HC Deb 10 March 1876 vol 227 cc1837-9

asked, What, if any, steps the Government propose to take with respect to the Report of the Legal Departments Commission, 1874? He explained that that Body had pointed out various reforms which ought to be carried out—for instance, they had shown that there were many officials whose duties were merely nominal; that in certain of the offices where the work was hardest the officials were the least numerous, and vice versâ; that in certain cases where the work was mose arduous the pay was the smallest, and vice versâ; and many other abuses. Recommendations were made by the Commissioners, in the way of appointing one responsible head in these cases, with the view of remedying these evils, which indeed were not denied by either side; but as nothing had yet been done he would like to know what were the intentions of the Government? One of the most important reforms suggested was the collection of all the scattered offices under one central roof. The excuse for inaction hitherto had been that until the effect of the working of the Judicature Act had been ascertained by practice, it would be inadvisable to take action. Beyond and above the reforms contemplated by the Commissioners an inquiry was recommended into the Scotch and Irish legal Departments. He should like to know when that was to be instituted.


said, he had great pleasure in announcing that steps had been taken as far as possible to carry into effect the recommendations of the Commission referred to by his noble Friend, recommendations whose value and importance were fully appreciated by the Government. They were as fully alive as any one could be, but they were prevented from moving fully in the matter, because a sufficient time had not as yet elapsed since the passing of the Judicature Act to enable the Lord Chancellor definitely to recommend the changes which might hereafter prove necessary. He could, however, assure the noble Lord that steps had already been taken in the way of suspending some appointments, and making others temporary, with a view to rendering the executive departments of the Courts of Law neither more nor less than was absolutely necessary for the administration of justice. If it were necessary to introduce a further suspensory Act it would be done in the course of the present year; but, in the meantime, the Lord Chancellor, who had already given the subject much careful consideration, would continue to do so. The noble Lord had referred to the Courts of Law in Ireland, and he could only say—not being in a position to speak of the provisions of a Judicature Bill which was in course of preparation—that inquiries had been made by Her Majesty's Government, and that the information obtained had enabled them to prepare a measure which he hoped and believed would prove satisfactory, and which was intended to effect economy on the one hand, and on the other to give that strength and force which were necessary to the due administration of justice.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.