HC Deb 08 August 1872 vol 213 cc708-9

said, with the sanction of the First Lord of the Treasury, he wished to draw attention for a moment to a subject which was of considerable importance to the legal profession. It related to a Motion of his which he had had on the Paper for a considerable time. ["Order!"]


May I ask how this comes on? It is not on the Paper.


I was about to call on the Clerk to read the Orders of the Day, and, the hon. Member for Windsor having risen, I was waiting to hear what the hon. Member's Motion was.


was much obliged to his hon. Friend for setting him right. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury a Question. The Motion of which he had given Notice was to the effect that it was inexpedient that ex-Lord Chancellors should receive pay for acting as Arbitrators or Referees unless instructed by the Government. Did the Government concur in the principle implied in that Motion?


, in reply, said, that this subject had attracted much public attention of late, and he thought it was perfectly clear that his hon. Friend had exercised a sound discretion in not asking the House to proceed upon it by Resolution; because, in the first place, however reasonable any proposition of that kind might be, the House had no power to enforce it, and the House would expose itself to disparagement by passing such a Resolution; and in the second place, the passing of a reasonable Resolution upon such a subject might be made a precedent for passing conclusive and arbitrary Resolutions unduly interfering with private contracts. He was, therefore, of opinion—and he believed that his Colleagues concurred with him—that it was a subject that, if dealt with at all, must be dealt with by legislation, and not by an expression of opinion, at least by that House, as they had no ex-Chancellors there, and were not likely to have any. If his hon. Friend asked him whether he thought such legislation ought to take place, that was not a matter upon which the Government had collectively deliberated, or arrived at any opinion. But he owned that there was a great deal to be said in favour of such legislation, provided that it could be put in a fair, equitable, and unexceptionable shape.