§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
Sir, I have received a telegram from the hon. Baronet the Member for East Devonshire (Sir Lawrence Palk) stating that he is unable to be present in the House this evening to put a Question to the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James), which stands on the Paper in his (Sir Lawrence Palk's) name. But I understand that the form of the Question, as originally given, was by your direction, Sir, materially altered; and therefore I think it better on behalf of my hon. Friend, as he cannot be aware of the alteration made in it, that the Question should be deferred until Monday next.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is right that I should state to the House why the terms of this Question have been altered on my authority. The Question, as originally presented, embraced the account of a solicitor for certain charges in his client's bill of costs, and all those charges so embraced in the solicitor's account which referred to the hon. and learned Member for Taunton have been allowed to stand; but such portions of the account as were the solicitor's own charges, and of which the hon. and learned Member could have no personal knowledge, have, by my authority, been struck out.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
Mr. Speaker, I have to express my regret, under the circumstances, to which I am sure the House will allow me to advert—that the Question of the hon. Baronet the Member for East Devonshire was communicated to the public Press before it could have appeared on the Notice Paper of this House—I have also to appeal to that fairness which I am sure the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn would be the first to display, and to ask him whether he has not the authority of the hon. Baronet to put the Question to me in the shape in which it now stands on the Paper?
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
Sir, the terms of my hon. Friend's telegram were "Put the Question to-night, or postpone it." He was not, I believe, aware, when he sent the telegram, that it had been altered; but after what has fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Taunton, I think I could not do 608 otherwise than put it. I therefore ask the hon. and learned Member, Whether he was professionally engaged as counsel for the plaintiffs in a case relating to the Paraguay Loan in the Court of Exchequer, entitled "Cracroft and Ohlsen v. Waring Brothers;" and, whether, if so, his client's bill of costs, which has been paid, dated 5th of May 1874, contained the following items:—Attending Sir Henry James with brief, 13s. 4d.; paid his fee and clerks thereon, £132 6s.; attending him to appoint consultation, with fee, £2 16s. 2d.?
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
Sir, I have to thank the noble Lord for kindly acceding to my request. I am quite sure that the absence of the hon. Baronet the Member for East Devonshire is attributable only to unavoidable circumstances. At the same time, I must repeat my expression of regret that the hon. Member should have thought it necessary, after the answer I gave last night, to have communicated this Question in the form in which it appeared in the public Press before he put it on the Notice Paper. I now beg permission of the House, first, to answer the Question as it stands. I believe that on the 15th of February, 1874, when I had the honour of occupying the position of one of the Law Officers of the Crown, I did receive a brief in a cause in respect of the right of certain persons to recover a sum of money for work and labour done in relation to a Paraguayan Loan. I am sorry I cannot afford fuller information on the subject; first, because the circumstances have somewhat passed from my memory, and, also, because the cause was never tried. The matter was made a subject of private arrangement before the time for trial. In relation to the second part of the Question, I think the House will at once see that I am not likely to be cognizant of the contents of any bill of the attorney who instructed me; but it appears to me exceedingly likely that some such items did appear in the attorney's bill. I have now answered, the Question in the terms in which it is put, and I hope, under the circumstances, that the House will allow me to add a few words on the way in which it was framed. Prom the way in which it has been put—from its repetition and publication—I hope the House will grant me at least that personal indulgence. I am anxious now only to say that in determining to 609 bring the Motion in relation to Foreign Loans before the House I had no communication of any kind or description, direct or indirect, by way of request or influence, with any person whatever connected with that suit. In fact, I gave Notice of that Motion, on my determination to make it, without being influenced by any person whatever. I brought forward that Motion only in the hope—I may be wrong—but in the hope that I might call attention to what I felt to be a great and growing evil affecting the public; and I think I am entitled to ask from the hon. Baronet the Member for East Devonshire, that if he intends to suggest in this Question that in bringing forward this Motion I have been influenced by any other consideration than that which I deemed due to the public, he will afford me an opportunity of giving a refutation to any facts that are in his knowledge, and not content himself with insinuating that which he does not openly declare.