HC Deb 04 March 1853 vol 124 cc1159-60

Order for Third Reading, read.

Bill read 3°.

On Question, "That this Bill do now pass,"


said, he understood that, when, on a former occasion, he stated that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Villiers) had held the office of Examiner some weeks after accepting that of Judge Advocate, the right hon. Gentleman contradicted him. Now, the fact was, that a new writ was moved for on the 29th of December, in consequence of the right hon. Gentleman's acceptance of the office of Judge Advocate; and the right hon. Gentleman retained the officer of Examiner until the 18th of February, on which day he petitioned the Lord Chancellor, setting forth that he desired, in consequence of the increased responsibility and altered duties of the office, to retire from the same, and not making the slightest allusion to the fact of his having accepted another office. He prayed also 750l., being three-fourths of his salary, be granted him as retirement. He (Mr. Malins) was therefore quite accurate in his former statement. The right hon. Gentleman retained both offices until the question of retiring pension was settled, and then instead of vacating the office of Examiner in consequence of its increased responsibilities and altered duties, the truth was, that he had accepted a new office the duties of which were entirely incompatible with the other.


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman had not stated the matter correctly. What he (Mr. Villiers) had indignantly repudiated was the motive which the hon. and learned Gentleman had imputed to him. He had insinuated that he (Mr. Villiers) had retained the office of Examiner, receiving the increased salary until he had ascertained the stability of the new Government; and having satisfied himself of that, he (Mr. Villiers) then surrendered it. It was that imputation, the House would remember, that he denied, and which would be found in the public journals to have passed. With respect to the dates mentioned by the hon and learned Gentleman, he was not prepared to deny them, as he had not exercised the same diligence as the hon. and learned Gentleman in going about to the different offices to learn when he (Mr. Villiers) had been appointed to one office, and on what day the enrolment of surrender of the other had taken place. If the hon. and learned Gentleman was curious to know why he had not resigned the office on the 1st day of November, as he was entitled to do, and as he had returned from the Continent to do, in consequence, as he had told the House the other night, of being in very bad health, it was, that while he was abroad, the Judges had issued orders for the purpose of giving effect to the Bills passed last summer; and amongst these was one giving to parties in causes commenced before the 1st of November the option of having their witnesses examined under the old or the new system—and he was not aware of one case in which that discretion had not been used in favour of the old system: the consequence was, there was no reason—no pretext, if hon. Gentlemen liked that word better—for retiring from the office till those depositions were concluded. To the best of his recollection, there had not been two applications before the Court closed at the end of the year. He had, however, expressed his intention of retiring from the office before the late Government resigned, and his continuance had nothing to do with the stability of the new Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the offices of Judge Advocate and Examiner in the Court of Chancery were wholly incompatible offices to hold together. The hon. and learned Gentleman, one should have thought, might almost have known this not to be the case when he stated it; for, if he had had a doubt, he might have learned from his hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire that this was possible, as he continued to hold the office he has for life, together with that of Judge Advocate; and he knew, also, that other Judge Advocates had continued their practice at the bar without giving up that office. He had, however, not followed either of those precedents, but had only continued to hold the two offices till nearly every examination under the old system had been disposed of, and without any injury to the public service.


said, he must disclaim having made the slightest imputation on the manner in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had performed his duties.

Bill passed. House adjourned at one o'clock till Monday next.