HC Deb 04 July 1848 vol 100 cc109-10

said, he had given notice of two questions which he was desirous of asking the Attorney General upon subjects of considerable importance. The first related to the present defective state of legal education. The House would recollect that a Select Committee, presided over by Mr. Wyse, sat upon this subject for a period of three months in the Session of 1846. They examined the highest authorities connected with the universities and the legal profession, and the result was, a very able report prepared by Mr. Wyse, containing a number of recommendations for the improvement of legal education. One of these recommendations was, that delegates be invited to meet from the inns of court in this country, from the King's inns, Dublin, and from the society of solicitors, Dublin, and that communication he had with the universities on the subject. The question he had to ask was, whether any steps had been taken by Her Majesty's Government, or by the inns of court, or the King's inns, Dublin, to give effect to any of the recommendations with respect to the improvement of legal education contained in the report of the Select Committee, presented 25th August, 1846?


stated that Government had no authority to interfere in the matter. It rested in a great degree with the inns of court; but many of the recommendations of the Committee would require to be effected by legislation. Before or during the inquiry before the Committee, some of the inns of court here had established lectureships at a considerable expense, and there had been conferences of the different inns with the view of arranging some uniform system of education and admission to the bar. He was unable to state whether anything had been done by the King's inns, Dublin.


said, the second question of which he had given notice related to the position of Irish barristers in England and English barristers in Ireland, with regard to practice. The hon. and learned Gentleman was aware that by the Vice Chancellor's Court Act, the 5th Victoria, it was enacted that in the construction of that and every other Act passed previously, relating to the appointment or nomination to any office or employment, the word barrister shall mean a barrister called to the bar either in England or Ireland, unless otherwise provided. The principle of reciprocity in this respect was thus to a certain extent established, but only retrospectively; and in a Bill before the House last Session, the hon. and learned Gentleman would recollect that when he proposed to extend the provisions of the 5th Victoria, the hon. and learned Attorney General objected to the clause, but stated that the subject of establishing a complete reciprocity of privileges between the bar in each country was well worthy of consideration. The question he (Mr. Hamilton) now wished to ask was, whether it is intended to introduce any measure by which Irish barristers may be authorised to practise in courts in England, and English barristeis in courts in Ireland, in which they are now competent to preside, or by which a reciprocity of practice in the profession, in both countries, may be established?


stated that no such intention existed on the part of Government. At the same time, it was one well worthy of consideration. If the hon. Member should introduce any Bill on the subject, he would be happy to give him any assistance in his power.