HC Deb 12 April 1883 vol 278 cc67-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, "Whether his attention has been called to the report in the "Times" of the case of Bradlaugh v. Clarke, on which judgment was given by the House of Lords, sitting as a Court of Appeal on Monday last, when, according to the said report, Lord Denman, who had heard the arguments, expressed his concurrence in the judgment of Lord Blackburn; whether, considering that Lord Denman is not a Law Lord, and that, in the case of the appeal of Mr. O'Connell to the House of Lords, all Lords, not being Law Lords, wore induced to withdraw because, although their abstract right to sit and vote could not be denied, it was held, on the ground of long practice, that the exercise of appellate jurisdiction was confined to Law Lords; and, whether it is his intention to take legislative steps to make such long practice Law, and thus prevent any Peer, not being a Law Lord, from sitting and voting upon Appeal cases which are submitted to the House of Lords?


Sir, I have received a letter from the Lord Chancellor on this subject, and I will answer the Question of my hon. Friend in the words of that letter. He says that— As legislation took place in 1876, on the subject of Appellate Jurisdiction of the House of Lords, and as the Act contains no provision to exclude by law any Peers other than the Law Lords from taking part in appeals, it was competent for the Peer in question to attend, as he did, throughout the hearing of the case. If it had been known that any opinion which that Peer might express would affect the result, a remonstrance would have been made to him, as in O'Connell's case; but it must be presumed that, under the circumstances, this was not thought necessary.