject the present new pension.

Mr. M. O'Ferrall

said, he thought the opponents of the clause ought to have stated some grounds why this pension should not be granted. They had not done so, though there were strong reasons why it should be given. One reason was, that an able and learned man would undertake the important duties of the office when secured a retiring pension in the event of his health failing him, and thus the best talent would be secured to fill the important office. The case of Lord Stowell had no analogy to the present proposition, for Lord Stowell, in addition to his office as judge of the Admiralty, held the offices of judge of the Consistory Court, Dean of the Arches, Master of the Faculties, and other similar appointments, which produced him a revenue of 7,350l. per annum. It had now been determined to fix the salary at 4,000l., and he thought ample grounds existed for a retiring pension of 2,000l.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, this was one of a series of jobs unparalleled in the history of the House of Commons. If one pension could be considered worse than another, it was this.

Mr. Hume

observed, that the effect of the measure would be to give a pension to the servant of the archbishop, and not the servant of the Crown.

Sir J. Graham

observed, that there was no provision made in the present bill for the independence of the judge of the Admiralty Court. It was not declared that he was only removable upon address to the Crown by the two Houses of Parliament.

The Attorney-General

fully agreed with the right hon. Baronet, that the judge of the Admiralty Court ought to be independent; and no doubt he was so, without the necessity of any provision being made in the present bill for that purpose. The other judges held their offices quamdiu se bene gesserint, and so did he.

The House divided on the question that the clause stand part of the bill—Ayes 46; Noes 22; Majority 24.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Admiral Morpeth, Viscount
Archbold, R. O'Brien, W. B.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. O'Connell, M J.
Boldero, H. G. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Bridgeman, H. Palmerston, Viscount
Campbell, Sir J. Pechell, Captain
Dalmeny, Lord Perceval, hon. G. J.
Duncombe, T. Pigot, D. R.
Du Pre Price, Sir R.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Ruslibrooke, Colonel
Estcourt, T. Russell, Lord J.
Evans, W. Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.
Gordon, R. Sandon, Viscount
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Seymour, Lord
Grey, rt. hn. Sir G. Strutt, E.
Hamilton, Lord C. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Hawes, B. Warburton, H.
Hawkins, J. H. Wilde, Sergeant
Hobhouse, T. B. Wodehouse, E.
Hodgson, R. Wood, G. W.
Horsman, E. Young, J.
Hoskins, K.
Maule, hon. F. Parker, J.
Moreton, hon. A. H Tufnell, H.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Morris, D.
Blackstone, W. S. Parker, R. T.
Brotherton, J. Philips, M.
Bruges, W. H. L. Round, J.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Salwey, Colonel
Duke, Sir J. Sibthorp, Colonel
Ewart, W. Trench, Sir F.
Finch, F. Vigors, N. A.
Gillon, W. D. Wakley, T.
Hector, C. J.
Ingestrie, Viscount TELLERS.
Jones, J. Hume, J.
Lowther, J. H. Williams, W.

Remaining clauses agreed to, the House resumed; bill to be reported.