HC Deb 20 July 1877 vol 235 cc1572-87

(Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.)

COMMITTEE. [Progress 19th July.]

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Amendment proposed [19th July], In page 46, line 33, after the word "following," to insert the words "all officers attached to the Supreme Court of Judicature, or to the High Court, or to any Division or Judge thereof, who have been heretofore appointed by the Lord Lieutenant, shall continue to he appointed by the Lord Lieutenant in the same manner as heretofore."—(Mr. Macartney.)


said, that he considered the speech made last night by his hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney) was well worthy of the attention of the Committee, and that the Amendment he had proposed was one of great importance, and highly deserveing of support. He (Mr. Rylands) was able to speak with some confidence upon this question of judicial patronage, because he had been a Member of the Select Committee upon Civil Service Expenditure, which sat in 1873, and which collected valuable evidence in relation to the expenditure in connection with the Law Courts of this Kingdom. In the course of the inquiries of that Committee, nothing was more striking than the great difficulty which the Treasury had continually met with in controlling abuses in the expenditure of the legal Departments. There had been a constant struggle between the Treasury and the Judges, and, as a rule, the Treasury had been defeated in their attempts to protect the public purse. It would be easy to quote many instances. There was the ease of the appointments made by Lord Romilly, when he was just on the point of retiring from his position as Master of the Rolls. It so happened that at that time the office of Clerk of Records and Writs became vacant by the death of Mr. S. A. Murray, and Lord Romilly thereupon immediately appointed his son (Mr. E. Romilly, then Secretary of Causes), to the vacant office; and his nephew (Mr. John Romilly) to the place vacated by Mr. E. Romilly. The Treasury protested against that abuse of judicial patronage in vain. They wrote a letter to Lord Romilly, stating— That although they did not dispute his statutory rights to fill up the appointment of Clerk of Records and Writs, or that of Secretary of Causes, they strongly dissuaded him from carrying out those appointments, both on general grounds and also with reference to the pending inquiry into the expenditure of Civil Services by a Committee of the House of Commons. There was good reason for this action on the part of the Treasury. It was considered altogether anomalous that the country should continue to pay £1,000 a-year to the Secretary of Causes, when the salary of the principal Secretary of the Rolls Court had been reduced to £800, and the Treasury hoped to make a reduction upon the occasion of the vacancy; but the Master of Rolls, although just on the point of leaving his office, disregarded the protest of the Treasury, and saddled his own relatives upon the country at disproportionate salaries. It really did seem as though Judges persuaded themselves that the offices in their gift were to be regarded as part of the consideration paid to them for the fulfilment of the duties of their high judicial position, and that such patronage might properly be dispensed without reference to the general interests of the public. Then there was the case of the retiring allowance paid to the Accountant General in Chancery upon the abolition of office by the passing of the Chancery Funds Bill. The office of Accountant General in Chancery had been a very highly paid sinecure office held for a great number of years by a gentleman who, at the time of the introduction of the Chancery Funds Bill, was considerably over 70 years of age. The House of Commons decided that the retiring allowance of that gentleman should not exceed two-thirds of his salary. The then Government concurred in the action of the House of Commons; but the Lord Chancellor for the time being insisted so strongly upon the full retiring allowance being granted, that the Government gave way, and the House was called upon to reverse its decision. The result was that the country were now paying a pension largely in excess of what was just or reasonable. He would not dwell upon further illustrations of the abuses which had arisen out of judicial patronage in England, but he held in his hand a Paper which had been issued, showing the manner in which the Irish Judges had exercised the patronage already placed at their disposal. Down the long list of offices there appeared amongst the holders of them the sons, sons-in-law, brothers, nephews, and other collateral relations of the Irish Judges. Almost every appointment appeared to be determined by family considerations, and practically the patronage so exercised was entirely beyond the control of the House of Commons. It was very different in the case of the patronage exercised by the Lord Lieutenant, who was represented in that House by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and could be called to account in the event of there being any grounds of complaint, and would have to justify himself in the face of Parliament and of the country. But a Judge would treat with indifference, or possibly with curt contempt, any question raised in that House with respect to the exercise of his rights of patronage. It must also be remembered that in the event of opportunities arising for the abolition of unnecessary places, or for the reduction of salary of offices in the gift of the Lord Lieutenant, the Treasury would have no difficulty in taking the necessary steps in the public interests; but there would be insuperable obstacles to such a course in the case of appointments in the gift of the Judges. It was on every ground most unfortunate that the Government had yielded to the influence brought to bear upon them by Law Lords in "another place" and by the Irish Judges. The question was not a new one, and in former years there had been a contest between the two Houses of the Legislature with reference to it. The Lords had always been in favour of giving the patronage to the Judges, whilst the Commons had insisted upon its remaining in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant. In all these struggles the House of Commons had succeeded in preventing a retrograde step, and he hoped that they would maintain the same position at the present time. It would be of great public advantage if a large portion of the patronage now exercised by the Judicial Bench in both Kingdoms were placed under the absolute control of the Treasury, and it would therefore be most unfortunate if, by the enactment of the present Bill, there should be an extension of a bad system leading to further abuses in legal Departments.


said, they need not be surprised that nepotism was practised by Judges, for, after all, they were but men, and therefore had their foibles. This patronage would be placed in the hands of a body practically irresponsible to Parliament if the clause were agreed to; whereas the Amendment would keep it in the hands of one of the highest officials in the Empire, who would be held responsible to the House through himself or his Colleagues. If a job came to light, it was always attacked in that House. He most cordially supported the Amendment.


opposed the Amendment. He thought if Judges did appoint relatives, the evil ended there; but if the Lord Lieutenant had the patronage, he would appoint political partizans, and the evil would not end with the appointment. The patronage by the Lord Lieutenant would encourage others to look for promotion in this way. The whole life of Ireland was destroyed and weakened by the patronage that was vested in the Lord Lieutenant, and he could, therefore, be no party to extending that patronage. Neither would he cast such a slur upon the Irish Judges as to say that they were unfit to exercise the patronage given to the Chief Judges of England.


maintained that the Lord Lieutenant was more likely, in the interest of the public, to make better and purer appointments than the Judges. It appeared from a list of these appointments that the Irish Judges had filled up every single berth with their own sons, nephews, and near relations. Was it to be expected that a Judge would hold the same strict hand over a member of his own family as over a stranger? It would be better that the Lord Lieutenant should exercise this patronage even for political purposes, because he would be, at all events, re- sponsible to that House. He hoped the Irish Members would give an independent support to the Amendment.


pointed out the anomaly that this patronage had been exercised by the Chief Judges in England and not by the Chief Judges in Ireland, and said, as long as it existed, the latter would be open to the charge that they were not fit to make these appointments. The question had on several occasions been discussed in the other House, and noble Lords, beginning with Lord Lyndhurst, had expressed opinions favourable to the removal of the existing distinction between the English and Irish Judges. The clause would place this patronage in the power of those who were best able to exercise it. The officers in question were those who were to carry out the work of the Court; they were necessarily brought into the closest and most confidential relations with the Judges; and if the Judges were to have credit given to them for the commonest desire to do their duty, they must be best able to select the most fitting men for these appointments. He ventured to say that no case had been made out for maintaining a different practice in Ireland from that which prevailed in England. The statement of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) that all the officers of the Courts were near relatives of the Judges could only be described as an assertion characterized by all the exuberance of Hibernian fancy; but he (the Attorney General for Ireland) would have no objection to a Proviso to the effect that these appointments should be made by the Judges, subject to the approval of the Lord Lieutenant. This would give a veto on any improper nomination.


thought it would be much better and more likely to secure good men if neither the Judges nor the Lord Lieutenants were allowed this large and important privilege. Judges in Ireland were appointed from strong political partizans, and were subject to much criticism. He hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a division.


said, that he had been Chairman of the Committee on Civil Departments, and the investigation into the Judicial establishments had been one of the most painful part of their duties. The Committee had recommended that a Commission should be appointed to inquire carefully into this branch of the subject. The tendency of the Judicial establishments was steadily to increase; it was extremely difficult to satisfy those connected with them that there was any cause for reducing the expenditure; and he attributed this mainly to the fact that the patronage of the offices in these establishments lay in irresponsible hands. To give the Lord Lieutenant a veto was a step in the right direction, but he did not think it was sufficient.


thought the Judges ought to have a voice in the selection of the officers of their Courts. He supported, therefore, the proposal of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland, that the appointments should be made by the Judges, subject to the approval of the Lord Lieutenant.


opposed the Amendment. He considered it desirable that the Judges should have the appointment of the officers with whom they would have to work, and with whom they were brought into daily contact. It must be remembered that the Bill provided for the complete re-organization of the Staff of the Irish Courts, and it would be the fault of the Treasury if there was a single officer in excess of the proper number necessary for the discharge of the duties. Those who were best qualified to form a correct judgment considered that the patronage ought to be given to the Judges, and it would, in his opinion, be a great mistake to vest the appointments in a Minister of State. Not a single instance had been given of the abuse of Judicial patronage in Ireland, and there was no reason why there should be a different system there from that which existed in England. It could not be expected that the Lord Lieutenant himself would know who were the proper persons to appoint; he must in that respect be guided by others, and probably by the very Judges to whom the Government proposed to entrust the duty of making these appointments. He (Mr. Law) therefore asked the Committee to adopt the clause in the Bill.


referred to a case in which a Judge appointed a cousin of his own to an important lucrative situation, thus indicating the influence of re- lationship in the bestowal of appointments.


interrupting, said, he could assure the Committee that the hon. and learned Judge to whom the hon. Member alluded did not appoint his own cousin to the situation, and that the hon. Member was mistaken in the statement he had made.


Then, if he did not appoint his own cousin, he appointed the cousin of a brother Judge. He (Mr. Macartney) entertained a great respect for the Judges on the Irish Bench; but he did not like to see patronage placed in their hands which they might not in their distribution of it bestow on the persons best qualified to discharge the duties of the situations to which they were appointed.


said, that the Judges had signed a memorial to the effect that they ought to be on the same footing as their English brethren. In his opinion, the patronage in question was very properly vested in them.


supported the Amendment, and said it was the only patronage that was exercised without anyone being able to question it. Patronage should be in the hands of persons responsible to Parliament. It would be a good thing if the Judges had not as much patronage as they had at present, seeing that they were irresponsible as to its exercise. It would be difficult to alter that patronage; but now that they were discussing the question as to how the patronage was to be exercised, he certainly was in favour of leaving it in the hands of the Crown, where it would be best exercised. The Attorney General for England defended the appointments generally made by the Judges. There were no recent instances of bad appointments. The question was, whether the appointments should be in the hands of the President of Divisions, who knew what was wanted, or in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, who generally knew nothing of the duties required to be performed?


said, he did not agree with the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt). It was useless to talk of bad appointments made in former days. Such assertions only exemplified what seemed to be the disposition of several hon. Members in that House, whenever they got a chance, to attack the Judges. The proposal before the House was simply preventive of the proper principle—namely, that the patronage should be exercised by the persons most capable of judging of the qualities necessary for the office. That principle, it could be seen, had generally been carried out by the Judges in England. His hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Charles Lewis) had spoken sneeringly of the Judges as not free from the ordinary infirmities of human nature. But if the Judges were ordinary human beings, they must desire, for their own reputation and credit, though they might from time to time appoint members of their own family, that the persons so appointed should be fit to discharge the duties. He put it to the Committee whether these appointments ought not rather be in the hands of the Judges of the Division, who knew everything about the requirements necessary to fill them with efficiency, than that they should be made by the Lord Lieutenant, who did not, and could not, know anything at all about them, and who would probably be influenced by political considerations.


said, if they gave the patronage to the Presidents of the Four Courts, they would have a happy family party of relatives of the Judges, but if they gave it to the Lord Lieutenant they would get the ablest men appointed. He entertained great respect for those learned gentlemen; but he would rather not see them vested with the power, and he should therefore support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney).


said, the question was, whether this House would rather see the appointments to offices in the Courts of Law in the hands of two official persons, or in those of the Judges. The 14 or 15 learned gentlemen to whom it was proposed to give the patronage would have 14 or 15 times as many relatives as the Lord Lieutenant, and they certainly would not be so amenable to public opinion. He would cite a case of appointment of officers on the Staff of the Army. If the appointments were left in the hands of the officer in command of the Staff he might, as they fell vacant, fill the vacancies with his own relations, and it must be clear to everyone that in 10 or 12 years the Staff of the British Army would be composed of the general officers' relations.


in opposing the Amendment, said, the Committee should be careful not to vest the power of appointment to offices in the Courts of Law in the hands of persons who might exercise the patronage for political objects. He would mention, in illustration of his opinion, that a Member of that House who always supported the Government, and who, having a brother for whom he was desirous to obtain an appointment which had become vacant, hesitated as to the side on which he should give his vote when an important and close division was expected, but who, when importuned by the Government to give them his customary support, said—"What about the situation which I want for my brother?" The Government entered into his views, and gave to the hon. Member's brother the coveted appointment, thus showing how political patronage was disposed of in filling up official appointments. He maintained that the Judges were the fittest persons to have the power of appointment, and he would refer to a recent instance in which the four Judges, though swearing in the person, declared that he was not fit for the office. He protested against making these appointments political and handing them over to the Lord Lieutenant, to be pestered by recommendations of Members of Parliament. It was supposed in Ireland that Downing Street had got its name from the frequent visits of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing). He believed the Judges in Ireland had exercised their patronage in the most honest, fair, and. honourable manner.


expressed his sympathy with the Amendment and his hon. Friend (Mr. Macartney), who sought to throw the whole of the patronage of the appointments into the hands of the Lord Lieutenant. Although the appointments by the Lord Lieutenant to magistracies and to the Bench had not been all that they could wish, he was opposed to the creation of new vested interests appertaining to the Judges. He was in favour of open competition, and he submitted that the Government had not shown that appreciation of modern requirements which might have been expected from them. It was said that special knowledge was required for appointments to the offices connected with the Law Courts. But how was it that persons without special knowledge were appointed to offices in the Army and Navy Departments or to the Civil Service of India? In the United States of America the offices were often filled by persons having no special qualification for them, but by political influence. That system prevailed long. He thought it was rather too late now to speak of special knowledge. It was proposed to make the Irish Judicature Bill different in important points of consideration from the English Judicature Bill.


referring to the proposal to give the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland a power to veto appointments made by the Judges, said, he was strongly opposed to any power of that kind being placed in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, his opinion being that the exercise of such a power would make matters worse than ever.


in supporting the Amendment, said, there were some hon. Members in this House who, in reference to the patronage which Members of Parliament were supposed to have, claimed the right to dispose of it, and even for their own advantage. ["Name, name!"] He knew one hon. Gentleman who had expressed himself, as he thought, in that sense. The only sound system of appointment was open competition. All other systems were variously injurious. The Bill proposed to give power to the Judge to fix the situations, and then to fill them up.


said, if the hon. Member for Cavan referred to him (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) in the allusion he had made, he repudiated it. He had never been guilty of corruption. He was far above it. During his absence from the House he understood that the hon. and learned Member for Limerick had said that there was an idea that Downing Street got its name from his frequent visits there. The fact was, that the only time he had gone to Downing Street since 1874 was in the company of the hon. and learned Member.


in explanation of his visit to the Irish Office in company with the hon. Member for Cork, said, he in- timated to the hon. Member on that occasion that perhaps his constituents might not like to hear that he had been to the Irish Office, and that he might not be quite safe in their hands.


I tell the hon. and learned Member for Limerick that I am as safe, and perhaps safer, in the hands of my constituents than the hon. and learned Member is in those of his constituents.

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

The Committee divided:—Ayes 66; Noes 198: Majority 132.—(Div. List, No. 239.)

On the Motion of Sir COLMAN O'LOGHLEN, the following words were inserted in page 46, line 33, after "following:"— All junior clerkships in the High Court of Justice shall be filled up by open competition. The Lord Chancellor shall, with the concurrence of the Civil Service Commissioners, make regulations as to the qualification of candidates and the subjects of examination.

Further Amendments made.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 75 (Powers of Commissioners to administer oaths), struck out.

Clauses 76 and 77 agreed to.

Clause 78 (Clerks of Assize and Nisi Prius).

On the Motion of Mr. LAW, the following Amendment was made:—In page 51, line 40, after "circuit," insert, "and at winter assizes."

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 79 (Solicitors and attorneys), agreed to.

Clause 80 (Rules of Law to apply to inferior Courts).


moved, as an Amendment, at end of clause, to add the words— And Rules of Court as to pleading, practice, and procedure, empowered to be made by Order in Council as hereinbefore provided, shall be applicable to Local Courts of Record in Ireland, or to such one or more of them, and to such extent and in such manner only as said order may direct.


approved the Amendment, which he said was rendered necessary by an omission in the first Common Law Protection Act.

Amendment agreed to; words inserted.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 81 and 82 agreed to.

Clause 83 (Saving as to Lord Chancellor).


moved, as an Amendment, in page 53, line 36, after "retained," insert—" so that they shall in no case increase." He thought that the Lord Chancellor should not be allowed to increase salaries.


pointed out that the Lord Chancellor could only act with the assent of the Treasury, which was a sufficient check on the abuse of the power.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

On the Motion of Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, the following clauses were read a first and second time, and added to the Bill:—

(Provisions of 21 and 22 Vic. c. 27, and of 25 and 26 Vic. c. 46, to apply to this Act.) All the provisions with reference to the assessment of the amount of damages, or the trial of questions of fact by or before the High Court of Chancery in Ireland, which are contained in 'The Chancery Amendment Act, 1858,' or 'The Chancery Regulation (Ireland) Act, 1862,' shall apply to the assessment of damages and the determination of questions of fact by or before the Chancery Division of the High Court as constituted by this Act, or any judge thereof, anything in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding.

(Powers of commissioners to administer oaths.) Every person who is or shall be authorised to administer oaths in any of the courts whose jurisdiction is hereby transferred to the High Court of Justice, shall be a commissioner to administer oaths in all causes and matters whatsoever which may, from time to time, be depending in the said' High Court or in the Court of Appeal: and every such commissioner, if a solicitor, is hereby authorised to exercise his functions as such commissioner in any part of Ireland without regard to any limit of place specified in his commission. And all answers, disclaimers, examinations, and affidavits in causes or matters depending in any of the courts whose jurisdiction is hereby transferred to the High Court of Justice or Court of Appeal, or in the said High Court of Justice or Court of Ap- peal, and also acknowledgments required for the purpose of enrolling any deed in any of the said courts, or affidavits to memorials for the purpose of registering deeds in Ireland, shall and may be sworn and taken in England or Scotland, or the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands, or in any colony, island, plantation, or place under the dominion of Her Majesty in foreign parts, before any judge, court, notary public, or person lawfully authorised to administer oaths in such country, colony, island, plantation, or place respectively, or before any of Her Majesty's Consuls or Vice Consuls in any foreign parts out of Her Majesty's dominions; and the judges and other officers of the several divisions of the said High Court or Court of Appeal, and also the registrar and other officers of the office for the Registry of Deeds in Ireland shall take judicial notice of the seal or signature, as the case may be, of any such court, judge, notary public, person, Consul, or Vice Consul attached, appended, or subscribed to any such answers, disclaimers, examinations, and affidavits, acknowledgments, memorials, or other documents to be used in the said High Court, or in any of the divisions thereof, or in the Court of Appeal, or in the office for the Registry of Deeds in Ireland.


moved, as an Amendment, after Clause 18, to insert the following clause:—

(Judges shall retire at the age of seventy.) All judges of Supreme Court shall retire as soon as they have reached the age of seventy years. He had heard the Bill described as a lawyers' Bill; but his Amendment was more in the interest of the public than the Profession, and had for its object the increase of the efficiency of the administration of justice. In putting the age at 70, he did not think the Government would object; for in a discussion a short time ago the Government fixed the age at which Army chaplains retired at 60. There had been instances on the Irish Bench where, from physical weakness, the Judge could not sit after 12 o'clock. He did not know the age of a single Judge now sitting, and therefore there could be no suspicion of political or other feeling.

New Clause (Judges shall retire at the age of seventy,)—(Mr. Biggar,)— brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."


thought the Amendment was not in the best form which might be devised. There were many men at 70 whose intellect and faculties were as clear as others at 50. At the same time, he thought some such limitation requisite, and that the power would be very properly vested in the Lord Lieutenant.


was happy to say that he believed there was hardly in Ireland a single Judge of the Superior Courts of the age of 70. Two of the Chief Judges were well under 50, so that was satisfactory if this clause should become law. But no arbitrary rule of the kind could be laid down, and, as had been said, some men broke down at 40, and others had all the strength of their intellect beyond 70. The rule would also open up a long vista of pensions for retiring Judges—no unimportant consideration.


said, the Amendment was a reasonable one. Surely when a man had filled the allotted space of most ordinary men—three-score years and ten—after good service to his country, he should be allowed to retire. He believed some limit ought to be put to the age of a Judge. [A laugh.] He did not mean the natural life of the man, but his official life. In various branches of the Public Service officers were forced to retire at an age earlier than this. Judges had been known to sit upon the Irish Bench after they were so deaf as to require to have an answer repeated two or three times; and there were other eases of Judges exercising their functions years after they had become physically incapable of doing so properly.


gave the clause a qualified support, and recommended the addition of words which would give the Lord Lieutenant for the time being power to extend the time for a Judge's retirement beyond the age of 70 years, if he thought the Judge in question still capable of efficiently performing his duties. A man's brains were generally gone at 70, but there might be exceptions. Lord Campbell was a good Judge for 10 years after he attained his 70th year. There were, however, on the Bench at the present time Judges who, much as they were respected, had nevertheless outlived the vigour of their intellect.


approved of the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member. He was determined, however, to press the clause now before the Committee to a division.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 20; Noes 223: Majority 203.—(Div. List, No. 240.)


moved, as an Amendment, the insertion of the following clause:—

(Lord Lieutenant shall call on Judge in failing health to retire.) As soon as a Judge becomes unfit to perform his duties from defective sight or hearing he shall be called upon by the Lord Lieutenant or Lord Justices to retire.


said, he could find no justification for such a clause. If a Judge should retain his seat after becoming blind or deaf, then it was a case for the House of Commons to decide, but it was monstrous to give such power to the Lord Lieutenant.


objected to the clause. It would be an invidious, an odious, task for the Lord Lieutenant or any other person to have cast upon him to measure the exact amount of infirmity which should disqualify a Judge from performing his duties. It was a matter which ought to be left to the influence of public opinion, as expressed in the House of Commons. He must appeal to the hon. Member not to press his Motion, and leave the power to the Houses of Parliament.


said, that the remedy would be arrived at in a roundabout way, and he would suggest that the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland might facilitate the matter by a proposal on Report to prevent a scandal which existed in Ireland, arising from incapacity, through bodily infirmity, of Judges to discharge their duties.


expressed himself ready to withdraw the Amendment, but said that the continuance of blind and deaf Judges on the Irish Bench had been a grave scandal, as some had continued there merely for the sake of keeping political opponents off the Bench.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.


ruled that the proposed new clause standing on the Notice Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) and providing that all Election Petitions be tried by three Judges, one from each of the Common Law Courts, was out of Order, as being inconsistent with Clause 41.


wished to know why the proposed new clause was out of Order? They desired to increase the number of Judges.


said, that the clause was out of Order, inasmuch as Clause 41 incorporated the Elections Act of 1868, which provided that Election Petitions should be tried by one Judge.


was proceeding to move Amendments to the' Schedule, when—

It being ten minutes to Seven of the clock, Debate stood adjourned till this day.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.

And it being now Seven of the clock, House suspended its Sitting.

House resumed its Sitting at Nine of the clock.