moved the further consideration of the report on the Administration of Justice (No. 1.) Bill.
§ Sir E. Sugden
had expected that this bill would not come on again at so late a period of the Session, especially as it might have been passed long ago; nor did he consider that any inconvenience would accrue from letting it stand over to the next Session. It would seem, indeed, that the legislation on this measure had been resumed at distant intervals, for the purpose of prolonging the existence of the Administration; still he would not oppose the passing of the bill now, if the Government would adopt certain modifications which he meant to propose. He did expect, that after the vote upon the question of want of confidence the other night, the noble Lord would not have thought it desirable to pursue this measure any further, nor avail himself of the patronage which it must necessarily give her Majesty's Government in the distribution of those valuable appointments which would arise from it. The noble Lord should recollect, that he had put himself upon his trial, and that he had been tried by this House, and had been found, he would not say guilty, for he would not wish to make use of any word that could, by possibility, give the slightest offence—but the noble Lord, and his colleagues, had been tried by this House, and had been found wanting. The noble Lord was, however, now going to be tried by the country, and if he should succeed, then the measure which he (Sir E. Sugden) was about to propose, would not have the effect of throwing the slightest impediment in the way of the administration of justice, for Government could then carry forward their measure with a greater certainty of success, and with more credit to themselves. He proposed to postpone the 1384 operation of the bill for a short time, and he should be greatly surprised if the noble Lord were to oppose this very reasonable proposition. The House must consider this demand to be only fair, when it considered the position in which the Government at present stood. If ever there was a time in which great caution should be observed in the appointment of officers to fill those judicial situations which this measure would create, it was the present. The House should remember, that the judges, when once appointed, remained in their several situations, although the Government that appointed them might be obliged to give up office. Was there then any man who felt an interest in the due and proper administration of justice, who would desire that the power of the Crown should be exercised over such institutions as the present bill comprehended, at the present moment, when the real administration of the country was to be immediately decided by an appeal to the people at large? He asserted, that the perfect exercise of those powers required the complete absence of prejudice upon the part of Government. With such observations, he begged leave to move the insertion of the following clause, "And be it enacted, that this Act shall commence, and have effect, on and after the 10th day of October next, except when a subsequent day is hereinbefore fixed.
§ Clause brought up, and read a first time; upon the motion, that it be read a second time,
§ Lord J. Russell
had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would have been satisfied with the obstacles which he had already offered to the passing of the bill; that the delays and inconvenience which the administration of justice had suffered, owing to the interposition of the right hon. Gentleman, would have induced him to refrain from further interposition, and raising new obstacles. The right hon. Gentleman might endeavour to throw upon him the blame of not passing the bill last Session, by alluding to certain rumours, but not referring to any distinct cause. But it was quite certain, that the bill, having the assent of Lord Cottenham, Lord Lyndhurst, Lord Brougham, and other high authorities in the House of Lords, having been supported by a great majority of that House, having also had the support of the legal authorities, generally speaking, on both sides in the House of Commons, the right hon. Gentleman at 1385 the end of last Session, when the attendance of Members was thin, declared his determination to oppose the bill by every means in his power, and even, as he understood, to use the forms of the House to prevent its passing. Therefore he had found it necessary to postpone the Bill. In the present year, the right hon. Gentleman said, that he had not used extreme diligence for the purpose of passing the bill. It was easy to say that, with regard to any particular bill, without looking to the general state of the business before the House. There might be an urgent reason for proceeding with the army or navy estimates for instance, which would interfere with the other business. Now the right hon. Gentleman said, it would be most convenient for the administration of justice, that this bill should not take effect till the 10th of October. He could not conceive in what way. There were arrangements to be made for the sitting of the new courts, and he certainly could see no grounds for the right hon. Gentleman's opinion, if he understood him rightly, that it would be the most convenient to wait till the whole bar were assembled in term, and then appoint the judges, who should then learn, for the first time, that they were to fill the situations. But the right hon. Gentleman seemed to confess, that the real reason for which the right hon. Gentleman proposed the clause had nothing to do with the administration of justice. The right hon. Gentleman's real reason was, that the House had passed a vote of want of confidence in the present administration. That reason might be very good to the right hon. Gentleman, but it was one to which it was impossible for him to assent. It was impossible that he should assent to such a ground for postponement, without admitting, what, of course, he could not admit, that no appointment should be made; no act of the executive Government performed, because right hon. Gentlemen opposite had obtained a vote by a majority of one, on a resolution declaring a want of confidence in the present Administration. He denied the authority of that vote as an expression of the opinion of the country. He could not consent that the Administration of the executive government should be paralyzed until the time that the question as to the opinion of the country should be decided by a new Parliament. He could not admit the principle generally with regard to their carrying on the executive department of the Go- 1386 vernment, and he certainly could not admit it with regard to the Court of Chancery. Was it to be said, that the Lord Chancellor of all persons holding office in this country, was the man most unfit to hold office; the man most unfit to give his opinion with regard to patronage; the man whom the House of Commons was to fix the brand of its distrust? With regard to the disposition of patronage, there had been occasions on which the Lord Chancellor, finding persons holding offices which he thought it desirable to abolish, and finding vacancies to which these persons might be appointed, had gladly taken the opportunity of recommending the appointment of such persons rather than others, causing thereby a saving to the public by the suppression of their former offices. He might mention the cases of Mr. Justice Erskine and Sir George Rose, to show the desire of the Lord Chancellor to choose persons, not, as the right hon. Gentleman supposed, from political considerations, but purely from their competency to fill the offices in which they were placed, and on account of the additional advantage to the public of the suppression of useless offices. These were voluntary actions on the part of the Lord Chancellor and on the part of the Government, not forced upon them by any vote of that House, or any necessity whatever. Yet the right hon. Gentleman could come forward and say, when a bill was passing through the House which, by the confessions of all, would be for the benefit of the public, which would prevent further arrears, and relieve existing suitors, which would put an end to many evils, notorious and not denied; that, having such a bill before them, they should take the opportunity of fixing a brand on the Lord Chancellor. He could take no other view of the clause of the right hon. Gentleman. He thought the right hon. Gentleman did not veil his purpose. The right hon. Gentleman did not say, that in consequence of the vote of the House expressing its want of confidence in the Government, the disposal of all patronage should be postponed, but he selected this particular case; and where the person to be consulted, and by whose opinion the Government would be guided, was Lord Cottenham, the Lord Chancellor. He happened to have had a conversation with the Lord Chancellor last year relative to the disposal of these offices, and he could venture to assure the House, that the recommendation of the Lord 1387 Chancellor would be given entirely with a view to the better administration of justice in the Court of Chancery, and the improvement of the equity jurisdiction, and from no other motive whatever. This was the opinion of the Lord Chancellor, and it would be the opinion of the Government. It would be the opinion of Lord Melbourne, and of all the Members of the Administration. Therefore the recommendation of the right hon. Gentleman opposite was nothing else than saying, "We have triumphed by a majority of one, and we shall take the opportunity it gives us to say, that Lord Cottenham is unfit to exercise the power of disposing of this patronage." Yet the right hon. Gentleman himself said, he had no fault to find with the disposal of equity patronage by the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor had been hitherto respected by all for the ability with which he had presided over his administration of justice, for the patient attention which he gave to all that came before him, and for the clearness, uprightness, and learning of his judgments; but the right hon. Gentleman now proposed, that the House of Commons should condemn him, because upon a party vote the other side had succeeded by a majority of one. If the right hon. Gentleman succeeded again, he must submit to the majority, but he never would voluntarily take any share in fixing such a brand on the Lord Chancellor.
§ Mr. Richards
expressed his perfect satisfaction with the appointments which had been made in the Court of Chancery. He believed there was no one who objected to any of those appointments. He had come down prepared to oppose the motion of his right hon. Friend, the Member for Ripon, thinking its object was to get rid of the bill altogether; but from his (Mr. Richards) situation in the Court of Exchequer, he could say that the proposed delay would cause no impediment in the business of the court, and therefore he should support the proposition of his right hon. Friend.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, if for a moment it could be inferred, that by his vote on this occasion he meant to imply distrust of the character or integrity of the present Lord Chancellor, he would be extremely cautious how he gave a vote which should have the semblance of sanctioning such a censure. If the object of the present motion were attempted to have been carried by means of an address to the Crown, 1388 which, after reciting, that the House had agreed to a vote expressive of want of confidence in her Majesty's present Ministers, had appealed to the Crown to prevent these appointments consequent upon the bill from taking place, he should not have supported such an address by his vote, because it would appear as if he distrusted the exercise of the Government of the patronage which they at present possessed. But the case before the House was a totally different one. The present bill established a new court, and made a new judicial arrangement altogether, with which the executive government as yet had nothing whatever to do. It possessed as yet no patronage under the bill, therefore it could not be said, that any precautionary vote of that House robbed the executive of any such patronage. The noble Lord admitted, that the meeting and the votes of the Parliament about to be forthwith called was to settle the great question, and decide upon the existence of the present Ministry as constituting the Government of the country; was it then Unreasonable that the operation of such a bill as this, and the nomination of the high officers under it, should be postponed, as his right hon. Friend had suggested, until the country could fairly know whether it had a Government possessing its confidence or not. If the noble Lord allowed the bill to be withdrawn, in consequence of his objection to this limitation of its operation, he promised the noble Lord the full benefit of his support, should he make this one of the first bills, which, on his reassembling Parliament, he should bring before the Legislature and, considering the sanction it had met in the Upper House, there could be no doubt in the noble Lord's mind, that the bill must pass during the Session immediately following the present. The only reason why his right hon. Friend (Sir E. Sugden) did not oppose the progress of the bill altogether, and why he had limited his motion to the present object, was, that his right hon. Friend was apprehensive, that by opposing the bill the country might receive detriment by the postponement of the meditated improvements in the administration of justice; or that the bill might not pass in time to secure to the country the benefit of the alteration introduced under the auspices of the present Government. But if the noble Lord really presumed upon having the support of the country, and carrying this measure in the House about 1389 to be called together, he had no objection to assure him that the decision of the House generally should draw with it his compliance and support in respect to this measure, and the appointments under it. He would just ask the noble Lord to deal out the same measure of justice to him, that he sought for himself, and suppose that this was a case when he was in the Government, as in 1835; and, without having before him, as a stumbling-block in the way, a vote of want of confidence, as in the present instance, there had been introduced by him (Sir It. Peel) a great measure like this, affecting the administration of justice, to which he asked the assent of the noble Lord and his Friends, what would be their answer? They would naturally answer no; they would reply very properly, "Prove to us, first, that you have the confidence of the House of Commons, and we may comply." The noble Lord had confessed that, in the present state of things, the Government ought not to attempt to propound the change in the existing Corn-law system, because it was a measure of such extreme importance; also that it should not, for the same reason, proceed with the Poor-law bill. He was disposed, for the same reasons as operated upon the Government itself in those cases, to say in this they ought not to insist on the bill coming into operation till after the meeting of the next Parliament. His vote was founded upon a reluctance to invest Government, not with the patronage that resulted to it from holding the Government, but from a reluctance to grant it patronage, which was to be the result of an act of Parliament, not yet passed. To the measure he had given his assent, because it had the assent of all the persons of all parties most competent to decide upon its merits. If the noble Lord could say he felt that he would be in a situation to pass it in the Parliament which was to be called together as early as they had a right to expect its reassembling, he would suggest, that let this be the first act of the next Session, and both he and his right hon. Friend would be perfectly content. If the noble Lord did not choose that course, and preferred driving them to oppose the bill because be would make no concession as to the period when those appointments should take place, let not the noble Lord blame him or his right hon. and learned Friend as having stood in the way of a great improvement in the system of the administration of justice.
§ Mr. Labouchere
could not avoid rising to protest against the doctrine of the right hon. Baronet, as most novel and unconstitutional. He never heard of such a course as that of passing a bill giving patronage, and at the same time depriving the Ministers of the Crown, of the right of exercising it. If this was done for three months, it might be done for three years. He trusted the House would not sanction so dangerous a principle.
§ Sir E. Sugden,
in explanation, said that he had not the slightest intention of casting any imputation on the Lord Chancellor.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that the hon. Gentle-man might as well have said at once, "we want to have the nomination of the judges ourselves, and we don't choose to leave it to you." There was no analogy between this case and that of the Corn-laws. The present bill had received the sanction of both Houses, and the natural course was to pass it without any unusual conditions. The Corn-law question was much disputed, and the reason for not bringing it forward did not at all apply to the present case. This was entirely a party motion, and party feeling never appeared in a stronger light. The House divided, on the question that the clause be read a second time:— Ayes 101; Noes 83; Majority 18.
|List of the AYES.|
|A'Court, Captain||Dugdale, W: S.|
|Adare, Viscount||Duncombe, hon. W.|
|Alexander, N.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Antrobus, E.||Eaton, R. J.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Archdall, M.||Eliot, Lord|
|Ashley, Lord||Estcourt, T.|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Bailey, J.||Forester, hon. G.|
|Bateson, Sir It.||Gaskell, Jas. Milnes|
|Blackburne, I.||Gore, O. W.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Goulburn, rt. hn. H.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Broadley, H.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Buck, L. W.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Burrell, Sir C.||Hardinge,rt. hn.SirH.|
|Calcraft, J. H.||Hawkes, T.|
|Canning, rt. hn. SirS.||Heneage, G. W.|
|Chapman, A.||Henniker, Lord|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Hepburn, Sir T. B.|
|Cochrane, Sir T. J.||Herries, rt. hn. J. C.|
|Cony, hon. H.||Hodgson, R.|
|Cresswell, C.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Darby, G.||Hotham, Lord|
|Dick, Q.||Ingestrie, Viscount|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Drummond, H. H.||Jones. J.|
|Jones, Captain||Rae, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Knatchbull, right hon. Sir E.||Reid, Sir J. R.|
|Lascellas, hn. W. S.||Round, J.|
|Law, hon. C. E.||Rushbrooke, Colonel|
|Lefroy, rt. hon. T.||Rushout, G.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Sheppard, T.|
|Lindsay, H. H.||Shirley, E. J.|
|Lowther, Viscount||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Lowther, J. H.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Mackenzie, T.||Sotheron, T. E.|
|Maclean, D.||Stanley, Lord|
|Mahon, Viscount||Sturt, H. C.|
|Neeld, J.||Sugden, rt. hn. Sir E.|
|Neeld, J.||Thesiger, F.|
|Nicholl, J.||Thompson, Mr. Ald.|
|Norreys, Lord||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Packe, C. W.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Pakington, J, S.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Palmer, G.||Wilbraham, hon. B.|
|Parker, R. T.||Wynn, rt. hn. C. W.|
|Peel, it. hn. Sir R.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Holmes, W.|
|Pringle, A.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adam, Admiral||Lynch, A. H.|
|Archbold, R.||Macaulay, rt. hn. T.B.|
|Bannerman, A.||Marshall, W.|
|Baring, rt. hn. F. T.||Maule, hon. F.|
|Barry, G. S.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Morris, D.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Muntz, G. F:|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Noel, hon. C. G.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||O'Brien, C.|
|Brotherton, J.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Buller, E.||Paget, Colonel|
|Busfeild, W.||Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H.|
|Campbell, Sir J.||Pechell, Captain|
|Childers, J. W.||Peudarves, E. W. W.|
|Clay, W.||Pigot, rt. hn. D.|
|Craig, W. G.||Power, J.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Price, Sir R.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T.||Rice, E. R.|
|Ellis, W.||Rundle, J.|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Evans, W.||Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.|
|Fazakerley, J. N.||Sheil,rt. hn. R. L.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Smith, R. V.|
|Fitzpatrick, J. W.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Grey, rt. hn. Sir C.||Stewart, J.|
|Grey, rt. hn. Sir G.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Guest, Sir J.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Hawes, B.||Strutt, E.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Thornely, T.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Hector, C. J.||Villiers, hon.C. P.|
|Hindley, C.||Wakley, T.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Warburton, H.|
|Howard, P. H.||Ward, H.G.|
|Hume, J.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Wilde, Sir T.|
|Lambton, H.||Williams, W.|
|Listowel, Earl of||Winnington,SirT. E.|
|Lushington, rt. hn. S.||Wood, C.|
|Wood, G. W.|
|Wyse, T.||Stanley, E. J.|
§ Lord J. Russell
said, he was sorry to find his opinion upon the subject was different from that of the majority of the House, but, after the vote which had passed, he certainly could not consent to be a party to proceeding with the bill, and he would, therefore, move that the further consideration of the report be postponed to that day three weeks.
§ Sir E. Sugden
said, the noble Lord was at liberty to take his own course, and, for his part, he found no fault with it. He would merely assure the noble Lord that, if he had the honour of a seat in the new Parliament, he would support the bill by every means in his power.
§ Sir De Lacy Evans
said, that it appeared as if a bill of great importance to the public was about to be refused, because there was a chance that some patronage would fall to the lot of the Government. He hoped that fact would go forth to the public. He hoped so, though he might be wrong in his estimate of public opinion. But he considered it to be a matter of importance, and he hoped it would be marked there, as it would be elsewhere, that the present was a Parliament of monopolists, who had only given still further flagrant proofs of the partisanship by which it was animated.
I am not content that the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member, should go forth to the public without an answer. He says, that the motion of my right hon. Friend (Sir E. Sugden), will have the effect of preventing the enactment of a measure to remove existing abuses, but I will tell him that the effect of that motion, had it not been for the course which her Majesty's Government have thought proper to pursue, would not have postponed for a single instant the beneficial operation of that measure. I will tell him that this act could not have come into operation for any beneficial purpose until the commencement of the term after the long vacation—until the 1st of November. It has been decided by the House that the act shall come into operation on the 10th of October, and that the appointment of the judicial officers under the act shall be vested in the Government of that day, whoever at that period the Government may be. And, if her Majesty's Government had consented to such a course, on 1393 the 10th of October—a fortnight or more before the act could under any possibility come into practical operation—not only without one word of opposition or without the delay of a single moment, but with the cordial approbation and concurrence of all parties, the Government of the country— the hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they then were the Members of the Government, would exercise the power of the Crown, by making those judicial appointments which they have long contended are so desirable. But the House has decided that these important functions shall not be exercised by a Ministry which it has itself declared to be at present in abeyance, by a Ministry which is now holding office only under the condition of resignation, that is, only holding office until the opinion of the country has been pronounced either in their favour or against them. By the amendment of my right hon. Friend, we have once again declared that her Majesty's Ministers are not capable of exercising the functions necessarily attaching to the executive Government of the country; and, holding this opinion, we were bound to oppose their performance of those functions in a case where no detriment could possibly arise to the public service. If, before the time mentioned in the motion of my right hon. Friend, the hon. Gentlemen opposite are in possession of that power of which they are not now in possession then they, of course, will perform this amongst the other duties of the Government; and by the course we have to-night pursued we shall have deprived ourselves of all power of opposition or objection. The noble Lord, and no one else, is preventing the progress of this measure, The delay—the impediment—is caused alone by the course which he is pursuing; but, notwithstanding the step he has taken, if he calls the Parliament together at a time at which we have a right to expect it, he will still be in time to introduce a new bill in the terms of my right hon. Friend's motion, and will then be able to appoint these officers without the slightest opposition on our part.
§ Mr. Labouchere
said, that the speech of the noble Lord, had confirmed the impression which was formerly produced upon his mind, that the House had established a doctrine equally novel and dangerous. The course which hon. Gentlemen opposite had pursued, they had not attempted to justify by the production of a single precedent. They had attempted to lay down the doc- 1394 trine that for certain purposes they were to legislate on the principle of putting in abeyance the ordinary executive functions of the Crown, for it was a mere quibble to pretend to draw any distinction between the patronage conferred under that act, and the ordinary patronage at the disposal of the Crown. The House had again and again declared, that, it was fitting that these appointments should be made; but it now declared that it would prevent these appointments from being made at certain times, and under certain circumstances. Such a doctrine as that which had now been laid down he had heard with surprise proceeding from Tory benches. In the time of the greatest party violence such a doctrine he had never heard, even from those who entertained the most extreme opinions on his side of the House and the hon. Gentlemen opposite would ere long regret the course which they had that night pursued. He had heard with great regret the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tarn worth—a speech, he must say, the most contrary and opposed to his usual doctrine. He had always appeared to be especially tender of any infringement on the powers of the executive Government, and yet he now defended the adoption of a course by which a most unconstitutional attack was made against them. He must repeat that, he rejoiced that his noble Friend., in taking his choice of the alternative left to him, had determined not to expose the prerogative of the Crown to an attack equally unprecedented and unconstitutional.
said, that no Government of common sense or common feeling would submit to the humiliation to which the motion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Sugden) exposed them. The object of that motion was to prevent the bill from coming into operation. It was admitted that a denial of justice necessarily took place from the want of such measure, and yet, by the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that denial of justice to the people of England was maintained and persisted in. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had said, that the bill could be passed by the new Parliament. On what grounds did the noble Lord make such a statement? How could the noble Lord know in what manner a new Parliament might think fit to act? Yet this was the universal practice ! The noble Lord said, that he should do one thing, and the right hon. Baronet intimated his intention of 1395 doing another. The noble Lord answered for some measures, and the right hon. Baronet for others; but on what security Could they make these statements, or give these promises? Never was a greater satire inflicted oh the system of representation. He knew not who would be the Members of the ensuing Parliament, and he would now give this notice to the public that, in Consequence of the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite, there was a great chance that the existing evils would not be remedied—that these judges would not be appointed. For years there had been a great struggle between various individuals and opposite parties on the expediency of this measure. That struggle was how at an end; and when it was so— when the incalculable inconvenience and loss inflicted on the people was about to be done away with—then hon. Gentlemen opposite must interfere and prevent the accomplishment of so desirable an object. There never had been a single instance in which the public had more right to feel themselves aggrieved. And whence did the conduct of the opposite party arise? From their interested and violent opposition to any alteration of the Corn-laws. In consequence of their determination not to discuss, consider, or change those hateful laws, this House was to be dissolved, this beneficial measure rejected, and everything disturbed.
agreed with the hon. Gentleman that the country had great reason to complain of the course which had been adopted with respect to this measure; but against which party would that complaint be directed? His noble Friend (Lord Stanley) had said, that the amendment which had been proposed that night Would not impede or in any way interfere with the beneficial operation of the present measure, and every one at all acquainted with the administration of justice in the Court of Chancery must acknowledge that that statement was a just one. He (Mr. Pemberton) had always supported, had always been anxious for the passing of this bill; and he had even blamed the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) for his withdrawal during the last Session, without, as he thought, any fair of sufficient reason. Yet upon him, and Upon those with whom he thought and acted, the blame of impeding its profits was now most Unwarrantably thrown They were accused of preventing this measure from becoming law by hon. Gentlemen Opposite, yet what had been the 1396 course which they themselves followed under similar circumstances? In 1836, the Duke of Wellington introduced a bill appointing an additional Vice-Chancellor, yet, that bill, effecting the same object and brought forward for the same purpose as the present they had most violently opposed. In 1836, also, the King's speech said, that an improvement in the administration of justice in the Courts of Equity was a main object to be considered by Parliament; and yet from that time, 1836, until 1840, what step had the Government —what step had any individual of the hon. Gentlemen opposite taken? They had done nothing whatever during that time. In 1840 the present bill was introduced into the House of Lords, and it was sent down into this House in the July of that year. In the course of the Session it was withdrawn by the Government without any cause; and during this Session when it had been again brought forward, it was unnecessarily postponed; and now, when no obstacle was thrown in the way of its enactments and of its beneficial operation —when it was ripe to be passed, it was again given up by the noble Lord. The House must recollect that the bill not only contained the appointment of the new judges, but it also included the appointment of the registrars and the other officers necessary to the constitution of a Court of Law. These could not be appointed until after the 14th of August, and then it was well known that the Court did not sit again until the 2nd of November, the first day of the term after the long vacation. He protested against the observations of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The inconvenience of the course adopted by the noble Lord would, of course, extend the delay which must take place before the bill could again be passed; but when the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Villiers) talked against the bill passing at all in the next Parliament, he would ask him who prevented it from passing in this? The blame and responsibility rested, not with those on that side of the House, but with the noble Lord and hon. Gentlemen who supported him.
§ Mr. Wakley
did not think the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) could, as a Minister of the Crown, proceed with the bill, under the present circumstances, and he begged to remind the House, that the outrageous proceedings which had given rise to the noble Lord's motion, did not originate on the Radical side of the House. He, for 1397 his part, had always considered the Radicals to be the true Conservative party in that House, and the night's proceedings had confirmed him in that view; for the Radicals had never made such attacks on the prerogative of the Crown as he had had the fortune to witness within the last three weeks in that House, and he was prepared to prove this assertion by reference to facts. If the conduct of the two parties, as lately developed, continued much longer, his conviction was, that the hours of the Monarchy would be numbered. The millions out of doors were disgusted with what passed in a place where, though it was pretended to be for their benefit, they had no representatives. When the people petitioned for the relaxation of the prerogative, or its exercise in favour of their champions, they were told it was better to leave such matters in the hands of the executive: that was the language of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tam-worth. But when party interests became involved, the prerogative was made a shuttlecock of, and no more respect was paid to it than to a dirty rag. As a Radical, he was always prepared to say, he respected the throne, the prerogative of the Crown, and the Monarchy. No sort of Government suited the people of England better; and none had ever heard him say otherwise. But he must say, that he looked upon the result of the present proceedings as likely to be highly disastrous, unless the people saw more respect paid to the prerogative oil the part of those who talked so largely about it. He only begged to ask, in conclusion, if the leading party in that House treated the Crown in that manner, what would be the conduct of an excited multitude abroad with respect to that same Crown which they had so insulted?
§ Sir R. Peel
thought it was quite evident that the real cause of that apparent interference which had been ascribed to them at his side of the House, was neither more nor less than the attempt which had been made by the hon. Gentlemen opposite to carry on the executive Government of the country when they did not possess the power to do so. There had been clearly no other course for that Government to pursue, when the House of Commons had so decidedly declared that it did not possess their confidence, than that of resignation or immediate dissolution. By immediate dissolution he did not mean that dissolution which would interfere with 1398 those grants which were necessary to conduct the public service, or which might prevent the passing of those legislative acts which enabled them to levy the ordinary duties. But he did say, no conceded motion of any kind, no act of the House of Commons implying confidence in the Government, should be passed after such a vote as it had come to. While a Ministry was placed in such a position as the present, it was an anomalous, extraordinary, and unprecedented thing of them to come forward, as on the present measure, to ask for a vote of confidence from that House. It was perfectly impossible that a Government could be so conducted. It was impossible that the House could agree to a measure, by which such a devolution of authority took place as would imply that they still possessed the confidence of that House. If they passed such a measure, would not the Gentlemen opposite, and every one besides, say such conduct was most inconsistent. Were they to confirm, by new legislative enactments—were they to place upon new grounds, the authority of the present Government, as was proposed by the present bill, he was perfectly convinced they at his side of the House would he taunted by the Gentlemen opposite with their inconsistency, and that they had not drawn the ordinary distinction between the prerogative of the Crown and power conferred for the first time. If that precedent was to be resorted to—if that Government which, not only being in a minority, but which had not even the power to carry one of its measures, called upon them for a new vote of confidence, then he certainly thought the House could not consent to it with any degree of consistency. The hon. Gentleman opposite (the Member for Finsbury), who had just addressed the House, complained a good deal of the interference, which he ascribed to them, with the prerogative of the Crown. Now, they claimed something also for the prerogative of the House of Commons. They claimed the right, when an act was proposed enabling the Government to make certain appointments, of considering whether these appointments were to be made on the 15th of October or the 15th of August. It Was, indeed, a flew doctrine, that which the hon. Gentleman opposite propounded—namely, that the House of Commons was not at liberty to express its opinion with respect to a mere legislative enactment, and to exercise its own discretion on such a question as 1399 that then before them. So far from thinking the prerogative of the Crown in danger, as seemed to be the opinion of the hon. Gentleman opposite, he (Sir R. Peel) never recollected a time when it was more respected; and he certainly could not entertain any alarm for the Throne, because the House of Commons claimed for itself the right of substituting the 15th of October, instead of the 15th of August. No man would be more disposed to uphold the prerogatives of the Crown than he would; but if a Ministry, without the confidence of the House of Commons, would endeavour to carry on the affairs of the country, they must be prepared to meet with obstructions, and to be thwarted in their measures. It was not alone, because they who were in the majority in that House claimed for themselves the privileges which they did, that the present course was adopted; but it was also because they felt that those who, being situated like the present Government, did not pay proper homage to the true principles of a representative Government, if they continued not only to administer the executive functions, but proposed to the House of Commons new legislative enactments, implying confidence in themselves.
§ Mr. B. Wood
asked the hon. Gentlemen of the Opposition what the people of England would think of the integrity of their judges when their appointment was made a subject for party contention?
§ Further consideration of the report postponed.