HC Deb 25 March 1850 vol 109 cc1391-414

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, he had intended to move an instruction to the Committee "that they have power to make provision for the prospective reduction of the salaries and emoluments of the Lord Chancellor, the Master of the Rolls, the Vice-Chancellors, the Chief Baron, and all the Puisne Judges;" but in consequence of the notice given by the noble Lord at the head of the Government of his intention to propose the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into these subjects, he (Mr. Christopher) would not press his Motion. He wished, however, to ask the noble Lord whether, under these circumstances, he thought it advisable to press the present Bill, because if the House acquiesced in all its enactments the proposed Committee would be prevented from taking into consideration the salaries of the present Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, and of any other legal or diplomatic functionaries who might be appointed before the Committee made their report. It appeared that the Lord Chief Justice Denman had been entitled, under an Act of Parliament, to receive during the time he held that office a salary of 10,000l. a year. Lord Denman, however, was one who would never place his own personal interest at variance with the public good, and he willingly agreed to forego his right, and to receive a salary of 8,000l. a year. He (Mr. Christopher) could not conceive why the present Lord Chief Justice should not agree to some similar arrangement; and he thought that till Parliament had decided what the future remuneration of these officers should be, it would be decorous in the present Lord Chief Justice to be satisfied with the salary received by Lord Denman, subject to the future control of Parliament with regard to any alteration that might be made.


said, that this seemed to him an occasion which ought not to be lost for fixing the salary of the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench. Lord Denman took that office with an understanding that the salary should be 8,000l. a year; but the only record of the understanding was contained in a Treasury minute. Some time afterwards, Lord Brougham stated that he considered the principle of such an arrangement was objectionable; and he (Lord J. Russell) thought that noble Lord was right in observing that a Treasury minute, which might be revoked or altered at any time, should not be the authority for the amount of salary of the Lord Chief Justice, and that if that officer should resign, and claim the full legal salary, there should be a legal power to resist such a claim. In the case of a man of the high and unsullied integrity of Lord Denman, no practical objection to the plan which had been adopted could arise; but he thought that, in principle. Lord Brougham's objection was well founded, and the Government wished therefore to take this opportunity of making a permanent arrangement by law upon the subject. If they were to wait till the inquiries of the Committee, which might be very protracted, were completed, there would still remain to Lord Denman and his executors the legal right of claiming the full salary allowed by law from the time when that noble Lord accepted the office. He thought the House would agree that it was desirable to alter such a state of things, and he therefore took the opportunity of the appointment of a new Lord Chief Justice to introduce this Bill. He had consulted Lord Denman himself, and the present Lord Chancellor, as to the fit amount of salary; they were both of opinion that 8,000l. a year would be a sufficient sum, and he (Lord J. Russell) had given notice to Lord Campbell of his intention to introduce a Bill to regulate the salary at that amount. So far, therefore, Lord Campbell had had notice that 8,000l. a year would be the salary proposed by the Government while he held the office. The hon. Member for North Lincolnshire had suggested that persons who were appointed to offices while the Committee was sitting should take those offices subject to such reductions as might be made on the report of the Committee; and, understanding the hon. Gentleman to mean such reductions as might be made under the authority of an Act of Parliament, he (Lord J. Russell) considered that the proposal was fair and reasonable.


thought this Bill ought not to be pressed. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had told the House that recent appointments were made subject to such reductions as Parliament, on consideration, might think just. The Bill was wholly unnecessary in order to guard against any claim on the part of Lord Denman to the 2,000l. a year; for the Act 2 and 3 William IV., c. 116, was simply permissive; it did not fix the salary at 10,000l. a year, and the agreement with Lord Denman and Lord Campbell was binding. The Act authorised the Crown to grant a salary of 10,000l. a year; but if any one had power to grant 10,000l. a year out of the estate of another, a grant of 8,000l. or 6,000l. a year would be a valid execution of the power. The law was so laid down in Sugden "On Powers." In Lord Den-man's appointment, with a salary of 8,000l. a year attached to his office, the country had a full protection against any claim to more. But if this Bill should pass, the proposed Committee would not be likely to feel at liberty to touch salaries so recently fixed. Yet these salaries were very much larger than they ought to be. As to what was said about barristers making-more at the bar, the most successful nisi prius advocates did not make the best Judges; these were generally secured rather by the selection of the learned but more quiet lawyers, who were often chiefly known in chamber practice. The Bill ought to be postponed till after the report of the Committee, or the returns that were to be made. He believed that the effect of the Bill would be to prevent future reductions in these salaries, and as he thought the amount proposed to be given much too large, he was determined to divide against it in Committee, even if he were to go into the lobby alone.


did not feel it necessary to go into the question whether the salaries of the Judges were too great or too small; this—which was not the question now—would come before the Committee. But he apprehended that the law of the hon. Member for Cirencester was not correct; it would be a national misfortune indeed if the case were as he had stated it, and were so to remain. In the instance of private individuals, a person with power to grant a sum out of the estate of another might grant a less sum; but if that rule applied under this statute, a Government could reduce the salary of any Judge who offended them; whereas the leading object of the Acts upon this subject was to make the Judges totally independent of the Crown. The 2nd and 3rd William IV. ran thus:— It shall be lawful for His Majesty to grant the several and respective annual salaries hereinafter specified to the Judges hereinafter enumerated—(that is to say) to the Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench at Westminster 10,000l., and so on. The Crown, therefore, could not appoint any Chief Justice upon condition that he should have a right to 10,000l. a year, and no more. This was a Parliamentary power to grant 10,000l. and no other salary; the words were not "a sum not exceeding 10,000l. a year." It was easy to say that Lord Denman or his executor would never make a claim for 2,000l. a year; but, suppose his will were silent upon the subject, would not the executor be personally liable if he gave up the claim? This measure, therefore, was necessary.


did not think the law of the hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Cirencester correct, as the Act of Parliament said that the salary shall be 10,000l.; but if this Bill were necessary to prevent any possible claim that might be hereafter put forward by Lord Den-man's executors, it was very easy to prevent the danger by obtaining a receipt in full from Lord Denman at present. If this were done, the Bill could be postponed, until the whole subject had been thoroughly sifted. He was glad the noble Lord had decided on appointing a Committee, and he hoped the salaries of all the Judges in the land would be referred to it. He held in his hand a return which he had obtained in 1844, from which it appeared that no less than 402,000l. was paid in Judges' salaries, exclusive of the charges for retired allowances. In 1792 the Chief Justice received only 4,000l, and the Puisne Judges 2,500l., and it was not until 1825 that the present salary was fixed. Judges were the last persons in the country that he would place under inadequate salaries; but he believed the time had arrived when every salary in the country must be reduced. By the return to which he had just referred, it appeared that the salaries paid to retired Judges was 67,000l. That was paid out of what was called the suitors' fund; but that fund was as much public money as the unclaimed dividends, and he did not know why it had not been brought under the consideration of Parliament before this. He hoped the retiring allowances would be brought before the Committee. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had stated last Session that all new appointments should be subject to such reductions and alterations as might be made by the House of Commons, and therefore the noble Lord who had lately accepted the office of Lord Chief Justice was bound by that arrangement. He was satisfied that this Bill was altogether premature, and he trusted that it would not be pressed forward at this moment.


said, he entertained no doubt but that the law of his hon. Friend the Solicitor General was perfectly correct; but in that case, what an instance of negligence did it not exhibit against the Government and all preceding Governments for the last sixteen years, because it appeared that if Lord Denman had died at any time during that period, his executors might have claimed the full amount of his salary. He considered that the salary in all such cases should be fixed, and that there ought to be no bargaining between the Government and lawyers looking for appointments. Such an arrangement could not, however, have been made with a nobler nature than Lord Denman. He thought it was premature to decide on what the salaries of future Chief Justices ought to be, until the Committee investigated the subject; and if now called upon to give a vote on the point, he felt unable to decide whether 8,000l. was the proper amount to give or not. He hoped that the Committee that was to be appointed would not be restricted in their inquiries to the salaries of the Judges alone, because there were many salaries put upon the Consolidated Fund which ought to be upon the estimates. As he understood from his noble Friend at the head of the Government that all salaries, as the offices became vacant, would be brought under the consideration of the Committee—an announcement that had given him great satisfaction—he thought, in consistency with that arrangement, the Bill ought not to be pressed further tonight.


did not think any debate should take place on the question before the House, but trusted the House would excuse his saying a few words, as he happened to differ from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester, and his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General. He apprehended the words of the Act had an imperative and not a discretionary application, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester seemed to suppose, and that the Crown was most clearly bound to grant the salary mentioned by the words, "it shall be lawful," &c. With great deference to his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, he differed from him as to there being any danger from the executors of Lord Denman applying for the arrears of salary. No executor would be heard in any court of justice with such a claim after Lord Denman had received his salary for so many years; and, entertaining as he did such an unqualified high opinion of the honour, honesty, and upright character of that noble Lord, he was sure that if such an idea could cross his mind as that his executors could make a claim against the country for that which he (Lord Denman) had not asked, the first thing he would do would be to insert a clause in his will to preclude them from doing so. No man's honour or character could stand higher, and he had brought the bench and the bar of England to a pitch of reputation which would carry his name down to remote posterity. He could not sit down without correcting the statement of the hon. Member for Montrose, that the Suitors' Fee Fund in Chancery was public money. That fund was the floating balance of suitors' money paid into court but not employed, and belonged as little to the public as to the hon Gentleman's balance at his banker's. As to the proposition of the noble Lord, he was in a great dilemma. He felt there would be great difficulty in the Committee reducing the salaries of the other Judges, if the salaries of the Chief Justices were fixed by the House at the pre- sent moment. He owned a disinclination to go on with the Bill unless the noble Lord left out so much of it as referred to the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas to a future occasion.


explained, that he had no objection to leave out that part of the Bill which referred to the salary of the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, as it would properly come under the consideration of the Committee, but he did not think it would be convenient to leave the salary of the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench on the understanding on which it had rested so many years with Lord Denman, and, therefore, must ask the House to go into Committee on that portion.


said, the question was then narrowed to the salary of the Lord Chief Justice. He never could before understand the breathless haste with which it was attempted to settle this question, that had rested quietly for the last eighteen years; but now he thought the whole matter was too transparent, the real reason being to fix the salary of 8,000l to the present Lord Chief Justice. He could not see any other reason for going on with the Bill. If there was no covert motive, would it not be far more satisfactory to the noble Lord himself, as well as to the House and to the country, to find that his salary had gone through the ordeal of that Committee, which the Government admitted all other officers ought to go through? He confessed he saw no reason why the appointment of the present Lord Chief Justice was to be treated otherwise than as a prospective appointment, when the wax was hardly cold on the seal of his patent; and he would ask in what position would the other Judges of the Courts be, if the Committee were to recommend that their salaries were to be reduced, while the salary of the Lord Chief Justice was not to be touched? He should certainly vote for the postponement of the Bill.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, seemed to be of opinion that the office of Lord Chief Justice was to be excepted altogether from the investigation of the Committee. He asked what would be the position of the other Judges if their salaries were reduced, while that of the Lord Chief Justice was unaltered? The answer to that question was, that the Lord Chief Justice would be precisely in the same position with the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and all the other Judges, whose salaries might be prospectivly reduced. He hoped it was clearly understood that the Committee would be required to deal, not with immediate reductions, but with prospective reductions, of all the Judges. With respect to what his hon. Friend had said of the measure resting for eighteen years, that was true; and it was only when his noble Friend at the head of the Government was called on to look into the subject, on the appointment of the present Lord Chief Justice, that he discovered the inconvenient arrangement now subsisting.


thought the question was now brought within a very small compass. After the speeches that had been made, he was sure that the House would not believe this Bill was brought in to save the public the risk of being called upon to pay the extra 2,000l. a year. Neither was it brought in to save the salaries of the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, because the noble Lord had now handed that salary over to the tender mercies of the Committee. [Lord J. RUSSELL: I brought it in for that purpose,] He would admit, for the sake of argument, that it was so; but the important object was the salary of the Lord Chief Justice. He would not now give an opinion whether that salary was too largo or not large enough, and that was the reason why he objected to go on with the Bill. If this Committee was intended to be an honest and searching one, making a fair inquiry into all salaries, then it was unreasonable to exclude from their consideration, as this Bill would virtually do, the salary of the Lord Chief Justice. Imagine that the Committee were sitting, and that that salary had come before them, it would be immediately urged that that salary had been fixed by Act of Parliament so recently that the Committee need not go into it. And more than this, if the Committee were to attempt to reduce the salaries of the other Judges, the salary fixed for the Lord Chief Justice would immediately be held up as a sort of standard of emolument that would be fair to the other Judges. On all these considerations he thought that the measure ought to be postponed, and that the salary should come fairly before the Committee.


said, there appeared to be some misunderstanding with respect to the intentions of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. As far as he understood the noble Lord, he proposed by this Bill to set at rest all questions with respect to Lord Denman's claims, and at the same time settling that Lord Campbell should have, in point of fact, 8,000l. a year. But after that was done, he understood that the Committee would be at liberty to take up all the salaries of the Judges, and, as he understood. Lord Campbell's among the rest. ["No, no!"] He begged to say that he was offering his own humble understanding of the question; but he certainly understand that his salary would stand in the same position as the salary of the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. The reduction would be prospective in the one case as well as the other, and no difference would be made between them by the Committee. He must say, for one, that Lord Campbell having taken his present office on the understanding that he should have 8,000l. a year, he would vote for the Bill.


could not suppose that the idea of a Committee had originated in the mind of the noble Lord this evening for the first time; it must have been in the mind of the Government for the last few weeks, and perhaps at the time of Lord Campbell's appointment. If so, then he thought it unfair that Lord Campbell's salary should be the only one excluded from the consideration of the Committee. They ought to have told him that while they conferred on him the appointment, his salary was to be determined by a Committee whom they intended to appoint. He thought, therefore, that the salary of Lord Campbell ought primarily to come before the Committee. They were not now dealing with the amount of the salary; but if the salary should come before the House that evening, then there was this important point to consider—that the noble Lord had not as in the case of other Judges, resigned an important profession or lucrative emolument. He had resigned an office, no doubt, with a seat in the Cabinet, but the office itself was neither of great importance nor of high salary, and he thought that was an element to be taken into account in fixing the salary. If they did appoint this Committee, it would be found that it was empowered to inquire into the salaries of all the Judges but Lord Campbell's.


said, the Committee would have as much power to inquire into his salary as into those of the Chief Baron, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and all the Puisne Judges.


admitted, that might be true; but as Lord Campbell had been so recently appointed, he contended that his salary ought to be treated as among the prospective ones that were to come before the Committee.


said, as he understood the noble Lord, all appointments made since the last Session of Parliament were to come under the consideration of the Committee. He would ask why there was such breathless haste in this Bill? He recollected that in 1841 Lord Campbell was appointed Chancellor of Ireland, which office the noble Lord filled for seventeen days and three hours, and for this the noble Lord received an outfit of 1,000l. He had taken the liberty since, of asking what became of these old materials, and the answer of the party was, he did not know. At that time there was a breathless haste to appoint him; and to turn out Lord Plunkett, who was unjustifiably turned out. It was a real job—a superior job; and he thought this was going to be a repetition of the same thing. He should vote for the postponement.


said, the question now came to this—was the House prepared to say that they would give Lord Campbell 8,000l.? He was not prepared to say so, and upon the same grounds on which, as he understood, the noble Lord proposed the appointment of a Committee. The feeling of the noble Lord was, that all great salaries ought to be reduced; the state of the country called for it, on account of the depression which was caused by their recent commercial policy. He could not understand, therefore, why they should insist on refusing to bring Lord Campbell's salary before the Committee, when it appeared that though he had been appointed to his office, yet his salary had not been fixed, for if it were fixed there would be no need for this Bill. In order that the noble Lord might have time to consider the question, and in order that the House might have time to see the returns of all the official salaries, he would move, as an Amendment, the postponement of the Committee to Friday the 12th of April.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "that" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon Friday the 12th day of April next, resolve itself into the said Committee," instead thereof.


supported the Amendment. He thought it would be more respectful to the feelings of the country not to press forward a measure of that kind with so much haste.


said, that the House, and especially the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, did not seem to understand the present state of the question. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire said, that it was very clear there was no salary fixed at the present moment for the Lord Chief Justice, and that the Government were now coming forward with this measure to enable them to give a salary to the Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench. Now the fact was, that there was a salary fixed by an Act of Parliament passed in the year 1832, and that salary was 10,000l. a year. Lord Denman took the office with the understanding (fixed to a certain degree by a minute of the Treasury) that instead of 10,000l. a year, he should receive 8,000l. Now he (Lord J. Russell) would omit all reference to the legal question of which his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General had spoken; but he thought the House generally would agree that upon Lord Denman's taking 8,000l., instead of the 10,000l. which was fixed by Act of Parliament, that arrangement ought to have been carried into effect by another Act of Parliament eighteen years ago: and some blame had been thrown upon several successive Administrations for not having done so. However, when a vacancy occurred, it seemed to him that another arrangement of the kind ought not to be made solely upon an understanding entered into between the head of the Government and the newly-appointed Judge, but that it should be at once done by Act of Parliament; and, having proposed to do so, he (Lord J. Russell) asked the Lord Chancellor what he thought ought to be the salary of the Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench. The Lord Chancellor said, he thought it should be 8,000l. a year, and that the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas ought to have 7,000l. He then asked Lord Denman's opinion upon the subject, and he likewise thought that those ought to be the salaries. And now he (Lord J. Russell) was blamed for doing the very thing which it was considered a fault in a preceding Government eighteen years ago, not to have done. It was quite true that the proposed reduction to 8,000l. would be a reason for the Committee not to take into consideration the salary of the present Chief Justice, and for their considering it rather as a prospective matter; but he could not agree with the hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone, who said, that because Lord Campbell had been appointed only two or three weeks ago, his was therefore a prospective appointment. The hon. Baronet seemed hardly to understand the difference between a retrospective act to confirm an existing appointment, and a prospective act to deal with circumstances which had not as yet arisen. He took for granted that he (Lord J. Russell) had told Lord Campbell, that he had been appointed to the office of Lord Chief Justice, and that his salary should be dependent upon the opinion of a Committee of that House; but the fact was, as he had already stated. It was true (as the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln had said) that he (Lord J. Russell) had said last year, and this year too, that official appointments generally should be subjected to the consideration of Parliament; but he had said that that would not be an invariable rule, and more especially in the case of the Judges. For he had observed that that office could not be offered to any member of the bar if the salary were uncertain. Upon the present occasion he had stated no more than that Lord Campbell thought—and that the persons whom he had consulted on the subject thought—that the salary of the Lord Chief Justice ought to be 8,000l. a year, and he did not think that any Committee of the House would, under the circumstances, venture to reduce the salary of Lord Campbell. If they should think fit to recommend a prospective reduction with regard to the Chief Justiceship, and in regard also to the Chief Justiceship of the Common Pleas, and of the salary of the Chief Baron, that would be reasonable and fair; but if a Committee were to be of opinion that Lord Campbell's salary should likewise be reduced, he did not think that Parliament would sanction such a suggestion. It might really be a fault in him that he had not said to Lord Campbell that 8,000l. a year was the salary then attached to the office, but that a further reduction was proposed. However, the salary was as he had stated. And he thought a sufficient reason for going into Committee on the Bill was, that if they made a Chief Justice, they ought to have his salary fixed by Act of Parliament, and not by some understanding or arrangement. He thought it would be most dangerous if any Board of Treasury could send a message to the Chief Justice at any moment, and say, at first they thought his salary ought to be 8,000l., but that now the opinion was that it should be less. If such uncertainty would not absolutely affect the independence of the Judges, at least it would be very dangerous; and he, therefore, thought that the House should at once go into Committee on the Bill. Its object was to effect in regular form a reduction from 10,000l. to 8,000l; and if any arrangement should be made by the Select Committee—if, upon a review of the whole of the salaries, they should think fit to suggest that a general reduction should be made—such arrangement should take effect prospectively as regarded the Judges, but certainly not so as to interfere with those who held the office at present.


said, that his question was directed, not as to the salary but as to the particular appointment.


said, that he had stated that Lord Campbell had accepted the office upon the understanding that the salary was to be 8,000l. a year.


said, that he did not say the appointment was a prospective one. What he had said was, that, under all the circumstances of the case. Lord Campbell's appointment ought to be treated as a prospective appointment, because the noble Lord and the Government must have had it in contemplation to appoint the Committee for the revision of all the salaries.


, on rising to address the House, was met with cries of "Divide, divide!" I must confess. Sir, that it is rather difficult to ascertain the mollia tem pora dicendi in this House. It would be very advantageous to have a "pathometer," or some instrument to test the amount of patience, or rather impatience of hon. Members at any given time, in order to regulate one's own course. But I must say, that this interruption by hon. Members who come down to this House to dine, or to sup, or to smoke, or to sleep, is most unfair to one who has been for hours patiently listening to an entire debate, and wishes to offer a few remarks upon the point under discussion, more especially as I never trespass at any unreasonable length upon the time of the House. I was about to observe, Sir, when thus interrupted, that if we lived in a superstitious age, the "prodigy" which we have this night witnessed would lead us to suppose that some great calamity was about to happen to this country. The "prodigy" is indeed portentous, of Ministers, and they Whig Ministers, coming down to this House with a Bill for the reduction of salaries, and to be met by a clamorous demand from the Conservative side of the House for still further reduction. I hardly can imagine that I am sitting on the Conservative side; but it appears that the hon. Member for Cirencester has caught up what may not be inaptly termed, "The Legend of Montrose"—magnum vectigal est parsimonia. On this one string the hon. Member for Montrose, like other great artistes, has played for years with great skill, and with every possible variation. I am far from being enamoured of taxation, or averse to retrenchment. I think, indeed, that real savings, however small, are as much more beneficial to the country, compared with the gigantic "projects" of economy of the hon. Member for the West Riding, as a penny roll to a hungry man is more satisfactory than the pictorial exhibition of a large loaf. But, Sir, the hon. Member for the West Riding is a "great" man, and therefore must indulge in great views— He doth bestride this narrow world Like a colossus, and we petty men Walk under his huge legs, and peep about To And ourselves dishonourable graves. We are but little men, and must, as befits little men, be content with small savings. But, Sir, this brings one to the real point at issue, namely, is this small saving proposed a judicious one? It can only be justified upon one or other of the two following grounds—that the salary of the Lord Chief Justice is "relatively" too great, or "absolutely" and positively so. Now, Sir, that it is "relatively" too great, I have strong reasons to doubt; for, comparing the salaries of other public servants with that of the Chief Justice, I find it only proportioned to the nature of the office. It is but fair that the House should bear in mind the nature of the qualifications required—the learning, the high character, the period of life at which the office is attained—an office also, let it be recollected, that is one of the few prizes of merit and integrity, and which unlike the diplomatic or Ministerial offices, is generally filled by men sprung from the bosom of the people. It must be obvious that one called to discharge such high duties, such grave and onerous functions, should not have his mind perplexed or disturbed by narrow means, or the cares of any petty household economy. He should, on the contrary, be enabled to discharge the rights of hospitality—to contribute to works of charity; in fine, adequately to sustain the dignity of the office. This could not be done without a proper salary, for this, I regret to say, is a money-worshipping country. ["Oh!"] Yes, I repeat the assertion. I do not contend that a "rich rogue" though a Member of either House, would be respected; but I am quite sure that neither the virtue nor the merit of a "poor" man will ensure him that respect. For these reasons I am induced to think that the sum fixed by this Bill, which is 2,000l. less than Chief Justices were entitled to receive, is not one farthing too much. I shall then, Sir, briefly state my views as to its being positively too great; this, indeed, is, after all, the chief argument upon which the case for still further reduction is grounded—by being positively too great I mean that whereas by the change in the price of the necessaries of life, by the removal of all restrictions upon the import of foreign grain, 1l. sterling will now command so much more of all the necessaries of life, therefore the sum paid before the repeal of restrictive duties is now too high. Well, Sir, if this hold, and I am not disputing this fact—then I say you must revise all salaries—you must reduce all sums paid out of the national purse—beginning with the largest, the civil list; then Her Majesty's Ministers, not forgetting the noble Lord the Premier. You must exclude none. What then will be the consequence? Why, that every poor clerk in a Government office—every recipient of public money—must have his pay proportionably diminished. There is no limit to the principle, if based upon the increased powers of purchase of the one pound. But the example will be followed by all public bodies—the Bank of England—the India House, and by every company and by every merchant, master, and tradesman. They will say, the Government have reduced all salaries, so must we. Well, is it not evident it will come down to the mechanic and the labourer, and that their wages will be likewise reduced. [Cries of "Question!" and "Divide!"] I can well understand these cries, but I shall not curtail the remarks which I feel it my duty to offer in consequence, but on the contrary, I shall rather be disposed to extend them. This being the natural, the inevitable result, where will be the advantages of free trade? You will have, by one measure, increased the purchasing powers of money, and then, in the exact proportion of such increase, you diminish the money itself; so that no man is one farthing a gainer, but rather the reverse. That hon. Members, then, on the free-trade benches should advocate this reduction, is indeed surprising, for they are palpably demonstrating the fallacy of their own doctrines, exposing, in the most bare and naked manner, the lie that has been enacted, the gross quackery that has been palmed upon the deluded people of this country, by means of the "great and little loaf exhibition." That my hon. Friends, sitting an this side of the House, might view this system of reduction with approbation, I can clearly understand, because it will test the soundness, or rather expose the rottenness of the free-trade system; and I shall with them be prepared to support such a measure for the general and proportionate reduction of all salaries to a scale suited to the altered circumstances of the times; but I will not consent to support oven my hon. Friends on this occasion, for the further reduction of one isolated salary, more especially when that salary is for the remuneration of one of the most important offices in this country, on the able discharge of which the life and liberties of the people are dependent, and more especially when the man who is almost always elected to it is one of the people, raised by learning, merit, and integrity, to its exalted position; because I don't think it a statesmanlike way of proceeding, this nibbling at economy. Let it be done upon a wide and well-considered plan; let it include all salaries, and let not this House be made the arena of petty party Motions, and still pettier Amendments, which will not effect any rational object, and certainly not tend to elevate this House in the opinion of the country.


did not think that any Bill was necessary. If he understood the noble Lord at the head of the Government aright, Lord Campbell had accepted the Chief Justiceship upon the same terms as those which Lord Denman had enjoyed. In that case the matter so far resolved itself into an affair of contract, and therefore he saw no necessity for hurrying on the Bill.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 100; Noes 51: Majority 49.

List of the NOES.
Archdall, Capt. M. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Arkwright, G. Kershaw, J.
Bankes, G. Lennox, Lord A. G.
Barrington, Visct. Lockhart, W.
Bateson, T. Meux, Sir H.
Bright, J. Mitchell, T. A.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Morris, D.
Christopher, R. A. Osborne, R.
Clay, J. Perfect, R.
Cobden, R. Plowden, W. H. C.
Cubitt, W. Rendlesham, Lord
Deedes, W. Ricardo, O.
Dick, Q,. Salwey, Col.
Ewart, W. Sandars, G.
Farrer, J. Sheridan, R. B.
Filmer, Sir E. Sibthorp, Col.
Forbes, W. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Gooch, E. S. Smyth, J. G.
Greene, J. Stuart, Lord D.
Hall, Sir B. Thompson, Ald.
Halsey, T. P. Thornely, T.
Harris, R. Verner, Sir W.
Henley, J. W. Walmsley, Sir J.
Hodgson, W. N. Willoughby, Sir H.
Hope, H. T. TELLERS.
Hornby, J. Mullings, J. R.
Hume, J. Spooner, R.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

On Clause 1,


moved the omission of the words "and shall, as," and "be deemed to have been," in order that the clause might run thus, "shall be from the death of Lord Tenterden;" and then said it was his intention afterwards to move that the salary of the present Lord Chief Justice should be reduced to 7,000l., instead of to 8,000l. a year.


thought that there ought to be a general reduction in judicial salaries; but as the noble Lord at the head of the Government had stated that he would bring all such salaries under the revision of a Select Committee, he hoped that the hon. Gentleman would postpone the discussion of his proposition until the report of the Committee was before them. For his own part, he would rather that the salary of Lord Campbell should be reduced at once to 7,000l., than that he should have 8,000l. now, and future Chief Justices only 6,000l. He entreated the hon. Gentleman, however, not to press the matter to a division.


suggested, that all reference to the salary received by Lord Tenterden should be struck out of the Bill, and that the sense of the House should at once be taken as to the future salary to be paid to the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench. Instead of 8,000l a-year, he should propose that it should be 7,0002.


said, that he could not agree to such an arrangement as that.


thought the whole question for the Committee to decide was with respect to the power of the taxpayer to bear the enormous amount of taxation extracted by the present and other extravagant salaries. If for the last eighteen years the duties of the office had been discharged for 8,000l. a year, no solid objection could be raised against its reduction, in the present altered state of circumstances, to 7,000l.


considered 7,000l. a-year as ample remuneration for the duties of the Lord Chief Justice. The noble Lord who at present filled the office gave up all his emoluments at the bar a few years since to take office as Lord Chancellor of Ireland for a tenure of seventeen days, with a salary of 8,000l. Sir E. Sugden also gave up perhaps the largest professional emoluments of any man at the bar also for the office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland, with a salary of 8,000l. and all the uncertainty connected with change of Ministers. The Government in 1832 having come to the conclusion that the salary of 10,000l. ought to be reduced to 8,000l., he considered that the circumstances of the present time were such as fully to warrant a further reduction to 7,000l. Another reason for this reduction was also to be found in the fact that the Peers, among whom the Lord Chief Justices would rank, had suffered already a considerable reduction in their incomes. Professional incomes at the bar had also, he believed, been latterly very considerably reduced. The hon. Member concluded by moving the introduction of several words, which, he believed, would carry out more completely the views of the hon. Member for Cirencester.

Amendment proposed, after the words "shall be," to insert the words, "the yearly sum of seven thousand pounds."


withdrew his Amendment.


wished to know whether the arrangement proposed by this Bill would affect the salaries of the present as well as of the future Lord Chief Justices?


would have preferred that a Committee had been appointed which should have considered together the subject of all the judicial salaries, with a view of considering whether any or what reductions ought to be made therein. With respect to the present Lord Chief Justice, he thought that the salary which had been agreed upon should be continued without reduction, and that this Bill should only apply to future Chief Justices.


said, that the noble Lord had informed him (Mr. Hume), in answer to a question put to him a short time since, that in the appointment of the Lord Chief Justice the salary should be fixed, subject to any alteration that might be made by the House of Commons.


had stated more than once—he was not sure that he had done so upon every occasion—that although that might be the general rule of making appointments, it could not apply to every case, more especially an office of this kind, which a Judge would not be likely to take upon an uncertain salary.


certainly had an impression that the question was put to the noble Lord as to the appointment then expected to be made of the Chief Justice.


would support the Motion of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, and would do so, not because he thought the saving of 1,000l. a year much, but because he thought it was an earnest to the country of what the party, of which the hon. Gentleman was a member, would do, if they were properly encouraged by hon. Members of his (Mr. Osborne's) side of the House, who, he must say, did not appear to treat the Motion in a manner very consistently with the professions which they made very loudly out of doors. He objected to the Motion for one reason, namely, that it did not go far enough; he would have preferred to have seen the salary reduced to 5,000l. rather than to 6,000l. or 7,000l. He thought, considering the patronage which was vested in the office, that 5,000l. was plenty. The salary of the Prime Minister was not more than that, and he was far more overworked, and had no retiring pension. He would tell the noble Lord at the head of the Government that he had no right to make a contract, or come to an understanding, that 8,000l. should be the salary of the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, when that understanding was come to in the face of the House of Commons.


saw very little force in the reasons urged on the opposite side why salaries should be reduced in the way they desired. The statement was that prices had fallen: might not those whose salaries it was proposed to reduce, also state that prices had once risen upon them? If this were not so, a strong case would be made out against them; but he could not admit, that, because prices had fallen, and because there had been a cessation of what the majority of the country had determined to be a harmful and injurious monopoly—damaging, indeed, the interests of those who had enjoyed it, but producing great advantage to the nation at large, of which one most eminent proof was the surplus which the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared he had—under those circumstances, he could not admit that the liberals or free traders were bound to follow too absolutely the lead of hon. Gentleman opposite, particularly when one of them had, with great energy and eloquence, impressed on the Committee that the very intent, object, natural consequence of the Motion, was to declare and avow before the country that free trade was a fraud and a failure, and that here was the commencement of the proof by which that proposition was to be impressed upon the country. The inference, he thought, from this should be, that the Government was to blame in taking the first step in proceedings leading to such detrimental consequences. He was certainly glad to see the Government taking measures of economy, for such measures were always useful; but he would not admit the argument of the opposite side—that, because the country was avowedly in a state of increased prosperity, therefore this reduction in salaries ought to take place. He did not object to the reduction of salaries, but he repudiated and denied the argument used in favour of these reductions. He was sorry to say, that amongst free-traders there were two descriptions—there was the soft roe and the hard roe. The soft roe was that description which voted for Gentlemen opposite whenever an agreeable bait was held out, and when such a vote could damage the principles of those economists who sat on his (Colonel Thompson's) side of the House. For his own part, he was willing to leave the present question in the hands of the Government; and he hoped their success in economising would be such as to lead them to do more hereafter.


observed that when prices rose, the salaries of the Judges rose with them. He thought it passing strange that three weeks ago the noble Lord should not have contemplated the necessity of appointing a Select Committee to inquire into the salaries of public servants. If the noble Lord would get up and say that a light had suddenly burst upon him, he would perhaps be able to tell the House how his mind came to be enlightened on the subject; but till he heard the noble Lord say that he did not contemplate the Committee at the time of Lord Campbell's appointment, he should consider that it ought to be dealt with as a prospective appointment.


remarked that only one single member of the profession had spoken that night; and as a humble member of it himself, he should not vote, unless assured by his learned brethren that he might properly do so, for cutting down the rewards bestowed upon great professional services.


would like to take any dozen members of the profession, and ask them whether the profits of the profession were now what they were formerly. He was informed on good authority that lawyers made only one-third of their former incomes; but taking their receipts to be one-half less, that was a very great reduction. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bradford would look at a guinea, but he would not take it, unless it was offered by a friendly hand. The hon. and gallant Member should, however, recollect that he was not dealing with his own money, but that he was a trustee for the public. He hoped that those who had been professors of economy so long would not pause, now that they had arrived at the threshold.


said, that when he was called upon as a professed reformer in financial matters, he must beg to say, with all respect to the Committee, and without regard to any observations which might be made upon his professional status, that the Committee would act with singular indiscretion if they commenced by cutting down the salaries of those who had the highest and most important duties to perform. He confessed that he should have felt a difficulty about going into Committee on the Bill, but as the House had decided that it would go into Committee, he had no hesitation in saying that 8,000l. was a proper sum for the salary of the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench. Wages rose or fell with the number of labourers in the market, and the competitors for the office of Chief Justice were very few. ["Oh, oh!"] He could find thousands of gentlemen who would take the office for 500l. a year, but were they such persons as the House of Commons would like to see in such a situation? Fit competitors for such an office were extremely few, and the salaries given to Judges ought not to be compared with those which were received by the holders of political offices. A Chief Justice must be looked for among men who had spent the whole of their lives in the prosecution of an arduous profession, and who, when fairly landed in a high judicial station, must still devote nearly all their time and the best of their energies to the discharge of the duties of their office. When he considered the duties the Chief Justice had to discharge, he felt they would not commence wisely if they commenced by reducing his salary. He had voted for reductions in the Army and Navy Estimates, and he received no support in votes from the hon. Gentlemen opposite who were now so anxious for reduction. The salaries of foreign judges had been referred to, and it was said that in some countries the judge had only 300l. a year; but there was an entire disrepect of all the tribunals in those States, and no person was satisfied with their decisions. They were looked upon with the greatest suspicion, but he did not say they were just suspicions that were entertained of the administration of justice in those countries. There was no country in which the ermine was so unspotted as in England. For the last hundred years or better, not a breath of suspicion had tainted any Judge on the bench. They must not forget the talents and services of those men, and they should consider that they gave up large incomes to take the position they occupied. Though that observation might not apply to Lord Campbell, there was scarcely an instance of a Chief Justice accepting office where he did not make a sacrifice in taking the office. In his (Mr. P. Wood's) own branch of the profession—the Chancery bar—6,000l. or 7,000l. a year had been given up by persons accepting the judicial office. It should be considered that at whatever sum they calculated the income of the Chief Justice, they must allow 1,000l. a year for expenses of circuits, and the hospitality he had to exercise on circuit, and the real income would not much exceed the 7,000l. a year to which it was proposed to reduce it.


said, that if anything were wanting to convince him of the extreme inconvenience and had policy of the course taken by the noble Lord on this occasion, it was to be found in the speech of his hon. and learned Friend who had just sat down. The salary of the Lord Chief Justice would be the very last in which he should wish to make a change, for he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman in his opinion as to the difficulty of getting a fit and proper person to take the station; but when the only alternative left to him was either to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire, or to support the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he should vote for the Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 38;

Noes 86: Majority 48.

List of the AYES.
Archdall, Capt. M. Hume, J.
Arkwright, G. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Barrington, Visct. Kershaw, J.
Bateson, T. Lockhart, W.
Bright, J. Mitchell, T. A.
Brotherton, J. Morris, D.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Osborne, R.
Christopher, R. A. Salwey, Col.
Clay, J. Sandars, G.
Cobden, R. Sibthorp, Col.
Cowan, C. Spooner, R.
Deedes, W. Stuart, Lord D.
Farrer, J. Thompson, Ald.
Filmer, Sir E. Thornely, T.
Forbes, W. Verner, Sir W.
Gooch, E. S. Walmsley, Sir J.
Hall, Sir B. Willoughby, Sir H.
Harris, R.
Hodgson, W. N. TELLERS.
Hope, H. T. Mullings, J. R.
Hornby, J. Henley J.

On the Question that the Clause be agreed to,


wished to know, as the Committee had determined that 8,000l be inserted, whether the Select Committee to be appointed on the subject of salaries would have power to report on the salaries of the Chief Justices?


said, the prospective salaries of Chief Justices would of course be a matter for their consideration. If a change should be deemed expedient, it would not affect the present holders of these offices.


proposed that a clause be inserted allowing this Bill to be repealed or amended during the present Session.


said, it would be better at once to bring in a Bill declaring that all Acts might be altered or amended during the present Session. He, however, had no objection to the insertion of the clause.


said, on bringing up the report he should propose a clause to the effect that nothing in this Act contained shall prevent such course being taken by Parliament respecting the salaries of the Chief Justices as it might deem advisable. What he wanted was, to make provision for altering the salaries of the Judges if the Select Committee should report to that effect.

Clause agreed to.

The House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Monday 15th April.