HC Deb 28 July 1897 vol 51 cc1377-80

(1.) The Exchequer Division shall be fused and amalgamated with the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, and the Lord Chief llama of the Exchequer shall take rank in the Queen's Bench Division next after the Lord Chief Justice, and in all other respects shall have and enjoy the same title, rank, precedence, patronage, rights, salary and emoluments as He had and enjoyed immediately before the passing of this Act; and shall have the same rights in relation to appointments to the offices held by the existing officers of the Exchequer Division (save the office of Master) and in relation to any office which may be created in substitution for any such existing office, its if such new office were in the Exchequer Division.

(2.) Any order which may be made, during the continuance in office of the Lord Chief Baron, for consolidating, or reducing the member of the existing offices in the Queen's Bench and Exchequer Divisions, shall state which of the new or continuing offices shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to have been created in substitution for an existing office in the Exchequer Division.

(3.) All causes and matters pending in the Exchequer Division, and all causes and 'natters which would have been assigned to that Division, if this Act had not Passed, shall be assigned to the Queen's Bench Division.

Question proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."


moved "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again." He had been given to understand that the Bill would not be taken that night.


said that if there had been any understanding in regard to the Bill, it would of course be adhered to. But in asking for tile postponement of the Bill the hon. Gentleman, if he were in favour of the reform it embodied, took upon himself a serious responsibility, for it would be impossible for the Government in the present state of public business and at the present stage of the Session to give much time to the Bill. The Bill embodied a reform which had met with great favour in Ireland; It proposed to allocate the money saved by the abolition id the Judgeships to purely Irish purposes; but as one of the Judges must be appointed in the autumn, unless the Bill were passed, there was a danger that the proposed reform would fall through if the, Bill were now postponed.


said the fate of the I fill was in the hands of the Government, and if there should be any risk in the reform—the infinitesimal reform—which the Bill embodied being lost by the postponement of the Bill, the responsibility will entirely fall on the shoulders of the Chief Secretary in introducing a Bill of this character, which required some discussion, at the fag end of the session. He should protest against the system which had been adopted by the Government in dealing with Irish Bills— that was to carry on negotiations with persons outside the House, come to certain arrangements, and then come down to the House and say— "Here is the Bill; take it or leave it; we shall not allow you any time to discuss it."


said as he himself had the pleasure of being a barrister, he should not have had the courage to take the course pursued by the hon. Member for Mayo, but he felt that the thanks of the Irish Bar were due to the hon. Member. There were some 300 Conservative Members of the Irish Bar, who all expected Judgeships, and this Bill proposed to abolish three of the Judgeships which these gentlemen of the Trish Bar regarded as their perquisites. When the news of the opposition of the hon. Member for Mayo to the abolition of these Judgeships reached Dublin, he was sure there would be great rejoicing, and if they did not propose to put up a bust of the hon. Gentleman in the hall of the Four Courts, at least no reasonable expressions of gratitude would be spared [Laughter.] He regarded this Bill as a valuable reform, but personally he was indifferent as to whether these reforms were carried or not.

MR. J. C. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

protested against the habit of the Government in bringing Irish Bills on after Twelve o'clock, or after half-past Five o'clock on Wednesdays. He thought that a reasonable time should be allotted for these Measures.

MR. EDWARD CARSON (Dublin University)

said as the hon. Member for East Mayo had conferred such obligations on the Trish Bar, he would ask whether the Government had ally right to abolish these Judgeships without an Act of Parliament, and further, if they did not get an Act of Parliament, whether they had any right to stop filling up Judgeships. He suggested that there would be an obligation to fill up all the existing vacancies on the Irish Bench.


said he was deeply gratified at being complimented by the Irish Bar, but he was unable to understand the position in which he found himself. The right hon. Member for Dublin University had come down night after night to support this Bill, but he supposed the right hon. Member had severed his connection with the Irish Bar and no longer took a warm interest in it. The right hon. Member had said that he was conferring a favour on the Bar, and that they might put up a bust to him in the hall of the Four Courts.


I did not say so, nor do I think the Bar would ever do anything of the kind. [Loud laughter.]


said he believed it was in the power of the Government to fill up the vacant Judgeships. In point of fact the Bill would not effect any economy.


said it was not correct to assert that this Bill was not urgent. It would be absolutely necessary for the Government to appoint another Judge in the autumn if this Bill did not pass. If that was done the whole scheme of the Bill would fall through, and if this opportunity of dealing with the question were not taken, in all probability they would not be able to deal with it in the future.


said a considerable saving had been effected by the non-filling up of these positions on the Irish Bench and unless this Bill passed those savings would go to fill up the interstices in the pocket of the British Treasury. He thought they were entitled to a pledge that if the positions were not filled up the amount saved should be devoted to seine Irish purpose. That pledge had been given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer earlier in the Session.


said he could not imagine that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have consented to a Bill to give the produce of a vacant Judgeship to an Irish purpose without associating that Bill with one for reforming the Irish Judicature. It would indeed be absolutely impossible to do so. He was afraid the hon. Member for Mayo must choose between the disagreeable necessity of reforming the Irish Judicature and the equally disagreeable necessity of depriving Ids countrymen of some £10,000 a year.

MR. DALY (Monaghan, S.)

urged that this stage of the Bill should be postponed until Friday.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Friday.