§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland what professional qualifications were respectively possessed by the following heads of offices in the High Court in Ireland at the time of their appointments to their present positions, viz.: the registrar to the Court of Appeal, the Accountant-General, the present chief clerk to the Lord Chancellor, the chief clerk to the Master of the Rolls, the chief clerk to Mr. Justice Barton, and the registrar of the Land Judge's Court; whether he is aware that none of the following heads of offices in the High Court in Ireland ever practised either as a barrister or solictor, but were promoted from subordinate positions on the staff, viz.: the registrar of the Court of Appeal, the Accountant-General, the three chief clerks in Chancery, and the registrar of the Land Judge's Court; 946 and will he state the reasons why men entering the Supreme Court (Ireland) service by open competition are considered ineligible for promotion to be heads of offices, while those who, prior to the passing of the Judicature Act, 1877, entered through patronage and without professional qualifications have frequently been promoted to these posts.
(Answered by Mr. Birrell.) I have referred this Question, to the Lord Chancellor, who has furnished me with the following Answer:—At the time of their appointment to their present positions, the registrar of the Court of Appeal was a barrister of over twenty years standing, and was promoted after many years' previous service as an officer of that court. The Accountant-General was a barrister of nineteen years standing, and had many years service in the Chancery Registrar's Office. The chief clerk to the Lord Chancellor was a barrister, and had served as an officer to the courts. The chief clerk to the Master of the Rolls entered the service by limited competitive examination, and was promoted after many years service to his present position. The chief clerk to Mr. Justice Barton was a practising solicitor when appointed assistant chief clerk, and was subsequently promoted. The registrar of the Land Judge's Court was a barrister, and had for many years been an officer of the court. Save where professional qualification is required by statute, persons entering the service by open competition are not debarred from promotion to be heads of office, but they have no rights of succession to such places, and in considering questions of promotion the possession of professional qualifications will always carry much weight.