§ MR. WATSON
rose to propose the Motion of which he had given notice—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the nature and extent of the taxation of Suitors by the collection of fees in the Courts of Law and Equity, and the application of such fees, and the compensations paid to retired officers of 177 those Courts, and into the propriety of the continuance thereof; and particularly to inquire into the orders for compensation made by the Lord Chancellor to the persons filling the offices of Clerk of the Enrolments, Controllers of Hanaper, Riding Clerk, Six Clerks, Sworn Clerks, Waiting Clerks, and others, under the Act 5 and 6 Victoria, c. 103; and to inquire into the nature, duties, and emoluments of those officers before the passing of that Act, and their right to compensation during life, and for seven years after the death of such person.The taxation of suitors in courts of justice was a matter of the greatest importance to the public at large; and although the subject was a dull one, he hoped the House would bear with him while he brought under their notice the general question of fees, and also the enormous amount of compensation which had been given to certain officers of the courts on the abolition of their offices. The first part of his Motion related to the taxation of suitors in the courts of law and equity, embracing the criminal courts and courts of quarter sessions throughout the country, and the application of the fees so collected. The first introduction of the system of taxing suitors by fees in courts of justice was of no great antiquity, tracing only a few centuries back. Offices in courts were granted in fee: hence sprung the term "fee" in legal taxation. At present, contrary to all principles of justice, no suitor could take a single step, either in the Court of Chancery or any other court, without undergoing very heavy taxation by way of fees. The attention of the Legislature had been attracted to the subject some years since, when the stamps on legal proceedings were removed; and Mr. Canning had expressed his opinion on that occasion that nothing could be more unjust than such a system. Measures had been adopted for the abolition of payment of officers by these fees. The House would be surprised to hear that there were between 300 and 400 persons who collected fees in the superior courts of law and equity, either paid over by them to the court, or payable to the officers themselves. In fact, not a single step could be taken in a suit either at law or in equity without the payment of certain fees. And there arose another evil of the matter. There was no check or control whatsoever upon the officers who received those fees in courts of justice. In some cases, indeed, there was an oath taken by the officers to discharge their office faithfully, but in others there was not even that restraint. And in no case was it requisite that they should re- 178 turn any detailed account to the court. Some of the officers of courts of justice were paid entirely by fees — a practice which he regarded as open to the strongest objection. The inquiry was large and most important, for in all courts, Chancery and Common Law, in the Insolvent and in the Bankruptcy Courts, fees were received to create funds to pay the officers. He would not go further into that branch of the case, as all he asked for in the first instance was the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the circumstances. The second branch of the question was the large amount of money collected by means of those fees. There was a great principle involved in this question, and one that demanded serious consideration—whether it was right to tax suitors at all in courts of justice? The reason adduced in support of their collection originally was, their effect in checking a spirit of litigation. In short, it had been urged that law had better not be made too cheap. He could assure the House that no such fear existed; for if all the fees of every kind in courts of justice were abolished, enough of expense in the payment of lawyers and other necessary payments, would still remain to make litigation abundantly expensive. If taxation was to be resorted to, the dishonest suitor, plaintiff or defendant, ought to be taxed, not the honest suitors who were driven to a court to assert or defend their rights. A fund had been created in the Court of Chancery called the Suitors Fund, which yielded 97,000l. a year in the years 1843 and 1844—a fund which ought never to have been received. That 97,000l. was the interest of sums accumulated in the Court of Chancery, and not claimed. It belonged of right to persons in the country, if they could be discovered; and from this fund the salaries and compensation of the officers of the court were defrayed. There was also another fund in Chancery called the Suitors Fee Fund, created by levying fees from the suitors amounting to 155,000l. a year. The Court of Pleas of Lancaster, it appeared by returns he had obtained, had also a fund, which yielded 3,000l. a year. There were funds derived from fees, which altogether amounted to between 300,000l. and 400,000l., besides which, there were derived from the Consolidated Fund for payment of Salaries, &c., 200,000l.; making altogether upwards of 600,000l. for the maintenance of our judicial system—of which 400,000l. were derived from taxa- 179 tion of suitors, and the remainder was paid by the country at large. These sums were monstrous; and the matter was made worse by their being collected by officers over whom there was neither check nor control. Another grievance in the courts of common law was, that the Judges had the power some years back of fixing the fees; but no power of reducing them; the consequence was, that after payment of all expenses the Court of Queen's Bench and Exchequer paid to the Consolidated Fund last year nearly 30,000l.; actually taxing the suitors to the general burden of the country. A great objection to this tax was, that it was a poll tax, for the suitor for 1l. paid the same as a suitor for 100,000l. Again, there had been vast sums of money granted to individuals by way of compensation for deprivation of incomes derived from fees. On looking over the Finance Accounts, he found one individual holding a sinecure office in the Court of Queen's Bench, whose retired salary was 7,700l. Another had 5,496l.; another 2,089l.; another 1,000l.; and so they went on one after another. Indeed, he might go through a long list of the names of persons who received large sums as the holders of offices to which merely nominal duties were attached. He thought that this monstrous system of establishing sinecures in courts of justice could not be too strongly condemned. In the Court of Lancaster the net fees for the years 1841, 1842, and 1843, averaged about 2,000l. a year. There was a person in that court who held a situation, and was styled the prothonotary. He had held the situation from the year 1791 down to the present moment. He now enjoyed a salary for life, by way of compensation, of 2,700l. a year. That was no less a person than the present Earl of Liverpool. He would now proceed to the last branch of his Motion, viz., the enormous compensations given on the abolishment of the Six Clerks. The Act for giving compensation to officers whose fees were abolished, was passed in 1842. He brought forward a Motion similar to the present as soon afterwards as he possibly could. In the year 1844 he brought forward his Motion upon the subject, and it was negatived by a small majority of sixteen; and in 1845 he was prevented from bringing the matter forward by circumstances which would be in the recollection of his hon. and learned Friend opposite. The Statute of 5th and 6th Victoria, c. 103, known as the Six Clerks Act, abolished the offices of clerk of the enrol- 180 ments, controller of the hanaper, the Six Clerks, Sworn Clerks, and Waiting Clerks in the Court of Chancery, and provided that compensation should be given to the persons filling those offices. They had received an enormous amount of compensation under that Act, and four of them at this moment enjoyed annuities to the amount of 30,000l. Those clerks had always been considered a nuisance — they were not of the slightest benefit. The offices were old, it was true, but the principal duty of those who held them consisted in exacting fees from the suitors; and he could not conceive on what ground the enormous compensation to which he was about to call the attention of the House had been awarded to them under the Six Clerks Act. The offices of the Six Clerks of Chancery were very ancient; they were patent offices, and had existed for 300 or 400 years. Those Six Clerks had also Side Clerks, or Sworn Clerks, who had no official duties to perform, but who merely enjoyed a monopoly of the business in the Court of Chancery. Those persons had no patent office, or any office at all: they were admitted to practice as solicitors by the Master of the Rolls; their number was limited. The fees of these Sworn Clerks had been regulated from time to time. Their amount was regulated by an order of Lord Hardwicke; and subsequently an alteration was made in them by Lord Erskine, and again reduced by an order of Lord Lyndhurst in 1829. The fees of these persons depended on the number of solicitors by whom they were employed. A man might hold the office thirty or forty years without obtaining a shilling; but if he conciliated the solicitors he might realize a large income; and some of these Sworn Clerks had derived 5,000l. to 6,000l. a year from offices to which no duties were attached. Mr. Pemberton Leigh, a high authority on the subject of the Court of Chancery, in a speech published by himself in 1840, stated, that the duties of these clerks consisted merely in signing their names on the records, and in receiving and transmitting to the solicitors all notices given in the course of a suit. "The statement of these details," added Mr. Leigh, after alluding to the return of their fees, obtained after great difficulty by the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby), "will show at once the enormity and iniquity of the tax which is thus levied on the suitor." A solicitor who was examined before Lord 181 Eldon's Commission in 1824 as to the duties of these Sworn Clerks, stated that they only increased the expense of the suits, without rendering any assistance to the solicitors; and he added, alluding to one of the clerks, "Mr. S. was a good clerk, even when he was a lunatic." The Act 5th and 6th Victoria gave the Lord Chancellor power to fix the compensation of the persons whose offices were abolished, it being provided that the amount of compensation should be not less than one-fourth of their respective salaries; but a much higher amount of compensation than they had any claim to receive had certainly been awarded to them. It used to be the rule to pay a fee to these clerks for every case upon the paper; but Lord Lyndhurst, when he became Chancellor in 1828, issued an order that no clerk in court should be entitled to a fee for a case on the paper unless he was actually in attendance, and that such fee should not be allowed unless the attendance of the clerk was absolutely necessary. Lord Brougham intended, in 1833, to do away with these offices. He gave these clerks full notice that their days were numbered; but there was no alteration, and they received the enormous compensation to which he had referred. The order for compensation was made in November, 1843, and it excited the greatest astonishment. One gentleman received as compensation for the deprivation of his office, an office in which neither skill, education, nor acquirements were necessary, no less than (or as the order of the Lord Chancellor expressed it, only) 5,434l. a year; and he was besides appointed taxing master, for which he received 2,000l. a year in addition, making 7,400l. a year; so that for sitting in Chancery Lane five hours a day he received 7,434l. annually, and might retire when he liked with his compensation of 5,434l. Another person, who was merely an agent to a Sworn Clerk, and who in his application to the Lord Chancellor described himself as neither able to write nor to walk, was awarded 472l. a year for life. Again, another agent got 1,778l. a year, and a Waiting Clerk obtained a compensation of 344l. a year. The compensations and salaries amounted altogether to upwards of 70,000l. a year. The whole matter was absurd and ridiculous; not the least absurd part was that they got a compensation and salary for the same thing: thus these Sworn Clerks taxed costs before the Acts, and four of them were compen- 182 sated on an income of 1,800l. a year for the loss of the office of taxing masters at 2000l. a year. Again these taxing masters were paid 2,000l. a year, whilst the masters in the courts of law get only 1,200l. a year for duties greater and requiring more skill and knowledge: it was in truth a most glaring job. The Chief Justice of England had only allowed him 10,000l. a year; and since his appointment he had refused to receive the whole of his salary, and he took no more than 8,000l. That was the income which that learned Judge, the highest legal functionary, with all his experience and ability, derived from his judicial situation; and yet here was a person, as he had before shown, being only a clerk, who received 7,000l. a year. Surely this was ridiculous, and could hardly be argued on seriously. Look at the salaries and compensations in the army and navy, and in the State—so that the atrocity of this job was apparent. It must have been a joyful morning in Chancery Lane after the passing of this Act, which gave a compensation to everybody! For all flesh and blood found in these offices was compensated—agents of agents, and clerks of Six Clerks to the fifth degree. But this was not all; for there was a provision in this Act continuing one half of the compensation to these parties for seven years after their death, by which he calculated that each would receive, on an average, 18,000l. additional. He did not know how this was to be defended. He heard on a former occasion that there was an instauce like it in Ireland. Poor unhappy Ireland! If a job was to be perpetrated in England, they could always refer to Ireland for a precedent! By another clause, there was paid for preparing and passing this Act, out of the pockets of the suitors of the Court of Chancery, 393l. The Bill was prepared by one of these parties who had got 7,000l. a year, and he had a return of money paid for cab fares in going backwards and forwards between that House and Chancery Lane, during the progress of the Bill. There was actually a charge made for that at the expense of the suitors in Chancery by Mr. Wainwright, who prepared the Bill. No wonder the parties so prodigiously benefited were anxious to pass it quickly through the House: the rapidity was unprecedented: it went not only with railroad speed, but an express-train pace, and happy were the Six Clerks and their fellows in good fortune when it had once become law. 183 It was brought down from the Lords on the 29th of July, when the lawyers were on the circuit; it was read a second time on the 1st of August; a third time on the 5th of August (two of the stages having been gone through after midnight), and it went back to the House of Lords and received the Royal Assent by the 10th of August. The 11th was, therefore, a joyous day in Chancery Lane. [Here the hon. and learned Gentleman read the several Motions from the Journals.] Never was Bill got quicker through the House. How, too, had the compensation been calculated? Upon three years of the fullest business ever known, when the Equity side of the Court of Exchequer had been thrown into Chancery, and when two Vice Chancellors had been appointed to accelerate the proceedings. The compensation, too, had been left to the Lord Chancellor, who was unaccustomed to such calculations. If it had been put into the hands of the Treasury, the inquiry would have been much more strict and searching. All that the Lord Chancellor required was, that the claimants should deduct their bad debts, and all the rest he freely gave them. All former Acts had given compensation either on an average of ten years, or on such average as the Treasury should direct: here it was on an average of three years. Many Acts might be cited; thus the Act 6 Geo. IV. c. 96, for abolishing frivolous writs of error, compensation was to be assessed by commissioners on an average of ten years. By 2 and 3 Will. IV., c. 94, for regulating the Registrars in the Court of Chancery, the Lords of the Treasury were to inquire, by oath or otherwise, whether any, and if any, what compensation was to be made. By the 3rd and 4th Vict. c. 94, the Lords of the Treasury were to inquire, under all the circumstances, what, if any, compensation was to be made. By the 5th Vict. c. 5, abolishing the Equity jurisdiction of the Court of Exchequer, the Treasury and the Lord Chief Baron were to assess what compensation, if any, was to be made. In the present Act, the words "if any" were left out. Why? Because Mr. Wainwright had drawn the Bill. He would challenge any one to show an Act of Parliament like this. Still the Lord Chancellor had a discretion in allowing fees, which had not been exercised. On behalf of the suitors, he appealed against this most unfair arrangement. What had been the consequences of it? That a tax had been 184 levied upon the suitors—that four per cent had been paid upon the taxation of suits that had perhaps been most tedious and expensive. Some reductions had, he admitted, been made since he first moved the House upon the subject. One per cent had been reduced, and the price of copies of proceedings had been lowered 2d. per folio; for this change he took credit, and what he wanted was a much more extensive and sweeping alteration. If he were asked whether he wished to repeal the Act of 5 and 6 Victoria, he would answer that what he wished for was inquiry. He asked for a Committee to ascertain whether there had been a proper investigation before the amount of compensation was settled. It might be answered that injustice would thereby be done to individuals; but what was individual injustice to the gross and palpable injustice done to the public by the Act to which he had referred? He claimed that the House should not permit the suitors in Chancery to be thus plundered. No man calling himself a law reformer could object to this Motion, for the people were, in addition to good laws, entitled to have them cheaply and quickly administered. In both particulars our courts were lamentably deficient. What a comment this on the Nulli vendemus et nulli negabimus of the Magna Charta. He was almost sickened when he reflected in what way the administration of justice was conducted in this country. The hon. Member concluded by submitting his Motion.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, his hon. and learned Friend had an advantage over him on this occasion, as he was in the position of an assailant. He could not hope to make what he had to say to the House interesting, because the details were dry and technical; and in order to do the subject justice, he was compelled to make a considerable demand on the time and attention of the House. His hon. and learned Friend had come forward with a Motion made in 1844, and then disposed of. He had now added other matter, and he proposed that a Committee of Inquiry should be instituted, making this an introduction to his Motion, in order to have an excuse for trespassing on the House with the same materials he was provided with before, for the purpose of procuring that Committee which the House refused in 1844. The object of his hon. and learned Friend was to repeal a Statute deliberately passed, and to call on the House to commit 185 an act of gross injustice. It was easy for the hon. and learned Gentleman to lead the House to believe that the compensations to these officers were excessive. He met the hon. and learned Gentleman at once on that ground. It was immaterial whether the compensation was an abuse or not, or what the origin of the Six Clerks, or that the amount of the emolument of their offices was disproportioned to their services—it was enough to say these parties possessed these offices, had held them for a number of years; and these offices having become vested interests, if we desired to get rid of them, we were bound to give the parties the fullest compensation. The late Mr. Horner, who was as good a reformer as the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, said, on Mr. Creevy's Motion to cut down the emoluments of the sinecure offices of the Tellers of the Exchequer, that nothing was so clear in all regulations for economical purposes as that vested rights must be sacredly protected. In this sentiment Mr. Tierney and Mr. Ponsonby concurred, and the Motion of Mr. Creevy was rejected. He (the Attorney General) only called for the same principle to be applied here. These clerks were established on a permanent footing in the year 1596, in the time of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, The amount of fees was settled by Lord Hardwicke in 1743; and no change was made in the amount, except in 1807 by Lord Erskine, when an increase took place. Lord Lyndhurst prevented the Sworn Clerks from taking any attendance fee when they were not in attendance; and from 1743 to 1842 the fee received by them had been uniform, and he denied that the Lord Chancellor had any power to diminish the amount. He felt fully justified in making that statement by the Statute passed in 1840, for facilitating the administration of justice in the Court of Chancery, when the officers of that court were compensated for the loss they had sustained by the transfer of a portion of their emoluments to the fee fund. These clerks had the right to dispose of their offices; and he altogether differed with his learned Friend on that point. The 5th and 6th Edward VI. was directed against the sale of offices concerned in the administration of justice. But these offices did not come within the terms of that Act. By the 1st Victoria, c. 30, a variety of offices much more closely connected with the administration of justice were recognized by the Legislature as saleable offices. 186 The 24th section recited that the officers on the plea side, the clerk of the rules, clerk of the papers, clerk of declarations, clerk of common bail, clerk of estreats and posteas, are in the gift of the chief clerk of the Court of King's Bench, and saleable by him. The clerkship at Nisi Prius, in the gift of the Custos Brevium, was also recognized as saleable by him. These offices were much more connected with the administration of justice than the Sixty Clerks. He had not the opportunity of answering a similar objection of the hon. and learned Member for Chester on a previous occasion; but he would now take the opportunity of saying, that a gentleman who possessed a full knowledge of the subject, and who had published an able pamphlet upon it, stated that the good will of a Sixty Clerk's office was disposable of, and that it would be unfair, if compensation were awarded, to treat it exactly on the footing of a registrar. In 1840, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cockermouth obtained a return of the emoluments of the Sworn Clerks; and this was a most important part of the question. It was from that return that Mr. Pemberton Leigh drew many of the materials of his speech, and amongst the abuses which prevailed he mentioned the Sworn Clerks, who derived enormous emoluments without performing any services. The right hon. Gentleman, on that occasion, stated the gross amount of three returns to be 8,130l., 9,645l., and 10,879l., leaving on the last return a clear sinecure of 7,000l. per annum, after paying every expense. That point was brought distinctly before the House, and his right hon. Friend said, that the whole of the offices ought to be swept away. In 1842, after Lord Lyndhurst had received the Great Seal for the third time, he wished to effect some reform in the Court of Chancery, and appointed a Commission, consisting of Lord Langdale, Vice Chancellor Wigram, Mr. Pemberton Leigh, and Mr. Sutton Sharpe. Two of these gentlemen were well known conscientious reformers; one of them was thoroughly acquainted with the abuses which existed in the Court of Chancery; and all of them were gentlemen of the highest character and integrity. A memorial was presented to them by the Law Association, praying for the abolition of the Six Clerks and the Sworn Clerks. The Commissioners reported that it would be necessary to abolish the offices of the Six and the Sixty Clerks and their fees, and 187 asked the Law Association to suggest some practical means of accomplishing their object. The Law Association suggested that compensation should be awarded to those persons who were to be deprived of their offices. Upon that suggestion and report the Commissioners had a Bill prepared, and every clause of that Act was most carefully considered by the learned Commissioners, and not one clause was introduced without their entire sanction. Mr. Wainwright, one of the Sixty Clerks to be compensated under the Bill, called on Lord Cottenham, and went over the different clauses of the Bill, pointing out the nature of the compensation, and that with respect to the saleable value of the office there was to be a clause giving the power of compensating for seven years, after the death of the present holder of the office. Lord Cottenham made no objection to the clauses. On a previous occasion, the noble Lord the Member for the city of London said Lord Cottenham was dissatisfied with a statement which he (the Attorney General) had previously made, inasmuch as he supposed it had been said he had given his sanction to the clauses. He would now call the attention of the House to the correspondence which had passed between Lord Cottenham and Mr. Wainwright on the subject, in order to place the matter on a proper footing. In Lord Cottenham's letter to Mr. Wainwright, dated the 22nd May, 1844, he said—In my two former letters I have distinctly put the question to you, whether by your letter to Mr. Follett you intended to say, that I had approved of the clauses, or only that you had explained them to me. To this question I have not received any answer. It is certain that the impression made by the expression used by you on the minds of those to whom your letter was communicated, and by them created in the House, was, that you intended to allege I had approved of the clauses; but this is so inconsistent with the fact, and with what you say in your last letter, that I am unwilling to suppose, and to act upon the supposition, that such was your intention, without once more calling your attention to it.In Mr. Wainwright's reply to this letter, he said, he had no hesitation in saying, that he did not intend, in his letter to Mr. Follett, to state that his Lordship had expressed to him an approval of the clauses—that it was his intention to state in that letter simply what his Lordship gave him permission to state, namely, that he had called his Lordship's attention to the compensation clauses—that the first conversation he had with his Lordship left on his mind a firm conviction that on that occa- 188 sion he did approve of the whole Bill; and he thought himself at liberty to refer in his letter to his Lordship's public conduct on the subject. The fact that his Lordship allowed the Bill to pass without observation warranted the public to believe, as he had believed, that the Bill had his Lordship's sanction. He (the Attorney General) was not going too far in saying that Lord Cottenham's attention having been particularly drawn to these clauses, and his Lordship having made no objection to them at the time, nor stated any objection when the measure was passing through the Lords, he might be fairly understood to have approved of those clauses. It was impossible to draw any other conclusion from his Lordship's conduct. Thus they had in favour of this measure the opinion of the eminent persons who composed the Commission; of the solicitors connected with the profession; and the sanction also of Lord Cottenham, not expressed in words, but implied from his silence; and, likewise, the sanction of the other law Lords, who made no objection to the Bill while passing through the other House. Thus the Bill came down to that House with the unanimous sanction of the House of Lords; and there was no force in the idea that it was hurried through Parliament without due consideration. Did the hon. Member for Kinsale mean to say that any person had an interest in huddling the measure through the Legislature? The Government had no interest in it, neither had any individual in that or the other House of Parliament. The hon. Member for Montrose was present when the Bill came into the House; and, on two occasions, he expressed his approval of the Bill, both in its principle and in its details. The attention of the House was called to it by the hon. Member for Sheffield, who drew the distinction between the different rewards given for political and professional services; so that the Bill did not pass without observation and discussion, though possibly not in so full a House as might have been desirable; but that was a circumstance which could not with propriety be urged as an argument against the measure now, seeing that every Member had a full opportunity of attending to its provisions. But let them see what were the objections which his hon. and learned Friend made to the clauses in the Act. In the first place, he apprehended that the hon. and learned Member made no objection whatever to the proportions which under the Act were assigned to the 189 various parties, supposing the emoluments were such as they were legally entitled to. He objected to the three years' average on which the compensation was granted, as a mode of arrangement disadvantageous to the public; because, he said, in those three years there had been a great amount of additional business in the court, which swelled the averages. Now, he would venture to say, that the addition which was made by the transfer of the Exchequer business was very insignificant indeed; it was scarcely a drop in the ocean, and could not fairly be said to have swelled the average. But, said his hon. and learned Friend, was ever anything heard so improper and so extragavant as this compensation for seven years after the termination of their lives? Now, his hon. and learned Friend sanctioned that proceeding just as much as any other hon. Member of the House. It was clearly laid down in the 14th section of the Act; and if his hon. and learned Friend unfortunately happened to be absent, not so much for the good of his country as for his own private advantage—if he attended circuit rather than that House when this measure was before it, certainly it did not from that follow that the Act had not received his sanction as well as that of any other Member of the House. He (the Attorney General) maintained, that to give this compensation was a course perfectly justifiable under the circumstances; and that it was the course followed with regard to similar offices by the Government which was composed of hon. Gentlemen opposite. In 1836, when it was proposed to abolish the office of the Six Clerks in Ireland, a Bill was introduced into the other House, and received the sanction of Government, by which the legality of the sale and transfer of those offices was fully acknowledged, and compensation was awarded for the value of their fees to the Six Clerks. A sum of 4,000l. was granted; and they received, in addition, an annual sum not amounting to three-fourths or two-thirds of the whole of their emoluments, but an amount commensurate with the full net profits of the offices they enjoyed. Now, he did not find fault with this arrangement, as he considered they were bound in fairness and justice to compensate them to the full extent. In the year 1821 it was considered expedient to abolish some sinecure offices in the courts in Ireland—the office of prothonotary of the King's Bench, and that of filacer of the Common Pleas. Full com- 190 pensation was given to the holders of these offices; and the same course had been followed with regard to certain sinecure offices in the courts of this country, for the loss of which there were parties who now enjoyed compensation to the amount of 6,000l. or 7,000l. a year. His hon. and learned Friend objected to agents being compensated, as they could not be considered as having any permanent interest in their office. But they had an example also for that. By the 3rd and 4th William IV., c. 94, compensation was given to the agent of the senior deputy registrar; and the secretary to the Master of the Rolls actually had a clause introduced to compensate him. These agents had certainly no defined tenure of office; but, practically, they were considered as holding office as long as the Six Clerks lived. His hon. and learned Friend objected to the Lord Chancellor being invested with the power of making these compensations at his own discretion; and he adverted to the great advantage which would be derived from a minute investigation by the Treasury, which required the parties to make oath as to the amount of their profits. But in the present case there was no ground for the interference of the Treasury, as the compensation was paid out of the Suitors' Fund, and not out of the Consolidated Fund. His hon. and learned Friend said that his object was to repeal the Act, as it had been improperly passed, and the compensations unjustly awarded. He would venture to say that there never was an Act which had been framed with more care; and he did not think the House would consent to the appointment of a Committee, the object of which was to repeal the Act, and to deprive parties of the compensation which they enjoyed on the faith of that Act. His hon. and learned Friend complained that his Lordship did not investigate the validity and authority of the fees. He denied that there was any ground for that complaint. The fees had existed from 1743, and, with the exception of an addition made to them in 1807, there had been no alteration in them since that time. But how did the Lord Chancellor proceed? He called for a return from each of those officers of the fees and emoluments received from their respective offices, which return was examined by Lord Langdale and Sir J. Wigram; and it was not until after a full examination had been made as to its accuracy, that the Lord Chancellor awarded the compensation which the Act of Par- 191 liament imperatively called upon him to award. Again, the Act provided that the minimum of compensation should be three-fourths of the emoluments of the office; but it was open to the Lord Chancellor to award more. He had, however, in each case, adhered to the minimum—a course which he believed was almost without precedent in such arrangements. What had been the result of the measure? Foes had been taken off to the amount of between 24,000l. and 25,000l. a year. New fees had undoubtedly been imposed, because new fees were necessary for the payment of the new officers appointed under the Act; but the amount of these new fees had been gradually diminished, and, altogether, the public had been already benefited by a diminution of between 15,000l. and 16,000l. a year. And, then, compensation to the amount of between 4,000l. and 5,000l. had fallen in; so that, on the whole, a diminution of expense to the public of about 20,000l. had been effected. He admitted that the public had paid a large price for the abolition of these offices, but not a larger price than justice and a due regard to the public interests required; and the public had an inestimable gain in the power of reducing fees, which had already produced, as he had said, a saving of between 15,000l. and 16,000l. a year. Ultimately the only fees that would be required were those necessary for the payment of the salaried officers appointed under this Act. One word on these new offices. The hon. Member for Kinsale had objected to the salaries awarded to the six taxing officers. They were also appointed, and their salaries fixed at 2,000l., on the authority of the Act of Parliament. He believed the duties of those officers were onerous, and that they had incessant employment, and that the profession generally was satisfied with the manner in which those duties were performed. The Lord Chancellor was empowered to appoint six officers; but how did he exercise this patronage? He was anxious that the public should have the benefit of the most impartial selection, and, accordingly, he applied to the Commissioners to nominate those persons whom they considered best fitted for the performance of the duties; and the result was, that only one new officer, a solicitor, had been appointed, the other five being entitled to compensation in consequence of previous offices, which compensation would be limited by the amount of their salaries. Under the same Act there 192 were two clerks of record and one clerk of enrolments to be appointed by the Master of the Rolls, at salaries of 1,200l. a year. Here, also, officers entitled to compensation for previous offices were appointed, whose compensation was in like manner diminished by the amount of the salary. Thus was there no foundation whatever for granting the Committee for which his hon. and learned Friend had moved. The question was not whether the existence of such offices was just. He contended that there was nothing unjust in the holding of them, and that those who possessed them and were entitled to their emoluments—emoluments which had existed for more than a century—had a right to look for compensation when they were deprived of them. That compensation had been awarded and was enjoyed under the solemn sanction of an Act of Parliament; and the House would fail in doing justice to the parties if they now permitted it to be questioned.
§ MR. HUME
would admit that he had approved of the principle of this Act; but in the details, as they were now explained, he could not have concurred, because when the Bill was before the House they were not developed. The question was, whether the power given under the Act had been well and discreetly exercised by the Lord Chancellor, It might have been well exercised; but, he must say, he had never known an instance in which the exercise of the discretion of an individual had been so severely araigned as that of the Lord Chancellor in this matter. A bad precedent taken from Ireland was the only precedent the Attorney General had to rely on. The opinion of the public was so firmly fixed that the case now before the House was the job of jobs, and was such a perfect waste of public money, that nothing would satisfy them short of an inquiry. Besides, as doubts existed about the facts of the case, the best way to clear them up was the appointment of a Committee. The hon. and learned Gentleman (the Attorney General) seemed to think that the only object of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Watson) was to put an end to the compensation that had been awarded to those individuals. He (Mr. Hume) was afraid that the Bill having passed, the compensation was secured to these individuals beyond the reach of the House; but there were other objects that could be gained by the inquiry which was sought. It would be some satisfaction to know whether the public 193 officer who had been intrusted with the discretion of awarding these compensations had exercised that discretion wisely or not. It was also of some importance to inquire iuto the nature and extent of the present taxation of suitors. The present was one of those questions which, if the Government should resist inquiry into it, would throw a stigma upon them, and hold them up as covering an act which was believed by the public at large to be disgraceful.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, as the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite had appealed to him in so very pointed a manner, he felt bound to say a few words, although he did not propose to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman through his very long and able special pleading. He must, however, be permitted to say that he never heard a speech which answered fewer of the arguments of the hon. Member who had brought forward this Motion. The hon. and learned Member (the Attorney General) was particularly desirous to join issue with him, on the question of awarding fair and just compensation to these individuals. Now, he would agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman on the principle of giving either of these individuals, or any others, such a fair and just compensation as they were entitled to it by the loss of office through the enactments of Parliament; but the real question at issue was, whether these persons were clearly entitled to the amount of compensation that had been granted them? That was what the hon. and learned Attorney General had failed to establish. The hon. Member for Kinsale had distinctly stated that this compensation had been granted upon a return of fees made by these officers: some of those fees were legal, and others he understood were illegal; if, therefore, they were illegal, they were fraudulent and dishonest. Now, whether the Lord Chancellor had given compensation to these parties founded upon a return in which illegal fees were included, was the question into which the hon. and learned Member for Kinsale was desirous of inquiring. This was a question which the public demanded should be inquired into, and which the House ought not to shrink from. This, he might say, was a subject which had been canvassed more by the public than almost any job of the many jobs which had taken place within the walls of the House. There was another point to which he would allude—it was this: that the Lord Chancellor had been the party appointed to make arrangements with 194 these officers. He regarded that as a deviation from all former custom. The former custom had always been to leave questions of compensation with the Treasury, and not with the Lord Chancellor. He should like to know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if, when he consented to this Bill, that these persons were entitled to these immense amounts of compensation which four of them received, being no less than 27,000l. of the public money (for they must not be allowed to shelter themselves by saying that the money was derived from fees; it was the public money to all intents and purposes) — the greater portion of which ought to go into the Treasury, instead of the pockets of these parties. To show how far returns made to that House might be depended upon, he believed he might state it as a fact that the Lord Chancellor actually asked a return from these parties themselves of the fees. The House had no information whether that return was accurate or inaccurate—just or unjust; and he would be bound to say, that if a Committee was appointed, it would be found that the returns partook very much of the same character as the Tamboff returns, which had been presented to that House. If the Government were satisfied of the accuracy of the returns, why did they oppose inquiry? The refusal, to his mind, was pretty clear evidence that they were conscious that the matter would not bear investigation. It showed the consequence of the mode in which the public business of the country was transacted in the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite saw that the Bill had received the deliberate sanction of the House; but he had no doubt, if the records of Parliament were searched, that it would be found there were forty other Bills passing various stages at the same time as this Bill, and they had all received the deliberate sanction of the House. He thought the hon. and learned Attorney General had signally failed in his attempt to show that this Bill had received the sanction of Lord Cottenham; for that noble Lord distinctly said that the measure was never submitted to him, and he emphatically denied that he had ever given his sanction to it. He hoped the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer would state distinctly whether or not he was aware of the extent of the emoluments of these parties, and the amount of compensation which they were to receive when he sanctioned the passing of that Bill. The hon. and learned Attorney General had at- 195 tempted to throw the responsibility of the measure upon the whole House: he did not dispute the correctness of that assertion. But if the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer was aware of the extent of these emoluments before the Bill passed, he was sure it was high time for the House to look more narrowly after the expenditure of the Exchequer. His opinion was, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was as ignorant of these facts as he was himself, or he would never have given his consent to the Bill. If Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst was aware of the extent of the emoluments of the officers (some more than 10,000l. per annum) when he proposed this Bill, he said hir Lordship had not acted justly to the public by not making it known to the House of Lords, in order that that House, as well as this, might have an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with what they were doing when they were passing this Bill. He hoped the Government would not refuse the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Kinsale.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
rose and said, he was unwilling to trespass upon the attention of the House upon a measure of that kind, which was more especially confined to matters of a legal or technical nature; but after the speeches that had been made by the hon. Members opposite, and their determination to press the Motion to a division, it was necessary for him to trespass upon their patience for a short time. He would begin by saying, that if the Motion had been confined to the introductory part of the question before the House, namely, for an inquiry into the nature and extent of the taxation of suitors, by the collection of fees in the courts of law and equity, he would have had no objection to the Motion, because he considered that an inquiry of that nature might be attended with beneficial results. But, after the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who proposed the Motion, as well as that of the hon. Member for Montrose, he felt that he could not consent to the inquiry. The hon. Member for Montrose had called the transaction in reference to which the inquiry was moved for, "the job of jobs;" and then went on to say, that the compensation that had been given to the several persons mentioned in the Motion was now irrevocable; it was admitted, therefore, that his object was to inculpate the conduct of the Lord Chancellor, who he appeared to think was a party to the perpetration of the "job of jobs." He knew that the entire conduct 196 of the noble and learned Lord had been pure and irreproachable, and therefore he could not be a party to the Motion that sought inculpation under the guise of inquiry. The hon. Member for Coventry had asked his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he was aware, at the time of the passing of the Bill referred to, of the extent of the compensation that was to be awarded to those persons? He would give the same answer that his right hon. Friend would have done, had he risen to address the House, namely, that at the time the Bill was passed, the gross amount of the fees that had been abolished was not known. In fact, that was not the question for consideration at all; for the subject that was brought under the notice of the House, and had been discussed, was the principle of compensation, not the amount of fees, for which, when abolished, compensation was due. The Bill came down to that House under great authority; for previous to its introduction to the House of Lords, it had been submitted to the consideration of a Commission, of which the Master of the Rolls and Vice Chancellor Wigram were members, and they had given to the subject the most deliberate attention. He was informed, and believed, that it had received so great revision by that Commission, that the draft of the Bill had to be reprinted three times before it was presented in the House of Lords. He might also mention, that at the time the Bill was introduced into the other House, from the circumstance of the Lord Chancellor being unwell, he had not charge of the Bill, and therefore it was introduced by Lord Langdale. The single question was, had the compensation been given upon a just or unjust principle? The principle that had been adopted in Exchequer cases was, allowing seven-eighths of the amount of fees that had been received on the average of a certain number of years, as compensation to the clerks; but in this Bill, a minimum rate of compensation was laid down as three-fourths of the average amount of fees received within a limited number of years, but empowering the Lord Chancellor, in such instances as he thought advisable, to allow the full amount previously named, or any part of it—not less, however, than three-fourths. The Bill had not passed through the House without discussion, and he would contend that there was nothing novel in the arrangement; but if there were, it was in reducing the minimum allowance for compensation to three-fourths 197 instead of seven-eighths of the amount of fees. Presuming that the fees previously paid were legal, he could see nothing more just than allowing compensation when they were abolished. That brought him to the consideration of the legality of the fees. They were first established in 1743, under Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, and so remained till 1807, when they came under the revision of Lord Erskine, who had ordered some of them to be increased. Those fees then fixed had reference to business at that time transacted in the Court of Chancery, and at the time yielded no more than a moderate salary; but as the business increased, which it had done very considerably, of course the additional amount of fees rendered the emoluments much more lucrative; therefore, when they considered the length of time that the fees had been received, he thought it could not be denied but their legality was sufficiently established. The Lord Chancellor was invested with considerable discretion, yet in no case did he award the full amount allowed by the Act: without a single exception, the award was the minimum sanctioned by the Act of Parliament. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to speak slightingly of the law reforms which had been effected; but the fact was, a most formidable and growing abuse had been rectified. Already, one-tenth of the amount of compensation had lapsed by deaths, of which the public received the full benefit. The amount of fees had, previous to this reform, been 77,000l. a year; it had been already reduced to 40,000l., showing a saving of 37,000l. The amount of fees received under the present Act would, when it came fully into operation, be somewhere about 20,000l., showing a reduction of more than 50,000l. per annum. Whatever might be said to the contrary, he could not think that it would be just or fair to effect these reforms regardless of the rights of innocent parties. It would not be consistent with public feeling or opinion to effect reforms by inflicting injuries on unoffending individuals, who had what might be termed established rights. The question, therefore, narrowed itself to this simple ground—whether parties whose right to compensation was admitted, had received more than a reasonable and equitable compensation? If the compensation were large, the fees were lucrative; and it was consistent with the principle of compensation that it should be lucrative also. The House had limited the discretion of the Great 198 Seal, as regarded the principle upon which compensation should be granted, and the Lord Chancellor had acted within these limits. As it had been declared that the object of the Motion was to inculpate the conduct of the Great Seal, whose conduct had been termed the "job of jobs" by hon. Gentlemen opposite—as he thought this great legal reform had been conducted upon a sound principle—and as a great abuse had been eradicated without injustice to any party—he felt bound to resist the Motion. He did not deprecate the discussion, because the Lord Chancellor had been hardly dealt with and had incurred much unmerited obloquy in the execution of his duty; but he felt satisfied that the more the matter was discussed—the better it was understood—the more convinced would the public he that the Lord Chancellor could not have acted otherwise, and that, in fact, he had behaved on this, as on all other occasions, in a manner not unworthy of his high trust, or of his exalted and blameless character.
§ MR. F. T. BARING
congratulated the hon. and learned Gentleman who had made this Motion on his having elicited from the right hon. Baronet a declaration that he had no objection to a general inquiry on the subject of fees. As to what the right hon. Gentleman had said with respect to the Lord Chancellor, he begged to disclaim all intention of casting censure on that noble and learned Lord, if he voted for this Motion. He believed that any causes of complaint that had arisen were quite as much owing to the Act itself as to the administration of it. He also entirely agreed with the right hon. Baronet as to the justice of compensation. If we allowed abuses to grow up, it was but right that we should pay for them; and we had no right to effect public reforms at the expense of private individuals. But it was not surprising that the public mind should be aroused, when they found what was tantamount to a million sterling awarded in the shape of compensation to a few individuals. It should not be forgotten that the Act in question passed in a very hurried manner. It was in that House only one week altogether. It might be generally supposed, too, that the Bill received full consideration in the House of Lords; but such, he understood, was not the case. It was stated, on good authority, that the compensation clauses, as printed in that House, referred the settlement of the amount of compensation to the Treasury, and not to the Lord 199 Chancellor. The right hon. the Attorney General said, that the reason why the Lord Chancellor was substituted was, that he had the control of the Suitors Fund; but he could assure the House that a reference to the Treasury under such circumstances was not a mere matter of form, but that the Treasury offered an efficient check both in the framing of such measures of compensation, and in the adjudication of them. The rule with the Government of which he (Mr. Baring) was a Member, was, that no compensation clause should be inserted in a Bill without being sent to the Treasury, where it was submitted to an officer whose previous experience was such as peculiarly fitted him for the duty of determining questions of that description. He begged to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether in the present instance the usual precaution had been taken—whether the eighteen compensation clauses had been submitted to the Treasury, sanctioned by its authority, and examined by its officer? Where there were so many clauses, it was idle to speak of the responsibility of the House. The Treasury were better qualified to judge on questions of compensation than the courts of law; for it was daily in the practice of dealing with such cases. It was not surprising that the public should look with jealousy at the proceedings to which the attention of the House had that night been called; and it would surely be satisfactory to the noble and learned Lord who held the seals, if an opportunity were afforded for inquiry. The House would receive a lesson in dealing with compensation cases; and it would, he thought, be its duty to make some regulation for future guidance as to the mode in which questions of that description should be decided.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
thought he had stated, that after the Act was passed, and before compensation was awarded, returns were called for as to the emoluments of the officers; that those returns were submitted to the consideration of Vice Chancellor Wigram and Mr. Pemberton Leigh; and that, after they were so submitted, the compensation was fixed at the lowest amount which could be given under the Act. What he wished to explain, however, was, that he had reason to believe the compensation clauses were printed for the use of the House of Lords, though, consistently with the privileges of this House, they could not be discussed by their Lordships; and in those compensa- 200 tion clauses, as originally drawn, it was provided, under the impression that the Suitors Fund might be insufficient, that the Consolidated Fund should be made answerable for any deficiency. Power was given to the Lord Chancellor, as superintending the Suitors Fund, and to the Treasury, as having charge of the public purse, concurrently to award compensation. From those clauses, when they came to this House, the contingent lien on the Consolidated Fund was withdrawn. The charge then rested exclusively upon the Suitors Fund. The Treasury had, technically, no control over the Suitors Fund, which was exclusively under the power of the Great Seal; and on that ground the Treasury had not been called upon to interfere.
§ MR. C. BULLER
regretted that a question of so much importance should have been mixed up with an inquiry into a past Act, which every body on both sides of the House agreed was irremediable. He regretted it, because it not only connected the question with matters of a personal nature affecting certain parties, but because it came forward in the shape of an attack upon the Government, and upon the Member of the Government who was officially responsible for the Bill. He was not called upon to defend Lord Lyndhurst; although on any proper occasion he should be perfectly willing to discuss his conduct either as a Judge or a Minister; but what he (Mr. C. Buller) wished to impress upon the House was, that in this matter, whatever might be Lord Lyndhurst's official responsibility, it was not with the real act of the noble and learned Lord the House had to deal. In this case, Lord Lyndhurst came into office at the time these changes were contemplated, and he did that which any wise and honest Minister would have done to put law reform upon the best footing, and his conduct placed him beyond the possibility of suspicion. Lord Lyndhurst found a commission in existence, composed of gentlemen, all most interested in the subject of law reform, who had done more for it than all the Members of that House put together, and who had shown the greatest earnestness and zeal in that cause; and he referred the matter entirely to them, using his official power merely to give effect to their decision. The names of those persons had been mentioned, and it was obvious that there was no party feeling in the appointment of that commission. There was Lord Langdale, who was 201 opposed to the Government in politics; then there was Mr. Pemberton Leigh, and Vice Chancellor Wigram, who, although agreeing with the Government in politics, had earned for themselves honours which it was to be wished other Members of the profession would emulate in reforming professional abuses; and there was Mr. Sutton Sharpe, who was as much opposed to the present Government as could well be imagined. Then there was every thing in the mode in which this compensation had been settled to give that House and the country reason to suppose that those who had undertaken the matter could not be influenced by any paltry desire for jobbing, which could not be turned to their advantage. The acts of men who had shown such an earnest desire for law reform should be judged fairly, and not as a question in which party feeling had any influence. But the only question was the amount of compensation. It was impossible to fix any precise amount of compensation to be given to persons whose offices were abolished. It was purely arbitrary; at any rate, no principle had been laid down by any authority as of general application to regulate all cases of compensation. In such a case as the present, it was the duty of those entrusted with the duty of fixing compensation to see what amount Parliament had granted in preceding instances of a similar kind. It might be right to adopt another principle; but still it was wise in a case where there was no principle to guide them to see what Parliament had done, and no one could be blamed for searching into precedents. Now these gentlemen had gone through the Acts of Parliament, and had found as a general rule that the Legislature had never allotted less than three-fourths of salary as compensation on the abolition of offices; in some cases more, but hardly ever less. These gentlemen, then, could not be blamed for taking that as the minimum of compensation. But the complaint was, that the matter had been taken out of the cognizance of the Treasury, and given over to a set of lawyers, who, from a sympathy with their brethren, would judge with exceeding generosity as to the amount of compensation that ought to be given. He was far from denying the existence of this amiable weakness on the part of the fraternity to which he had the honour to belong; but the gentlemen to whom this task had been allotted might be supposed to be influenced by another feeling also, because 202 they were the very persons who, braving all obloquy, and in spite of the evasions of numerous returns that had been ordered, had succeeded at last in extracting the real amount of the emolument of these officers; and in fact had waged a constant battle with them. Something, therefore, of this feeling, as well as that of professional sympathy, might have been supposed to have actuated them. But was the compensation they awarded, in fact, more extravagant than the Treasury, in the exercise of a similar discretion, had given before? Two years before, Lord Cottenham had abolished certain offices in the Exchequer, and in that case the Act of Parliament decided that the compensation was not to be less than three-fourths. But what did the Treasury do, being at that time under the superintendence of his right hon. Friend near him (Mr. Baring)? The Treasury allotted in every case full seven-eighths. But the Treasury did more. It made no allowance for had debts, but calculated the seven-eighths upon the whole amount. Now, the Lord Chancellor had in the present case fixed the compensation at three-fourths, after deducting the bad debts. Would the public then have been gainers by trusting a Treasury acting upon their former principle, or by trusting the Lord Chancellor? By comparing the two systems, it would appear that the gain to the public by not following the Exchequer plan was not less than 68,000l. And where in fairness was the inquiry to end? Was it to be confined to this class of fees? If these old stories of compensation were to be raked up, let the case of the Exchequer compensation he gone into also, and it would be seen that the bargain made by Lord Cottenham, and ratified by his right hon. Friend, was infinitely more improvident than the other. It had been said that the extraordinary feature of the present case was the grant for seven years after death. What you had to compensate these persons for was, the loss of the estate you had taken away from them; and if it were a life estate, let it he life compensation only; but if the estate were of a nature which might be administered by executors, compensation must be given for an estate lasting beyond life. But it was said that the parties had no right to sell these offices. What! after the connivance of whole generations of legal authorities, and of the Legislature? He admitted that it was a scandalous abuse that these offices should be saleable. But whose 203 scandal was it—the scandal of the men who only took advantage of a law in their favour, or of those who enacted the law. It would be disgraceful to the House were it now to do justice to the public at the expense of innocent individuals, and assume the cloak of economy to conceal its own disregard of the public interests. In the Papers before the House, at p. 64, Mr. Mills stated—On the 20th March, 1820, I entered into a contract with the Committee of the estate of John Gregory Shaddick, a clerk in court (but then recently found a lunatic), in respect of his business, and which contract I carried into effect, on the decease of the said John Gregory Shaddick (which took place on the 10th of February, 1823), with his sister and administratrix, and with the trustees of that lady's marriage settlement.So it was found that a lunatic was quite competent to hold this office. Why had not hon. Gentlemen, who were now so indignant at these abuses, brought them forward before? Why, when a judicial office was entrusted to a lunatic, was not the scandal exposed? Why should the Legislature so long tolerate a system so abominable, and then turn round and seek to deprive those who had purchased the office of this lunatic of the money they had paid for it? It was exceedingly wise to abolish those abuses; but they had no right to deprive those persons of that in which, through the negligence of the Legislature, they had invested their property. As the public was to benefit by the reform, the public should compensate the suffering individual. The hon. Member for Montrose said, the only precedent for this was one which had been mentioned by his hon. Friend the Attorney General — namely, the case of the abolition of similar offices in Ireland. The reason that that was the precedent on which they relied was, because it was the only case of precisely similar offices being abolished. It was done, he thought, in 1820; and they then effected in Ireland the same reform as was effected in England now. They then took the subject into consideration, and allowed all those persons full compensation for the right of sale they had in their offices. In the case of Ireland, with respect to an exactly similar office, twenty years before, by Act of Parliament they recognized the right of sale in the officers; and would it not be justice in England to recognize the right of sale, and not deprive those persons of all the profits of the money they were entitled to receive? The argument used 204 was, that in all those cases of law reform there were a great many prejudices and vested interests to contend with; and when any person came forward with a proposal to make a court of justice more rational, expeditious, and cheap, he was immediately met by a host of persons who knew that by reform, without compensation, they would be deprived of their livelihood. Those were not persons whose opposition was to be despised by any person who undertook to make a reform of the law, for they were the persons cognizant with the working of the law, and having them on his side, the work of law reform was comparatively easy; but having them opposed to him, the work of law reform was impracticable. Let them look to the importance of doing away with those abuses, and they would perceive it was their interest to hold out to all holders of those offices that they personally should not be the scapegoats of their reforming policy. They would hold out to them that they should not be losers by the change, which was to be a great source of gain to the public. It was said that such an extravagant rate of compensation as this disgusted the public with law reform, and was actually a burden to the public. It was said that the fees were increased; but that was directly contrary to the truth. The fees—with compensation and all—were never the same amount as they were before. In the first year they were 750l. less—a small amount no doubt; but had they gone on increasing? No, they had gone on diminishing ever since. He had not been exactly able to make out the amount; but it appeared from one of the calculations he had seen that there had been from 15,000l. to 24,000l. of actual diminution. It was said that particular fees had been raised. No doubt they had, for the convenience of the court and of the officers; and one of the abominations of this fee system was the great number of fee-takers employed, over whom the public had no control. If they did raise the money from the public through fees, it was good policy to collect those fees as largely as possible in particular offices, and not scatter them through a number of offices. In that way particular fees were raised; but what was the working of it on the whole? Had the suitors to pay more fees than they previously did? No, they had to pay less than they did; and by the deaths of those persons, and other changes, the whole amount of fees would go on diminishing. There was one 205 point raised, as to the impropriety of taking three years' average. It was said that they might have gained more by diffusing it over a larger space; but would that have done justice? No doubt if they had taken a larger number of years, in which the returns were less, the fees would be less also; but when they took away a man's estate, whether was it fairer to take it at what it had been worth for the last ten years, or to take it at what it was worth at the time when it was taken away? It was fair to take it at what it was worth at the time when it was taken away, particularly when, in consequence of the increase of business in the Court of Chancery, those fees were increasing; and if they were let to go on, those persons' incomes, instead of diminishing, would be increasing. Another question had been raised as to the legality of those fees. It was said that they were not strictly legal, and might be resisted; but the right hon. Baronet had disposed of that objection; whether these fees were legal or illegal, they had the sanction of the highest authorities to whom the public looked as expositors of the law. On what, he asked, could men believe that they had a better title for the receipt of those fees, than in the table of fees originally allowed by Lord Hardwicke, and put into its present shape by Lord Erskine? It should be recollected that every Bill of costs (in which those fees were charged) was taxed; and in any suit in the Court of Chancery the parties might have brought the question before the public and the court. Let them understand the matter—a man in an office in the Court of Chancery charged a person in a suit in that court certain fees; and his learned Friend said those fees were illegal. But if all those fees were illegal, how came it that, since the time of Lord Hardwicke, no obstinate litigant in the Court of Chancery had turned round on his solicitor, and said, "You paid a fee that you had no right to pay. I will bring this matter before the Chancellor, and see if this fee was legally paid or not?" The thing was never done, and the sanction of law was given to those fees in a way as decisive for the public, and every person interested in the course of justice, as if it were embodied in an Act of Parliament. And in fact, as he was reminded by an hon. Member, the party who did not pay those fees was subject to attachment. No blame, he conceived, attached to the persons on whom, if they instituted this inquiry, it would 206 undoubtedly fall. He was sure it would lead to no other practical result, for he was perfectly certain that the opinion must be shared in by very few, that that House could feel itself justified in falling back on the Act of 1842, and by repealing that Act deprive those people of the compensation awarded to them under that Act. He (Mr. C. Buller) regretted that this subject had been included in the Motion of his hon. Friend, because it had prevented his hon. Friend's Motion from being attended with that success which would have followed it, if he brought the attention of the House to bear undividedly on the subject of the monstrous abuses that prevailed on the subject of fees in their courts of law and equity. He had heard with delight the assurance given by the right hon. Baronet, that if this Motion were merely one for an inquiry into the fees in all the courts, he would be disposed to sanction the fullest inquiry into all the abuses of that system. As to the subject of fee-taking in this country, he (Mr. C. Buller) conceived that the principle acted upon was most opposed to justice. Was the man who had the misfortune to become involved in litigation in a court, the process in which was so cumbersome as that in the courts of common law and equity, to be subjected to all the expenses of those fees? Was that man, so involved in litigation, whose character or estate was in peril from the decision of the court, to be the object of their special taxation? Was the sufferer to bear the whole expense of the administration of justice, not for the behoof of the litigant himself alone, but for the public at large? It was a monster iniquity, and one which should not have been left to him to denounce in the year 1846. It was an abuse that required reform, and the reform they should have was, to strip litigation of all but the necessary expenses, and to carry on the administration entirely at the expense of the State. But there were other great objections besides the general iniquity of assessing fees on litigants in their courts of justice, which the House, he trusted, would excuse him for detaining them a few minutes in pointing out. Great evil resulted from the manner in which those fees were collected, and he would show how those fees were collected in the courts of law and equity. He found that in the Court of Chancery fees were returned to the amount of 153,554l. per annum. Now about one hundred persons were entrusted with taking those fees. There was 207 no check upon them, except in the Court of Chancery alone; and in that court there was no mode of checking them, but to trust entirely to the oath they had taken, and their own honour. In the courts of law it was still worse; there was there 150,000l. raised in fees, and the fee-takers amounted to one hundred, but those persons had not even the check of an oath upon them. They took the money that was brought to them, and could return what they chose, for there was no check upon them. A sum of 300,000l. yearly was returned as levied in the shape of fees in the courts of equity and law; and who could know how much more was levied with reference to which there was no return at all? He (Mr. C. Buller) did not want to make an accusation that might bear on any individual, but there was an impression amongst persons conversant with the courts, that the facilities for abuses in those particulars had been abused, and that there had been cases in which persons taking those fees had returned to the courts only a proportion of what they received. But whether that accusation were just or not, it was a scandal to this country that there should exist opportunities for abusing, which left their public officers and courts of justice open to those attacks. It was not on the fee-takers themselves this system was calculated to exercise a corrupting influence. They were paid those small sums through means over which the solicitor had no efficient check; and whether an opportunity was given for fraud in paying those small sums it was impossible to say. On that account also it was desirable that they should do away with this system altogether. He did not know any argument that could be used in support of this fee system. So long as the fee went into the pocket of the officer as a kind of wages for the work done, it might serve as a fillip to him to do the work; but he thought they had done rightly in doing away with that custom; but when they had done so they left not a shadow of pretence to take these fees from the litigants, and they were bound by every principle of policy to come to the consideration of the subject, with the intention as soon as possible to do away with the entire system of taking fees in a court of justice from the parties who were litigants. Having the misfortune to differ from his Friends on that side of the House on the proposition which had been brought forward, he deemed it just to the persons interested to bear his testimony with refer- 208 ence to them, and he trusted that was the last time they should hear of the subject in the House. But with regard to the other more important inquiry which was involved in the first part of the Motion of his hon. Friend, and with respect to which the Government had given such a satisfactory pledge, he trusted that was only the first time they should hear it entered upon by both sides of the House. He was of opinion that, setting aside all personal considerations and party attacks, they should put an end to this evil and pernicious system, and to an abuse which should not have been allowed to exist so long.
§ MR. ESCOTT
would preface the few remarks he had to make by saying, that he had listened to the debate with the greatest possible satisfaction, for this reason—a great abuse must now be reformed. First of all, he congratulated his hon. and learned Friend opposite (Mr. Watson) at having achieved that night one of the greatest victories that ever fell to the lot of a Member of Parliament to achieve, by obtaining from the Secretary of State and the House of Commons a full and free admission that with respect to the abominable practice that now existed, of extortion in the courts of justice, the House would not resist the Motion for a Committee, with full powers to enter into a full and satisfactory inquiry; which inquiry would lead to a full and satisfactory remedy for this long neglected grievance. This question was of such immense public importance, that he wished nothing of a personal nature should be in any way mixed up with it. But let not his hon. Friend suppose that if he felt the Lord Chancellor of England—however much he might respect his character and acquirements, and his great labours, for the benefit of the country—had been guilty of anything like a dereliction of duty on the present occasion, he should object to introducing his conduct into the inquiry. He feared that by mixing up an individual instance with a general inquiry, they would rather mar than promote the great object they had in view. He had listened to the speech of the Attorney General, and, totally and entirely as he differed with most of the arguments and principles which he advanced, there was one thing he thought he had proved, namely, that the Lord Chancellor only acted under the letter of the Statute Law. They could not enter into inquiry how that Act of Parliament had passed through the two Houses; and if the 209 hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Liskeard chose to charge him with neglect of duty in not inquiring into it at the time, he admitted that he was open to the charge, and they were all open to the charge; but it was a most monstrous argument to advance, that, because Parliament a few years since had given a power, the execution of which was now acknowledged to be unjust, therefore they were not to inquire into the expediency of that Act under which the injustice was committed. Did the hon. Member think they should not repeal that Act of Parliament? He knew they could repeal it. He had not proved that it ought not to be repealed. The questions to the consideration of which Parliament should apply itself, and to the solution of which he trusted that the appointment of the proposed Committee would tend, were these—how the abominable practice of trafficking in fees might be put an end to at once and for ever, and what principle should be adopted on which to regulate compensation for the future. It had been most satisfactorily proved in the course of the present debate, that the duties in consideration for which compensation was given under the Act of 1842 were not legal duties; and it was quite time that a system should be put an end to, concerning which he would not hesitate to say that it was against common sense and common law. But it had been said the compensation was due, because the offices were sold. If ever there was an abuse which outraged decency, and cried aloud for correction, it was that of buying and selling offices in courts of justice. It was within the knowledge of many Gentlemen on the Northern Circuit, and perhaps, too, of many Gentlemen having seats in that House, that one of those offices, not very long ago, was sold (with a provision very possibly in the contract, securing compensation in the event of its being done away with); and it was also a notorious fact, that one of the Judges went circuit long after his age had disqualified him, for the purpose of having the reversion of a lucrative office to give to his near relative. It would not do, therefore, to advocate the continuance of this gross and disgraceful abuse on the ground that it was sanctioned by the authority of Judges and eminent lawyers. The system was essentially a vicious one, and ought to be corrected. It could never again be said that these officers were required, and that the interests of the public 210 created the necessity for them. Were it necessary, he could call witness after witness to show that these officers were nuisances, rather than anything else. Why, how else was it proved that a lunatic had done the duties? It was no argument against such a Motion as the present, to say, that by the Act of 1842 compensation had been awarded to these persons. What he complained of was, that the fact was so; and the reason why he advocated the present Motion was, because he hoped and believed that it would have the effect of procuring a repeal of the Statute in question. There were other statutes which must be repealed. There was an Act of Parliament in existence, passed at the instance and through the influence of the Judges, authorizing the payment, not directly, but indirectly, of fees which, in point of fact, were without foundation either in law or justice; and the sooner that such a system was done away with the better for the country. He maintained that unjust fees were illegal, no matter what might be said to the contrary; and he thought that the fact was sufficiently attested by the circumstance that the officers had themselves submitted to reductions in those fees. If their demands were strictly legal, why should they have consented to any reductions? Their having done so proved that their exactions were exorbitant, and therefore illegal. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department had objected that it would be a "novel" proceeding to deprive these officers of the compensation which they were accustomed to look for; but neither was that an argument against the Motion. It was only by the institution of "novel proceedings," that any abuses could be abolished, and that a sounder, healthier, and more rational state of things could be established. If that House had for years slumbered over great abuses, that was only an additional reason why they should now exert themselves with renewed energy for the abolition of a disgraceful system, which was a disgrace to the courts of justice in this country, and a stain (he could not help saying) on the ermine of the Judges who sat upon the bench of justice and tolerated this oppression of the suitors.
MR. R. YORKE
, being of opinion that the matter now under discussion was one well worthy of the most serious consideration of the Legislature, would most cheerfully support the Motion of the hon. Member for Kinsale. The Act of 1842 had 211 passed through very thin Houses, the number of Members present ranging only from 27 to 50; and he all along regarded it as a bad and suspicious measure. He hoped that the Members of Her Majesty's Government, who had had the courage to abandon bad plans and principles on other subjects, would not hesitate to change their policy on the present question.
§ MR. ROMILLY
was anxious that the Motion should be modified in such a manner, as to comprise an inquiry into the mode in which the various officers in the Court of Chancery collected their fees. He very much feared that the present system was a very irresponsible one, and that there was no species of check or means of ascertaining the extent of fees actually collected, and the precise amount that was paid over to the fee fee fund. Information on this point, however, was most desirable. He would support the present Motion, but wished to have it expressly understood, that he did not support it in the hope or the desire of procuring a repeal of the Act of Parliament under which compensation was awarded to the present officers. He thought that nothing could be more impolitic or unjust than that at the expiration of five years, during which the present system had existed, and after Government enjoyed the advantages which accrued from the circumstance of inducing men to give their services on the understanding that compensation would be given—nothing, he repeated, could be more unjust than that after all this, an inquiry should be instituted with a view to taking away the compensation which had been deliberately given. At the same time, however, he was strongly of opinion that the compensation awarded was excessive, and the reason why he would support the Motion was, that he thought it was highly desirable that a better state of things should be established prospectively, and that the evil should be avoided of giving a similar scale of compensation on future occasions. The fact was, that before the passing of the Act of 1842 the officers concealed, for a series of years, the actual amount of fees received, under the idea that the Chancellor might have reduced them had he known of it; and thus the House was misled, and a higher rate of compensation was given than circumstances should have warranted. His reason for supporting the Motion was, that he was desirous to obviate the recurrence of similar evils for the future.
§ SIR J. HANMER
said, that as it had been intimated that Her Majesty's Government had no objection to grant an inquiry, he was anxious to learn from the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State, whether it were the intention of the Government to take this matter seriously in hand, and to bring forward, at a future period, a substantive measure respecting it; or whether they would merely trust to the chapter of accidents, and, resting content with the appointment of a Committee, take no further stop until some Member might again call attention to it?
§ SIR R. PEEL
had no hesitation in giving an assurance to his hon. Friend that it was the wish of the Government that there should be a full and efficient inquiry as to the mode in which the officers of the courts of justice were paid by fees, for the purpose of ascertaining the facts of the case, and for the purpose of establishing effectual checks against abuse for the future. The providing against future abuses was the matter in which the House was chiefly concerned. When he filled the office of Secretary for the Home Department, he felt the difficulty of dealing with the compensations to the holders of judicial and other offices which it was deemed expedient to abolish. From the first hour of his entering upon that office, and even when he was Secretary for Ireland, he felt impressed with the importance of this subject, and that it was wise to get rid of fees by compensating the holders of office on abolishing them; but still there were great difficulties on the subject. He felt during the whole course of his experience that it was impossible to effect any important reform as regarded such offices, unless they acted liberally towards those who had vested rights in them. He found that they could not make any progress without doing so. It often happened that from the persons holding these offices they obtained the most important information respecting them, which they never would have acquired if these parties were impressed with the belief that the Government would not act liberally towards them if the offices were abolished. Government, therefore, had always shown an anxiety to act liberally when they proceeded to remove such abuses. The principle of giving to officers of courts of justice and to the holders of other vested offices such enormous amounts of fees as they would not for a moment think of giving to the highest officers of the State—which they would not give to 213 the Speaker, nor to a Minister of the Crown, nor to a Judge—was a state of things which should not be allowed. He did not hesitate to say that one of the greatest abuses which existed was the amount of emolument obtained by subordinate officers in the shape of fees which were paid by suitors for justice. He did not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, that the total amount of the expense of litigation should be borne by the country; for if that principle was adopted it would give the greatest encouragement to the spirit of litigation, if parties had to pay no charge but that for their own counsel. He was not prepared to acquiesce in the doctrine that the whole expense should be defrayed by the public, for if this was done he should quite despair of the Treasury. It would be impossible to get a sufficient income for such a purpose. He was not only prepared to assent to a revision of the fees of such offices, but to resist the future increase of abuses which might arise in the lapse of time by the fees increasing far beyond what was intended when the office was established. He thought some effectual check was necessary for this purpose, and therefore it would be desirable to institute inquiries; and he was ready to acquiesce in any Motion for this purpose; and as the matter had originated with the hon. and learned Gentleman, it perhaps could not be placed in better hands than his own. If the hon. and learned Member would take the matter in hand, he would not hesitate to give him every assistance; but he could not acquiesce in the justice of instituting inquiries into transactions which had passed so long ago. He did not think that any charge should be brought against the Lord Chancellor, who, through the whole of this matter, had acted in accordance with the expressed opinion of the House. If the Act of Parliament under which he acted was defective, it was the fault of that and the other House. A most important opinion had been expressed in that House with respect to compensation to these officers in the year 1840. Mr. Pemberton Leigh then stated many most important facts on this subject, to which he should direct the attention of the House. He stated that the number of causes in Chancery in the years 1839 and 1840 was nearly the same as it was fifty years previously, and that the real amount of business in the Court of Chancery had not increased during that period. Looking to the enormous increase of real property 214 during that period, it was impossible that there must not have arisen a greatly increased number of cases for litigation. Whence then did the cause arise that there was no increase in the amount of business in Chancery? Mr. Pemberton Leigh said—and he told the truth—that it was all very well for a rich man to institute a suit in Chancery, but that it was out of all question for a poor man to do so. There had been no increase in the business of the court, in consequence of the expense of proceeding, and parties would rather sustain a loss than commence litigation in Chancery, which they regarded as a great calamity; and Mr. Pamberton Leigh said that a great proportion of this expense arose from the amount of fees and emoluments paid to subordinate officers of the court. He said that one such officer received 10,000. a year, another 9,000l. and another 8,000l.; and the first, after making every deduction on account of the expense of his office, could not clear less than 7,000l., a sum greater than that paid to the Speaker of that House, to a Secretary of State, or as a retiring pension to the Lord Chancellor. His hon. Friend Mr. Leigh then said that such great abuses required an immediate remedy. The House, therefore, was perfectly cognizant of the transaction; and to remedy the future they were told the only way was to make a liberal compensation to the holders of those offices. No doubt large sums were given in the shape of compensation; but do not lavish all abuse against a system of compensation which had repeatedly received the sanction of that House on the abolition of offices that were bought and sold. In 1836 the House directly recognised the legality of selling such offices. He was speaking of the offices of the Six Clerks in Ireland. It was on record in an Act of Parliament that provision was made for compensation on a change in them. The clause in the Act to which he alluded stated that in the 4th and 5th year of his present Majesty an Act was passed for the better administration of justice in the Court of Chancery in Ireland, and that that Act be further amended, as it was reasonable and just that the Six Clerks who had purchased and were entitled to sell their offices should receive for every deprivation or loss of income accruing from this amendment of the law full and ample compensation. It was clear, therefore, in this case, that the House recognised the principle that in a change or abolition of such an office ade- 215 quate compensation out of the public funds should be made. How could his noble Friend hope to succeed in his reform if he did not act on the precedent which had been set in that House, for it was clear that by their former proceedings the sale of these offices had been sanctioned. This, be it remembered, also took place under a Lord Chancellor of the highest reputation—he alluded to Lord Plunkett. Let them effectually put an end to the sale of these offices for the future, and give the officers performing the duties reasonable allowances for the services done; but care should be taken that they should be only effective officers, and let them take care to ensure a periodical inquiry from time to time into the amount paid; and in every case where the fees appeared to be extravagant, let them, on the part of the public, provide a remedy. He wished this to be done in every case. For instance, there had been an enormous increase in the amount of private business before Parliament—an increase which could never have been contemplated; of course a number of fees were paid for this business. It was desirable to see what was the amount of those fees received by officers of the Court of Chancery, or other places; for this department of business; and care should be taken that these should be revised from time to time. So much on this part of the subject—for no one felt more strongly impressed with the importance of inquiry than himself. He thought it was a scandal, when they abolished civil sinecures, that they closed their eyes to much greater sinecures held by persons of comparatively no station. They escaped attention because they were held by persons who had no claim to consideration. If they had been held by Judges, or by the clerks at the Table of that House, they would have excited attention, and these abuses would have ceased to exist with civil sinecures. In resisting the Motion as to inquiry into the past, he agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Bridport, that now they could not take away from those gentlemen this compensation. The hon. and learned Member said he thought it was impossible, after the lapse of five years, and after the proceedings that had taken place under the Act of Parliament, to do so, and, indeed, that it would be a reflection on the justice of Parliament to attempt such a thing. If that was the opinion of the hon. and learned Member, then surely inquiry was superfluous, and all that was requisite was, that they should 216 provide a remedy for the future to prevent such abuses. He begged also the House to recollect, that the Lord Chancellor had given under this Act, in every case, the minimum of compensation. The Act stated, that he should not grant less than three-fourths of the annual value or emoluments of the office to be abolished; but he might give more. But the Lord Chancellor had resisted all temptation to do so, and in every case had given the minimum of allowance sanctioned by Parliament. What more could he do? His noble and learned Friend was not to blame in any of these cases. The Act of Parliament might certainly have passed rapidly, as they had been told; but this arose from the circumstance that it received no opposition from the persons holding the offices to be abolished, who were satisfied with the liberality of the compensation proposed to them. He might say, with respect to all Acts of Parliament dealing with vested interests, that when parties did not feel themselves injured by them, they passed rapidly through. His noble Friend had taken every precaution, and adopted every proper proceeding with regard to the scale of retiring allowance; and any Motion in any way invidious to his noble and learned Friend would be most unjust. For the future, however, on the part of the Government, he was prepared to promise his cordial support to any inquiry into the subject.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 65; Noes 80: Majority 15.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Gisborne, T.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Granger, T. C.|
|Baine, W.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Bannerman, A.||Hastie, A.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Hatton, Capt. V.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||Hawes, B.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Blake, M. J.||Heneage, E.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Horsman, E.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Jervis, J.|
|Bowes, J.||Layard, Capt.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||M'Carthy, A.|
|Brotherton, J.||Maitland, T.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Marsland, H.|
|Buller, E.||Martin, J.|
|Busfeild, W.||Mitcalfe, H.|
|Butler, P. S.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Christie, W. D.||Morpeth, Visct.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Morris, D.|
|Collett, J.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Crawford, W. S.||O'Connell, D.|
|Divett, E.||O'Connell, J.|
|Duncan, G.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Dundas, F.||Ord, W.|
|Escott, B.||Parker, J.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Plumridge, Capt.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Powell, C.||Williams, W.|
|Romilly, J.||Winnington, Sir T.|
|Stewart, P. M.||Wyse, T.|
|Strutt, E.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Tancred, H. W.||TELLERS.|
|Thornely, T.||Watson, W. H.|
|Warburton, H.||Hume, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, T. D.||Hope, G. W.|
|Austen, Col.||Hudson, G.|
|Baillie, Col.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Baring, rt. hon. W. B.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Benbow, J.||Jones, Capt.|
|Berkeley, hon. G. F.||Kelly, Sir F.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Bowles, Admiral||Mackenzie, T.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Brisco, M.||McGeachy, F. A.|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||M'Neill, D.|
|Buller, C.||Mahon, Visct.|
|Cardwell, E.||Martin, C. W,|
|Carnegie, hon. Capt.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Neeld, J.|
|Coekburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Neville, R.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Patten, J. W.|
|Cripps, W.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Peel, J.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Polhill, F.|
|Fellowes, E.||Richards, R.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Floyer, J.||Smith, A.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Godson, R.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Spooner, R.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Stuart, H.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Greene, T.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Grogan, E.||Trotter, J.|
|Hale, R. B.||Villiers, Visct.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||TELLERS.|
|Hodgson, F.||Young, J.|
|Hope, Sir J.||Baring, H.|
§ House adjourned.