HC Deb 21 June 1900 vol 84 cc658-67


Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

I beg to move that this Bill be recommitted in respect of Clause 19, which applies the Bill to Scotland. This clause was practically introduced by the Lord Advocate when the Bill was being considered by the House. Under Clause 10 of the Bill there may be a prosecution of a railway company in respect of any non-compliance with the rules which have been made under the Act, and in the case of prosecutions for breaches of those rules the clause provides that the same shall be tried in a summary manner under the Summary Jurisdiction Act, the object being that the trial should be a speedy and as far as possible an inexpensive one. In the case of England and Ireland the summary tribunal is the justices of the peace, with an appeal to Quarter Sessions. Where an appeal is made to the Quarter Sessions, that Court may review the matter both in regard to questions of law, and fact, but there is a further appeal to the High Court on questions of law only. In Scotland the procedure of the English Act is not followed, because the Scotch Summary Procedure Act is somewhat different. At one time in Scotland we had a court consisting of justices of the peace and Quarter Sessions, but the law now in regard to these actions is that the case should be tried before the sheriff. The sheriff represents a status higher even in Scotland than that of the Quarter Sessions, so that in Scotland, instead of beginning with the justices and having an appeal to the Quarter Sessions analogous to the case of England, the prosecution is taken before the sheriff. Where-ever any prosecution is taken before the sheriff his judgment as regards matters of fact is final, and an appeal to the High Court is only possible on a question of law. We are placed in this position— that in England you have two tribunals, the justices and the Quarter Sessions, and in Scotland the sheriff is superior to the English Quarter Sessions. As the Bill was brought in by the Government there would have been no appeal to the Quarter Sessions on matters of fact, and strangely enough the Amendment introduced by the hon. Member for Renfrewshire on behalf of the railway companies did provide for an appeal, but it was upon matters of law only. The Amendment of my hon. friend was not necessary at all, because, as the prosecution was to take place under the Summary Jurisdiction Act, they could appeal to the Quarter Sessions in any case. When the Report stage was reached the Lord Advocate put in a most unusual Amendment, and carried the right of appeal by the railway companies up to the High Court in regard to matters of fact as well as matters of law, and, in order to make a foundation for such an appeal to the High Court, he has had to alter what is the usual procedure in a summary case by the sheriff. In Clause 19 the Lord Advocate introduces a change by which the sheriff at the request of either party is to take notes of evidence. How is the summary character of the case to proceed if the sheriff, at the request of either party—and the railway companies may be relied upon to ask for notes—has to take notes of the evidence, and then those notes are to be laid before the Court of Session. They will have to be printed, and the Court of Session will, in the case of a breach of the rules, be able to review the case not only on matters of law, but also upon questions of fact. Look at the position of matters. If it be an offence in Scotland the railway companies have the right of review both on questions of law and of fact; but if the offence be-in England or Ireland the railway companies have a right of review on questions of law only. Is there any reason why this Bill should prescribe that the prosecution is to be summary, while in the case of Scotland you deprive it altogether of its summary character? The Lord Advocate is depriving this clause of its summary character by introducing this new procedure, that in the case of the prosecution under the Summary Procedure Act the sheriff is to take notes of evidence, and the Court of Session is to have power to review on questions of fact as well as of law. I know the only thing that it is possible: to say on the other side in regard to this proposal. It will be said that in the case of England there is an appeal from the justices to the Quarter Sessions, and you are going to say "We want an appeal also in Scotland." But it is a very different thing to. give an appeal from the justices to the Quarter Sessions in England, because the Justices' Court is an inferior tribunal to begin with. It is a different thing, to give an appeal from one legal body of that kind to another by giving an appeal to the High Court in a summary case on matters of fact. In the case of England you begin with the justices, and according to English procedure there is necessarily an appeal to the Quarter Sessions. That is a procedure which is quite applicable to England, but when you come to deal with Scotland you deal in a different way, because you make it compulsory that the sheriff shall be the only party entitled to try the case. If the law is wrong in one case, why not alter it in every other case? You have an appeal in England, because you begin with the justices, and you get an appeal to the Quarter Sessions, but in Scotland you begin with the sheriff, who is equal to the Quarter Sessions, and, therefore, the Summary Jurisdiction Act represents not an appeal from the sheriff on matters of fact but only on questions of law. The result is that in Scotland the prosecution practically ceases to be summary. It is provided that the sheriff has now to take notes of evidence, and those who have been in practice in the Sheriff's Court know the length of time taken by cases in which the sheriff has to take notes in his own handwriting. I have known a case of this kind spread over weeks and months, and the result of this provision will be that the summary character of the prosecution will be entirely done away with. Why should those who are prosecuting for a breach of the rule under this Bill in Scotland be handicapped by a sheriff being required to take these notes of evidence, and why should the parties be put to the expense of having to fight the case in the High Court in Scotland, while in the ease of Prosecutions in England and Ireland an appeal can only be made on questions of law. without reference to any review of the facts? I have put down an Amendment on the Paper to clause 19, page 6, line 39, to leave out from "1864," to the end of the sub-section, and the effect of the Amendment would be that it would leave an appeal to the High Court in Scotland the very same as an appeal to the High Court in England and Ireland. It would then be an appeal on questions of law merely and not on questions of fact. Certainly no sufficient reason has been given for this extraordinary change of the law, which is inconsistent with any procedure under the Summary Jurisdiction Act in Scotland, and which is also a great injustice to railway servants in Scotland.

MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)

I beg to second the proposition of my hon. friend below me. I believe this alteration was introduced by the Lord Advocate on the Report stage in this House. It is well known to Scotch Members that the Sheriffs' Court in Scotland corresponds more to the Quarter Sessions than to the Justices' Court, and it is a Court with which the Scotch suitors are entirely satisfied. The Lord Advocate's Amendment introduces a somewhat new method of procedure. It gives an appeal in Scotch cases only on questions of fact as well as law. We object to this on the ground that it takes away the summary character of the jurisdiction laid down by this Bill. It increases the right of appeal in Scotch cases as compared with English and Irish cases, and it may very materially increase the expenses in favour of the rich railway companies as against poor individuals. I hope the Lord Advocate will be able to offer some satisfactory explanation on the subject.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the words 'now read the third time,' in order to add the words 're-committed in respect of Clause 19.'"—(Mr. Caldwell.)

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


With regard to the motion I made introducing this change, I wish to say that it stood on the Paper in the ordinary way, and I can assure my hon. friends opposite that my only reason for introducing this Amendment was to provide that the procedure in Scotland should be precisely the same in its true character as in England and Ireland. It has already been decided that for England there should be a right of appeal upon the facts as well as upon law, and I felt that to translate this into Scotch it was necessary to take the course I suggested. It is not a question of status or dignity, but the point is, shall we have in Scotland an appeal on the facts alone, or on both the facts and the law? If you are going to have an appeal on both, the only way it can be done, otherwise than by the course I have suggested, would have been much more cumbersome. Let me venture to correct the hon. Member for Mid Lanark, for he is not correct in saying that in all cases under the Summary Procedure Act there is no appeal. The hon. Member has evidently forgotten the provision made under the Summary Procedure Act of 1864. There are many instances of statutes creating offences allowing a right of appeal on matters of fact, and for which proceedings might be commenced under the Summary Procedure Act. You would not need the Summary Procedure Act for the purposes of an appeal, for you would present your appeal by virtue of the provision in the statute creating the offence. If you do give an appeal upon matters of fact it is necessary to make provision for taking the evidence. This taking of the evidence has been spoken of as a novelty, but it is not so, for there are many instances in which notes of the evidence have to be taken. May I be allowed to say that I think the system proposed is very much better than the English plan. The English plan is that, having examined the witnesses before the justices, on taking an appeal to the Quarter Sessions you do not present notes of the evidence, but you examine the witnesses all over again. I think that is a much more expensive process than the process of taking notes of the evidence and having an adjudication upon that. Accordingly, if you are going to have an appeal upon that in a summary manner the method I have put down is the correct way, and the same method obtains already in many statutes of the realm. From the starting point of the English Bill this is the only way to deal with it, unless I had taken the much more cumbersome method of giving a right of appeal on points of fact and another appeal on points of law. That would possibly have been more analogous to the English position, because under this Bill there is a possibility of two appeals—one on the facts and another to the High Court upon the law alone. I think it is very much simpler and better to do as we have done, and it is no novelty at all to provide for the taking of notes of evidence and thus have an appeal to the High Court upon points of law at once. I want to make it perfectly clear to the Committee that the right of appeal given in this proposal is in substance precisely the same appeal, although the particular tribunals used are different, because they cannot exactly correspond in Scotland.

MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)

The point which has been put forward by my right hon. friend the Lord Advocate is not exactly that which we have put forward in this discussion. We desire, so far as we can, to make the state of things in the three countries analogous. The strong distinction which this Bill draws between Scotland and England and Ireland is this—that in the Bill as drawn in this clause we shall now have an appeal to the High Court in Scotland upon questions of fact and law, while in England and Ireland such a course will be absolutely impossible. In our procedure in Scotland I should say that in ninety-nine hundredths of the cases tried the sheriff is made the final judge of the facts. I do hope that my right hon. friend will take care to see that this clause is amended, and I will suggest to him that the Bill should be so recast upon this head as to take advantage of that most excellent statute which is. known as the Summary Prosecutions Act of 1875. That Act applies in all prosecutions of a summary nature in every inferior Court in Scotland, and I observe in this clause that the Lord Advocate suggests that this prosecution is to be of the nature of a civil prosecution. The advantage of the reference which I respectfully give him is that, whereas criminal prosecutions would have to go to the High Court, civil prosecutions may go to either of the divisions of the Quarter Sessions, granted only that these superior Courts shall not be troubled with the details of the facts, but they will have to address themselves to questions of law-alone. I venture to say that the calling of this proposal a summary prosecution is very contradictory. There will be an appeal upon such questions as whether a railway company can be fined or not for some delinquency discovered probably by a railway servant. The whole idea of summary jurisdiction is in the present instance particularly applicable, because what we want in reference to this Bill is that those delinquencies of railway companies shall be promptly and finally dealt with by the sheriff who considers the facts. I think it is a great public misfortune in Scotland that when these delinquencies are discovered we have to go through such a protracted procedure, which is detrimental to the public interest, and which in the case of railway servants, might be of a most disastrous character.

MR. COLVILLE (Lanarkshire, N.E.)

As this Bill now stands it establishes a very serious barrier in the way of getting these appeals speedily settled. The Lord Advocate has not made it clear to the House that in the case of Scotland there would be no greater hardship for a railway servant than in the case of England, where the appeal is made from the justices to the Quarter Sessions. If the Lord Advocate could assure the House that the cost of such an appeal would be restricted we should be quite satisfied, but I am afraid that railway servants will find themselves mulcted in serious costs. Of course if we are assured on this point our objection to

this clause would be removed. I take it that the Lord Advocate does not purposely intend to penalise Scotch railway servants so that they would find it more: costly to proceed under the Act than English railway servants.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 214;. Noes, 109. (Division List No. 151.)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Dorington, Sir John Edward Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. E. H.
Aird, John Doughty, George Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie
Allhusen, Augustus Henry E. Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Alters- Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'ns'a)
Allsopp, Hon. George Doxford, Sir William T. Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.
Anson, Sir William Reynell Drage, Geoffrey Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)
Arrol, Sir William Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverpool.)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Lonsdale, John Brownlee
Bailey, James (Walworth) Finch, George H. Lowles, John
Baldwin, Alfred Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manc'r) Fisher, William Hayes Lucas-Shadwell, William
Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds) Fitz Wygram, General Sir F. Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred
Banbury, Frederick George Flannery, Sir Fortescue Macartney, W. G. Ellison
Barnes, Frederic Gore Fletcher, Sir Henry Macdona, John Gumming
Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. S. (Hunts) Flower, Ernest MacIver, David Liverpool)
Bartley, George C. T. Forster, Henry William Maclean, James Mackenzie
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol) Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) Maclure, Sir John William
Beach, Rt. Hn. W.W.B.(Hants.) Fry, Lewis M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Bethell, Commander Garfit, William M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb'gh, W.)
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Gedge, Sydney M'Killop, James
Biddulph, Michael Gibbons, J. Lloyd Malcolm, Ian
Bill, Charles Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lond.) Manners, Lord Edw. Wm. J.
Blakiston-Houston, John Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans) Martin, Richard Biddulph
Blundell, Colonel Henry Gilliat, John Saunders Melville, Beresford Valentine
Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme Godson, Sir Augustus Fred. Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.
Boulnois, Edmund Goldsworthy, Major-General Middlemore, John Throgmort'n
Bousfield, William Robert Gordon, Hon. John Edward Milbank, Sir Powlett Chas. Jno.
Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn) Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon Monckton, Edward Philip
Brassey, Albert Colliding, Edward Alfred Monk, Charles James
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Green, W. D. (Wednesbury) Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)
Bullard, Sir Harry Gretton, John More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.)
Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Gl'sg'w) Gull, Sir Cameron Morgan, Hon. F. (Monm'thsh.)
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Gunter, Colonel Morrell, George Herbert
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.) Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord George Morton, Arthur H. A.(Deptford)
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert W. Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East) Hardy, Laurence Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute)
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Hare, Thomas Leigh Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.) Heath, James Myers, William Henry
Chamberlain, J Austin (Worc'r) Helder, Augustus Newdigate, Francis Alex.
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Henderson, Alexander Nicol, Donald Ninian
Charrington, Spencer Hermon Hodge, Robert T. Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington.)
Clare, Octavius Leigh Hoare, Edw. B. (Hampstead) Pender, Sir James
Coddington, Sir William Hornby, Sir William Henry Percy, Earl
Coghill, Douglas Harry Howard, Joseph Phillpotts, Captain Arthur
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Hudson, George Bickersteth Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton)
Colomb, Sir John Charles R. Jackson, Rt. Hn. W. Lawies Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Jebb, Richard Claverhouse Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. Curzon
Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Jenkins, Sir John Jones Pollock, Harry Fredk.
Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd) Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D. Johnston, William (Belfast) Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Purvis, Robert
Cripps, Charles Alfred Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Rankin, Sir James
Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton) Knowles, Lees Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Curzon, Viscount Lafone, Alfred Remnant, James Farquharson.
Dalkeith, Earl of Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Cornn) Renshaw, Charles Bine
Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham) Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.
Denny, Colonel Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson
Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Lea, Sir T. (Londonderry) Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter
Round, James Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd
Russell, T. W. (Tyrone) Stock, James Henry Williams Colonel R. (Dorset)
Rutherford, John Stone, Sir Benjamin Williams, Jos. Powell-(Birm.)
Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J Sturt, Hon. Humphry N. Willox, Sir John Archibald
Seton-Karr, Henry Thorburn, Sir Walter Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Sharpe, William Edward T. Thornton, Percy M. Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew) Tomlinson, W. E. Murray Wyndham, George
Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.) Tritton, Charles Ernest Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Simeon, Sir Barrington Tuke, Sir John Batty Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Sinclair, Louis (Romford) Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.) Wanklyn, James Leslie TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand) Warr, Augustus Frederick Sir William Walrond and
Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset) Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taun'n) Mr. Anstruther.
Stanley, Sir H. M. (Lambeth) Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Fenwick, Charles Morley, Rt. Hon. J. (Montrose)
Allan, William (Gateshead) Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)
Allison, Robert Andrew Flavin, Michael Joseph Moulton, John Fletcher
Asher, Alexander Goddard, Daniel Ford Murnaghan, George
Ashton, Thomas Gair Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Gurdon, Sir William B. Nussey, Thomas Willans
Atherley-Jones, L. Harwood, George Oldroyd, Mark
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale- Pilkington, Sir G. A. (Lancs S. W.)
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H. Price, Robert John
Barlow, John Emmott Holden, Sir Angus Priestley, Briggs
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Holland, William Henry Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Billson, Alfred Horniman, Frederick John Reid, Sir Robert Threshie
Birrell, Augustine Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Richardson, J. (Durham, S. E.)
Bramsdon, Thomas Arthur Jacoby, James Alfred Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Broadhurst, Henry Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E. Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea) Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Burt, Thomas Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.,) Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Buxton, Sydney Charles Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U. Souttar, Robinson
Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow) Kearley, Hudson E. Spicer, Albert
Campbeil-Bannerman, Sir H. Labouchere, Henry Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Langley, Batty Steadman, William Charles
Causton, Richard Knight Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'l'nd) Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Cawley, Frederick Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington) Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)
Channing, Francis Allston Lewis, John Herbert Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Colville, John Lloyd-George, David Wallace, Robert
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Lough, Thomas Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Crombie, John William Macaleese, Daniel Wason, Eugene
Cross, Alexander (Glasgow) M'Arthur, William (Cornwall) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) M'Crae, George Wills, Sir William Henry
Dalziel, James Henry M'Ewan, William Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Dewar, Arthur M'Laren, Charles Benjamin Wilson, John (Govan)
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Maddison, Fred. Woods, Samuel
Duckworth, James Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe Yoxall, James Henry
Dunn, Sir William Mather, William
Emmott, Alfred Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Evans, Samuel T.(Glamorgan) Moore, Arthur (Londonderry) Mr. Caldwell and Mr.
Evans, Sir F. H.(Southampton) Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Buchanan.
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Morgan, W. Pritchard (Merthyr)

Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned"—(Mr. Marks) —put, and agreed to.