HC Deb 01 March 1872 vol 209 cc1221-95

, in rising to move the following Resolutions:— 1. That it is desirable that a General School of Law should be established in the Metropolis, by public authority, for the instruction of Students intending to practise in any branch of the Legal Profession, and of all other Subjects of Her Majesty who may desire to resort thereto. 2. That it is desirable, in the establishment of such School, to provide for examinations to be held by Examiners impartially chosen, and to require certificates of the passing of such examinations as may respectively be deemed proper for the several branches of the Legal Profession, as necessary qualifications (after a time to be limited), for admission to practise in those branches respectively. said: Sir, I have now to move the adoption of the Resolutions of which I have given Notice, and I think it will be the most convenient course to avoid misconception of the object and meaning of those Resolutions, if I shortly state in the first instance to the House, what are the objects which I aim at, and the principles which I have endeavoured to express in the wording of those Resolutions. I desire the House to give its sanction to the establishment of a general school of law, capable of competing, as I hope, with the best law schools of other countries, in which public instruction may be given in all useful branches of jurisprudence, on the best practicable system. I wish that this should be done by public authority, under a Royal Charter or an Act of Parliament. I wish this school to be made accessible to everybody, not merely to students of the various branches of the legal profession, but to all Her Majesty's subjects on payment only of reasonable fees. I wish that this institution should be so constituted as not to throw any such preponderance of power into the hands of any particular professional class as may prevent the confidence of all concerned. I wish also that when this school is established, examinations should be conducted under the governing authorities of the school, for the purpose, among other things, of ascertaining the qualifications of all persons who propose to practise any branch of the legal profession. But I do not propose that these examinations should be confined to persons who have received instruction in the general school of law; I do not propose to ask for any monopoly of instruction whatever; and with respect to the examiners, I desire—and I have aimed at expressing that in the terms of these Resolutions—not that they should be lecturers or professors in the school itself, but that they should be impartially chosen, so that they may obtain the confidence of all persons concerned in the instruction of youth. It is the right of anyone who may dissent from my views to call on me to show cause for these Resolutions; and, accordingly, I will proceed, imperfectly as I may, to endeavour to comply with that demand. I wish, in the first instance, to say something as to the general grounds on which the establishment of such a school of law appears to me to be desirable. I have said I wish to see a school established which may take rank with the best law schools of other countries. We have no such law school at the present moment in England. Practically, it may be said, without much exaggeration, that we have no great law school in England at all. And I cannot but think that whether we look at the importance of the law, whether we look at the eminence which many persons among us have attained in the law, whether we look at the general interests of society in correcting the defects of the law and diffusing as far as may be a sound knowledge of the law, it is almost enough for my purpose merely to state the fact that we have in England at this moment no such thing as a great school of law, although such institutions have long existed on the Continent, and have been found eminently successful. If the thing were not good in itself, of course the mere fact that other countries have it would not prove the desirableness of what I seek to establish. But the practice of other countries, their experience in this matter, long established and long tried, shows that it is a wise and good thing in itself. I am not going to trouble the House with long details of the system carried on in other countries where law schools are established; but I will take as an example what is done in a neighbouring part of Her Majesty's own dominions—in Scotland. In Scotland there is a well-organized system of legal instruction, which all persons intending to practise in any of the branches of the legal profession there are required to go through at one or other of the Scotch Universities, and their proficiency is tested by very thorough and searching examinations. In France there are six faculties of the law—one established in the metropolis, and the other five in the chief provincial centres, at which all persons intending to practise in any branch of the legal profession are required to go through a fixed and stated course of a very severe and searching character, and afterwards they are submitted to public examinations. That system, I believe, has its imperfections. I am told on very high authority that it has been too much under the control of Government—too much in the nature of a Government monopoly; and on that account it has had a tendency to the very same kind of narrowness which I desire to see avoided in the school which I now propose to establish in this country. But that system is capable of being improved by being released from the restrictions and drawbacks by which it is hampered; and, with all its drawbacks, it has been productive in France of very great men and of an advanced scientific knowledge of law. In fact, in spite of all the misfortunes into which that country has fallen, it may still point with pride to its achievements in the codification and simplification of the law. All the other great European countries under different modifications have long adopted systems more or less similar; and in all of them it has been productive of excellent fruits. I will merely add, that it seems to me a just expectation, having the benefit of the experience of so many other countries which have established schools of this kind on a large and generous scale, and examinations of the same nature as those which I contemplate, that at least equally good results may probably be attained here, where we shall have the advantage of being instructed by the defects which exist in some of those systems, so as to be able to avoid them. Now, what is our system in this country? I shall presently remind the House of some of the judgments passed upon that system by very high authorities; but I will say that it is in truth a hand-to-mouth system. Everybody is left to pick up his own instruction in law as well as he can, entirely with a view to practise; and by doing it in that manner, with the assistance of those who are themselves engaged in practice, it is impossible that any foundation of a scientific knowledge of law can be laid, however desirable it may be; and, as a matter of fact, it is not. I hope I have never given any just ground to anyone to suppose that I think lightly of the many excellences of the law under which we live, or of the great eminence which many have attained in the profession to which I belong, and in the administration of the law. But it is not the part of a real friend, either of men or of institutions, to shut his eyes to their defects, and to represent everything in a more favourable light than is consistent with the truth. There is no doubt that the body of our law contains many most excellent things; yet it is, on the whole, a very immethodical and undigested mass. There is no doubt that the science of the law has not been making progress with us in the lapse of time, and if we look for our great legal luminaries, we have, with few exceptions, to go a considerable way back rather than to search for them very near at home. That is the inevitable result of the system of learning by practice, and practice only, under which we live. Would it not be better that our students should be encouraged and assisted, at least as much as any public institution can encourage and assist them to lay the foundation of their legal knowledge in principles, and to study the law upon a large, wide, liberal, and scientific basis? I do not think there can be any serious difference of opinion on that point, although there may be differences of opinion as to the best mode of doing it. For instance, I find that when Lord Cairns gave his evidence before the Commission of 1854, while recognizing most fully the great advantage there would be in extending as widely as possible the range of reading in jurisprudence for all who proposed to follow the legal profession, he thought it possible that that might best be done in our Universities, by assistance to be given by the Inns of Court in the foundation of lectureships and law scholarships. Now, I should be very glad to see everything done that could be done in that way, and I recognize the advantages which have actually been conferred by such means; but it is impossible that places which are not principally schools of law should do the work of such a school as that which I desire to see established. It is not possible; it cannot, and will not be done. What did Sir Henry Maine say upon the same occasion? He said he thought it of the greatest importance, of growing importance, looking to the course which our legislation every day was taking, and to the changes which it had a tendency to undergo, that those who practised the law should be well grounded in the principles of jurisprudence; but he observed, that nothing in the world was more difficult than to get those who were studying with a view to practise as early as possible to devote themselves to a scientific study of those principles. I might multiply testimonies on this subject. Lord Westbury and others have expressed, in the most forcible terms, their sense of the great deficiency of our system in point of science and method; but I abstain from going through them, because you have the authority of the two former inquiries which have been held on this question. I do not wish to repeat unnecessarily anything I said on a former occasion; but I trust I may stand excused for calling attention again to the Report upon this branch of the subject of the Committee of this House in 1846. They found— That the present state of legal education in England and Ireland, in reference to classes, professional and non-professional, concerned, to the extent and nature of the studies pursued, the time employed, and the facility with which instruction may be obtained, is extremely unsatisfactory and incomplete, and exhibits a striking contrast and inferiority to such education, provided, as it is, with ample means and a judicious system for their application, at present in operation in all the more civilized States in Europe and America. They added— That it may be asserted as a general fact, to which there are very few exceptions, that the student, professional and non-professional, is left almost solely to his own individual exertions, industry, and opportunities, and that no legal education worthy of the name is at this moment (1846) to be had in either England or Ireland. That was the Report of the Committee of 1846. What did the Royal Commission which sat in 1854, and reported in 1855, say?— The present system of practical study in a barrister's chambers must be admitted to be very efficient in fitting the student for the active duties of his profession; it affords, however, no facilities for the study of the scientific branches of legal knowledge—including, under that term, constitutional law and legal history, and civil law and jurisprudence. True knowledge of these subjects must be useful to the barrister, not only as an advocate, but as a Judge; and especially if he should be appointed to any judicial office in India or in the colonies. But although during the ordinary period of preparation for the Bar it would probably be found impracticable to obtain an entire acquaintance with them without sacrificing objects more immediately pressing, yet there would be time enough to lay the foundation of this knowledge, which might be completed after the student should have been called to the Bar, and before his time became wholly absorbed by practice. By mastering principles the student becomes more interested in and obtains a steadier grasp of practical details. The most convenient method of acquiring knowledge of these subjects is by lectures, followed by examinations applicable both to the lectures and to the subjects generally. That Report was signed by the present Lord Chancellor, Sir John Taylor Coleridge, Lord Westbury, Sir John George Shaw-Lefevre, and other eminent men. And now a few words upon the usefulness of the teaching which might be given upon the system of such a school as I propose. There are many persons who depreciate and some who over-estimate the value of teaching by lectures. It is a kind of teaching much better adapted to some subjects than to others, and to students of an advanced age rather than to those who are very young. But, as to this particular line of study, it is eminently fitted to interest and guide the student in his pursuit of the principal of jurisprudence, and I can hardly imagine any subject in which that kind of general teaching is more wanted to correct the narrowing effects of the system of merely practical study. We find accordingly that the best books on the general principles of law, which are referred to constantly in all countries, have been the product of this system of teaching principles by lectures in large schools or Universities. Some of the very best works on the law of Scotland are the product of such a system, as well as the Commentaries of Chancellor Kent and the treatises of Story in America, and of Savigny in Germany. In this country, if we want to get general views, we go to Blackstone, whose book was written in the form of lectures to the University of Oxford, or to Austin, whose lectures were delivered to the University of London. These examples show what is likely to be the nature of first-rate scientific instruction, and its value in guiding the minds of young men towards the principles of law, in enabling them to group their ideas round those principles, and at the same time exciting their interest in larger and more liberal views of the law than they are likely to gain from instruction confined merely to the practice of the law. Here I may mention the testimony of one who was lost too early to his profession—the late Mr. W. D. Lewis, who was himself a lecturer in Gray's Inn, and who stated in his evidence in 1854 that he entered upon his duties with some prepossession against the value of lectures as a means of instruction in the law, but that his experience entirely removed that prepossession, and he came to the conclusion that this kind of instruction might be made most useful and advantageous to the students. Mr. Lewis added, as a result of his own experience as a practitioner of the law, that he was often made to feel how great an advantage it would have been if, when he was a student, he had had opportunities of hearing the law expounded and taught as a science. Before parting from this general subject let me glance at one other consideration. It is not only for those who mean to practise the law that I advocate the establishment of such a school as this; it is for the general benefit of the country, and with a view to extend the influence of such a school far beyond the range of mere practitioners. There can be no question that anything which gives an interest to the study upon a right method of the principles of law, both among law students and among the community generally, has a most powerful tendency to assist in all sound legal reforms. The moment you are able to grasp the whole subject, to see the bearings of legal principles upon legal details, then you can much better understand the real tendencies of crude or objectionable projects for change in the law, and where the real want of such changes as are beneficial lies. I cannot but take advantage of an observation made upon a recent public occasion by a very learned Judge—Vice Chancellor Wickens, one of the most accomplished men we have upon the Bench, or have for some time had at the Bar, a man of great general attainments as well as accurate knowledge of his profession. The learned Judge stated that he was glad to take the opportunity of saying how profoundly he was convinced that the simplification of the law depended upon its scientific teaching, and that its scientific teaching depended substantially and practically at this moment on what could be done in the direction of this movement. Having said that, I leave these general views of the subject, and now pass to particulars. Here I come to the next principle upon which I desire to insist, and I hope the House will concur with me in considering it to be of cardinal importance. I mean that this system should be comprehensive; that there should be nothing exclusive, nothing narrow in it, nothing bringing forward with unnecessary and premature jealousy the distinction which, in after life and practice, may exist between those who may addict themselves to different branches of the legal profession. In the stage of studentship the great object is to give the benefit of the best system of instruction which you can confer and which they will accept to everybody who will take it, and it is as desirable for those who will hereafter be attorneys and solicitors as for those who will hereafter be barristers that they should have the best opportunities of acquiring the utmost amount of the best possible knowledge. It is no part of the system I propose that everybody should be obliged to attend the same lectures, to go through the same compulsory course, or to submit to the same ex- aminations. The idea is to have a great school, where the best possible instruction upon subjects on which instruction is worth having shall be given—a school for all students of the law, no matter what branch of the profession they propose to follow; a school also for all who desire to qualify themselves for public employment, for the work of legislation in Parliament, for the magistracy; a school, in short, for everybody who may be willing and able to profit by it. I am glad upon this subject to refer to an authority of whom, if he were absent, I might venture to speak in terms from which I abstain in his presence; but I think it will carry weight with the House. In the year 1854, in giving evidence before the Commission, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed the opinions which I will now read— It must be remembered that the teaching of an advocate, or even of an English Judge, is only a small part of legal education. We are every Session creating places which can only be filled by barristers, and the colonies suffer much by the incapacity of gentlemen sent out to fill high posts. I think my right hon. Friend was then occupied in framing some regulations as to the Civil Service in India; and he said— It would be the greatest possible advantage to us, who are now framing rules for the examination of civil servants in India, if there were any body constituted to which we could delegate the task of examining them. It is our opinion that every civil servant of the East India Company should go out with some knowledge of the principles of law, but we are at a great loss for the means of examining them. I may venture to say that from many quarters I have received communications from gentlemen belonging to the public service in India, speaking of the great and increasing importance of providing the means of thorough instruction, not in the technicalities of English law, or in that sort of law which people study here and practise in the English Courts, but in the law as a system and a science. These gentlemen say that such opportunities of study would be of the greatest possible value and importance, with a view to the administration of the various systems of law with which they have to deal in India, and with a view also to the qualification of natives who assist in the administration of justice in the Indian Courts. But I have not done with the opinions of my right hon. Friend. In answer to another question he said, and his answer thoroughly expresses my own sentiments— I think legal education is a much larger question than the education of the Bar, or even of the Bench. I think it is exceedingly desirable that every English gentleman who is independent, and whose time is at his own disposal, should be educated in law to a much greater extent than is now the case. Well, my desire is that the school which I wish to found should be founded upon these broad principles; that nothing about it should be narrow or merely professional; that it should be qualified to instruct the members of the legal profession in all which is important for them to learn of scientific and general principles, while it should not be inconsistent with their study of the details of practice; and that it should give such an education as it is worth the while of everybody to receive who desires to understand the laws of his country and the principles of law in general. Now, I want to know how this object should be attained; and this brings me to the next important principle which I attempt to embody in the Resolutions. I say it should be done by public authority. We have been going on a great deal too long upon the system of allowing this matter to take care of itself, leaving it in the hands of irresponsible bodies who acknowledge no public trust, who are under no public constitution, who are not even incorporated; and who, if they had been much better organized than they are, have not shown themselves in past times capable of doing the necessary work in this respect. It is a work which should be done by public authority. We want now to organize something which shall not depend upon the greater or less degree of activity, the greater or less prevalence of sound views at one time or another, among bodies which recognize no public responsibility at all. Is or is not what I propose in conformity with the opinions of those who have most considered the subject, and spoken with the greatest authority upon this point—I mean as to the necessity of organizing the school in a public manner, by Act of Parliament or by charter, and under public authority? There can be no doubt it is; and I think I can quote authorities of considerable weight to show, that, upon all the principles for which I contend, they have taken substantially the same view. First of all, I wish to notice that we are in this anomalous situation—that centuries ago we were much nearer the point I am aiming at than we are at this moment. Speaking of the reign of Henry VI., Chief Justice Fortescue, in his celebrated work, gives an account of the ten Inns of Chancery and four Inns of Court, representing them to be something very much in the nature of a University, and stating that there were in these institutions 3,000 students of one kind or another, intending to go to various branches of the law. No wonder my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer should say in his evidence before the Commission— My own impression is that the Inns of Court are, as at present constituted, a University in a state of decay. They are in the same position, as I understand it, as the University of Oxford was at the end of the last century, when the University had virtually delegated the power of conferring a degree to the colleges; the consequence of which was that the colleges, whether from competition among themselves, or having no sufficient motive, had brought the thing down to the very lowest point. Then, in the beginning of this century, the University was, as it were, reconstituted, and the examinations re-assumed by her, and from that moment the standard of education has risen. Applying that to the Inns of Court, what is needed is some central authority to confer the degree of barrister—something answering to the Senate of the University of London, or to the Governing Body in Oxford or Cambridge. If I substitute for the degree of barrister the certificate necessary to qualify for the Bar, it appears to me that my right hon. Friend has recommended substantially that which I am advocating; certainly so far as relates to a central authority superior to the Inns of Court, and with which they should be connected, as far as with public advantage they may. The same views were recommended by the Committee of 1846 and the Commission of 1854. Neither of those bodies extended its inquiries practically beyond the relations of the Inns of Court to the preparation for the Bar; but they were of opinion that the Inns of Court should be incorporated by public authority into a species of legal University; that they should not be left as at present owning no responsibility; but that they should be so reconstituted, and that they should be charged with work such as that which I desire should devolve on the law school which I seek to have established. I have given, I think, good reasons for declining to place that school under the controlling authority of the Inns of Court, however re-organized; but I should, at the same time, be glad to see the due weight and influence of the Inns of Court brought to bear, whether under their present, or under a better organization, on the school which I propose. A similar view was taken by Lord Cairns, who, in 1862, induced the Benchers of Lincoln's Inn to adopt a resolution to the effect that, in their opinion— The constitution of a legal University, to which the various Inns of Court might be affiliated, would be desirable. It seems to me that every one who approaches the subject from an impartial point of view would naturally be disposed to regard that as a desirable thing. Let me add one more recent testimony, which I think is a striking one; because it not only comes from a very eminent Judge, but from one who, in the evidence which he gave before the Commission of 1854, rather professed himself not to have any very strong views of the importance of any practicable improvement of legal education. I am referring to Sir FitzRoy Kelly, who, in presiding last year at a meeting of the Solicitors' Association, after surmising that the present unsatisfactory state of the profession arose in some degree from the want of a general system of legal education, expressed the following opinion, which I cannot but regard as strongly confirmatory of that which I have been stating to the House. He expressed himself as anticipating the time when a general system of legal education would be established something like that of the great Universities of this country, to which all the members of the profession might belong, and by which the rights of each individual member might be determined. He further observed that, in his opinion, it was only by the establishment of such a system that all classes of the grand profession of the law could be made to prosper according to their respective merits. In proposing my own rather less ambitious plan I avail myself of the opinions expressed by so eminent a Judge, and I contend that there can be nothing derogatory to the honour and dignity of the Bar, or likely to interfere with its duties or interests in uniting, for the purpose of education, with all the other branches of the legal professions, or with others who take an interest in the study and practice of the law. I wish now to say a single word with respect to the apprehension which appeared on a former occasion to be entertained—that in making the proposal which I am advocating we wish to create a body with a monopoly of legal education. Nothing can be more entirely opposed to my purpose and intention, or to the purposes and intentions of those who agree with me on this question. Nothing can be more certain than that you may establish a school which by its own excellence and the value of the instruction which it gives may be well calculated to attract to it students of every kind, without saying that nobody shall be admitted to the practice of the legal profession who has not passed through that school. I propose nothing of the sort. Not only do I not propose it, but I have no faith in monopolies of any description. I do not believe that a school with the exclusive privilege of teaching would be found to be half so good as one which would have to depend for its success on its own merits. I am, therefore, against any monopoly, and I am against saying it should be a necessary condition for the passing of an examination, or for admission to the practice of any branch of the profession, that a student should have gone through the course, or any part of the course, of instruction given in this particular school. I perceive with the greatest satisfaction that the law schools of University College in London, of Oxford and of Cambridge have been considerably improved. I have heard also with great satisfaction of the establishment, with every prospect of success, of law schools in Liverpool and Manchester. I hope similar schools will be established elsewhere, in all convenient provincial centres, throughout the country. I expect great good from such a movement; I should desire to see them co-operating with the central body which I propose; and I believe that if we had a good central school, we should have minor schools springing up in all directions; but without the greater institution you will have considerable difficulty in infusing life into those smaller schools, or making them as energetic as they ought to be. It has been objected, that it would be undesirable to give the teachers of the central school an exclusive power of examining. In that objection I entirely agree. To give such a power has never been any part of my object. It would, of course, rest with the Government, when settling the terms of the charter, to determine the particular constitution of the school; and I imagine they would take the fittest men to represent the different branches of the legal profession, by election or otherwise, in such proportionate numbers, and with such a mixture of other elements, as to make the Governing Body absolutely impartial. The examiners should be chosen, in my opinion, as far as possible, from independent sources, and not from the teaching body. Let me now inquire for a moment what are the competing schemes. There is that of the majority of the Joint Committee of the four Inns of Court, representing the prevailing opinion in two only—Lincoln's Inn and the Inner Temple—of those societies, with whom, or with us, the other Inns are willing to co-operate should the Government of the country authorize the establishment of a school of law. The scheme of the Joint Committee of the Inns of Court is to keep matters substantially as they are, so far as relates to the powers of these societies, and the separate legal education and examination of students for the Bar. But, even as to those Inns of Court which at present oppose themselves to our plans, I have no doubt, from my knowledge of the high character of the men who compose their Governing Bodies and their public spirit, that if the Government at once determined to establish by public authority a great central law school, they would desire to take their proper places in it and exercise in it their proper influence. It is one thing to advocate your own views and to wish to leave matters alone; to prefer, as is inevitable to human nature, to keep the power which you happen to possess in your own hands; and entirely another thing in the case of high-minded men such as those of whom I am speaking, to set themselves against a measure intended for the public good, if Parliament should think proper to adopt such a measure. I am convinced the Benchers of the Inns of Court would do nothing of that sort. In asking for the establishment of a central school of law I do not, I may add, in any way desire to stickle for particular views of my own as to matters of detail. I stand on great principles, and I say that the irresponsible bodies by which the Inns of Court are governed have not in past times done that amount of good which they ought to have done. I make no complaint against the men of any particular generation. There was probably something in the nature of their constitution which prevented them from making that advance which some may think we had a right to expect at their hands. I honour them for what they have accomplished; but I cannot, therefore, admit that they are entitled to intercept a larger scheme for the public benefit, or to continue on the irresponsible footing on which they have hitherto stood in the exercise of a power which I contend should be conferred by public authority, and exercised under public responsibility. Although they have now come to the conclusion that it is right to make the passing of a test examination necessary for the Bar, and to make considerable additions to the sums which they have hitherto expended on legal education, they have not, after all, gone out of the old narrow groove. They still desire to maintain the rule that education for the Bar should be kept as separate as possible from all other legal education, and that the education of the students of each particular Inn of Court should be carried on in that Inn itself. That course of proceeding would keep everything on such a footing that I venture to say a professional character, and a narrow professional character, must continue to attach to the system so carried on. If the House does not think that I am right in my proposal, it will, of course, not be acceded to; but if the House should deem it for the good of the country to have one general school of law accessible to all, then those temporary measures into which some of the Inns of Court have been stimulated ought not to be admitted as reasons for refusing to adopt the larger measure. It may be said that this measure, being more comprehensive than that recommended by the Committee of 1846 and the Commission of 1854, is therefore at variance with the principles of the recommendations of those bodies; but that is not the case—the very men who signed those recommendations, or, at any rate, the great majority of them, approve what we are doing, and prefer the larger system. In the last Session, as well as in the present Session, I have presented Petitions numerously signed by gentlemen at the Bar, who would be admitted by anyone who looked at the list of names to be as good representatives as could be found of the intelligence and experience of the Bar. I also have in favour of the scheme the principal teachers of law at the Universities. I have presented in the course of this Session Petitions from the Incorporated Law Society of the United Kingdom, from the Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association, from various other Incorporated Law Societies of great provincial cities and towns, and from individual attorneys, solicitors, articled clerks, and law students, signed by not many short of 6,000 names. These are not like Petitions got up among persons who do not understand the matters about which they petition. The Petitioners are all intelligent men, all practically interested in the question, and they are all of opinion that the establishment of a school of law on the conditions I have described would tend to elevate the dignity of their own branch of the profession, without causing any confusion of one branch of the profession of the law with another. I may appeal to the experience of Scotland on the point. In that country those who intend to be what we call attorneys and solicitors have always mixed in the course of preliminary legal education with the future advocates or barristers, and have received the same instruction without any disadvantage. In a lecture delivered by the late right hon. and learned Lord Advocate at Glasgow University, that right hon. and learned Lord bore emphatic testimony to the fact that many advantages, and no disadvantages, arose from the mixing together of the different classes of students. He said it had been found in practice that young advocates got business by means of the knowledge of their ability and capacity obtained by the pupils studying other branches of the law in the same University. We at the Bar of England do not experience that advantage, and many an able and learned man may remain with us long unemployed before his abilities are known. If, however, a Law University should be established, where the abilities of the different men would become manifest, it is very possible that solicitors would be led by their knowledge of the ability of barristers who had been their fellow students, and of whom they might otherwise have known nothing, to place business in their hands. That has happened in Scotland without anything of the vice of canvassing for business, and without the use of any unworthy means. Before I leave this part of the subject, I desire to notice a misapprehension as to what would be the effect of this common instruction offered to all alike. It does not involve the consequence that when you came to examine for the qualifications to practise the different branches of the profession, you would require the same examination to be applied to all. Of course, I should say, by all means let those who so desire go through all or any of the examinations; but those who represent the bodies which have the power of calling to the Bar might determine what subjects of examination must be passed through by persons desiring to become barristers; and in like manner, those who represent the authority by which solicitors and attornies are to be admitted to practise, might determine what subjects of examination that class of persons must pass through. You would require from each branch of students such knowledge as would be suitable for their particular career; but you would leave every kind of instruction open to all who chose to benefit by it. Perhaps the House would consider my statement incomplete if I did not say something with respect to the ways and means, by which this proposed institution might be supported. Those who have the best means of knowing are satisfied, from experience, that the school might be self-supporting by means of reasonable fees for attendance at lectures and holding examinations, if there were no other fund available for the purpose. I have no idea that the Government should pay for the institution, or take it into their own hands, as has been done in France, with evil consequences in some respects; and therefore I wish that, like our other great institutions of public instruction, this institution should be self-governing and self-supporting. But, if the institution could not be adequately supported by fees alone, I have no hesitation in expressing my conviction that the funds of those kindred bodies which would be affiliated with the new institution—I mean the Inns of Court—ought to be, and with their own free will would be, available for promoting the object for which those bodies exist. If, contrary to my belief and expectation, the heads of the Inns of Court should be found unwilling to co-operate in supporting such an institution, it would be in the power, and within the right, of the State to take them in hand and reform them. I do not wish or expect that any necessity for such a course of proceeding would arise; for I believe that the same spirit which has led them to do what they have already done would, if Parliament should think the establishment of such a school as I recommend necessary, without any compulsion from the State or Parliament, induce them to do their duty by assisting that project with their funds. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolutions of which he had given Notice.


, in seconding the Motion, and expressing his concurrence in the observations of his hon. and learned Friend, said, it was an incontestable fact that this country was the only country in civilized Europe where there existed no school for the study of the law as a science in immediate connection with the practice of the law as an art. He did not think there existed any divergence of opinion in the House on the subject. Some instruction was, no doubt, obtained through the Universities; but half the members of the profession were not members of the Universities. The Incorporated Law Society seemed desirous of doing their duty in respect of the examination of articled clerks; but the Inns of Court, of one of which he had the honour to be a Bencher, had hitherto done next to nothing to insure the competency of those they admitted to practise at the Bar. Regarded from a social, not to say convivial point of view, nothing could be better than their arrangements. At no place in London could one obtain a better dinner or enjoy more pleasant society than at one of the Inns of Court; but, as regarded legal education, what had the Benchers done? Barristers were taught law as boys at public schools were taught swimming; they were thrown head foremost into deep water to get on as they could. With the single exception of requiring the payment of £100, and digesting a certain number of dinners, the Benchers at present asked nothing of law students. It was true students might attend lectures if they pleased; but lectures not followed by examinations were very lifeless things. Some of the most refreshing slumbers he had ever been blessed with were enjoyed in the lecture-room; and, as for attendance in a barrister's chambers, nothing could be more unsatisfactory as a test of competency. His own experience of such attendance was that he and his companions read The Times, discussed the affairs of the day, and amused themselves in various ways. They were under no obligation to study law, but in due time they were pronounced competent to practise, and if they lived long enough they would be perfectly eligible for a County Court Judgeship, a Colonial Judgeship, or even for a seat on the Bench of one of the Superior Courts at Westminster. In no other profession was such a state of things allowed. Medical men were not allowed to practise without examination; no one was allowed to enter the pulpit before examination; and even the Army was now closed to all but those who had passed an examination. What made the matter worse was, that a client did not choose his counsel as he chose his medical man; and, without casting any imputation upon solicitors, he had heard it remarked, that when you once saw the name of an attorney at the bottom of a brief you could generally guess whose would be the name of the barrister in the middle, the result being notorious that briefs were often given to incompetent men. But the matter did not rest there. What could be more inconsistent than to make the profession of the law the avenue to the highest offices of the State, and yet to allow a man to enter that avenue by an open gate? Even the hon. and learned Gentleman the present Solicitor General, who led the opposition to this Motion last year, admitted that a man without learning should not be allowed to enter a learned profession. He need not recapitulate the history of the question; but there was no doubt that for 27 years, as far as the Inns of Court were concerned, they had persistently refused to move an inch. In 1845 a Select Committee had reported that a compulsory examination for intending barristers should be established at once; in 1855 a Royal Commission reported that a University, to be composed of the four Inns of Court, should be constituted, and that students should be subjected to a preliminary examination. With neither of these recommendations, however, did the Inns of Court comply. They established a voluntary examination, and about a dozen students presented themselves in consequence. In 1870, however, finding something would certainly be done in spite of them, the societies awoke to the necessities of the case, and made some propositions. He had not, however, much faith in death-bed conversions, and in this case the conversion was accompanied by conditions which limited its value. The Benchers had resolved to establish compulsory examinations, but refused to admit anyone to their lectures unless he had paid their fees and become a member of an Inn. But why should not others beside intending barristers have the benefit of the lectures? Why, for instance, should not young men who intended qualifying themselves for seats in that House not be allowed to study law without being obliged to become members of an Inn? Several objections to the proposed scheme had been brought forward last year by the present Solicitor General; and the first of these was rather of a personal kind, and was rather a strange one. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said that there was not a single member of the legal profession of any eminence, except the hon. and learned Member for Richmond himself, who was in favour of the scheme; but the fact was, that many other legal men of the profession were in favour of it. Again, the hon. and learned Gentleman said last year that he could not bear the idea of intending solicitors and intending barristers sitting in the same room hearing lectures; but the same kind of thing was done in Edinburgh, and in the case of various corporate societies, and the objection was not entitled to much weight. Neither was the argument that the proposed institution would be a gigantic monopoly entitled to much consideration. He would like to know whether the Inns of Court were not a gigantic monopoly. The defects of our system of legal education had been pointed out by Lord Bolingbroke upwards of 100 years ago, but as yet no steps had been taken to improve it. Because he believed it would remove the stigma that at present rested on the profession to which he had the honour to belong, and because it would raise the moral and intellectual standard of that profession, he supported the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond to intrust future legal education to a public body, which would be responsible to public opinion and would be animated by public spirit.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is desirable that a General School of Law should be established in the Metropolis, by public authority, for the instruction of Students intending to practise in any branch of the Legal Profession, and of all other Subjects of Her Majesty who may desire to resort thereto,"—(Sir Roundell Palmer,) —instead thereof.

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


Sir, I think the House of Commons, and I am quite sure the profession to which I have the honour of belonging, are exceedingly indebted to my Friend the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) for bringing forward this Motion, and for the manner in which he has laid before the House his views on the subject. For my own part, I feel a respect almost amounting to reverence for my hon. and learned Friend, and I take a pride in belonging to the profession which he adorns. Thanking him heartily for what he has said, I shall approach the question with the most earnest desire to accept, if possible, any Resolution upon the subject which may have been proposed by him. I trust, however, that, while agreeing with him in principle, and, perhaps, going even further than he does on matters of detail, I shall be able to show good reason why the acceptance of these Resolutions by the House would be, at all events, premature, and why it would be unadvisable to pledge the House and the country to a course of action for which at present no adequate ground has been laid. In my opinion, the state of legal education in this country is not what it ought to be, and it is not worthy of the great country of which we are citizens. I also think that what the four Inns of Court have done, or are even now doing, is not what might have been fairly expected from them, having in view their great authority and the large funds at their disposal. Further, I am not prepared to discuss with my hon. and learned Friend the question which he mooted rather than fully discussed at the conclusion of his speech—namely, what upon consideration may be the authority of Parliament over the funds and the property of these four Inns of Court. There is no doubt that the two Inns of the Temple—to one of which I belong—stand in this respect in a somewhat different position from those of Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn. I will not, however, enter into that question at the present moment, because the time has not yet arrived for its consideration. My hon. and learned Friend does not, as far as I understand the terms of his Motion, propose at present to touch the property of the Inns of Court; but I may remark that it is clear that property in the hands of bodies, such as the Inns of Court are, if they came to perform scarcely any public duties, would not, as things are now, be held by any secure or lasting tenure. The right of Parliament to deal with the property of such institutions is, of course, unquestionable. It is, however, only fair to state that the amount of the funds at the disposal of the Inns of Court, although certainly large, has been very generally exaggerated. It has been stated that the four Inns of Court have an income of £60,000 a-year, a statement which may be perfectly correct as far as the gross receipts are concerned, but the amount actually at their disposal for the government of the profession is not more than from £25,000 to £30,000. That, I admit, is a large sum, one the possession of which in the hands of bodies like the Inns of Court gives to Parliament and to all persons interested in the well-being of the legal profession a right to ask whether the best use is made of it. I have said in private, and I cannot hesitate to say in public, that I do not think the best use is made of this large sum of money. But there is a very great difference between making that admission and assenting to the attacks made upon the Inns by persons whose knowledge of the facts is altogether inaccurate. Let me state what I mean. It is perfectly inaccurate to say that the Inns of Court benefit by the great funds which it is their duty to dispose of to the extent of a single halfpenny, except so far as the few Benchers are concerned who retain chambers in the Inns to which they belong; but whether they dispose of them in the best manner is quite another matter. At all events, it is quite inaccurate to say that the Inns of Court spent the funds at their disposal in pleasures or luxuries. It is another matter whether a great deal of money is well spent in giving to the students a much better dinner than the sum the students pay for it could procure. It is also a very fair question whether the compelling students to eat dinners at all is a profitable mode of improving their legal education; but these are totally different from the statements that much of the money at the disposal of the Benchers is expended in providing themselves with luxuries wholly unnecessary. As far as the Inn to which I have the honour to belong is concerned—and I believe the same remark applies to other Inns—I do not believe that a single sixpence is lost to the funds of the Inn by the dinners which the Benchers eat. In the Middle Temple I believe that the fees paid by the Benchers very much more than cover the expense incurred in providing dinners for them. This is, however, matter which, though very open to be discussed, is subordinate to the question raised by the Resolution before the House. I admit that these Inns of Court, having very large funds at their disposal, and possessing a prestige which has come down to them from many centuries, ought to do, and, if necessary, should be compelled to do a great deal more in the work of legal education and the advancement of our profession than they have hitherto done. They have the power, the means, and the machinery ready to their hands for the creation of a school for the teaching of English law. When I say this, let me ask many hon. Members who are, and others who have been, actively engaged in the legal profession to take a perfectly plain, obvious, and sensible distinction. To teach the English law, understood in the ordinary sense, by means of lectures is a pure delusion. It must be learnt by practice in the Courts of Common Law and Equity, and by that means alone. And I will tell you why. We have had among us, without doubt, many lawyers who were naturally men of great minds, and who would have attained to eminence outside the profession equal to that which they reached as lawyers, but our legal system has come down to us from the Middle Ages in the unscientific form in which it now is; unscientific, that is to say, with the exception, speaking broadly, of the law of real property, mercantile law, and the comparatively modern law of easements, the first two of which are highly scientific, and the last-named is more or less scientific in its character. This is why, in my opinion, a knowledge of English law can only be obtained by practice. I hope to live to see the day when that scandal and reproach shall be removed from the great nation to which we belong. I hope to live to see an English Code, a code worthy of this country—a matter by no means difficult of accomplishment if the right people are chosen, the right principles of action are determined upon, and the right price is paid for the work done. If properly done, this would be one of the cheapest schemes which any Government ever sanctioned, and would entitle the Government bold enough to propose and successful enough to carry it out to the gratitude of its own time and of many succeeding generations. But I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that this good end will never be attained by collecting together and attempting to reconcile irreconcilable cases, generally speaking not worth the trouble of comprehending, or to crystallize the law into a number of scientific forms in the shape of digests, for that would be a mere waste of time and of money, and would lead to disappointment. The only means of attaining to real advantage in this direction is by intrusting persons competent for the task with the construction of a Code which should clearly lay down the law. The notion of a school of law in the sense in which my hon. and learned Friend uses it, unless there are great alterations and amendments in our forms of law, will, I think, be impracticable, for the reason that it is utterly impracticable to teach the law as it stands without actual experience of it in the Courts. You may, it is true, teach the principles which underlie the unscientific law of England and of some other countries. I remember Lord Cranworth once saying that he, an Equity lawyer, felt no difficulty in taking his seat in a Court of Common Law, because, after all, there were principles underlying almost all legal systems which a man with a good understanding and some common sense could master in a little time. That was very true, and Lord Cranworth was himself a very good example of what might be accomplished by common sense and sound legal understanding being brought to bear upon a system with which their possessor had been unfamiliar in early life. No doubt a great deal might be done, and I should like to see it done, to fuse, or rather to bring together, the two branches of the legal profession, which are now entirely separate in education and in the practice of the profession, but which might with great advantage be brought more closely together under some common system, and under some common educational process. I know my hon. and learned Colleague (the Solicitor General) entertains on this subject an opinion differing somewhat from that which I hold. It is true, I know, that attorneys for the most part begin to study the profession some years earlier than barristers do, and, therefore, there must necessarily be difficulty in educating men of different ages in the same classes. These are practical objections, not to be answered in a word or a sentence; but, at the same time, I cannot help thinking that in this country the two branches of the profession are further removed from each other than there is any necessity for them to be. I am not prepared, therefore, to deny strenuously the truth of the opinion that there are foreign systems of law, differing in this respect from our own, which are more advantageous to clients than the legal system in practice at the present time in this country. No doubt there are great advantages in the two branches of the profession being separate; but the system has also its disadvantages, and the question is whether the existing system is better on the whole or worse on the whole than the systems we find prevailing in other countries. I am not myself prepared to say that it is on the whole either better or worse than the system prevailing, for example, in such a country as America. I have had the pleasure of knowing some of the best and most eminent American lawyers in New York, in Boston, and Philadelphia, and they were in no way inferior in cultivation and learning to distinguished members of the profession in this country. But while I have great sympathy with all the objects which my hon. and learned Friend aims at, I wish to point out that there is another side to the question. The Resolutions proposed by my hon. and learned Friend take it for granted, or, at all events, assert, that it is the duty of the State to undertake the teaching of the law. Now, that is a proposition to which I, for one, am not prepared to assent. The State does not undertake to teach medicine, divinity, or civil engineering, and I am unable to see why, in the profession of the law alone, the State should undertake a duty which in every other liberal profession is properly discharged by independent authorities. The substantial meaning of my hon. and learned Friend's first Resolution is that a public school should be established by the State, and that the State, while being precluded from interfering in its affairs or management, should be responsible for it. But my hon. and learned Friend goes further than this, and says in his second Resolution that it is desirable in the establishment of such school to provide for examinations to be held by examiners. To that proposal I respectfully take exception. Provide for examinations, if you will, raise the standard of the examinations, interfere if you please either by actual authority or by such a pressure on the independent bodies as would be brought to bear upon them by a strong expression of opinion in this House; but do not make the examinations depend upon the school. Let the examinations be outside the school, and let them be conducted by independent bodies, which have an interest in the examinations being what they should be. At the same time, every encouragement may be given to the school and the colleges—and the Inns of Court might be made colleges in connection with a great legal institution, which should be made to do their duty, the power being left to them of admitting or rejecting persons who make application to them for admission into the profession. The Inns of Court ought to do the work which my hon. and learned Friend proposes should be done by this new institution, for the duty lies with them, and they should do it without any interference from the State, Those great and ancient bodies are in possession of abundant funds for the purpose. I grant you that they have not done their duty; but they ought to be made to do their duty. If, however, you raise up a new institution, independent of and outside the Inns of Court, you will not obtain what you want, as the new institution will be without the local associations and the means which the Inns of Court alone possess. It is not quite right for my hon. and learned Friend to say that the Inns of Court have done nothing. They have done something, though I admit they have not done all they might have done, or all they might have been fairly expected to do. At the same time, the Inns of Court have not been entirely idle or asleep, but have awakened up from the torpor in which they spent too many years; and it would be a mistake and a failure to raise up by their side a shadowy institution that would in vain attempt to rival their wealth, reputation, and influence. Since, and very much in consequence of, the movement which my hon. and learned Friend has set on foot, there has been an agreement on the part of the four Inns of Court to form a joint Board of Examiners, and to compel every person to undergo an examination prior to being admitted a member of an Inn of Court. Now if the Inns of Court do their duty, that examination ought to effect pretty nearly all we want, for it ought to render necessary such a preparation in those branches of the law which can be taught scientifically as to prevent the existence for the future of so large a number of barristers, who, however learned in other matters, are, as far as the law is concerned, hardly entitled to the appellation of "learned" at all. The examinations about to be instituted by the joint authority of the four Inns of Court ought, I should think, to bring about a very considerable revolution in legal education. The Inns of Court possess the requisite funds, and they are willing to spend large sums of money in the endowment and maintenance of lectureships on such branches of the science of the law as can be usefully lectured upon. Let me tell the House, however, that a lectureship is a mere delusion unless you get the right man to lecture, and are prepared to pay him such a sum per annum as will enable him to devote himself for a considerable time to lecture, and to lecture only. The Middle Temple was lucky enough to get Sir Henry Maine as its lecturer for some years. He was a most accomplished lecturer, and his lectures were profound and authoritative treatises on certain branches of the law. Indeed, he succeeded better than any other lecturer who has filled any of the chairs created by the Inns of Court; and this was not the fault of those bodies, because, as a rule, the salaries attached to the lectureships were too small to induce distinguished men to accept them. If, however, they were so endowed that a person could live upon them, and look upon them as giving him a position in life, the case might be different. These things cannot be done in a moment, for the constitution of the Inns of Court necessitates a good deal of patience; but they have the means of doing them, and I believe they have now the will. They are bodies not easily moved, and such debates as this, such movements as that initiated by my hon. and learned Friend, afford that spur and incentive to more prompt and decided action which they undoubtedly require. I submit that it would be an evil to pass this Resolution, pledging the Government to undertake the teaching of law, without a more adequate exposition of the ways and means than my hon. and learned Friend gave us in his speech to-night, admirable as it was in most respects. The raising of the standard of examination is a practical matter, which is already being done by the Inns of Court; and, as far as attorneys and solicitors are concerned, I believe the examinations conducted by the Law Institution give little room for complaint or improvement. They are, in the main, excellent, and it is now rare to find a person admitted as an attorney or solicitor without a competent knowledge of the law which he has to practise. As to my own branch of the profession, I earnestly hope that, consequent upon this Motion and in accordance with undoubted public opinion, the Inns of Court will do all that is necessary to secure efficient examinations and a well-instructed set of students. They can do it, and they ought to be made to do it. I hope, therefore, my hon. and learned Friend will not subject me to the painful duty of voting against Resolutions with the object of which I heartily sympathize.


said, he was sure he represented his own branch of the profession in thanking the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) for his consideration of their interests, and his desire to raise their social status. With regard to the scheme under notice, he expressed simply his individual opinion, being well aware that many of his brethren took a different view. The scheme, shadowed out by the hon. and learned Member, was founded upon, or similar to, that which had been in operation for 30 or 40 years at the Law Institution, and which had greatly benefited his own branch of the profession. It consisted of a series of lectures and of examinations, and grants of certificates, which alone recognized ability to practise, and he could speak from his own experience of the improvement it had effected in the gentlemanly demeanour, moral conduct, and professional knowledge of the candidates. The absorption of that institution in the proposed scheme seemed to him objectionable and unnecessary, and he doubted whether it would not end in the destruction of an organization which had benefited and raised his branch of the profession. The hon. and learned Gentleman having abstained from entering into details, he was unable to judge whether the scheme would insure that practical education which was so essential for attorneys and solicitors. Moreover, if, as he inferred, the existing bodies were to continue to give certificates to practise, their standards of examination and that of the proposed school would probably differ. He would commend to the attention of the Bar a practical grievance of which the other branch of the profession had to complain. Under the present system, if an attorney wished to become a barrister he could only do it by abstaining for three years from the practice of the former profession. Except in the case of a man of independent property, that rule was simply to reduce the applicant to starvation, and was a practical prohibition of his changing his status, which was a real, substantial grievance. A reason had been alleged for this regulation that an attorney going to the Bar would carry his connection with him; but he could only have formed this by acquiring the confidence of his clients from the exercise of integrity and ability, and why should he not have the benefit of these qualities in the change from one branch of the profession to the other? He (Mr. Gregory) hoped the scheme of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond would have the effect of bringing all the branches of the profession nearer together; but he had considerable doubts as to the propriety of teaching principles in such a manner as to ultimately end in the destruction of practical knowledge.


said, that having been mixed up with this question since his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) brought forward his Resolution last year, he was anxious to say a few words on the subject. First of all, he wished to set his hon. Friend who had just sat down (Mr. Gregory) right on one point—with regard to the construction, more particularly, of the second Resolution moved by his hon. and learned Friend. As he read that Resolution, it appeared quite obvious that the proposition of his hon. and learned Friend was that the certificate of competency to be called to the Bar was to come from his new college or school, or whatever he chose to call it—for he called it by different names, according to the place in which he spoke—he called it by one name when he addressed those assembled at Lincoln's Inn, and by another in the Middle Temple. They had never had the honour of his company at the Inner Temble; nor had he done honour to Gray's Inn by speaking there; but whatever the new college was called, it certainly was intended to absorb all the powers now vested in the Inns of Court, and also in the Incorporated Law Society in Chancery Lane. This new school or college, about which they knew nothing—and about which, looking to the empty benches in that House, very few people cared to know anything—this new school or college was a proposal which they were not anxious to enter into, for they felt it was good, in this as in other matters, to let well alone; and seeing that the Inns of Court had now been established for centuries, it was not worth while to throw them over for the sake of a new establishment, which was to do everything not only for the Bar, but also for the other branch of the profession. The House must not suppose—as, indeed, they might very well suppose, as far as anything that had been stated by his hon. and learned Friend—that the Inns of Court had not done anything in this matter. The fact had been kept back with the greatest care, that the Inns of Court had done everything in their power to remedy old defects. The only thing they had omitted to do was to establish compulsory examinations. The simple question, therefore, to be decided was, whether or not compulsory examination should be established. The Inns of Court had established Lectures and Prizes; they had done everything that could possibly be demanded of them; but what they had omitted to do was to establish a compulsory examination. He had been a Bencher of the Inner Temple since 1857; and, therefore, he could speak with some practical knowledge as to what had been done. Before he became a Bencher, the Council of Legal Education—composed of a certain number of Benchers—had been appointed, and lectures were given to all who chose to attend them. Examiners were also appointed; but the examination was optional; and it was on this point that the greatest difficulty was found. The Benchers of the different Inns were doubtful as to the efficacy of compulsory examinations; but, in that, they were not more to blame than the rest of the world. Compulsory examination was then a moot point. It was only recently that compulsory examination had been considered requisite for everybody; and he believed the system was being carried to such an extreme that it would soon descend to the cases of chimney-sweeps and others of that class. Dr. Lushington and Lord Brougham were decidedly opposed to compulsory examination; and they gave as their reasons for being so that there must always be a number of talented and gifted men who could never be put through such an ordeal. Cicero was not examined before he pleaded. In olden times, there were greater men than flourished at the Bar now, or were likely to appear again; but these great ornaments of the profession, and the greatest ornaments of the Bench and Bar, had never submitted to a compulsory examination. There was a great division of opinion among those who had the direction of these matters, as to whether compulsory examination would be beneficial. In the year 1859 this question was raised; and a committee of the four Inns of Court was appointed to consider what alterations should be made with regard to legal education—and, more especially, to consider the question of compulsory examination. What was the result? Certain alterations were made as to education, and the mode in which it should be carried on; but every single subject proposed to be taught by this new college was then taught and continued to be taught to the present day. There was, therefore, no novelty in the proposal. And as to compulsory examination, what was then done by that committee of the four Inns of Court? They agreed to compulsory examination; but it was necessary that their decision should have the sanction of each Inn separately. It was submitted to the four Inns. What was the consequence? The Inner Temple, the Middle Temple, and Gray's Inn adopted it. By whom was it rejected? By Lincoln's Inn, of which his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) had been a Bencher from 1849–10 years before this took place. Why did he not use his great powers—for there was no one superior or probably equal to him at Lincoln's Inn—why did he not use his great powers to induce his own Inn to establish compulsory examination? They refused to do so, and that part of the scheme was therefore lost.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


, resuming, said, that Lincoln's Inn having dissented in 1859 from the principle of compulsory examination, unless that Inn could be brought to alter its opinion it was impossible to carry out that principle, inasmuch as the Council of Legal Education was composed of members of all the four Inns, and all the four Inns contributed towards the expenses of the establishment, and likewise to the prizes offered to the students. He should like to know whether the hon. and learned Member for Richmond showed a great anxiety for establishing compulsory examinations in 1859? [Sir ROUNDELL PALMER was understood to observe that he had then supported examinations.] Then all he could say was that the hon. and learned Gentleman must, according to his own view, have been in very bad company. But in 1859 the principle of compulsory examinations was not so popular as now; and it was only by degrees that it had got into so much favour. He was, however, at a loss to know in what respect the four Inns of Court now fell short. They now taught every one of the subjects which the proposed new college of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond would teach. Their lecturers were second to none, and had the confidence of all who understood anything about those matters; and the system of compulsory examination had now been established, and came into operation on the 1st of January. He might also mention what had been done by the Inner Temple itself, quite irrespective of the other Inns. It had appointed five tutors, each of whom taught a different subject to his class; and although those gentlemen had only been at work in that way since the 1st of last January, they had each a very full school. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond could hardly know what the Inner Temple was doing, although he knew almost everything else, because the Inner Temple said very little about it. They did not go from house to house, asking people to sign petitions, as had been done on behalf of the proposed new college. One of those petitions had been sent even to him, as if it were thought that he might have turned round on that question. That petition was extremely wide in its terms; it was like a very large net, that would do equally well to catch a whale or a sprat, and he dared say it had caught a good many gudgeons. He believed that a great number of persons had been led to support a scheme of which they really knew little and cared less. The new college would, no doubt, improve the Inns of Court and their educational and social system off the face of the earth. It would bring in a system of all work and no play, which proverbially made dull boys, and, although it might turn out some exceedingly clever men, it would probably turn out few lively ones. The students would only have to sit on a form and hear lectures. Lord Justice Mellish was certainly not enamoured of lectures, because when the Inner Temple plan of having tutors was under consideration, that learned Judge told them for Heaven's sake not to have lecturers, and that as for giving lectures to lawyers, it was all nonsense, and that he had never derived the least benefit from them himself either at the University or anywhere else. For his own part, he (Mr. Locke) thought that if students were to go to the Bar merely by attending lectures, few of them would pass the examination, and, consequently, a great deal of coaching and cramming would arise. The men who had succeeded at the Bar and risen to the head of the profession had gone into the chambers of the special pleader or the conveyancer, or both, and had read and studied there. When he entered for the Bar there used to be de- bating societies which discussed legal questions—a better mode of advancing one in the knowledge of the law than simply attending lectures; but now that had gone out of fashion. The four Inns of Court had, as far as they possibly could, met the opinion of the day, although whether all they had adopted would be for the advantage of the Bar he could not undertake to say. It would be utterly impossible for any man, even with the assistance of lectures, to hope to gain any very great success at the Bar unless he went into a pleader's or a conveyancer's chambers. He was glad to find that at all events the Inns of Court were to have some respite from those desperate attacks, and he hoped that by the end of the year the results of the course which had been pursued by the four Inns of Court would not leave the hon. and learned Member for Richmond a peg to hang his arguments on. Seeing, however, what the hon. and learned Gentleman had done for the Inns of Court by rousing them up, and inducing them to take steps which they might perhaps not have taken without his having agitated this matter, he begged to return him his thanks, and to assure him that the Benchers would be happy to see him to dinner, and to drink his health.


said, he must congratulate the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) upon the fact that all the Inns of Court had taken a step in advance mainly in consequence of his exertions. This question now stood upon a very different footing from that which it had once occupied, because he recollected when there was a difference of opinion among the members of the Inns of Court as to whether it was advisable to have any compulsory examinations whatever. The question, however, was whether the plan of the hon. and learned Member was the best which could be proposed for securing an efficient legal education to those about to adopt the Bar as their profession, and to prevent men who had never opened a law book from attaining the status of barristers. He could not join in all the sneers which had been uttered with respect to the Inns of Court, inasmuch as they could scarcely be blamed for not having been the first to adopt the system of compulsory examination, which was a plant of very slow growth, and the value of which was only just beginning to be appreciated in this country. Although he intended to support the Motion of the hon. and learned Member, he should have preferred a scheme under which an Act of Parliament should have been passed establishing a legal University, to which the Inns of Court might have been affiliated as colleges. Were the scheme of the hon. and learned Member, however, to be adopted, he believed that the same result would be arrived at, inasmuch as the Inns of Court would come forward and provide the necessary funds for the support of the Central School of Law. Some of the criticisms of the Attorney General upon the Resolutions of the hon. and learned Member were scarcely justifiable, because those Resolutions proposed neither that the school should be under the control of the Government, nor that the examiners should be appointed out of the school. He was afraid from the tone of the hon. and learned Gentleman that the Government did not intend to support the Resolutions.


said, that the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) had been hardly happy in appealing to the practice on the Continent as if it had been successful. Now, on comparing what had occurred on the Continent with what had occurred in England, that was not the case, and they ought to hesitate to set aside a practice which had been in existence for centuries. The hon. and learned Member had admitted that the practice in France had been productive of evil, because the law in that country had been made subservient to Government purposes. The Government there appointed the teachers, and they would teach what was agreeable to the Government. He believed that the foundations of liberty would be sapped by the appointment of teachers by the Government. In all parts of the Continent where these schools prevailed, public rights were never vindicated by the professors of the law. They were either vindicated by conspiracy or rebellion. In Spain, in Italy, and in Germany, no public rights had ever been vindicated by schools of law, and wherever schools of law were promoted and fostered by the Government they taught what would suit the Government, but what would not suit the people. More than that, in all institutions of this kind established by the Government, the parties appointed were to a great extent responsible to the Government. The Bar had hitherto been the champion of the liberties of the subject as opposed to the Crown; but if the Inns of Court were to be abolished, and the institution for educating students at law were to become subject to the Government, the independence of the Bar would be gone; for, although the appointments made by the Government would be subject to criticism in the House of Commons, favouritism would prevail, and lectureships would be given rather for political services than legal attainments. The Inns of Court were not now deficient in the means of providing a good legal education to students. They had readers upon constitutional law, jurisprudence, equity, the law of real property, common law, and Hindoo law; they had also five examiners, and had established a large number of studentships and exhibitions. They had done all that could reasonably be required of them, and if further means of education were required he had no doubt they would provide it. Speaking in the interests of the public at large, he thought that the worst thing that could happen to this country would be to supersede the Inns of Court by the establishment of a University under the protection of the Government.


said, he would heartily support the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), because he believed that the public would derive great benefit from it, if it should be carried into practice. Reference had been made to the Roman law, which he greatly admired, and as he believed the system advocated by the hon. and learned Member would increase the knowledge of the Roman law throughout the country, and modify the present leaning towards the feudal system, he was greatly in favour of the proposition. A very large body of the legal professsion in Herefordshire and Monmouthshire had expressed a strong feeling in favour of the scheme, and he had no doubt that a similar feeling existed throughout the country. One great advantage of the scheme was that it did not attempt to make any narrow distinction between the two branches of the profession, but to disseminate a better knowledge of the law throughout the country. He could not help expressing his conviction that the establishment of the proposed school of law would be the beginning of an almost new system of law, and give new ideas of the duty of a lawyer. He also thought that in the establishment of a school of law there was nothing to prevent the Inns of Court from carrying out all the reforms which they might contemplate.


said, the Resolutions of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) involved abstract principles to to which he apprehended an almost universal assent would be given; but, unfortunately, each separate Resolution was expressed in language, and had been supported by arguments which rendered it extremely difficult, if not almost impossible, for many hon. Members who concurred in those abstract principles, to vote for the Resolutions themselves in their present form. As to the 1st Resolution, the abstract principle involved in it was this— That it is desirable that a General School of Law should he established in the Metropolis, by public authority, for the instruction of Students intending to practise in any branch of the Legal Profession, and of all other Subjects of Her Majesty who might desire to resort thereto. For one, speaking as an humble individual, he begged to express his entire assent to that proposition. He believed it to be of the utmost importance that there should be in this metropolis a school of law, to which there should be a resort not only by those who were students and intending to practise whether as barristers or as attorneys and solicitors, but also by those other subjects of Her Majesty who might desire to resort thereto. It was beyond all doubt that there were many callings in life besides the legal profession to which a knowledge of legal principles was essential, or, if not essential, at any rate of great advantage. He should therefore desire to see in the metropolis a school of law to which those subjects of Her Majesty should resort as well as those who intended to follow one of the branches of the legal profession. But the Resolution introduced this complication—that this general school of law was to be established by public authority. Now, what was meant by public authority? Those words might have very different meanings, according to the particular interpretation which particular hon. Members, or particular persons, might place upon them; but he thought it was impossible not to come to the conclusion, having regard to what had been said in the House that evening, to what was said in the House last year, and to what was said out-of-doors, that "by public authority" was meant State control. It might be said that it was not intended by these words that the proposed college, or university, or school should be under direct Government control, but that, as regarded the government of that institution, the State was to have a very considerable interference in the matter. At any rate, the introduction of the words "by public authority" rendered it doubtful how far the House should agree to the Resolution in its present form. If the words "public authority" were omitted, he would give his most cordial support to the Resolution. But those words introduced an element of doubt, or, rather, they showed an intention on the part of those who employed them to give to the Resolution a very much larger import than it was found desirable to admit in the present discussion. It might be asked, however—What possible suggestion can you make for the establishment of a new school of law, unless you establish one under public authority? He contended that there were elements in existence which, if properly applied and energetically developed, would do all that was necessary. It could not be forgotten that of late very much greater attention had been paid to the subject of legal education than was ever done at an earlier period. With what result was evidenced by the fact that he had had within the last 12 months an opportunity of seeing the examination papers for law and history at the University of Cambridge, and he would venture to say that anyone who passed even for the ordinary degree at that University at the present time must have a knowledge of law which many in large practice at the Bar would be only too happy to possess. Again, they had got in the Inns of Court all the elements required for carrying out that system of legal instruction, the commencement of which had already been made, and the development of which could not be far distant. There had, it was true, been a laxity on the part of the Inns of Court for some time; but that might be excused because there had never been wanting under the old system men highly qualified to discharge all the duties both of the Bar and the Bench. But from the Resolutions arrived at, separately and in conjunction, by the Inns of Court within the last year, it would be seen that there was a desire on their part to give effect to the public wish that a full and sufficient system of legal education should be provided. It might be said that the education given by the Inns of Court was limited to members of the Inns, to those who were to practice at the Bar. But were it not for the Government stamp costing £25, which practically made the matter expensive, and which, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be prepared to remit, any gentleman who desired, for instance, to be a Member of Parliament or a magistrate of the county in which he resided, might become a student of the Inns of Court and have all the benefits to be derived therefrom upon a payment of £8 10s. or £8 15s. for admittance, and the annual contribution for the lectures which he desired to attend. The abstract principle involved in the 2nd Resolution was one to which no objection could be taken—namely, that— It is desirable to provide for Examinations to be held by Examiners impartially chosen, and to require Certificates of the passing of such Examinations as may respectively be deemed proper for the several branches of the Legal Profession, as necessary qualifications for admission to practice in those branches respectively. At the present day, no one would raise any objection to the establishment of examinations, to be conducted by examiners impartially chosen, for the purpose of testing the fitness of those who were to be called to practice as barristers or as solicitors and attorneys. But nothing was said in the Resolution as to whether there was to be the same examination for each of the two branches of the profession. He yielded his ready assent to the abstract principle; but, unfortunately, the terms in which that abstract principle was contained introduced the complication of which he had complained, and which rendered it impossible for him to vote for the Resolution in its present form. If we had already got within the metropolis schools of law established by the Inns of Court, and if those schools were competent to provide education for all those whom it was intended to call to the Bar, and if provision was made for the purpose of testing the qualifications of the students, why, if another school of law were established which was to be only of equal authority with the existing schools, should there be conferred on this new school the right of conducting all the examinations? The introduction of this complication would prevent hon. Gentlemen who concurred in the abstract principle from voting for the Resolutions as they stood. He desired to tender his thanks to the hon. and learned Member for Richmond for the exertions he had made with a view to raise the legal profession in all its branches, but he very much regretted that towards the close of his speech the hon. and learned Member had thrown something like a reflection on the Inns of Court, and on the very Inn to which for so many years he himself belonged. The hon. and learned Member, when speaking of the ways and means by which he would support this new university or school, stated that the fees of those who attended it would be sufficient. The hon. and learned Member went on to say that if once a school of this kind were established he was sure the Inns of Court would be among the first to give effect to it, and would be willing to devote a portion of their fees to that purpose. If the hon. and learned Member had stopped there he should have been satisfied; but he went on to utter a threat that, if disappointed in these expectations, the time would come when they would be dealt with in a rougher manner. That was a threat which appeared to point to a confiscation of the property of the Inns of Court if they did not accede to the views which the hon. and learned Member recommended. He very much regretted that the hon. and learned Member had indulged in such language; and he would now suggest to the hon. and learned Member that, having regard to the opinions expressed in various parts of the House, he would not press the Resolutions, but be satisfied with having drawn attention to the subject.


said, that the opinions of the Benchers of the Inns of Court had probably been stated with sufficient fulness by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke). He (Sir Francis Goldsmid), therefore, although he had the honour of being a Bencher, did not desire to speak from their point of view, but wished to look at the question with reference to the smaller schools of law, in the management of the institution maintaining one of which, University College, London, he had long taken part. When his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) last summer brought the same subject under the consideration of the House, he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) had ventured to point out that the proposed general school of law would, in fact, constitute a new monopoly. His hon. and learned Friend, possibly referring to these remarks, had to-night vindicated himself from the charge of intending to give any monopoly, or any unfair advantage, to the new school to be established by public authority. But whatever his intention might be, was not this the necessary effect of his proposal? His Resolutions left it in uncertainty by whom the examiners were to be chosen, but from his explanations it might be collected that they were to be appointed by the Government.


said, that he had said not that the examiners were to be appointed by the Government, but that the Government would decide in whom the choice should be vested.


The remark just made showed most clearly how impracticable it would be to avoid giving a monopoly of legal education to the new school of law. As the appointment of examiners was connected by the 2nd Resolution with the establishment of the new school, the Government would naturally give to that school a preponderating share in selecting the examiners. How, then, would it be possible for smaller institutions, such as University College, to have the slightest chance of competition against this gigantic corporation under Government patronage, the certificates of whose examiners were to be a necessary preliminary to the admission to practice both of barristers and solicitors, and which was at the same time to be itself a teaching body? The establishment of such a school appeared to him (Sir Francis Goldsmid) to be as superfluous as it was objectionable. If English lawyers were imperfectly educated, it was not for want of good teachers in the already existing schools. John Austin—to whose lectures the hon. and learned Mover had himself referred as having been adopted as a text-book—had been the first Professor of Jurisprudence in University College, London, then called the London University. Mr. Amos, afterwards legal member of the Supreme Council of India, was the first Professor of English Law in the same institution. Mr. Maine, and other eminent lawyers, had been, and were, lecturers in the Inns of Court, and in University College and King's College, London. The London schools had hitherto been unsuccessful, not from any want of excellence in the teaching, but from the unwillingness of students to give their time to the general study of law, owing to the absence of a compulsory examination. And now, just when the introduction of such an examination was about to give to these schools a chance which they had never had before, his hon. and learned Friend proposed to step in and to crush them by means of his monster establishment. He (Sir Roundell Palmer) assured them, indeed, that the larger school would do to the smaller ones rather good than harm. They were much obliged by his kind intentions, but would much prefer to try what they could do with the help of a compulsory examination, and without what the hon. and learned Member for Richmond regarded as the aid, but which they considered as the unfair and crushing rivalry, of a privileged school. Such a monopoly as that proposed was not to be found in any other learned profession. No one set of examiners had the exclusive right to admit to practice students of medicine. In Divinity every Bishop had the power of granting orders within his own diocese; nor was the proposal before the House less opposed to the successful experience of the University of London. This institution comprised a Board of Examiners, chosen by a Senate, selected partly by the Crown, and partly by the graduates. No school was specially connected with it; but students from various colleges came to the University to be examined, and, although it was a modern institution, its degrees had already obtained a high value. He (Sir Francis Goldsmid) was unwilling that a plan which had worked so well should be departed from, and that a monopoly of education should be given to any new law school.


, in supporting the Resolutions, said, he considered that organization and method were wanted in this matter of legal education, and that was precisely what the Resolutions of his hon. and learned Friend (Sir Roundell Palmer) pointed to. Several objections, however, had been raised in the debate to the proposed plan, to which he would refer. With regard to the objection of several hon. Members to the school being established by public authority, he had been under the impression that that had disappeared some time ago. Creation by public authority in this case meant no more, and was nothing more than what had been done for other institutions—the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, for instance, which did for the medical profession what this law school would do for the legal profession. With regard to another objection, that the examinations were to be left in the power of the school, his hon. and learned Friend had emphatically denied that he proposed to give the new school of law the exclusive right of examining into the fitness of the candidates. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General had said that the whole scheme would be a delusion unless they got the best men for lecturers; but at the very same time he admitted that one or two of the best modern lawyers in England had been lecturers. His learned Friend knew as well as he did that there was a certain set of men who precisely fulfilled all the conditions which would be required for lecturers—men fond of the science of law, who would be ready to devote their talents and time to teaching law scientifically. It had been objected by the hon. Member for West Sussex (Mr. Gregory), that the teaching of principles, which would be the main object of the law school education, would supersede practical education; but it could not do so, as the scheme did not propose to interfere with the present training in barristers' chambers and solicitors' offices. The hon. and learned Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) said that the lectures at the Inner Temple were a great success, and yet, almost in the next sentence, declared that he had no belief in lectures as a means of teaching the law.


said, the Inner Temple had recently appointed, not lecturers, but a system of tutors and class teaching, and it was the latter he had described as a success.


Well, he did not suppose the hon. and learned Member for Richmond would object to the word tutors instead of lecturers. The Solicitor General sneered at the proposal, and declared that the most successful barristers did not want it. Well, but it was not the heads of the profession for whom this scientific training was intended, though many of them would be the better for it. It was the average men at the Bar—County Court Judges, and that sort of person. The rank and file—if he might use the expression—of the profession missed the advantage of such an education as would be given by his hon. and learned Friend's proposal. A little scientific knowledge would be a most useful acquisition to the great bulk of the profession, and no one would deny that they had not got it at present. He had understood one hon. Member to say that in Ireland persons who were obnoxious to the Crown could not be called to the Bar. That had taken him (Mr. Hughes) by surprise; but at any rate no such statement could apply to this part of the United Kingdom; and, as the Crown would have nothing to say to the call to the Bar under the proposed scheme, he did not think the objection to this part of the proposal was more valid than those which had been made to the other portions of it. In conclusion, the hon. and learned Gentleman read an extract referring to the proposal now before the House from the speech of one of the highest legal authorities in the country (Vice-Chancellor Wickens), recently delivered at the annual meeting of this association to which he belonged, and of which the hon. and learned Member for Richmond was President. The Vice-Chancellor said— I am convinced that the simplification of the law depends upon its scientific teaching, and that scientific teaching depends substantially and practically, at this moment, on what can be done by us. He hoped, therefore, that the House would agree to the Resolutions now before them.


said, there appeared to be some misapprehension, for which he must confess the language of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) gave considerable room, as to how far it was intended that the school proposed to be established by the hon. and learned Member should possess the monopoly of legal education, and of the right to practice either as barrister or as solicitor. However far that language might extend, there could be no doubt from the wording of the Resolutions that what was aimed at was the establishment of a school from which examinations should proceed, and the certificates from which should be a necessary qualification either for the barrister or the attorney. Now, in his opinion, instead of such a monopoly as was here contemplated, it was far better that the power should be distributed over five different bodies as at present—one relating to attorneys, and subject to the highest control, the other four relating to barristers, under the control of the most eminent men of the Bar, and subject, again, to appeal to the Judges. It was impossible to have a greater guarantee for the independence of the profession. What was aimed at was said to be a better system of education. Now it was a little curious that the one Inn of Court which from 1858 down to last November resisted the requirement of compulsory examinations was represented in this House by men who were in favour of the Resolutions. As a Bencher of the Inner Temple, he could say that the governing body of that Inn had, some 14 years ago, accepted the system of compulsory examination as the one thing required to insure a satisfactory legal education; and in that requirement now at last Lincoln's Inn had acquiesced, and the four Inns were agreed; and in order to give full effect to the system thus adopted, the Inner Temple had established, at a cost of something over £2,000 a-year, a system of tutorships, with a view to practical instruction in chambers, and he was happy to say that every one of the chambers of these tutors was thoroughly well attended; and, as far as could be seen from the experience of a few months, the mode of teaching thus adopted would leave nothing to be desired. That system would be fully carried out by the Inner Temple; it would, no doubt, be followed by the other Inns of Court, and he felt sure that if this school were founded at the expense of sacrificing all that existed at present it could only adopt a plan of the same kind in order that students might study the law in such a manner as to make it of practical value to themselves and their clients hereafter. What were the views entertained upon this subject by those practising attorneys best qualified to form a correct judgment in this matter? In March, 1871, the Council of the Incorporated Law Society, whose views on the subject had been asked, expressed A decided opinion that no amount of study of the theory of the law, under professors or in classes, no examination on the subjects of such study can be accepted as a sufficient substitute for practical training in the offices of attorneys, or examinations founded on such practical training. It was said that they had since altered their opinion, but in their short resolution of March, 1871, he saw nothing contravening their original view, and the solid arguments upon which that view was formed. With regard to control over admissions and over gentlemen in practice, this was at present exercised in the case of attorneys and solicitors by eminent men in their own body—men who had attained the first rank in their branch of the profession, and who were selected in delicate and difficult matters as arbitrators—and in the case of barristers by the leading members of the profession. Of the latter there were about 200 Queen's Counsel, and as to the position and presumable fitness of these gentlemen for the responsibilities of their position, he might point out that of these 23 or 24 were Privy Councillors, and 21 or 22 Members of this House. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond hinted last year that the most eminent members of the Inns of Court did not take an active part in the government of those bodies, but he believed the division lists would show that on important questions they took a very active part. It had been said that the four Inns should be united into a sort of university, but that he thought had been suggested without consideration, because the Inns, in carrying out the suggestions to this effect of the Committee of 1845, and of the Royal Commission of 1855, already acted together as one body, and in the Council of Legal Education, comprising five Benchers from each Inn, they had the control of the whole legal education of the Bar. This Council of Legal Education acted as the congregation of the Legal University, of which the four Inns were practically the colleges, the whole body of the Benchers forming as it were the Convocation. As for the 12 dinners or so which the students had to attend in the course of the year, that might seem a rude test, but it served the purpose of bringing men together, and showing whether they were fit for admission. It was the only mode of bringing men together upon something like a collegiate system. If anything better could be devised for that end it would gladly be adopted. It must not be supposed that the Benchers derived any emoluments from their position, for they had to pay 300 guineas to the funds of the Inns upon their admission to the Bench, and had to wait 12 or 13 years before they obtained any interest thereon in the shape of chambers. The only desire of those who opposed these Resolutions—believing that the government and control of both branches of the profession was at present in the hands of those best calculated to direct it—was to keep the profession a learned body, an honour to themselves and of use to their country. Were the system absolutely abolished nobody would care much about it.


said, he had always been of opinion that the Inns of Court might have discharged their duties with greater efficiency than they had done, and he had always been in favour of compulsory examination; but nevertheless he could not support the present Motion, for he conceived that all the materials were at hand in the existing bodies for securing the object sought to be obtained. He believed that so far as general teaching in jurisprudence was concerned there was no necessity for any change. It had been the practice of gentlemen of fortune to enter the Inns of Court without any intention of practising at the Bar, and this, he thought, accounted for the abuses which had sprung up in the admission of persons who had given little or no time to the study of the law. Under the mistaken notion of encouraging men of fortune to join the Bar, the Benchers had allowed persons to be called without subjecting them to any test, with the idea, perhaps, that with regard to those who intended to practice there was no better incentive to study than the knowledge that their progress in their profession depended upon the acute judgment of the able and astute gentlemen who practised as attorneys. His belief was that if the present system failed to secure for those who intended to practice a high legal education, the proposed university would not succeed better. Whatever the shortcomings of the Inns of Court, they had certainly produced eminent lawyers and statesmen, of whom any country might be proud. But he thought that the time had arrived when there should be a system of compulsory examination, because, as matters now stood, judgeships in the colonies and other judicial offices were given to gentlemen whose only qualification was that they had been a certain number of years at the Bar. That was a scandal which should no longer be suffered. He admitted that general legal education was deficient; and that it would be advantageous for students to begin their studies by a comprehensive survey of what might be called the philosophy of law and by education in those other branches of jurisprudence in regard to which law students in this country were greatly deficient. But in his opinion the course taken by the Inns of Court would meet all the exigencies of the case, for they had established lectures in jurisprudence, in Roman law, international and constitutional law, and legal history, and in the various branches of their own municipal law. It should be remembered, also, that the practice of English law was dependent on the course of legislation, and that there was a constant alteration going on in the law arising from new legislation and the decisions of the Judges. These constant changes were unavoidable in a complex state of society like ours. The Attorney General had likened the profession of the law to other professions, and on that ground objected to the interference of the State in the matter. The fact was that the State did interfere in other professions. It interfered, for instance, in the medical pofession. But apart from that, the profession of the law stood on a distinct footing, for it was from the ranks of the Bar that the Judges were selected, and therefore he thought that the law was a profession which the Legislature might well be justified in looking after. He ventured to say that there was no necessity for the proposed school of law, for there existed in the metropolis the four Inns or Court, and also that other valuable institution, the Incorporated Law Society, and it would he a waste of power, as well as means, to create a new school of law. The only effect must be either that the new school of law would absorb or nullify the usefulness and powers of the existing bodies, or that it would itself be rendered useless by reason of the vigorous action of the Inns of Court, whose antiquity and prestige, so long as they carried out what they had begun in the education of their students, would always secure them the preference. While, moreover, he could not support the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond, he, for one, was ready to acknowledge the service he had rendered in bringing the subject of legal education before the House.


said, the House was in danger of being diverted from the real object in view, and that the Resolutions moved by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond had been misunderstood, and he certainly did not consider that they bore the construction put on them by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. Serjeant Simon). If the hon. and learned Gentleman's construction were correct, it implied that the hon. and learned Member for Richmond meant to have a separate, independent school of law, which, superseding all other constituted bodies, was to prescribe examinations, and give such certificates to practice as were at present given by the existing authorities. Now, if he believed that to be the object of the Resolutions he should be opposed to them.


I did not say that was the object of the Resolution, but that it would have that effect.


thought he would be able to show that such would not be its effect. There were two reasons why he supported the proposals of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond. He believed that if his Resolutions were carried, it would be greatly for the good of the legal profession, and still more for the good of the whole community. He was of opinion that it would be greatly for the good of the profession, because the result would be to raise that profession from the mere cleverness of practitioners into a still higher intellectual position, by requiring that fundamental and liberal knowledge of jurisprudence which must be the groundwork on which we should build our system of law, not only in England, but in every part of Her Majesty's dominions. It was well known that the cleverness of the practitioner was acquired, as it would still be, in the chambers of the barrister under whose instruction he was taught the practice of the law. But could anyone suppose, he would ask, that the mere circumstance of that instruction being continued was in any respect a substitute for the teaching of those great and enlarged principles of jurisprudence on which everybody who aimed not merely at a successful practice at the Bar, but at the future higher and still more important functions, not only at home, but also abroad, must feel and know that the right administration of the law to all Her Majesty's subjects would ultimately depend? He could not but believe that great good would ensue from such an obligation being imposed on everybody who was about to join the legal profession. When the whole of the Empire was taken into consideration, and the various kinds of law which were required, not merely common law, not merely equity, but all the principles of civil, constitutional, and international jurisprudence, the advantage of such information as the Resolutions, if adopted, would tend to secure could not in his opinion be estimated too highly. By means of them there would be established under the authority of the State, and directed by it, a school of law; but to say that everything was to be conducted in that school in accordance only with the notions which the State might think fit to impose, was to read the Resolutions in a sense in which he for one did not regard them. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General endeavoured to fasten on the words "public authority" an unnatural construction, on which he was sure the hon. and learned Member for Richmond never intended they should bear. The interpretation he (Mr. S. Walpole) put upon the hon. and learned Member's proposal was entirely different. There were at present four Inns of Court, acting independently of each other, which could only by agreement act concurrently, and if they were to take different views on the subject of education and professional discipline, there was no power by which they could jointly and concurrently be required to extend that education or enforce that discipline. This was not a public but a private authority. Public, indeed, the authority was in one sense, inasmuch as the Judges had recognised the Inns of Court as the privileged societies for admitting students to the Bar; but in another sense the authority was private; for they could all of them make their own private regulations. And so when the hon. and learned Member used the words "public authority" he apprehended he meant that a school of law should be founded subject to such provisions as might in an Act of Parliament—that is to say, by public authority—be prescribed for its government.


By Act of Parliament, or Royal Charter.


Yes; but in this case, he thought there must be an Act of Parliament, as well as a Royal Charter, to prescribe the regulations and determine the powers which an Act of Parliament could alone control. If that were so, the criticism to which the hon. and learned Member's 1st Resolution had been subjected must, he thought, entirely fall to the ground. He next came to the 2nd Resolution, which said that in establishing such a school, it was desirable to provide for an examination. The Attorney General seemed to think that the examiners were to be persons connected with the school, and that they could not be independent of it. But there was not a word in the Resolution which stated that the school of law should not be conducted independently of the examiners by whom the students were to be examined before they could pass. If he were right in that interpretation of the 2nd Resolution, the Government would, he thought, do well to consider whether the argument of the Attorney General, in respect of the general object of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond, did not make it doubtful whether it would be wise for them to defeat an object which was on all hands recognized to be good, merely because by some hypercritical analysis of the Resolutions, they might be capable of a narrow interpretation which their author never intended. Let not, then, so important a question turn upon points so minute as these. It was important that the question, after having been discussed for so many years, should, at length, be put on its right footing. He did not mean to say that the Inns of Court had neglected their duties. Far from it. The Inns of Court, and especially the Inner Temple, had lately made a noble gift for the purpose of facilitating the instruction of students, and for such measures the Inns of Court deserved great credit. They should, however, in his opinion, be empowered by Act of Parliament to act concurrently in the two great matters of extended education and professional discipline, and he did not see how that object was to be effected, unless proposals something like the present Resolutions were assented to by the House. What might be the ultimate decision of the Government it was not for him to say; but the discussion ought not, in his opinion, to close without a distinct opinion on the Resolutions having been expressed, which would show that the House was in favour of this object, and that they ought to be acted on practically—after, of course, the best advice, and the most complete consideration which the Government were able to give to the whole subject.


said, he cordially concurred in the graceful compliments which had been paid by the Attorney General to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), to whose Resolutions he regretted he could not give that support which he could have wished. Having heard the speech of his hon. and learned Friend—to use the words of another speech of his on another occasion last week—he did not think he had established any ground for Parliamentary action. The importance of the subject he did not at all underrate. He desired to see the two branches of the legal profession raised as high as possible, both in a social and an educational point of view; but then the more important the question, the greater the necessity that Parliament should not proceed by Resolution, but should have before it some clear, definite scheme on which an opinion could be formed. His hon. and learned Friend, at the commencement of his speech, said he wished to establish a school of law, under public authority, sanctioned by Act of Parliament or by Charter. Why, then, did he not ask for an Act of Parliament, or call upon the Government to give him a Charter? Instead of taking either one of those alternatives, he had taken a course which left the whole matter in a state of the utmost doubt and uncertainty. At present, the House was in ignorance on various points upon which information was absolutely essential where an opinion could be given; and even in the course of the debate totally different opinions had been expressed as to the meaning of the Resolutions upon which they were asked to decide. Hon. Members did not know either the scheme now in operation, and which was to be superseded, nor did they know the scheme which was to be substituted for it. They did not know how the governing body was to be constituted which would possess most arbitrary powers, and would alone have the right of giving a certificate to practice both to barristers and solicitors. [Sir ROUNDELL PALMER: A certificate of qualification to practice.] Was this body to consist of a mixed body of barristers and attorneys? Were they to be elected by votes? If so, were the votes to be cumulative, or were the members to be nominated by the Government? On all these points of vital importance the House was totally ignorant, and yet hon. Members were asked to pass these Resolutions, and be committed, in so doing, upon all future occasions. Suppose a young man in the country were to study law privately, and come to London, not having served his articles, and not being a member of any Inn of Court—would he, upon passing his examination, be entitled to practice, without reference to the Incorporated Law Society or the Inns of Court?


It is no part of the scheme to interfere with the power of admitting to the Bar, or of admitting as an attorney or solicitor. The power of admission and of prescribing the necessary qualifications for admission, except the examination, is to be left with those who possess it now. The proposed school will deal simply with the intellectual qualifications and sufficiency of the instruction of those who desire to practice the law.


said, in that case students must undergo two courses and be subject to two jurisdictions; but the body which gave the certificate to practice must sooner or later supersede the one which simply gave admission. Well, would anyone be prepared to say that the scheme now proposed would be superior to the existing practice, as a whole? He was not going to contend that the present system of legal education was perfect; but he thought the Law Institution undoubtedly gave satisfaction, while as to the Inns of Court, he must complain of the language of the Attorney General. It was most unfair for anyone in his high position to indulge in idle language of complaint, and to say of bodies like the Inns of Court that they were not doing what they ought to do, unless he was himself prepared to say precisely in what they failed, or in what respect improvement could be made in the course of conduct they adopted. The Inns of Court claimed no infallibility. They had done what they considered to be right in this matter, but they would be ready to listen to the advice of any person in a position to offer real advice or assistance; but they would not be influenced by mere vague and idle complaints. The Inns of Court had established a regular system of lectures, and his own opinion was, that sufficient lectures existed at present. He was not quite so firm a believer in the efficacy of lectures as his hon. and learned Friend appeared to be. Dr. Johnson said that, as a general rule, lectures must be taken from some book, and it was far better that students should go to the book, rather than listen to the lecturer's version of the book; though the Doctor added that lectures were valuable on subjects which, like chemistry, were capable of being illustrated by material examples. Though he did not go quite so far as that, he thought the promoters of the scheme exaggerated greatly the value of lectures to young men preparing for the Bar, who were generally quite competent to read and study for themselves. If, however, it were shown that more lectures were desirable, he believed that the Inns of Court were quite ready to institute more lectures. So as to the examination, they were open to conviction as to the necessity of making it more stringent; and having done their best of late to establish as high a standard of legal education as was thought desirable, it was not right on the part of the Attorney General to say that they had not done their duty and ought to be compelled to do their duty. If the Resolutions had been put as substantive Resolutions, instead of being put on the Order for going into Committee of Supply, he should have been tempted to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the whole subject of legal education. The House would then have had before it the system now in force, and would have had an opportunity of ascertaining precisely both the system now in operation, and also the details of the proposed scheme, as to which they were now in the dark. He had himself moved for the rules and regulations of the Inns of Court on the subject of education, but no Return had as yet been made, and in the absence of any information before the House on which they could rely, he thought that they would be very unwise if they committed themselves to vague general Resolutions, the meaning of which no one understood, and which might be construed in innumerable different senses.


said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Headlam) had given some reasons which he thought weighed against the Resolutions before the House, but which were really reasons in their favour, considering that the subject which it treated of was entirely new. The right hon. Gentleman objected to the Resolutions because they did not commit the House to anything very definite; but this he took to be an argument in favour of the proposal, which simply wished to have a principle affirmed, leaving the details, by means of which that principle was to be carried out, to be settled on a future occasion. He, for one, was sorry to see that the question had not excited any interest in the House outside the circle of the legal profession. As far as he knew, no hon. Member who was not or had not been a lawyer had spoken upon the subject, although the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) was one in which the whole community was interested, and which, if carried into effect, would not only improve the education of men who intended to follow the law as a profession, but would afford the best means of obtaining a good general insight into the principles of English law to gentlemen who, as country gentlemen, would many of them have to act as magistrates. He should support the Motion, because he thought it would be a great misfortune, after the great trouble which had been taken in reference to the subject, if the House allowed it to be met by something in the nature of the Previous Question, and so caused an impression to grow up out-of-doors that the matter was one which hon. Members thought unimportant. Another reason for supporting the Resolutions was that, as he understood it, they meant that the House approved of the object they really aimed at—namely, that there should be provided a sufficiently good legal education for all persons who desired to practice the law; that a certificate of competency should be granted by a central examining body; and that persons not intending to practice the profession, but anxious to acquire some knowledge of the law of their country, should have the opportunity of doing so. At present there was a compulsory examination for solicitors and attorneys, and no doubt by the time they obtained their certificate they were sufficiently grounded in a knowledge of their profession to discharge its ordinary duties with sufficient accuracy. There was also the proposed examination to be held by the Inns of Court, the nature and effect of which was not yet known, and all that the Resolution said was, that in the opinion of Parliament there should be some larger, wealthier, and more comprehensive body for the purpose he had named. The Inns of Court could not at present efficiently act together for that purpose. They might do good work separately, but they had not the machinery for combining into one great central body as an examining body in whom should rest the power of giving a qualification for practising the law. The Resolutions pledged the House to nothing but what was good and desirable, and, therefore, he hoped the House would pass them, and so affirm what was to his mind a most important principle.


said, he fell to a certain extent under the ban of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just addressed the House (Mr. Denman), having been a member of the Bar; but he had so long retired from practice, and had forgotten so much of the law he once knew, that he could speak as a country gentleman, or as one who had never learned law at all. He agreed with the hon. and learned Members for Richmond and Tiverton, that much improvement was needed in the education of members of the Bar; but the form which that improvement should take was an important question. He therefore thought the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Tiverton, that the vagueness of the Resolutions was a feature which recommended them, one of the most extraordinary statements he had ever heard. He had seen on one occasion a Resolution in the House which was vague, and to which hon. Members assented under the impression that it meant nothing. It was a Resolution relating to paper, which the right hon. Gentleman opposite at the head of the Government doubtless remembered. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!]—and for years afterwards hon. Members could never speak or vote on the subject of paper, without being told that they had committed themselves to something which they were told at the time committed them to nothing. Therefore, it was that, in his opinion, the Resolutions before the House carried in their very vagueness their own condemnation. If the hon. and learned Member had put before the House a Resolution, declaring that it was desirable there should be an improvement in the legal education of barristers he would not have met with any opposition; but such a Resolution would have carried no weight with it, because the time must come when the House must declare whether or no steps should be taken; and, if so, what steps, to effect the improvement in question. Another reason for objecting to the Resolutions was, that if he understood them rightly, they would have the effect of setting up an university for one faculty, a proceeding he must object to as being wrong in itself, and calculated to degrade the particular faculty to which it was devoted. If the hon. and learned Member had stated his desire and aim to be the improvement of the general principles of legal education in the Universities, he would have done far more good than could be hoped for from the Resolutions before the House. Although the hon. and learned Member no longer called his proposal one for the establishment of a legal university, that would be its practical effect. The Scotch system of legal education had been referred to; but were there in Scotland Inns of Courts, or was there a special college in that country for the purpose of teaching law? Just the contrary. The late Lord Advocate had informed him that both the Writers to the Signet and the advocates obtained their knowledge of the general principles of the law at the Universities; but it was proposed by these Resolutions that a totally different system should be adopted in England, and that a special school of law should be established in the metropolis. It was true the hon. and learned Member did not say this was to be the only school of law for England, but intimated that persons educated elsewhere might pass the examination and obtain a degree. If that were so, and if, as was alleged, the school would be self-supporting, why should not the experiment be tried at once, for even the students at the Inns of Court would be able to take advantage of such an institution? There was no reason why a competition of that kind should not be entered into at once if, as the hon. and learned Member had said, the fees would cover all the expenses. The hon. and learned Member had added, however, that if this expectation were not fulfilled he should seek to make up the deficiency from another quarter, which was tantamount to saying that the Inns of Court had not only been incapable of doing their duty in the past, but would probably be incapable also in the future, and that therefore their funds might be fairly applied to the purpose. It was admitted by the hon. and learned Member that he could not carry out his scheme without an Act of Parliament; but the Papers describing the plan adopted by the four Inns of Court had not yet been laid upon the Table, and, consequently, the House was asked to give a vote on the Resolutions before they were in possession of the facts of the case. The Attorney General had applied to him for certain particulars with respect to one of the Inns of which he was a Bencher. He confessed he was not a very active member of the Bench; he was elected a Bencher at the same time as his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Cardwell), and he was afraid he had given about the same amount of attention to the duties of the office as his right hon. Friend had. No doubt the gentlemen who had passed the office of Treasurer in the Inns of Court could give the particulars which the Attorney General required. The right hon. Gen- tleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. S. Walpole) supposed that persons by passing the proposed examination would thereby lay the foundation of a knowledge of jurisprudence, as if they could insure by any examination that the persons passing it should be so saturated with jurisprudence that they would make the fittest magistrates, County Court Judges, and Judges of the Superior Courts. In his own experience at the Bar, he had noticed some remarkable facts with regard to persons who had taken degrees at the Universities and those who had not. He had known a wooden spoon to walk round a Senior Wrangler as if the latter had had nothing in him at all. The Senior Wrangler might have a large stock of learning, but be deficient in the tact possessed by his opponent. In other words, one of these gentlemen might have, to use a common expression, all his goods in the warehouse and be unable to lay his hand on them when wanted, while the other had his in the shop window. Again, in those quiet and retired places, the Courts of Chancery, he had heard arguments urged in a tone and manner which, before a jury, would have had singularly little effect, and, on the other hand, he had seen gentlemen who would pass but a very poor examination, and who could hardly argue a legal point at all, cross-examine witnesses, address a jury, and lay a case before a Court with the most transparent clearness. In his opinion it would be sufficient to have a moderate test examination, and that with such an examination the public would be perfectly satisfied; but, whatever examinations might be instituted, there was a competition which would beat them all—namely, the competition of practice. Admitting the value of a test examination, he thought too much stress ought not to be laid on it. The technical education of a solicitor usually commenced at the age of 16 or 17, whereas barristers, if they went to the Universities, could not begin their career till the age of 23 or 24, and, therefore, the two classes could never be educated together in the proposed school of law. The best educated attorneys passed through the Universities like the barristers, and, perhaps, if the school of law in the Universities were improved, the best men in both branches of the legal profession might study there together. His right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council, when speaking of the University Tests Bill, had said in effect—"Shorten your periods of residence, for the pressure is very great, and men who have to earn their bread by a profession cannot wait." That was the case with regard to the attorneys. Most of them were under the necessity of earning their bread from an early period in their lives, whereas many barristers were the sons of gentlemen who were able to provide for them till a later period. This circumstance rendered it impossible to unite the two classes in their studies. It would be better to keep things as they were at present, and hon. Members need not suppose that by doing so they would be stopping education, for there would be the examinations in the Inns of Court, where lectures were given by gentlemen who were likely to impress the minds of their auditors, and to instruct them thoroughly in the first principles of law. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond had stated that when a student had acquired the first principles of law he must go into a barrister's chambers, and that it was there he would learn to be an advocate. The fact, however, was that he must go into Court before he could become a barrister. He had seen men of the greatest ability and learning, on entering Court, become quite bewildered, because they did not possess that audacity, coolness, or self-possession which others had. He had seen men of the highest ability, qualified almost to be Judges, even tremble when they got on their legs to address a jury, and never quite get over that feeling. On the other hand he had seen men who used their knowledge of the law with the greatest ability from the very beginning of their practice in their addresses both to the Judge and to the jury. What the House had to do was simply this—to place in every man's power the means by which he would be enabled to learn his profession thoroughly, and in order to effect that, in his opinion, the law ought to be studied in the Universities in conjunction with all the other faculties, and the thing most to be avoided was an attempt to drive together, by a compulsory process, two professions which differed widely from each other. If the State took care that schools of law were established in the Universities; that proper measures were adopted by the Inns of Court for the education of their students; and that only properly qualified persons were admitted into the two departments of the profession, it had discharged its duty; and when men were once admitted into the profession, they must trust to their own exertions and to nothing else for success.


said, that having addressed the House at great length on this subject last year, he should only make a few remarks on the present occasion. He had the strongest wish that the subject brought forward by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) should be well considered. He could not but feel, at the same time, that the project shadowed forth in the Resolutions was so indefinite that it did not form a sufficient guide for immediate legislation; and, therefore, it was not fair to put upon any Government the obligation of carrying out an indefinite scheme. It was not for them to say that it was desirable to improve legal education; but, at the same time, he was sure that they all felt that it was desirable. The Government wanted no urging from the hon. and learned Member, to whom the House was so much indebted for his exertions and his endeavours to promote the progress of legal education. They had no desire to throw impediments in his way, and whenever opinions were so far formed and decided that a definite course could be marked out, not by universal assent, but indicated by so much general assent as would show that another system was earnestly desired and wished for by those who were the most able to consider the subject and decide what was most likely to accomplish the greatest good that could be effected by education, the Government would adopt it. He did not think that the position of the Inns of Court was thoroughly understood by the House or the public. He knew the facts with regard to his own Inn. The property of Lincoln's Inn was acquired in the same way as the property of the London clubs—by purchase for hard cash. The purchase took place a long time ago; and perhaps the House might be surprised to hear for what a small sum. Its members subscribed together, and on the 8th of February, 1580, they purchased Lincoln's Inn itself for £520. On the 10th of May, 1584, a part of the garden was bought for 20 marks—something like 13 guineas—so that the whole of the property of Lincoln's Inn was acquired for £533 13s. 4d. [An hon. MEMBER: What is it worth now?] He believed it was at present worth between £300,000 and £400,000. It was a mistake to suppose that Lincoln's Inn acquired its property by the payments of its students. On the contrary, they were a loss to the Inn. During 1871 the Inn received from 450 students the sum of £1,928, and paid for dinners alone, exclusive of wine, £1,688. The Inn, therefore, by means of its property, was able to spend more upon their students than it received from them. That, he believed, was substantially the position of the other Inns also. Lincoln's Inn had acquired its property honestly—a long time ago, it was true; but it was none the less its own for that. What, then, was a man charged for going to the Bar? The society received on admission of a student £8 11s. 6d., and the student paid to the Government £25 2s. 6d. for the stamp, which, of course, did not benefit the society. During the succeeding three years the student paid for dinners, gowns, and Inn dues, 15 guineas. That entitled him to 72 dinners gratis, besides the privilege of using the library and attending chapel and having a pew. On his call he paid the society £11 7s. 6d., and a subscription of £20 to the library; and to the Government he paid £50 2s. 6d. in stamps. From that time he paid £1 a-year to the society, or £14 down, and beyond that the society got nothing from him. Of course, it was the duty of the Inn to improve its property, and it was desirable that any surplus should be devoted to the improvement of the means of acquiring a legal education; but that was one of those duties which were sometimes described as duties of imperfect obligation. One other statement he would make with regard to the body to which he had the honour to belong—he meant the Benchers. It was supposed that they derived some wonderful amount of profit from their connection with these societies. But the contrary was the fact. They received no pecuniary benefit whatever. It was true they had the privilege of dining at half-past 5 for half-a-crown; but as they were for the most part family men, and fully engaged, they could very seldom use this privilege, and the dinners usually cost them more than they were worth. Besides that, they had a great deal of business to do for the Inn without payment, and as to many of them time was money, they were at considerable pecuniary loss in consequence. The Commission appointed in 1854 procured information showing the then position of the various Inns, and reported that the Inner Temple had a surplus of £5,223 15s. 2d. per annum; the Middle Temple had a surplus of £1 1s. 10d.; Lincoln's Inn of £3,870 19s. 1d.; and Gray's Inn had a deficiency of £374 4s. 7d. But the Commissioners, with perfect truth, pointed out that these surpluses were not real; the buildings of the Inns were very old, and would have to be rebuilt, and the surpluses were being accumulated for repairing dilapidations. He had said enough to show that the supposed wealth of these bodies was imaginary. He wanted now to show what they had done. In 1851 the four Inns of Court, between them, established five Professorships of Law, called Readerships. Lectures were delivered on law in its several branches—Common Law, Equity, Jurisprudence, Real Property Law, and Roman Law. Subsequently, a sixth Readership was added for Hindoo and Mahomedan law. The number of students who attended these lectures was about 300. The number would have been greater, but the students could not, of course, be expected to attend if they got no immediate advantage thereby, and as there was no compulsory examination there was no great inducement for them to attend. But he had no doubt, with that compulsory examination to which all the four Inns of Court had now assented, the attendance on the lectures would be very considerably increased. But the matter did not stop here. It was quite true that some years ago three out of the four Inns of Court decided in favour of compulsory examination, and Lincoln's Inn at that time refused by a majority to agree; but last year Lincoln's Inn had come to the same resolution, and the four Inns unanimously had agreed that in future there should be compulsory examination on admission to the Bar. They agreed to appoint a council, consisting of a small number of Benchers—five from each— who should nominate examiners and recommend a good scheme for examination. That council had met and appointed a committee to draw up the scheme. In addition to that, it was felt by the Inns of Court that they were in a position to contribute more largely than they had hitherto done to the funds from which the professors or lecturers were to be paid; and they authorized the council either to engage new professors at large salaries, or to secure better men for the present professorships if larger salaries would secure them. It would not be the fault of the Inns of Court if they did not get the best men in the kingdom; at all events, they offered what they believed sufficient remuneration to secure them. He by no means wished to be understood, so far as he was individually concerned, to have any other than a feeling of thankfulness and gratitude to the hon. and learned Member for Richmond for having brought forward this subject last year. He had, no doubt, thereby expedited the resolutions of the Inns of Court, in favour both of an improved system of education, and a thorough examination on admission to the Bar; and he hoped to see both those objects accomplished so far as the Inns of Court were concerned. But then it was said to be desirable that not only students of the Inns of Court, but gentlemen not intending to follow the law as a profession, and even Members of Parliament, should have the opportunity of studying the science of law. He by no means dissented from that, and there was a very easy way of attaining it. Anyone could become a student of an Inn of Court, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be kind enough to remit the tax so far as regarded those students who made a declaration that they did not intend to follow the law as a profession, they might for £8 11s. 6d. become forthwith members of an Inn of Court, and thereby be entitled to attend excellent lectures under the new scheme. There was a third body to whom allusion had been made during the debate—he meant attorneys and solicitors. If there was no provision already made for their education, he should think there was a pressing necessity for it. But, in fact, provision was made years ago, and a very good and satisfactory provision, which had resulted in a considerable rise of that branch of the profession in the estimation of the public. The Incorporated Law Society had for years, at the expense of the profession, maintained a staff of lecturers and examiners, to teach and examine articled clerks, and he believed they had been well taught and examined. He did not, therefore, see, so far as they were concerned, any pressing necessity for immediate action. He did not wish to be supposed, either as an individual or as a humble Member of the Government, to oppose a grand new scheme, if it could be fairly worked out in a definite and satisfactory form, to the satisfaction both of the profession and the public. But what he maintained was that there was no pressing and immediate necessity for that scheme, and until it could be made completely effectual it was better not to be embarrassed by vague and indefinite Resolutions upon the subject. No one could conceive the injury often done to a good cause by hanging the millstone of a vague Resolution around its neck. He had listened with attention to the very lucid speech of the hon. and learned Member; but he must say he could not agree with him in the interpretation he had put on the Resolutions he proposed. It was certainly quite possible to put two interpretations on them, and that showed the difficulty there would be in acting upon them. He would now show what had been done in this matter as regards inquiry. In 1846 there was a Committee of that House appointed to inquire generally into the improvement and extension of legal education in England and Ireland. The Committee recommended, in substance, that the Inns of Court should do that which they were then unwilling to do, but which they were now willing to perform. Then there was a Royal Commission in 1854 to inquire, not merely into the arrangements of the Inns of Court, but the means most likely to secure a systematic and sound education of the students of law, and their recommendations were, so far as the Inns of Court were concerned, substantially the same as those previously made by the Committee of that House. Since then there had been no public inquiry, and no recommendation at all. Would it, then, be right that they should by abstract Resolutions, without further inquiry, without further investigation, come to a conclusion directly contrary to that arrived at in the first instance by a Committee of Inquiry, and subsequently by a Royal Commission? The recommendation of both was substantially that the Inns of Court should establish the means of education and the means of examination, and they were now willing to do both. A Resolution affirming that a general school of law should be established was not a Resolution which the House of Commons ought to pass, unless it was intended to throw on the Government a definite duty which it was expected to perform; and with regard to that, they must not pass general Resolutions which were not to be carried out presently, for the meaning of a Resolution was that it should be at once acted upon. If, then, the House intended to throw on the Government a duty to be performed immediately, they must tell the Government what they wished and required. The House must not tell them that they desired to establish something, the meaning of which was so indefinite that it needed an hour's speech to explain it, and when it had been explained they could not say what was its precise effect. Therefore, while most strongly agreeing with the general object which the hon. and learned Member had in view—namely, to obtain an improved system of education for all branches of the legal profession, and to secure its complete efficiency, he was sorry to say he could not support his Motion.


said, that probably the House thought, in that debate, it had had enough of lawyers, and he did not propose to inflict another professional speech upon them. That question was not one to be determined by the conflicting opinions of barristers. Law reform was not a professional matter, but one which affected every class of the community; and the question they had to ask themselves as members of that community, and, he ventured to add, as Members of the party which sat on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, was, what was the policy of the Executive Government on the great subject of law reform? Last Session, when that unhappy measure called the Judicial Committee Bill was introduced, he had said that the present Administration was one which had done less for law reform than any Administration which had ever held office in this country. Now the broad, elevated, enlightened, and philosophical views on law reform to which they had just listened would perhaps open the minds of the House and the country as to what were the views of the Government on the subject which was the basis of all law reform—namely, legal education. They had had that night from Members of the Government two speeches in answer to a Motion brought forward by an hon. and learned Member who not in his profession alone, but in that House and in the country had more influence than any man who had adorned his profession; and they had been told that the Resolution was to be rejected with contempt, because it had been explained in a speech of an hour's length, which nobody could understand, and that—adopting an image of singular appropriateness—it was proposed to hang the millstone of a vague Resolution about the neck of Her Majesty's Government. Well, if the Government had no load of more oppressive character hung about their neck than that vague Resolution they would be in a very fortunate position. The two speeches against the Motion to which he had referred were couched in very different styles; but they had both the same objection, and both tended to the same end. They were good specimens of an art which appeared to be highly cultivated in official quarters—namely, the art "how not to do it." It was admitted that the system of legal education in this country was thoroughly and radically defective; and what was the plan of the Government for dealing with the subject? They rejected the Resolutions of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), and in rejecting it, the House had received an apology for the bodies who administered the existing system from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General which descended to half-pence. The income of the Inns of Court was something like £50,000 a-year. They were told what they had done for legal education, and that was a little shadowy. But he wanted to know what they were going to do for it in future, and that he could not gather from the speeches of either the Attorney or the Solicitor General. But there was sitting on the Treasury bench a most distinguished Member, whose sentiments on that question he should much like to hear, one who was at one time a very great law reformer, and who devoted his early attention, before he adorned official life, especially to the reform of the Inns of Court. He referred to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Before the debate closed, and especially after the touching appeal of the Solicitor General on the remission of taxation, he hoped they would hear from that right hon. Gentleman whether his views on law reform and legal education accorded with those to which they had just listened. If for nothing else, that protracted discussion would be useful if it tended in the opinion of the country to guage the character of the hopes of law reform which they were entitled to derive from the Executive Government.


, as one who had for nearly 40 years practised as a solicitor, wished to remark that during the whole of that discussion they had not heard a single word from any of the speakers against the mode of examination at present pursued under the auspices of the Law Institution in regard to the branch of the legal profession with which he was connected. The whole of the debate had turned on the alleged abuses of the Inns of Court; but he should like to ask what better or more competent tribunal for examining articled clerks desiring to fit themselves for practice as solicitors and attorneys could be found than the Law Institution as it had been working for the last 25 years? Articled clerks were obliged now to obtain certificates by passing a severe examination before they were admitted to practice, and nothing would be gained by applying to them the system proposed by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond. He, for one, would be very sorry to see these Resolutions passed, because he believed that the right place for the education of young solicitors was in the offices of attorneys, instead of at an institution in London. He believed even that young men intended for the Bar would receive much advantage by spending two or three years in the same way, for by so doing they would learn much that was practical, and lose a good deal that was merely theoretical. Though entertaining the highest possible respect for his hon. and learned Friend, he still felt bound to enter his protest against these Resolutions.


believed that the legal profession had never shone brighter than during this debate, for the hon. and learned Members who had taken part in it had done their best to mystify the House. As a layman, he wished to state that he was instructed to say, on behalf of the solicitors in the county with which he was connected, that they were in favour of the measure, and he therefore concluded that the Resolutions were very desirable. He congratulated hon. Members opposite who had taken part in the debate on their adherence to Conservative opinions, for they confirmed his impression that he was sitting on the right side of the House; but in spite of the arguments which had been urged from the Treasury Bench, believing that the time had come when all these institutions should be thrown open to public competition, he should support the Resolutions brought forward by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond.


, with reference to an allusion made in the course of the debate, could vouch from personal knowledge for the fact that Government had no more influence over the admission of gentlemen to the Bar in Ireland than they had over any other body in the kingdom.


said, he was desirous of stating the exact position of the question raised by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), because it was evident from what had fallen from his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. V. Harcourt) that that position was not clearly understood. His hon. and learned Friend said that the Resolutions of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond were about to meet with rejection at the hands of the Government. That, however, was not so. The Government had not moved the Previous Question; but his hon. and learned Friend (Sir Roundell Palmer) had himself proposed his Resolutions in a form which had the effect of raising the Previous Question. And the distinction was a very important one, because the effect of it was, that the House was not about to affirm or deny the matter of the propositions stated in the Resolutions of his hon. and learned Friend. Those who declined to vote in his favour against the Speaker leaving the Chair would simply, by their vote, say that it was not convenient or expedient for the House at the present moment to affirm the matter contained in those Resolutions. That was a question which left the merits of the proposition itself entirely open, if considered in respect to their truth or falsity. The question, therefore, was whether the House at the present moment should commit itself to the propositions contained in those Resolutions. Nothing could be more true than the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. S. Walpole), as to the effect of an abstract Resolution on a former occasion. In 1857 or 1858 the House of Commons pledged itself by an abstract Resolution that it was extremely desirable that the paper duty should be repealed, and the effect of that abstract Resolution for which nobody in particular was responsible was not to advance but very greatly to hamper the repeal, and he would put it to his hon. and learned Friend whether the affirmation of the Resolutions he proposed would not tend rather to hamper than to accelerate the progress he desired. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford had completely misapprehended what had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General. The Solicitor General had said that those Resolutions would hang like a millstone round the question of legal education, and not round the neck of the Government. There was nothing more attractive, nothing more seductive, and, indeed, nothing more dangerous to a popular Assembly, than to be led into the affirmation of propositions which had much to recommend them, and which might be in the main true, but which there were not at the time the means of carrying into practical effect, and that was the position in which they were now placed. He was glad that the debate had been almost exclusively confined to the legal profession, for while that profession was so much at issue with itself as to the wisdom of adopting those Resolutions, as evidenced by the diversity of opinions existing among them which had found vent during the debate, and while the lay Members of the House felt themselves so little able to cope with the subject, as was shown by the fact that the larger proportion of those who had attended the debate were members of the profession, did his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond think that by inducing the House to declare that that was a subject calling for Parliamentary interference he would really promote the progress of the cause he had at heart? The answer of his hon. and learned Friend was "I do;" but for himself, his experience of the actual working life of the House in regard to the passing of abstract Resolutions did not lead him to entertain such an opinion. At the same time, he was far from finding fault with his hon. and learned Friend, who in a great degree had achieved a substantial triumph. It was quite evident that a former discussion in that House had acted materially upon powerful and learned bodies outside who practically had this question in their own hands. He congratulated his hon. and learned Friend upon the effect his labours had already produced and upon the declarations of to-night, because, although there had been a singular conflict of opinion and bewilderment with reference to the subject-matter of those Resolutions, yet there had been generally a most authoritative declaration from almost every legal Member who had spoken in the sense of urging onwards those learned bodies in the course upon which they had already entered. But what would be the position in which the House would be placed by passing those Resolutions, tested by the declarations of their warm supporter, the hon. and learned Member for Tiverton (Mr. Denman)? He said it was their recommendation that they pledged the House to nothing of a definitive character. Would his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond adopt that construction of the Resolutions? The hon. and learned Member for Tiverton said it was very well the Resolutions did not go further, and that they did not attempt to define the mode of attaining the object, because there would arise differences of opinion. [Mr. DENMAN: About details was what I intended to say.] No doubt that was the hon. and learned Member's meaning; and what did it imply? That there would be differences of opinion in giving effect to general principles. Who was to undertake the task? Were the Government to do it? In the past, it had been charged as a fault against the Government that they had overlooked the limits of the means and time of the House, and had shown a disposition to submit more measures than it could possibly deal with. The Government had now, so far as they knew, fully mortgaged the time of the House; they had introduced measures which it would require great exertions on the part of hon. Members to deal with and dispose of; and, under those circumstances, could they hold out a hope that they could at once proceed to throw this matter into shape, which his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond had not ventured to do, and of which the hon. and learned Member for Tiverton said it was well it had not been done? There was one man in the House who was more competent than the Government to throw the matter into shape; that was his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond himself; and it was to be regretted that he had not adopted the course of asking leave to bring in a Bill, for that was the only way in which to raise an issue for the purpose of obtaining an immediate decision. If his hon. and learned Friend meant to lay down by the Resolutions that it was the duty of the Government to frame a measure and introduce it, it was not a fair demand which he made upon them; and there could not be any advantage in declaring that it was incumbent upon them to take up a matter which, under present circumstances, it was not in their power to bring into shape. The Resolutions, moreover, did not point out the mode in which a legislative measure was to be framed. It must proceed more or less upon coercion applied to the bodies which controlled examination for and admission to the Bar, and it must find ways and means by a resort to the revenues of those bodies wholly or in part. In what position would the Government be without a Resolution of the House referring to the property of those bodies? How could the Government, without the authority of such a Resolution, in the divided state of opinion among the legal profession, in the vague state of the public mind, as evidenced by the scanty attendance of hon. Members that evening, and with the pressure of Public Business, force upon those bodies a measure which even his hon. and learned Friend had not found it possible to put into shape? The Government, therefore, did not deem it their duty to commit themselves to the assertion of these propositions, which they could not act upon at present, and which, launched as a mere declaration of the opinion of the House, would not bind any Government or any individual to encounter the difficulties of the question, or advance the cause which his hon. and learned Friend desired to promote. Let it not be supposed, however, that the Government were unwilling to promote it if they could. A Committee and a Commission had reported that it was from and through the Inns of Court and the Incorporated Law Society that the proposed reform must come, and the Government wished to act upon that principle. The only mode of raising the question, then, was for these bodies to take the initiative, and with the knowledge, the means, the authority, the traditions, and all the other advantages they possessed, to frame a plan for bringing legal education into a more satisfactory state. He did not wish to cast on them the entire responsibility, however, for what the Government could do in communication with them should gladly and heartily be done; but it was far better, under present circumstances, that those bodies should bring the matter forward, and that they should invite the aid of the Government, than that the Government should themselves, with their imperfect means and in a state of opinion so divided, undertake a task which they could only approach under the greatest and most hopeless disadvantages. He hoped he had shown that he was not putting off his hon. and learned Friend with nice words, for the voting on the Previous Question involved no disparagement of his general proposition; and he had indicated the limits within which it was possible that the Government might be able to contribute to practical progress, and beyond which, until they could see their way more clearly to the support of public opinion, it would not be their duty to go.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 116; Noes 103: Majority 13.

Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred till Monday next.

Anderson, G. Beaumont, Captain F.
Assheton, R. Bingham, Lord
Ayrton, rt. hon. A. S. Brewer, Dr.
Baggallay, Sir R. Brinckman, Captain
Bateson, Sir T. Brocklehurst, W. C.
Bruce, rt. hon. H. A. James, H.
Buller, Sir E. M. Jessel, Sir G.
Cameron, D. Knatchbull-Hugessen, E. H.
Campbell, H.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Leeman, G.
Cawley, C. E. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Chambers, T. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Clay, J. Locke, J.
Coleridge, Sir J. D. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Collins, T. Lowther, J.
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Craufurd, E. H. J. M'Mahon, P.
Dalrymple, C. Maitland, Sir A. C. R. G.
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Eaton, H. W. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
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Meyrick, T. Palmer, Sir R.
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