HC Deb 29 July 1872 vol 213 cc42-4

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If he can state to the House what provision has been made for the discharge of the duties formerly fulfilled by the Queen's Advocate as an adviser of Her Majesty's Government on matters of International Law; what was the amount of salary saved by the abolition of this office, and what is the present application of the fees which would have been received by the Queen's Advocate had the office continued to exist; whether it has been found necessary to call in the assistance of any lawyer conversant with International Law to confer with the Law Officers of the Crown on the advice which they might be required to give to the Government on topics of this description, and what remuneration, if any, is paid for such services; whether the present arrangement is to be considered permanent or only provisional; and, what are likely to be the legal expenses of Her Majesty's Government in the Geneva Arbitration as regards the remuneration of the eminent counsel other than the Law Officers of the Crown?


said, by desire of his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, he would answer the Questions of the hon. Member so far as he could, and for the sake of convenience he would take the first and third together. On the resignation of the office of Queen's Advocate by Sir Travers Twiss the other day, it was felt that in consequence of the changes which had occurred the office should not be continued. Formerly, Law Officers of the Crown could not practise in the Courts in which the Queen's Advocate practised, and therefore it was necessary to have an officer particularly attached to these Courts to represent the Crown. But the Law Officers of the Crown being now able under Act of Parliament to practise in those Courts, and the College of Advocates being destroyed, there seemed to be no use in keeping up a merely nominal office, which necessitated the payment of large fees in certain cases. Therefore, it was determined that the office should be abolished. But certain functions had been discharged by the Queen's Advocate in regard to business at the Foreign Office which was not of sufficient importance to be submitted to the Attorney and Solicitor General; and it was necessary that the Foreign Office should still have advice in these matters, to be given under the responsibility of the Law Officers. It was, therefore, considered requisite that as in the Courts of Common Law and Chancery, and in Charity cases, there was a counsel appointed by the Attorney General to assist him in such matters, so in like manner a counsel should be appointed to assist the Attorney General in these matters. The Foreign Office desired that such counsel should not be a mere counsel to that office, but an independent person practising at the Bar, and he had accordingly appointed Dr. Deane, at a salary of £2,000, as assistant to the Attorney General in regard to the business connected with the Foreign Office, and with the Colonial Office when the matter, as sometimes happened, related to both Departments, and also in all ecclesiastical matters. It was difficult to say what amount of salary was saved by the abolition of the office, because the Queen's Advocate had been paid by fees, often very large, which could not easily be reduced to an average. These fees would be entirely saved, although the £2,000 would have to be set against them. He believed the remuneration of the Queen's Advocate had averaged £5,000 or £6,000 a-year. The new appointment would, be permanent so far as the Government were concerned; but there were certain offices, such as that of Queen's Proctor and others, which being held for life could not be dealt with at presnt. As to the legal expenses of the Geneva Arbitration, he had made inquiries, but was unable to give any information on the subject, as much must depend upon the time occupied, the amount of service performed, and a variety of other circumstances. He wished to state, however, that the Law Officers of the Crown received no remuneration, directly or indirectly, in connection with the proceedings at Geneva.