HC Deb 09 May 1873 vol 215 cc1771-8

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £44,925, to complete the sum for Salaries of Law Officers, Law Charges, &c.


said, he thought it unnecessary to discuss this Vote at the present time, inasmuch as there was a Select Committee on the subject sitting upstairs.


complained of the difficulty that there was in investigating these charges, and called especial attention to the Vote of £2,000 for the Legal department of the Foreign Office. He could not understand how it was that, while the legal charges of the Home Department and other Departments were put under their respective heads, that charge was not. He suggested the possibilty of the legal work of the several Departments being consolidated and the expenditure materially reduced, and complained there was no Minister responsible to the House for the Estimate, while the system was so complicated that it was impossible for Members to deal with it, and made some of them wish for a Dictator for three days to sweep abuses away. He trusted the Committee now sitting would be found to lead to considerable economy.


said, that when the late Queen's Advocate resigned, Dr. Deane was appointed at a salary of £2,000 a-year, to assist the Law Officers of the Crown on subjects relating to International Law, and as the sum paid to the Queen's Advocate for the performance of the same duties used to be £5,000 a-year, there was a clear saving of £3,000 per annum.


said, they never heard of economy in connection with legal expenditure.

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £158,275, to complete the sum for Criminal Prosecutions at Assizes, &c.


pointed out that great dissatisfaction had been created by the arbitrary disallowance by the Treasury of prosecution expenses. Complaints had been made about the course adopted not only in that House, but in some of the highest Courts in the land, but there was every reason to believe that the same system was still being pursued. To show that they were arbitrary, he mentioned that in his own county, there had been alternations as to the allowance and disallowance of certain items on different occasions. The amount saved to the country by these disallowances was insignificant compared with the vexation they caused; and the total expenditure for prosecutions was not large, considering that the public welfare made the repression of crime a primary duty of the State.


said, the Government had conferred with the Judicature Commission on the subject, and had prepared a Bill, which he hoped to introduce very shortly. The Bill would deal with all these matters, and would, he trusted, remove the objections which had been so strongly urged to the present system.


said, he observed an item of £3,883 in the Estimates for the Examiners of Criminal Law Accounts, who exercised the arbitrary power of cutting and carving them. The Committee was therefore asked to vote money for a system which had been condemned. He thought the Committee ought, without further delay, to know what the Government intended to propose.


said, he could not help thinking that the hon. Member who had last spoken was somewhat unreasonable in demanding the details of a Bill which he (Mr. Bruce) had not yet asked leave to introduce. He admitted that the present system was unsatisfactory, but the examiners had important functions to perform. Time was when these accounts amounted to £300,000. They were now only £145,000, and economies had been introduced for which the House ought to be grateful. It was not necessary to spend this money when voted; but the House must make some provision until the Bill which he was about to bring in was passed.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) £143,778, to complete the sum for the Court of Chancery in England.


complained of the number of salaried officers. He objected to the expenses of various personal attendants of the Lord Chancellor—such as the gentlemen of the chamber, messengers, &c. The Master of the Rolls also had a gentleman of the chamber. He wished to know whether in the new arrangements that were to be made these offices would be held as sinecures?


said, that this matter might safely be left to the Committee upstairs, who had gone into this question at great length.


said, the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had shown his foresight when he objected that whenever exception was taken to any Vote it would be said—"Oh, the Select Committee have approved it." There had been to-night two or three of these exclamations. He never regretted his absence from the House more than he did when this Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the Civil Service Estimates. It was the duty of the Government, and not of any Committee, to look to the expenditure. He trusted the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Harcourt) was acting the part of a great economist in that Committee, but he for one did not anticipate much good from its labours.


said, all the Judges had principal clerks, and the gentlemen of the chamber to the Lord Chancellor and the Master of the Rolls were really the principal clerks to those Judges under a grander name.


thought that great good would result from the Committee on the Civil expenditure.


said, that as the Committee upstairs was to consider the whole question, he would not proceed with an Amendment to reduce the travelling expenses of the Masters in Lunacy.


said, that there were very good reasons for this expenditure, and he thought the hon. Member bad adopted a wise course in not proceeding with his Amendment.


asked, whether it was necessary to vote salaries for the officers of the Master of the Rolls when the Mastership was vacant, and seemed likely to remain so?


wished to take the opinion of the Chairman of the Committee sitting upstairs, as to the course they should take in the House when Votes were under discussion which were before them upstairs.


said, it would be very unbecoming in him to give an opinion what course hon. Members in such a position should take. He had not intended to speak on this Vote; but he might state that it had been several days before the Committee, and that it was not impossible that before very long a Report would be presented upon it.


stated that the officers of the Master of the Rolls were almost without exception officers of the Court of Chancery, and did their work just as well while the Mastership was vacant as when it was filled.


asked what the Master of the Rolls' trainbearer did when there was no Master of the Rolls? The Solicitor General had said the officers were almost without exception officers of the Court of Chancery.


suggested the postponement of the Vote.


asked whether it was intended to appoint a new Master of the Rolls?


said, the right hon. Gentleman opposite appeared to forget that he (Mr. Gladstone) explained a short time ago that as the Judicature Bill was pending it was expedient, as long as arrangements were made for the efficient discharge of the duties, to postpone the appointment. The vacancy could not, of course, last very long, not, he thought beyond the beginning of the Long Vacation, and there was a full intention of appointing a new Master, which would be done with a full understanding as to the re-consideration of all these offices. A postponement of the Vote would be inconvenient, for as much might be said for postponing many others which were before the Select Committee. That would not be a rational procedure, unless the labours of the Committee were likely to terminate in time to enable them to report and to enable the Government to consider the Report, and the House to consider the recommenda- tion of the Government before the end of the Session. This was not possible, but the passing of the Votes would not absolve the Government from the duty of giving effect to the Committee's Report wherever practicable, without waiting for the close of the financial year.

Vote agreed to.

(4.) £51,837, to complete the sum for the Superior Courts of Common Law in England.


moved that the Chairman do report Progress. The hon. Gentleman was proceeding to refer to the expenditure for the Common Law Courts, but—


stated that the hon. Member could not discuss a Vote that had already passed.

Vote agreed to.

(5.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £31,478, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1874, for such of the Salaries and Expenses of the Loudon Bankruptcy Court as are not charged on the Consolidated Fund.


again rose, and said, he wished to obtain from the Attorney General some explanation of this most extraordinary Tichborne case. It affected the Estimates for all these Law Courts. They were denied explanations or answers to Questions put specifically on that subject. But more than that, they were rebuked. He had been most severely rebuked and charged with impropriety by the Home Secretary for presuming to raise a discussion on this Tichborne case.


I rise to Order. I want to know whether all this is in Order with the Question before the Committee?


I have been endeavouring to ascertain whether the hon. Gentleman would connect his remarks with the Vote before the Committee, but so far I have been unable to ascertain the connection.


Amongst other offences which the Claimant has committed he has come under the Bankruptcy Law. I connect my observations with this Vote because this man is, amongst other things, a bankrupt. I venture to think, therefore, that this would be a favourable opportunity for the Attorney General to explain to the Committee something of the nature of the difficulties of the Tichborne case. We have been told on a former occasion that it was an insult to common sense to suppose that this man—["Order!"]—


I am sorry to have again to point out to the hon. Member that in the remarks he is making he has departed from the ordinary rules and practice of the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Whalley.)

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(6.) £364,984, to complete the sum for the County Courts.

(7.) £76,424, to complete the sum for the Courts of Probate and Divorce, &c. in England.


again rose and said, that Tichborne was also in the Probate Court. Therefore, the Vote offered another opportunity for explanation at the hands of the Attorney General.

Vote agreed to.

(8.) £10,499, to complete the sum for the High Court of Admiralty.

(9.) £4,450, to complete the sum for the Office of Land Registry.

(10.) £11,693, to complete the sum for Police Courts, London and Sheerness.

(11.) £191,482, to complete the sum for the Metropolitan Police.

(12.) £315,000, to complete the sum for Police, Counties and Boroughs, Great Britain.

(13.) £374,593, to complete the sum for Convict Establishments, England and Colonies.

(14.) £90,820, to complete the sum for Maintenance of Prisoners in County and Borough Prisons, &c. Great Britain.

(15.) £186,000, to complete the sum for Reformatories and Industrial Schools, Great Britain.

(16.) £25,492, to complete the sum for Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.

(17.) £14,850, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Legal Charges, England.

(18.) £56,290, to complete the sum for Criminal Proceedings, Scotland.


asked the Prime Minister, whether it was proposed to make any change in the mode of paying the Law Officers of Scotland? Those of England were now paid by salary instead of fees, but those of Scotland were still paid by fees.


said, the cases were not parallel. The remuneration of the Lord Advocate came from a variety of sources, and he was not paid by fees in the same way the English Law Officers had been. In fact, the Lord Advocate's was almost a fixed salary.

Vote agreed to.

(19.) £47,754, to complete the sum for Courts of Law and Justice, &c. Scotland.

(20.) £26,113, to complete the sum for the General Register House, Edinburgh.

(21.) £19,793, to complete the sum for Joint Departments of Prisons, Judicial Statistics, &c., Scotland.

(22.) £65,231, to complete the sum for Criminal Prosecutions, &c., Ireland.

(23.) £37,550, to complete the sum for the Court of Chancery, Ireland.

(24.) £23,552, to complete the sum for the Superior Courts of Common Law, Ireland.

(25.) £6,761, to complete the sum for the Court of Bankruptcy and Insolvency, Ireland.

(26.) £10,931, to complete the sum for the Landed Estates Court, Ireland.

(27.) £9,663, to complete the sum for the Court of Probate, Ireland.

(28.) £1,775, to complete the sum for the Admiralty Court Registry, Ireland.

(29.) £13,650, to complete the sum for the Office for Registration of Deeds, Ireland.

(30.) £2,620, to complete the sum for the Office for Registration of Judgments, Ireland.

(31.) £94,967, to complete the sum for the Dublin Police Courts and Metropolitan Police.


complained of the increase of £13,120 for extra pay and allowances.


said, there was an increase in the Vote duo to an increase of pay caused by the extreme difficulty of getting suitable men.

Vote agreed to.

(32.) £819,729, to complete the sum for the Constabulary Force, Ireland.


thought the enormous amount of the Vote could not be satisfactory to the Prime Minister, and required the grave attention of Parliament. He should like to know whether there was any prospect of decrease in its amount? There was an increase this year of upwards of £100,000.


said, the Irish Constabulary was to a large extent a military force, appointed and controlled entirely by the Government, and therefore properly supported out of the Imperial Exchequer.


said, that the increase in the cost of the police had been made in accordance with an official Report sent through the Irish Government. He did not think that the frequent perpetration of serious crimes in Ireland could be at all attributed to inefficiency on the part of the police.


said, it was not a healthy state of things that the cost of the local police should be paid out of the Imperial Exchequer, and it might be hoped the time would come when they would see the people of Ireland exercising control over their own police. The whole subject required consideration.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next;

Committee to sit again upon Monday next.