HC Deb 27 June 1861 vol 163 cc1682-4

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a third time."


complained that they were about to sanction the expenditure of a million and a half of money for building these concentrated Law Courts without having as yet decided on the site. The Commissioners had taken only evidence respecting one scheme, that of the Incorporated Law Society, while there were two other plans suggested. One was to provide for all the Equity Courts in Lincoln's Inn, and the other to concentrate all the Law Courts in Lincoln's Inn Fields, the trustees of which were willing to expend the whole amount received for the site in carrying out metropolitan improvements. He, therefore, moved that the order for the third reading be discharged, and that the Bill be recommitted.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Order for Third Reading be discharged,"—instead thereof.

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


said, that the subject had undergone more consideration than the hon. Gentleman supposed. Then had been a Committee in 1842, and another in 1845. Sir Charles Barry was at first in favour of the Lincoln's Inn Fields scheme, but subsequently gave evidence in favour of that how proposed by this Bill. The object was to concentrate all the law courts upon one spot, or in immediate contiguity, and in that respect the Lincoln's Inn Fields plan would be insufficient. The freeholders of Lincoln's Inn Fields proposed to give 3 acres or 3½ acres for that purpose, while the area in this Bill was 7 acres. He must press the Bill now, because, having to pass the Standing Orders of the House of Lords for a private Bill, postponement would be equivalent to rejection. The House could not be committed to the Scheme by assenting to this Bill, because another Bill the Courts of Justice Money Bill, contained the operative clauses, and he would take care that there should be ample time for discussion before that Bill passed.


thought that the site in Lincoln's Inn was preferable to the one proposed in the Bill, and would give five acres. He was afraid that the scheme favoured by the Government would involve an expenditure of at least £2,000,000.


said, the Government were pressing the Bill forward in a manner calculated to stifle all discussion. If the House were hastily to pass the Bill they would prevent the adoption, even the consideration of a speedy, easy, and inexpensive plan for the accommodation of the Courts of Equity. In 1859 the Society of Lincoln's Inn offered to provide from their own funds, upon their own land, sufficient accommodation for the Courts of Equity, in return for which all they asked was 4 per cent upon the money actually expended by them, the sum so paid to them not to exceed; under any circumstances, £4,000 a year. The plans had been prepared and approved by all the Equity Judges, and they would have been carried out long ago but for this gigantic and visionary scheme of the Government, which would cost at least £2,000,000. He maintained, moreover, that the Suitors' Fund should be applied to other purposes than those of building courts of common law. The present Lord Chancellor was of the same opinion; and there could be no doubt, in fact, that the scheme of the Government virtually amounted to a confiscation of the Suitors' Fund. If the Bill were recommitted, he should propose the adoption of the plan submitted by the Society of Lincoln's Inn in 1859, and, therefore, he hoped the House would agree to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Tewkesbury.


said, that if the Government were to give the House an assurance that the question of site would be reconsidered, he should advise his hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment.


believed it was the general opinion of the legal profession that it would be an enormous advantage to the public if the plan now proposed were carried out. There were insurmountable objections to building the Courts in Lincoln's Inn Fields, If the Courts were erected there they would occupy a vacant space in a part of the town where a vacant space was much needed. He doubted, moreover, whether Lincoln's Inn Fields would be large enough for the purpose. The loss of time and of money arising from the present scattered position of the Courts was well known, and he really hoped the House would not object to the passing of this Bill. If the Money Bill, which was the Bill that would determine the matter, should not pass, the whole scheme must fall to the ground; but the present Bill was necessary in order to enable the Government to carry out the arrangements provided by the other measure. The money was to come out of the Suitors' Fund, and it was only a contingent liability to the public—a liability, moreover, which he hoped would never be practically felt.


said, that if the money Bill were referred to a Select Committee, with an Instruction to consider the question of site, he should have no objection to withdraw his Amendment.


stated that a Select Committee had already agreed upon a site. He did not know whether the Money Bill was so drawn that the question of site would properly come within the order of reference; but, for his own part, he should have no objection to the reconsideration of that matter.


said, there might be a special preference, and upon that understanding he begged to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 3°, and passed.

House adjourned at Two o'clock