§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, he had intended to move the second reading that day, understanding that no objection would be made to it. The provisions had been fully discussed by the benchers of the four inns of court, and the Amendments suggested by them he had adopted. Other Amendments had been introduced at the suggestion of common law barristers and others, and the Bill as it now stood had been introduced with the consent of the Attorney General. As, however, he understood that some Members objected to the measure, he proposed, in the absence of the Attorney General, to postpone the present stage till that day week.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he considered the Bill one of the most extraordinary inroads on the constitutional government of the country as regarded the administration of justice which had ever been attempted. Here was a body of men coming to that House seeking powers of indefinite inquiry and of examining, on oath, the whole community under pains and penalties on the subject of that inquiry. He hoped his hon. and learned Friend would, on reflection, between this and next Wednesday, see cause for not proceeding further with the Bill.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, the Bill substantially in its present shape had been carried through Parliament, as far as that House was concerned, last year. The Bill had met the assent of a Committee composed of the benchers of all the Inns of Court. There was no innovation of principle in- 1093 volved, the only object of the Bill being to establish a better tribunal for the investigation of complaints against barristers. Having had the honour of serving on the bench of Lincoln's Inn in an inquiry which lasted for many days on the conduct of a barrister, he had come to the conclusion that there was great room for amendment. This Bill appeared to provide what was required in that respect by giving certain powers which were absolutely necessary to enable any Court to decide satisfactorily on such inquiries. This being a new Parliament, it was certainly open to it to oppose the principle of the Bill; but the measure really involved no new principle.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, he differed from his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Denman). The Bill had never been fully discussed. The name of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) had been on the back of the Bill as formerly introduced. It was not on the present Bill. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck) had seceded from it, On the first reading he (Mr, Locke) spoke against it, and would have divided the House on its introduction, but there were then so few Members present that he should have had very little support. By constituting the benchers of the Inns of Court a court of law to inquire into questions, perhaps of domestic arrangement, they might create an extremely offensive power. He thought the Bill extremely objectionable and altogether unnecessary.
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
said, that so far as he could see, the Bill merely enabled the benchers to exercise in an effectual manner the powers which they at present possessed. He thought no ground had been shown why this Bill should not be considered in Committee.
§ Second Reading deferred till Wednesday next.