HC Deb 08 July 1889 vol 337 cc1704-7

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [1st July], "That the Bill be now considered."

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.

MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

This Bill has been read a second time, but without any discussion, although it contains some very important principles. Its object is to enable Civil servants in the Court of Session to be transferred from one Court to another without any compensation. In Scotland there are several independent Courts, which are as distinct from each other as the Law Courts in England, although they are practically under the same building. The change proposed is of a very sweeping character, inasmuch as the clerks are at present subject only to the jurisdiction of their own Courts. I am not going to dispute the principle upon which the Bill is based. It may be a very correct principle that the clerks of one Court should be allowed to be transferred to another Court without receiving any compensation. But I say that if this principle is to be applied in Scotland it ought also to be applied in England. The intention of the Government is that these clerks in future are not to receive any remits from the Lord Ordinary; but that they must be entirely dependent upon the salary attached to their appointment. I do not dispute the principle on which the measure is based; but I submit that if that principle is to be applied to Scotland, it should also be equally applied to England. If the principles which the Bill proposes to apply to the Clerks in the Court of Session were applied equally to Civil Servants in all parts of the United Kingdom, I would not object, but this is notoriously not the case. With a view of obtaining some declaration from the Government, I have put some Amendments on the Paper, and I beg now to move the omission from Clause 1 of the word "alterations," in order to insert "arrangements."


The Amendments will come on after the Motion is agreed to that the Bill be now considered.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, considered.


I beg to move the first Amendment which stands in my name on the Paper.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 29, to leave out the word "alterations," and insert the word "arrangements."—(Mr. Caldwell.)

Question proposed, "That the word alterations stand part of the Bill."


I am unable to accept the Amendment. At present the staff of clerks in the various Courts constituting the Court of Sessions are upon such a footing that there is no organization or correlation between them in the discharge of their duties. This has involved considerable loss of economy in time and labour. Each clerk is paid a salary, and is pledged to devote his whole time to the public business; and it is most desirable that some managing power should be able to assign clerks to Courts where there is a congestion of work, and remove them from Courts where there is little to do. It is clear that the managing power should be able to alter as well as arrange the distribution of the work, and therefore I cannot accept the hon. Member's Amendment.

Question put, and agreed to.


The object of my next Amendment is to provide that the official status of depute clerks of Sessions, as principal clerks in the Courts of the Outer House, shall not be affected by any of the transferences to which the Lord Advocate has alluded; but that the clerks shall be as independent as any of the clerks in the Superior Courts. If there is any transference of the labours of these officials it should be done in such a way as not to interfere with their official status.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 1, after the word "that," to insert the words— Nothing herein contained shall affect the position of the depute clerks of Session as principal clerks in the courts of the outer house to which they are attached, and that."—(Mr. Caldwell.)

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

* MR. J. B. BALFOUR (Clackmannan and Kinross)

I hope that my hon. Friend will not think it necessary to occupy the time of the House by discussing this Bill. I can assure him that he is moved by fears which are entirely without foundation. I agree with what the Lord Advocate has said in regard to the object of the Bill, and the manner in which that object is proposed to be carried. These matters were all gone into very fully by the Grand Committee, and not a single person who was conversant with the subject had the slightest doubt as to the propriety of these clauses. The Bill, as it stands, will not alter the status of these gentlemen.

Question put, and negatived.


I beg to move, in Clause 5, page 4, line 26, at the end, to add "or for special duties performed under any remit from Court. "It is a well known fact that at the present moment the Lords Ordinary remit matters to the clerks for investigation, and they receive remuneration for the special services rendered. It is proposed by the Bill to take away the power of making these remits by the Judges to the clerks, and to require every clerk to devote himself to his own particular duties. All I ask is that, if that is to be done, the same principle shall be generally applied.

Amendment proposed, in page 4, line 26, after the word "Parliament," to add the words "or for special duties performed under any remit from Court"— (Mr. Caldwell.)

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

* THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. M. T. STORMONTH DARLING,) University of Edinburgh and St. Andrew's

Allow me to point out to the hon. Member that the Bill as it stands reserves the right of the clerks to receive additional remuneration from the Treasury for extra work imposed on them by Act of Parliament.

Question put, and negatived.


I beg to move that the Bill be read a third time.

Question, "That the Bill be now read the third time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.