HC Deb 19 July 1859 vol 155 cc81-3

said, he rose to more for leave to introduce a Bill to amend certain laws and statutes relating to the admission of barristers and solicitors to practise in Ireland. The Bill merely contained two clauses, and its objects were twofold, one of them being to repeal a statute of Henry VIII., which rendered it necessary for students going to the bar in Ireland to attend a certain number of terms in one of the Inns of Court in England. Some of the most eminent lawyers in Ireland were in favour of that repeal. Another object of the Bill was to enable the benchers of King's Inn, Dublin, to admit students to the Irish bar on the same terms as students were admitted to the English bar. For the last twenty years the benchers in England had admitted students to the bar in three years, whether they were graduates or not; but in Ireland a student could not be called to the bar in less than five years after his name had been entered in the books unless he was a graduate of a university. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving for leave to bring in the Bill,


seconded the Motion.


said, he thought the House ought to understand well what was the object which the hon. and learned Gentleman aimed at. He had a very great objection to the last part of the measure. By an Act of Parliament, which he thought was a wise one, it was enacted that gentlemen who had obtained a degree in a university might be admitted to the Irish bar three years after they had been entered as law students at King's Inn; and that those who had not graduated should not be admitted until at the expiration of five years from their entrance. That provision had a beneficial effect in inducing men of education to join the profession, and the effect of granting the concession sought by this Bill would of necessity be to increase largely the ranks of the profession in Ireland. He had not heard that any scarcity of barristers existed, on the contrary, he had been under the impression that the profession was very fully stocked already. Education in former days was of the very highest order. Fortescue, who wrote on the praises of the laws of England, expressed in two lines the reason why our forefathers thought a good education was useful. He said it was "that they may have a greater regard for their character than those who are bred in another way." Notwithstanding the opinions which had been referred to, he did not believe that the change would be desirable, and in any event it would be time enough to make it when complaints had arisen in consequence of the present system. This change had not been asked for at the other side of the Channel—the Motion was not made at the desire of the benchers or of the profession —it emanated from a gentleman who was a member of the bar in this country, and had his time very fully occupied, and he, as a bencher of the Irish bar, objected to any such alteration. The other part of the Bill related to a regulation of the time of Henry VIII., when it was thought that every gentleman going to practise at the bar in Ireland should, for certain reasons, serve half of his terms in England and half in Ireland. That, probably, was in order that people in Ireland might be acquainted with people in England, and that as the same law prevailed in each country, the students might study in the best school of law. No complaint had been made of that law. It had the sanction of antiquity, and he believed that it was attended with beneficial results. He saw no advantage in changing old laws unless they were proved to be attended with inconvenience; and he confessed that in this case he was satisfied with the old system. The Irish students when they came over enjoyed themselves very much, and he trusted that they would long continue to come to England and distinguish themselves as they had always done on the press, at the bar, and in after years in Parliament itself. In any case he believed it was hopeless, with the discussion which such a measure would require, to introduce it at this period of the Session, and he therefore trusted the hon. and learned Member would see the propriety of postponing his measure till next February, when they could consider it much more advantageously in the cooler weather.


said, he could not but express his astonishment at hearing the right hon. and learned Gentleman state that no dissatisfaction existed in the minds, or had been expressed by the Irish law students with regard to the points which this Bill proposed to remedy. He knew, on the contrary, that they felt strongly the injustice of being compelled to come to England, and regarded it as an insult to the education which they received in Ireland. If they really came to study the law of this country the thing would be intelligible; but every reasoning Gentleman would regard the paying of fees and the eating of three dinners each terra as a mere matter of form. A state of things so unprofitable would be removed by the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend. The English Inns of court did not require a university degree as a necessary qualification for the profession of the bar.


said, that the same distinction which the hon. and learned Gentleman complained of as existing in Ireland existed in England, for a person who had a degree from a University was called to the Bar in England after three years, whilst those who had no degree had to spend five years before they could be called. He thought there was no injustice in that, because a degree from a university was a guarantee that a gentleman had received a good general education. He also conceived it to be beneficial that Irish students should come to England for the purpose of finishing their studies. He therefore opposed the introduction of the Bill.


said, be should agree to the introduction of the Bill, but he could not promise it support in its future stages. He thought it would be right to consult the benchers of Ireland before promising his support to the measure.

Motion made, and Question put,— That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend certain Laws and Statutes relating to the admission of Barristers to practice in Ireland.

The House divided: —Ayes 179; Noes 123: Majority 56.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. M'MAHON, Mr. BOWYER, and Mr. BRADY.

Bill presented and read 1°.