HC Deb 01 June 1847 vol 92 cc1366-8

had a question to ask the Solicitor General for Ireland. By an Act passed in 1844, a regulation took place in the courts of law in Dublin which very considerably reduced the expenditure of those courts, and settled that there should be only one Master in the Court of Queen's Bench; particular duties were assigned to him, and the taxation of costs was transferred to another officer in order that he might attend to those duties. But by the Lands' Clauses Consolidation Act, there was thrown upon the Master, in common with Masters of the Queen's Bench in England, the duty of investigating all questions of costs arising out of certain transactions with railway companies; and the effect had been that, there being only one Master in Ireland, while there were five in England, he was overwhelmed by this class of business, and incapacitated from discharging his other duties. Was it intended to correct this error by bringing in a Bill for that purpose?


stated, that the provision of the Bill passed in 1845 might perhaps have been introduced by oversight. The framer might not have been aware that the officer named therein was not the proper officer for the taxation of costs. That officer had stated his objection to having functions imposed upon him which did not fall to his particular office, and urged that it was only right that he should receive remuneration. The officer to whom it had been proposed that the duty should be transferred, also thought he should receive compensation, because the duty was a new one. So far as he was personally concerned, he had not the means of satisfying himself that it was a case in which compensation ought to be made to either of those officers; and even if he were satisfied that the case was one for compensation, he had not the means of satisfying himself as to the amount which ought to be awarded. Under these circumstances, he did not feel that at this advanced period of the Session he was called upon to state what precise course he might take, or to pledge himself to bring forward any immediate measure on the subject, which, however, was certainly one that required further consideration. [Mr. GOULBURN wished to guard against the supposition that he was applying for compensation.] The difficulty he felt, was in determining whether it was a case for compensation to either of those officers. If he were to determine that it was a case in which compensation should be given, there would not be much difficulty, perhaps, in ascertaining on which officer the duties ought to devolve.


Having some experience in Irish affairs, I would advise the hon. Gentleman to enter on the inquiry with the presumption against giving compensation. In the statement which fell from the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) last night, relative to the public business, he did not mention the Bill in regard to Irish railways. Communications have been addressed to me urging the claims of other railways; and the parties represent that they cannot see how, in fairness, they can be excluded. I discourage all pretensions to advances; but what they wish to know is, whether it is the intention of the Government to extend the grant beyond the amount already given?


A report was presented the other day on the subject by Mr. Walker, which will soon be ready for delivery. When laid before the House we shall be better able to proceed to the consideration of the question; but the Government do not mean to extend the vote beyond the amount already proposed. I did receive some intimation that the right hon. Baronet intended to bring forward the cases of certain other railways, and press them upon our attention for the extension of the grant; but I must say I did not believe it.


Having given a civil answer to the parties, I declined to inter- fere; and there is no other foundation for what it is said I intended to do than that I declined to do it.