HC Deb 10 July 1873 vol 217 cc186-91

Officers and Offices.

Clause 73 (Transfer of existing staff of officers to Supreme Court).

MR. R. N. FOWLER (for Viscount MAHON)

moved an Amendment to entitle District Registry Clerks of the Court of Probate to the same progressive salaries and the scale of superannuation as were enjoyed by the clerics of the principal Registry Office, and to secure retiring allowances to those persons. The case of these men well deserved the con- sideration of the Committee. He therefore begged to move the insertion of the Amendment which stood in the name of his noble Friend (Viscount Mahon).

Amendment proposed, In page 36, line 29, after the word "thereof," to insert the words "District registry clerks of the Court of Probate shall moreover be entitled to the same progressive salaries and scale of superannuation as are enjoyed by the clerks of the principal registry office: and it shall he lawful for the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to grant to any clerk in a district registry attached to the Court of Probate, who from age, infirmity, or other causes may desire or have to retire from his duties on the coining into operation of this Act, or at any time thereafter, who may have had continuous employment in such district registry, and in the office of any registrar of the courts formerly exercising jurisdiction in matters and causes testamentary (abolished by the Court of Probate Act, 1857), for twenty years and upwards immediately before such retirement, an annual allowance of two-thirds of the salary and emoluments of his office."—(Mr. Robert Fowler.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, he thought the case of the District Registrars one of great hardship. They ought to be placed on the same footing with regard to superannuation as the other Civil servants.


said, he was not surprised that the noble Viscount who proposed this Amendment had run away from it. It had nothing whatever to do with the Bill. The reason why they were not placed in the same position as the clerks in the principal Registry was because they did not do half the work.


maintained that the District Registry Clerks were entitled to he placed in the same position as the Registry Clerks in the Chief Court of Probate, and were as much entitled to proper superannuation as Equity Judges.


said, he could not see any hardship in the case of these men. They had hired themselves on certain terms, and they got what they bargained for. They were not Civil servants. Every Civil servant must produce a certificate from the Civil Service Commission which none of these individuals could do. In the next place, Civil servants were the servants of the Crown, but these men were appointed by the Registrars.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 49; Noes 171: Majority 122.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 74 (Officers of Courts of Pleas at Lancaster and Durham).


said, that as there was no chance of the Bill passing this Session he would move that the Chairman report Progress. It was important that the Turnpikes Acts Continuance, &c., Bill, which stood on the Orders, should not be brought on, as it had hitherto been, at the small hours.


said, he could hardly think that the hon. Member was serious in making the proposal. It was wholly without precedent, on a measure of first-rate magnitude for which the Government was responsible, to move until midnight, or until after midnight, and in the absence of any special cause, that the Chairman should report Progress. In all his experience he never knew such a proposal being made, and as it was the first, so he hoped it would be the last. The hon. Member was entitled to the credit, whatever it might be, of the originality of the step; but as it broke up the uniform practice of the House he trusted the Committee would not adopt it.


said, the reason why it was desired that the further progress of this measure should be stopped at that point was the desire on the part of many hon. Members that they should proceed with the Turnpike Acts Continuance, &c., Bill—a Bill of such importance that it should be considered before the small hours of the morning.


said, that he would pledge himself that if the Bill referred to did not come on until an hour after midnight he would not proceed with it, and that, as far as he could, he would give a full opportunity for its consideration.


said, that under the circumstances he would withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


moved to amend the clause to the effect that vacancies in the Courts should be filled "with the concurrence" of the President of the Division of the High Court of Justice, who was more likely to understand the re- quirements than was the Lord Chief Justice, whose name stood in the clause.

Amendment proposed, In page 37, line 20, to leave out the words "Lord Chief Justice of England," and insert the words "President of the Division of the High Court of Justice to which such officer is attached,"—(Mr. Raikes,)

—instead thereof.


said, he proposed to leave out that portion of the clause requiring such concurrence, so that the concurrence of the Treasury would alone be required.


observed that it would cause great dissatisfaction among the Judges if the Lord Chancellor and the First Lord of the Treasury, who were both Members of the Cabinet, should be given the power of abolishing offices connected with the Courts.


thought that the convenience of some one of the high legal dignitaries should be required.


inquired whether the section would affect the extensive patronage of the Master of the Rolls?


said, that when the Report of the Select Committee which had inquired into the subject was carried into effect it would practically abolish the extensive patronage.


remarked that it was taken too much for granted that that Report would be acted upon; the fact being that the House usually reversed the decisions of its Committees.


said, he must ask again what would become of the patronage of the Master of the Rolls, which was very considerable, both legal and literary? It was no answer to say the question had been dealt with by a Committee upstairs.


intimated that the question was under the consideration of the Government, who would deal with the Report of the Committee. As to the Amendment, he would agree to the words "Lord Chief Justice" being left out of this clause; but he could not agree to the insertion of the other words, because he thought that the Lord Chancellor and the Treasury might be trusted to do what was right with offices as vacancies occurred.


pointed out that the Committee had reported, and the question was whether the Government would take action on it?


wished to know whether it was intended to separate the patronage now vested in the Master of the Rolls?


said, that the Government would be responsible for any alterations that might be made; but he could not give an intelligible answer until after the Government had carefully considered the Report of the Committee. When that had been done, he would give the best answer he could.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 99; Noes 160: Majority 61.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 75 (Personal officers of future Judges).


moved in page 38, line 34, to leave out "secretary," and insert "principal clerk." The effect of the clause would be to lower the status of the clerks to the Common Law Judges. This proposal of the Government was on the score of economy, but upon a principle which he thought unwise. His Amendment was intended to retain the salaries and positions of the officers of the Judges as they now were as nearly as possible.


pointed out that the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member would deprive the Equity Judges of their secretaries, who were barristers, and capable of performing legal duties.


observed that the services of the clerk were invaluable to the barrister; that it was he, and not the country, who ought to reward him.

Amendment negatived.


moved, in page 38, line 38, after "justice," insert— Who shall belong to the Chancery division, a secretary whose salary shall be four hundred pounds per annum, a principal clerk whose salary shall be three hundred pounds per annum, and a junior clerk whose salary shall be one hundred and twenty pounds per annum, and to each of the other judges of the High Court of Justice.


moved that the Chairman report Progress, as there was a desire on the part of many hon. Members that reasonable time should be afforded for the discussion of the next Order—the Turnpike Acts Continuance, &c., Bill.


said, if it were the wish of the House he would consent to reporting Progress.


as Chairman of the Select Committee on the Bill, said, that many hon. Members were in attendance in anticipation of the Bill coming on.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.