HC Deb 25 February 1907 vol 169 cc1269-71

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland when the vacancy in the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in Ireland to which Mr. Sergeant Dodd has been appointed was created; and if the judgeship was the one referred to by his predecessor on 28th May, 1906,†in this House as extinct or suspended.

The following Questions also appeared on the Paper:—


To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if his predecessor stated to the House, on 28th May, 1906,†that the salary saved by the extinction of this judgeship, amounting to £3,500 per annum, was to be applied for the purpose of financing the Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1906; and if the Act so contemplated.


To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that his predecessor introduced a Bill in the last session of Parliament finally to abolish this judgeship and one other; and if eight additional examiners of title, at salaries of £600 per annum and upwards, were appointed in 1905 in the Land Purchase Department, expressly by arrangement with the Treasury, in lieu of filling up this judgeship, then vacant.


To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if the Land Judge of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice expressed his willingness to assist his colleagues in Land Commission work; and if this offer was refused.

MR. J. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers †See (4) Debates, clviii., 109. may I ask whether he will say whether, when the Government appointed Mr. Sergeant Dodd to the Bench, they were aware that the services of the hon. Member for North Armagh were available for the same job?


Legal talent in Ireland is so great that the Government is never at a loss. The vacancy referred to was created in January, 1904, by the transfer of Mr. Justice Barton to the Chancery Division; and the judgeship in question is the one which was referred to by my predecessor on 28th May last as suspended (not extinct). The Labourers Act of last session provides that the savings to be effected by the abolition of any Irish judgeships by any Act of that session shall be applied to the purposes of the Labourers Acts. It is the fact that during last session my predecessor introduced a Bill which provided for the abolition of two judgeships, but the Bill failed to become law. The proposed legislation has, however, not been abandoned. It is intended to introduce a Bill to provide that two out of the next three vacancies which may occur in the King's Bench Division shall not be filled. It is not the fact that additional examiners were appointed in lieu of filling up the vacant judgeship, and no such arrangement has ever been suggested or considered. The Land Judge of the Chancery Division has for some time past assisted in the work of the Purchase Department of the Land Commission, and he has recently expressed his willingness to undertake increased work in that connection. The proposal, which involves important financial considerations, has not been refused, but is at present under consideration. The Land Judge has not proposed to assist the Land Commission in hearing fair rent appeals, and indeed such an arrangement would not be possible without dislocating the business of his own Court. There are at present no less than 7,367 fair rent appeals pending in the Land Commission; and in the Land Purchase Department there is over £1,500,000 awaiting distribution by the Judicial Commissioner. The work of both departments in the Land Commission is, therefore, greatly in arrear, with the result that not only is the policy of land purchase impeded, but much inconvenience and hardship are inflicted upon both vendors and purchasers. Mr. Justice Dodd's services will be availed of, under a special provision of the Land Act of 1903, for the hearing of appeals, in order to enable Mr. Justice Wylie, with whatever assistance can be rendered to him by the Land Judge, to devote his whole time, if necessary, to dealing with the difficult legal questions involved in the distribution of purchase moneys of estates sold under the Land Purchase Acts.


Is it a fact that this time last year there were 11,000 appeals, and the Government introduced a Bill to abolish two judgeships?

[No Answer was returned.]