*THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir John Walton, Leeds, S.)
moved, "That an humble address be presented to His Majesty representing that the state of business in the High Court of Justice is such as to require the appointment of an additional Judge, and praying that His Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a new Judge of the said High Court in King's Bench Division thereof, in pursuance of the 18th Section of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act, 1876." He said that he invited the House to present an Address to His Majesty asking him to add another member to the judicial staff of the King's Bench Division in this country. In adopting that course, he followed the procedure which was indicated by the eighteenth section of the Judicature Act of 1876. The condition then indicated which justified and necessitated the appointment of an additional judge had, in the opinion of the Government, arisen, and it therefore became their duty to see that the necessary strength of the judicial staff was effected by the means which the section provided. Perhaps the House would allow him for a moment to call attention to the nature of the provisions in accordance with which this proceeding had been adopted. By the Judicature Act of 1876 three Judges were taken away from the King's Bench Division and transferred to the Council of Appeal. It was anticipated that the King's Bench Division might be incommoded by that loss of judicial strength; and it was also anticipated that to some extent that state of things might be met by the Judges who had become Judges of the Court of Appeal being still able to discharge the duties of the position which they formerly filled. That anticipation, however, had been entirely defeated. It was now some years since any Judges of the Court of Appeal had been able to assist the King's Bench Division in the discharge of their duties. The section then provided that if it should turn out that the loss of those three Judges in the King's Bench Division caused the business with which that Division dealt to fall into arrear, the case should be met by the appointment of new Judges, and there was power for the Crown, on Addresses from both Houses of Parlia- 200 ment, to appoint two new Judges to fill the three vacancies created by that Act. In conferring this power great solicitude was shown to protect the Revenue. The two Judges were not to be appointed until there were four vacancies on the judicial staff arising owing to the death or resignation of the paid members of the Privy Council. When two paid members of the Privy Council either died or resigned, one new Judge might be appointed, and when two others died or resigned, the second Judge might be appointed. This House, in 1899. acting under the powers of this section, presented an Address which led to the appointment of a new Judge of the Chancery Division. Therefore, from 1876 up to the present day no step whatever had been taken to repair the loss which the King's Bench Division suffered by the transfer of Judges to the Court of Appeal, and the view which he asked the House to adopt was that the business of the Division made it necessary that the loss of judicial strength should now be repaired. He would like to state what was his view of the state of the business in the King's Bench Division. He thought it certainly demonstrable that for some years past they had not been able to deal satisfactorily with the business before them. He thought there was a universal consensus of opinion on that point. He noticed that the Bar Council, which in such a matter was quite competent to express a well-informed and reliable opinion, suggested that there should be three new Judges added to the King's Bench Division. He had had taken out figures for the last twelve years representing the number of untried causes in that Division when the Courts had risen for the Long Vacation, and he thought that statistic was important for two reasons. In the first place it showed what at that period of the year was the number of cases which for some time had been on the lists of the Courts awaiting trial, because having ascertained what that period had been, they had to add to it some three or four months, representing the duration of the long vacation, and that would show what was the extent of the delay to which the suitors in that Division had been subjected. From 1895 to 1906 he found that the average number of cases which had been left by the Courts untried 201 over the Long Vacation had been in each year 545, so that over the Long Vacation when the Courts rose in each of those years, there were 545 suitors who had their causes entered and were suffering all the pains of the law's delay. Assuming that these suitors had their cases entered for periods of three or four months, and he did not think that was overstating the case, and adding the Long Vacation to that period, and remembering that in that large number of cases litigants who were entitled to a speedy trial had to wait for eight or nine months, he thought there was ample justification for the strengthening of the judicial staff.
§ MR. CARLILE (Hertfordshire, St. Albans)
asked the Attorney-General whether he would give them figures showing the progression of the average he had put before them.
§ *SIR JOHN WALTON
replied that he gathered that in 1895 there were 424 untried causes held over the long vacation, in 1896 642, in 1897 745, in 1898 294 (an exceptionally low year), in 1899 488, in 1900 501, in 1901 575, in 1902 485, in 1903 561, in 1904 621, in 1905 579, and last year 631, while in the present year, although they had not yet reached the long vacation, and there might be additional cases entered between now and then, the number of causes and matters entered for trial was 560 the number of actual causes being 462, plus some ninety Crown paper cases and eight bankruptcy cases, so that the present year might be taken as fairly about the average for that considerable period of time. This comparison indicated a chronic state of things, a state of things which had existed for some twelve years, and a state of things the evils of which appeared to be progressive. What ought they to expect, taking the year 1899 as a starting point and tracing the history of litigation down to the present day? Commerce was growing, the population was increasing, business got heavier and more intricate, and the litigation to which it gave rise was of greater complexity. The industry of the country was growing, and they therefore expected growth in the demands of the population upon the Courts of Justice to deal with disputes to which such a state of things must inevitably give rise. In 1899, when 202 this subject was discussed by Parliament, the state of the Courts as it then existed was stated in very dark colours by the various Members who took part in the debate. The House would, perhaps, pardon him if he made a quotation from his own speech on that occasion, because he was at that time actively engaged himself in the King's Bench Division and could speak with personal experience. In that speech he seated that—the difficulties in the Queen's Bench Division were scarcely less grave than in the Chancery Division. The Queen's Bench Division had more than once come to the assistance of the other Courts, and the result had been that at this moment the Queen's Bench Division was in a condition which had scarcely any parallel, at all events in recent experience and history, and the addition of the metropolitan Courts indicated a complete collapse of the machinery of the Queen's Bench Division.Nothing had been done from that time to this, and the question arose as to how they were to deal with the situation. He would first of all like to point out; the dangers which they were under and which those who were not personally familiar with the business of the Courts were under, of having the edge of criticism blunted by the spirit of judicial optimism which seemed to grow up after a few years of experience on the part of members of the Bench. He read the other day a statement by one of the most respected Judges, who intimated that he thought, on the whole, the situation was not unsatisfactory, because generally after the lapse of a few months a litigant got his case tried. But it was the lapse of these few months of which they were complaining, and which involved what was practically a denial of justice. It was the power of commanding that delay which could be exercised by a wealthy litigant who refused to pay a just debt of which they complained. It was that state of business which allowed a person who had sustained some injury, and was absolutely entitled to compensation, to have his remedy postponed until the verdict he obtained was stale and worthless. He could not conceive of a greater evil attendant upon any judicial system. There was another consequence which was not immaterial. The delay in the disposal of business in the Courts led to irregular and unsatisfactory arrangements in matters that ought to be 203 judicially determined. There were arbitrations, the results of which were rarely satisfactory to the parties, and were only less unsatisfactory to the man who won than to the man who lost. Then there were what were called compromises, a euphemistic description. This was another process for cutting a knot which the parties were entitled to have properly untied by judicial decision. But the process of having it unravelled by law was so intolerably slow and tedious that zealous counsel came to the relief of their clients and obtained the best terms they could by compromise, because they felt that the terms, however disastrous, would be less disastrous than the process of litigating the dispute. He said this was a very unsatisfactory condition of things, and he asked the House to consider what was the remedy. He did not say that the appointment of another Judge was the only remedy. There were concurrent remedies. The appointment of another Judge was at all events an essential measure, because the primary mode of dealing with the delay in the trial of causes was to ensure that the judicial staff was numerous enough and strong enough to cope with the business that was brought before it. In this matter they had had some experience. The commercial causes before the Courts were put into a separate category and assigned to a separate Judge, and all technical proceedings were abolished as they came forward at an earlier stage. By that arrangement judicial machinery adequate to deal quickly with its particular business was created; and the result had been entirely satisfactory to the commercial classes. In 1899 the House decided that the Chancery Division was hopelessly blocked. He supposed that upon that occasion there were lawyers in this House who might have criticised the action of the Judges. There might have been lawyers who said that the appointments of the Chancery Judges were political appointments. [An HON. MEMBER: It would not have been true.] That was so. There might have been those who would have said that it was the personnel of the Bench which was objected to, but nobody resorted to that argument, which he thought would have been unjust and unchivalrous, A Chancery Judge was a man of experience and ability in the same way as was a Judge of the King's Bench 204 Division. They had to take things as they found them, and taking things as they existed in 1899 the House came to the conclusion that the Chancery Division was blocked, and that that block might be removed by another Judge being appointed. Another Judge was appointed, the block was removed, and business was transacted with despatch, to the satisfaction of the country. There was no reason to doubt that a similar step taken in the case of the King's Bench Division would be attended by a similar result. Two-Amendments to his Motion appeared on the Paper. The noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone desired the appointment of three Judges. Those who wanted to go further could hardly decline to go as far as the Motion asked them to go. The other Amendment stood in the name of his hon. and learned friend the Member for Cambridge, who made a very effective and strong criticism upon the constitution of the judicial Bench a short time ago, and he invited an inquiry into the present working of the King's Bench Division before an additional Judge was appointed. He had no objection to inquiry, and by all means let there be one; but if, as he thought, there was good reason for the appointment of another Judge, the step would not be final. There was a Committee sitting to consider the state of business in the Courts; and if they made-proposals for the distribution of business which involved a reduction in the judicial staff necessary to deal with it, there would be no necessity to appoint a successor to the new Judge. He could present the existing necessity for an additional Judge to the House in a vivid form. He was most anxious that when the King's Bench Division rose at the end of the present month there should not be more-than 100 causes untried. Having obtained the necessary authority from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Lord Chancellor, he approached the Lord Chief Justice with a proposal that Commissioners should go on circuit in a sufficient number and that the Judges, who alone could sit in London, should remain in London to try the causes. The Lord Chief Justice promised to use his influence. In the result, however, he found it impossible to interfere, but ho said that if he could have another Judge, and have him promptly, he thought he should be able to clear off the lists before 205 the Courts rose. Unfortunately that anticipation had not been even realised, for the number of causes awaiting trial at the end of this month would be scarcely fewer than the number at the corresponding period in other years. It would have been easy for the Government to let things slide, to allow the block in the Courts to go on for an indefinite period. But they recognised that one of the primary duties of a Government was to see that the Courts were not only opened, but that those who entered them should have speedy justice. It would have been a cowardly act if the Government had hesitated to make this proposal. They made it with reluctance, for they did not desire to add to the public burdens, but they felt that duty called upon them to fulfill this obligation, and in that spirit they asked the House to accept the Motion.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty representing that the state of business in the High Court of Justice is such as to require the appointment of an Additional Judge, and praying that His Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a new Judge of the said High Court in the King's Bench Division thereof, in pursuance of the eighteenth section of The Appellate Jurisdiction Act, 1876."—(The Attorney-General.)
§ *MR. SPEAKER
said the Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Cambridge—to leave out all after "That," and add, "this House, while ready to support any increase in the number of Judges in the King's Bench Division necessary for the due despatch of business, desires inquiry into the present working of the Division before requesting any additional appointment "— was a reasoned negative, and the Motion could only be mot by a direct negative.
§ *MR. BUCKMASTER (Cambridge)
said that for the reasons which were indicated in the terms of the Amendment, which he understood was not strictly in order, he felt himself unable to agree with the Motion which the learned Attorney-General had made. That the condition of affairs in the King's Bench Division were such as to require a prompt and effective remedy no man who was acquainted with the subject could deny. 206 There could be no doubt that the lists were positively groaning with the load of untried cases, and each day added to the weight of the burden which they had to bear. Nor would any details of figures nor any array of statistics convey an adequate idea of the mischief which such a state of things involved. For every untried case there was some wretched suitor who beyond the unavoidable distress and worry of a law-suit had also to endure the wholly needless and added anxiety of never knowing on what day or by what man his action would be tried. Nor did the mischief end there. The result of this accumulation of arrears led to the feeling that there was a sense of pressure upon the Bench and to the idea that the Judge felt that the time which was being given to one case was wanted for another succeeding it, and he could conceive no more mischievous impression that could be conveyed to the public mind than that justice was being administered in haste. Whether that haste was due to lack of time or lack of temper it bore a perilous and close resemblance to injustice in its gravest form. If, therefore, the mere appointment of an additional Judge would really remove the causes that bad given rise to this condition of things he would not only support the Motion, but the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone and any other Amendment for the appointment of addition Judges without regard to number and salaries. But it seemed to him that first it was essential for the House to consider how the work had been performed by the existing number of Judges. If it were possible to show that by a better arrangement of the work arrears would vanish, that judicial time was wasted that might be saved, then surely the real remedy would be to correct the system under which arrears had arisen and correct them in a form which would strengthen the administration of justice. To appoint an additional Judge to continue the same course would be to perpetuate the trouble which they were there to discuss. He did not know what he had said or done that could lead the learned Attorney-General to suggest that his objection to this Motion had any relation whatever to the personal character of the Judges who administered justice. The hon. and learned Gentleman might at least have remembered that on the only 207 occasion in which he was present in this House when a personal attack was made on a Judge he did his best to resist such an attack and said that he considered that any proceeding of that nature was subversive of the foundation of the administration of English justice. He had said and done nothing which would justify the Attorney-General in saying that his Amendment was founded upon an unchivalrous attack upon the English Judges. His objection was what he had stated in his Amendment, and he thought he could make it plain. He was not going to discuss in detail whether or not the circuit system as it existed at present should be abolished. He knew that upon that topic feelings ran very strongly and certainly that was not the occasion for an elaborate debate upon it. He could, however, point out that the circuit system as it stood led to the most deplorable waste of time and energy and that, without in any way interfering with it as a system, by a slight re-arrangement of business, it might be made to stand in such a position as would render it unnecessary that this Motion should be brought forward at all. Without doubt there were many great centres of commerce in this Kingdom where there should be either district Courts sitting from day to day or a constant transmission of judicial power from the central authority in London. He had only to mention Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, and Newcastle to enable the House to understand that those centres were the focus of the business activity of a large area, and that it was to the interest of those big centres that there should be a constant sitting of the Courts to adjudicate on the suits that arose. But there were a number of other places which had no such weight and bearing in the State; towns which years ago had been great centres of social life and perhaps of agricultural interests, but time had made great change in the condition of affairs. The whole tide of business had drawn back from their borders and left nothing behind but the silent streets, the empty market place, the ancient and stately Church, the large deserted houses and the fast fading memory of their by-gone pride. Yet once or twice a year the Judge's carriage entered those towns preceded by trumpeters and javelin men and all the solemn para- 208 phernalia of wandering justice. The Judge was given by the sheriff a pair of white gloves, he congratulated the sheriff on the absence of crime in the district, and if he happened to be a Judge seized with a desire for a reform he would humbly suggest that perhaps it ought not to be necessary for a Judge to attend a town where there was nothing to do. That that statement was not exaggerated a few figures would abundantly show. There were fifty-six towns at which civil and criminal cases were tried at the summer assizes. Of those towns there were seven at which no civil case was tried at all in 1905; four in which only one case was tried; ten in which only two cases were tried; thirty-seven where no more than five were tried, whilst there was one town in England in which only one action had been tried in the last five years. But the mischief did not end there. In one town, for three actions and thirteen prisoners 742 jurymen were summoned from their business to discharge their duty to the country. In another town, for four actions and twenty-two prisoners 332 jurors were called away from their vocations, whilst in another with eight prisoners only, 348 jurors or 47 for each wretched prisoner were summoned from their homes and business to discharge their duty in the assize town. That showed that nut only in the interests of the economy of judicial time, but in the interests of the economy of the time of business men, this measure should be looked into and receive more consideration than it had. The hon. and learned Attorney-General had referred to the Bar Council. That was a body not remarkable for any socialistic or revolutionary ideas. It was the sober representative body of a sober, and what its enemies might call a dull, profession. During the six years he was a member of the Council its placid conservative calm was never ruffled by any more disturbing element than the always welcome presence of the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone. The Bar Council in 1906 reported that without going into details they had no doubt that the number of assize towns could with advantage be reduced and that a substantial saving of time could thereby be affected. It was not necessary to go to a body that simply represented the profession. He would refer to some statements made in 1899 when an 209 additional Chancery judge was appointed. The hon. and learned Attorney-General then said that the circuit system was antiquated, troublesome, and costly, but it was popular, and that if they could revise the old method of having three Divisional Courts he believed they would find it, unnecessary to increase the present staff. What were the circumstances that had happened since that date which led the hon. and learned Gentleman to change the opinion he then expressed? The figures the hon. and learned Gentleman had given did not show that the arrears were greater now than they were then, and so far as could be seen nothing had changed the aspect of the question between that time and the present. The House must remember that that was directed to the question of whether it was not possible to save the appointment of an additional Judge to the Chancery Division by the loan of a Judge from the King's Bench, and the learned Attorney-General then thought that by a little reasonable re-arrangement it would be unnecessary to make an additional Judge at all. No doubt it was easier to criticise than to construct, but he could not help feeling that the hon. and learned Gentleman might have devoted some time to an attempt to re-arrange the business before ho asked the House to sanction the appointment of an additional Judge. That was all he desired. He desired nothing beyond the re-arrangement of the business in the King's Bench, and then the appointment of as many Judges as were necessary to deal quickly and swiftly with the business brought under their consideration. If the hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out that this appointment was nothing but a step and that the reform would follow, then he could only assure the House that if they wished to postpone the reform indefinitely the shortest way was to accept the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. With the additional Judge appointed and the arrears diminished, what reason would there be for troubling the House with a scheme to rearrange the circuit? Although no one attached more implicit reliance to promises coming from the Treasury Bench than he did, he would point out to the House that the promise made by the hon. and learned Gentleman was made in almost the same language as that given upon the question of the appointment of the additional Judge in the Chancery Division. 210 In the course of that debate, Sir Edward Clarke, who looked with suspicion upon the appointment of a new Judge, said that they were told proposals were to be made at an early period with regard to this reform. He was glad that promise had been made and he waited with some confidence for its fulfillment. He (Mr. BUCKMASTER) knew perfectly well that a statement of such a character might be made under conditions which might well change in the future, and which might prevent their being a complete fulfillment of the promise. He submitted that the House was entitled to know whether any steps had been taken by the late Government or the present to carry out the promise which was supposed to have been made, and on the faith of which Sir Edward Clarke assented to the appointment of the additional Chancery Judge. A Committee was now sitting to consider these matters: why not therefore wait until it had finished its investigation and reported before they appointed a Judge who might be useless? The Committee might report that there was serious need for reform in the administration of affairs. Ten years ago the Bar Committee made a Report which he commended to the attention of the Attorney-General. In that Report they stated that there was no order or method, certainty or continuity, in the constitution and procedure of the Courts. The plan of Regulations for the sittings of the Courts agreed upon at the beginning of the sittings were rarely adhered to. The Judges throughout the sittings were uncertain where they were to sit and what causes or matters they would be called upon to decide; that the result of the system was muddle and confusion of a very serious character and a complete ignorance on the part of the Judges as to the branch of the law with which they would be called upon to deal and the nature of the case which they would be required to try. That was nothing to do with the question of arrears. The Report added that this state of things could not go on without seriously impairing the popular belief in the efficiency of a trial in the Queen's Bench Courts, such delay and such uncertainty having the effect to drive the people of the country, instead of seeking the assistance of the Courts, to arbitration and other methods of settlement. There was no doubt that these appointments could only 211 be made effectual if there was associated with them such a reform as that referred to in the passages to which he had called attention. The Bar Council in 1906 reported that there should be re-adjustment of the business, and concluded in these terms. If such recommendations should be carried out the Judges would be easily able to deal with the business assigned to them. When they were dealing with the matter which vitally affected the welfare of the profession which the Bar Council represented, some effect should be, given in that House to the suggestions they made, and the House should pursue the course they indicated, the only course by which this trouble and muddle could be avoided. By no other course could the evil be cured. An instance was given to him recently of the way in which the present system was working against the public interest. On Monday, the first of July, the following solemn announcement was made as to the work in the Courts of the King's Bench Division for the following week. On Monday, two Courts were to sit for special jury cases and two for common jury cases, one Court for non-jury cases and one Court for London special jury cases. It happened on Monday that two Courts did sit for special juries but only one for common juries, and the non-jury Court that was to have one Judge did not have any at all. On Tuesday the same thing happened. On Wednesday the special Judges began to suffer and only one Court sat. That state of things continued until Saturday, when owing to the operation of some mysterious circumstance which could not be discovered out of the six-Judges that were to sit for the trial of cases for that week only two were in their Courts. It seemed a small and trifling matter but it most intimately and mostvitally affected this very question. Some years ago he was a member of the Committee, and notwithstanding his un-familiarity with the rules of the King's Bench he was asked to attend and assist in drawing up a set of Rules for the better conduct of those Courts. Certain rules were drawn up, they were received with courtesy and treated with disregard. Nothing was done and nothing would be done unless the House resisted applications such as this for the appointment of a new Judge until the terms of the Amendment which he had not been 212 permitted to move had been carried into effect. Another aspect of the matter which could not be overlooked was that there was a Criminal Appeal Bill before the House and a Bill relating to the revision of the Court of Appeal, and they had this Motion for the appointment of a new Judge. All these matters were intimately associated and should be dealt with together as part of a great scheme for the re-organisation of the King's Bench. He believed that this would involve a question which caused not a little of the difficulties that had arisen. He had no attack to make on any Judge in his personal capacity nor did he desire to criticise any individual who sat upon the Bench, but he did say that it was a great and growing abuse that the floor of that House should be used as a pathway from professional obscurity to professional fame. What lawyer who had ever sat in that House was there who had not been compelled to wince at the taunt that his political interests wore co-terminus with his interest for himself. Anybody who knew the history of this country knew that that was false, but notwithstanding that they also know that there were indisputable facts in their past political or professional history which barbed that sneer with truth. Such a state of things did not only degrade their profession, but also that great Assembly, and if continued must undoubtedly impair and weaken the authority of the English Bench. He knew quite well that to discuss the question of the administration of justice in an assembly where only a portion of its members had any professional interests must necessarily be to discuss-a matter which could make a very little personal appeal to them. Many Members of the House thought their association with justice was sufficient when they managed to keep out of contact with it altogether; yet, looked at from the lowest and meanest standpoint, the effective administration of justice was one of our most valuable business assets. It was a vitally essential condition of this great commercial country, not only that its laws should be wisely made, but that they should be wisely administered and administered also promptly, efficiently, and with unvarying impartiality and skill. That there had been difficulties which prevented the 213 realisation of that ideal, everyone who knew the facts admitted. He did not know that that condition called for strong or exaggerated language. He certainly would not say that it was a public scandal, but it was most undoubtedly a great public grievance. He asked the House to believe him when he said that this Motion of the Attorney-General would neither mitigate nor remove that grievance, because the object and purpose of the Motion was to confirm and strengthen a system in whose very constitution lay the seeds of the mischief that they ought to cure.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
said that with a large proportion of the very eloquent and admirable speech to which they had just listened he found himself in complete agreement. Particularly he should desire to associate himself with the veiled and very forcible attack on the system of making political Judges which the hon. and learned Gentleman had made, and he did so with the greatest freedom, because no suggestion of that kind could be brought against the appointments to the High Court Bench which had been made by the present Government. He understood that the Amendment which he had on the Paper (in favour of the appointment of three additional Judges) had been ruled out of order, and he was, therefore, precluded from moving it; but he certainly should not be precluded from supporting the Motion of the Attorney-General, which, though it did not go so far as he desired, seemed to him to be a step in the right direction. In 1869, on the strong representation of the Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, who had been associated with the Liberal Party, three additional Judges were appointed, and eighteen Judges then sat to discharge the duties of the Queen's Bench Division, now the King's Bench Division. Under the Judicature Act of 1873 that number was reduced to fifteen on the understanding that the Chancery Judges should take their share of circuit duty. That scheme broke down altogether in 1883, and had been abandoned; and the result was that they had now fifteen Judges to discharge a very large volume of work. In spite of the eloquence of the hon. Member for Cambridge, surely that clearly showed that there was a very strong prima facie case for the creation of a new judgeship. 214 The House should remember that a large number of new duties had been thrown on the King's Bench Judges, not only by the normal increase of business arising from the growth of the population and commercial enterprise, but by the specific allocation to them of certain duties which they did not formerly discharge. There was the Bankruptcy and the Railway Commission work and there was also the recent practice of constituting a Divisional Court of three Judges instead of two. In addition there was the practice which, provided it was restrained within reasonable limits, he thought a desirable one, of appointing Judges to discharge duties outside their direct professional avocation. Judges had been appointed over and over again to sit as presidents or as members of Special Committees to make inquiries in all directions, and this had taken up a very large portion of their judicial time. He could himself recall eleven or twelve of such appointments in quite recent years, and many of them had been very long and laborious inquiries. There was one such inquiry now in progress which had already taken months, and, as far as he knew might last months more. It was presided over by a member of the Court of Appeal, whose place was filled either by the President of the Divorce Division or by the Lord Chief Justice—more frequently the latter, because the President of the Divorce Division had his own work to dispose of. The result was that the Chief Justice was constantly being required for the Court of Appeal, and this removed one of the Judges from the King's Bench. In addition to that, they had every prospect—he himself was delighted at it—of the Court of Criminal Appeal Bill becoming law in the present year; but he must say that the appointment of one Judge to discharge the duties which would be thrown on the Court of Criminal Appeal was almost illusory. He was quite certain that one Judge would not be sufficient and they would have to face the appointment of more Judges. The Court of Criminal Appeal was desirable for the further security of life and liberty, and the appointment of one, two, or three Judges was really a matter of minor consideration. He must say that there appeared to him to be a very strong case for an addition to the judicial strength. With regard to the Council of the Bar, it was eminently fitted to make 215 inquiries into this subject, both from its own knowledge and from the interest it took in the matter. It had conducted a number of inquiries into the bulk of business in the King's Bench Division and in the Court of Appeal, and with the exception of 1906, in which year he was not familiar with what occurred, he ventured to say that not a single report could be found in which the Bar Council had not recommended an increase of the judicial staff of the country; and it was not quite right for the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge to say that this demand for an additional Judge was made without inquiry and without consideration. It had been inquired into not only by a Special Committee and a Royal Commission, but by a body—the Bar Council—which was almost as capable of conducting such an inquiry as wore the Committee or the Royal Commission. He admitted that the Bar Council was a conservative body—almost too conservative for his taste; still, they were not averse to reform in this matter. He agreed that they had urged a better arrangement of business, and particularly a better arrangement of the circuit system, but in spite of all that, they said a further increase of judicial strength was necessary. He was no admirer of the circuit system as it at present existed, and he did not think that any reasonable business man could defend it. It was perfectly true that a great waste of time and money was occurring, and it seemed to him that the circuit system did not afford sufficient opportunities for the discharge of judicial business in populous centres such as Manchester, Liverpool, and other large towns. He was somewhat of a Radical in these matters, and he believed that a Court for such centres would be essential in any rearrangement. They ought to have a regrouping of the circuit system, and a wiping out, if he might so put it, of the smaller towns. He did not think it was quite true that there was no other side to this question. He believed that there was an advantage in the Judges of the High Court going on circuit with all their paraphernalia; he did not believe in the modern utilitarian spirit which would destroy all ceremony; he thought it desirable that there should be emblems of sovereign justice seen throughout the country at various times, so that everybody would know that there 216 were Judges appointed to do justice in the land. He was quite in favour of a complete reconsideration of the circuit system, but did the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge suggest that they were to put off all other reform until that had been done? They had all been talking about the circuit system for twenty years, and they had tried the effect of the starvation policy.
§ MR. BUCKMASTER
My point is that you should leave off talking about the circuit system and do something.
§ LORD E. CECIL
said that if they appointed the hon. Member dictator some-thing might be done. But what Government would have the courage and public spirit to say, "We are not going this session to have any measure of political importance; we are merely going to try to improve the government of the country?" He should welcome that from the present or any other Government, but he did not believe that they were likely to get such a Government. And how were they going to get through that House a measure, which would certainly raise a storm of local opposition, for the reconstitution of the circuit system? He thought they must put that aside as a practical measure of immediate reform. By all means let them press the Attorney-General of the day to do something and immediately, and some day or other they might happen upon an Attorney-General who would be amenable to such pressure. He agreed with the criticism as to the want of business spirit which characterised the present administration of justice. He thought much might be done to improve the details of the administration of justice. He did not think there was any greater folly than to imagine that all Judges were equally capable of deciding all forms of judicial business. That was the most absurd nonsense, and yet it seemed to beingrained in the whole atmosphere of the central administration of the Courts of justice. They took a Judge whose experience had been entirely injury cases, and put him to try questions of law of which he had had no very great experience. Again, they often took a lawyer skilled in the technical details of law and put him to direct acommon jury. One of the things that ought to be done should 217 be to appoint special Judges for special classes of work. In that way they would simplify their procedure and do much more good than any reform of this kind could do. Under the present system they tried all cases as if they were precisely of the same character. They tried a libel action in the same way as an ordinary debt-collecting action. In a libel action where two people who hated one another came to demand justice for some grave injury which one had inflicted on the other, it was necessary, in order to secure justice, that they should surround their procedure with every kind of safeguard. They applied the same procedure to a debt-collecting action where the object was to get speedy judgment. He thought all those matters might be dealt with by such an ideal Government as he had suggested, but it would require a great deal of time, and was not likely to be carried out within a reasonable period. He looked back with great regret to the old system which prevailed before the Judicature Act was passed. The throwing of all the Judges into one hotchpotch had been a great mistake. The old system when there were three classes, and some sat in the Court of Exchequer and some in the Court of Common Pleas was much better, because then each Judge took a greater personal interest in the work of his particular division. Personally he would like to go back to something of that kind combined with the specialisation of actions. He agreed with the hon. Member for Cambridge in his desire for reform, but he thought it was rather unreasonable to say that because other reforms were desirable they should decline to accept something which would improve the position of the Court. There was an old French proverb which said, "The hotter is the enemy of the good," and he would commend that proverb to his hon. friend. He understood that his Amendment was out of order, and so he would content himself with merely supporting the Motion, and he regretted that the Government had not had the courage and had not found the time to go further.
§ *MR. H. J. CRAIG (Tynemouth)
said they all agreed as to the necessity of finding some method of dealing with the arrears of business which had grown up in the King's Bench Division, but what he was unable to accept was that the remedy 218 for this state of things was the appointment of an additional Judge. He believed that the cause of the lamentable state of the business of the Courts lay not in the numerical scarcity of the Judges, but in the continuation of the system under which the Judges of the King's Bench Division were encouraged to go into the country, leaving behind them undone a vast amount of work in London. The Judges went to many towns where there was little or perhaps no work to be done, and delivering goals at which there were no prisoners waiting to be delivered. This Government, pledged as it was to introduce efficiency and economy into the administration of all public departments ought to do something in the way of removing the many absurd anachronisms of the circuit system which wasted so much of our highly paid judicial time before they recommended the extravagant and useless expedient; of appointing an additional Judge. The state of the business in the King's Bench Division had attracted attention for many years, and other remedies besides the one now recommended by the Government had been proposed by other and eminent authorities. He wished to refer for a moment to a Report which he was surprised the Attorney-General had not alluded to, made by the Judges them-selves in the year 1892. This was one of those Reports which under the Judicature Act ought to be made every year, but they were told the other day in answer to a Question in the House that in thirty years only three had been made. The Report from which he would quote was the last of the Council of Judges, and in dealing with the question of the waste of time occasioned by the present circuit system they recommended—That the trial of civil disputes in the country should be reorganised. The present civil causes are tried at fifty-six circuit towns twice a year. At forty of the fifty-six the average number is so small that the sending of a Judge or the keeping of a Judge there to try civil causes is a waste of judicial time which is injurious to the due administration of the law.That was the Report of the Judges of the High Court. The Report further stated—Judges are often employed unnecessarily in the country when their presence is imperatively required in London. The plan provides that the civil causes which are now tried at those forty places should be tried at the eighteen larger places named in the resolutions.219 Were they not entitled to ask why the Government had not come down to the House and proposed to put in force some of those useful recommendations which tad been made by their own Judges? The Judges were absolutely encouraged to go on circuit because there were extra emoluments for going round the country doing nothing. Not only did the Judges waste their time visiting these places, but surely much of the attendant pomp and circumstance of the assize system had ceased to attract anything but ridicule. Let them take, for instance, the absurdity of a Judge who went to a small country town. The sheriffs met him at the station, trumpets were sounded, and he was escorted to his carriage. He drove off to the Court in order to open the Commission, and then he was conducted to his lodgings. The next day the Judge wont in state to charge the Grand Jury, frequently called from their avocations at great inconvenience and personal loss, only to receive a pair of white gloves. He would instance some of the cathedral cities like York. The Judge there not only went through all he had just described, but on the first morning of the sitting he was led off in state to a special service at the Cathedral. After that he went into the town to charge the Grand Jury, and then proceeded to the other end of the town to charge the Grand Jury sitting there. At the end of all this, probably the Judge would find three prisoners waiting to plead guilty. Without elaborating this point further he would just give to the House a quotation from the diary of the late Lord Russell of Killowen when on circuit, which he had abstracted from the admirable life of the late Lord Chief Justice written by Mr. Barry O'Brien—On 5th July, 1900, Lord Russell leaves town at 11 a.m. and arrives in Wales in the afternoon. Next day, 6th July, he opens the Commission, receives white gloves, no prisoners to try, and he knew that before he went. The Court rises at 11.15. Next day he has still to be there although there is no work. Next day Sunday. On the Monday he goes off to Dolgelly. On the 11th, he finds his way to Carnarvon, and opens the Court at 10 a.m. There is some work there but it finishes the next day. On the 13th of July the Lord Chief Justice has another free day and visits Penrhyn quarries. July 14th, no work, and he sails in a steam yacht to Beaumaris where he spends the following Sunday. He spends Sunday the 15th at Beaumaris. On the following day he opens the Commission at 220 Beaumaris and receives present of white gloves. On the 17th he drives to Llanfar, and afterwards proceeds to Ruthin. Next day he opens the Commission at Ruthin. The Court sits from 10.30 till 3.15. On the 19th the Ruthin Court sits from 10 till 3. On the 20th no work is done. On the 21st the Mold Court sits and finishes its work by 1 p.m. He spends Sunday 22nd at Chester; On the 23rd drives to Eaton Hall to see the Stud; on the following day he opens the Commission at Chester, and at 1 p.m. on the 25th the criminal work finishes. He returns to London after an absence of twenty-one days and during that time the sittings of the Courts at which he presides last precisely thirty hours.That was a state of things which ought to be remedied before the Government came to the House and asked that the judicial charges of the country should be increased by the appointment of an extra Judge. Besides the grouping of the civil work which the Judges had recommended, there were one or two other remedies which might be suggested. For instance, in view of the passing of the Criminal Appeal Bill, he would suggest that it might be possible to extend the jurisdiction of some of the Recorders so that they might do more of the criminal work in order that fewer of the trivial cases should occupy the time of the High Court Judges. Surely the time had now arrived when something should be done to provide more continuous sittings for the convenience, not of those members of the bar who were at the top of their profession, but for the convenience of suitors and litigants. In all other professions continuity existed. They could go to church any Sunday in the year, they could consult their doctor or go to their dentist any day, and why should they not be able to go to Court and get their cause heard? He believed that the machinery of the bar was too much carried on in the interest of those at the top of the tree. The bar had been called the oldest trade union in the country, but the distinction between the bar and the other trade unions was that whereas the ordinary trade unions were carried on chiefly, or mainly, for the protection of their weaker members, the bar as a trade union was carried on almost exclusively in the interest of those at the top of their profession. If there were more continuous sittings it was not the briefless barristers who would complain of the opportunity' of getting work; they would arrange their holidays so as to get some of the leavings of others. He believed that 221 any and all of the remedies which he had indicated were preferable to that which the learned Attorney-General had recommended to the House, and it was for that reason that he intended to support the opposition to the Motion now before the House.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolver Hampton, E.)
said he approached this question with reluctance, but he did not look upon the proposal now made with surprise. Knowing the facts that were before the Government, and knowing what must be imposed on the judicial Bench if the Criminal Appeal Bill passed into law, about which there could be no doubt, he was convinced that it was absolutely necessary that this additional Judge should, at all events for the present, be appointed. The judicial staff was insufficient in present conditions for the judicial work of the country, and they were bound to see that the judicial work was done. And they were bound to require that judicial power and judicial time should not be wasted. Judicial time and power were great assets of the nation; they did not belong to the Judges. There was a general opinion that trials of the present day wore much more protracted than they were formerly. He did not wish to cast reflections on any branch of administration of justice in this country, but he thought that in an excessive desire to hear everybody and to decide every point there was danger of the waste of judicial time and of an enormous addition to the cost of litigation. With regard to judicial power, he thought they could do nothing effectively to improve the administration of justice throughout the country until they had dealt with the circuit system. There should also be. an extension of the jurisdiction of the County Courts. A great deal of time was expended by the Superior Courts upon cases which might be dealt with by the County Courts. He thought it was unwise and improper to abstract the Judges from their judicial duties for the purpose of performing political and administrative services. During the last twelve months they had seen this interference with the administration of justice. One of the ablest and most learned and efficient of our Judges— Lord Justice Farwell—had devoted his time and attention to investigating the South African scandals. He did not 222 think it required a Judge for chat. The administrative and public services could have been called upon to perform that duty without inflicting upon the administration of justice the loss which it had sustained. Another Judge had given a great deal of time to the inqury into the condition of the Church in Wales. That was not a question of law; it was a question of statistics and of public opinion in Wales. That was not the class of work which the country set up this great judicial body to discharge. He did hope that the public opinion of the country would strengthen the desire of those who wished that judicial time should be devoted to judicial service. The House, he thought, was practically unanimous on this question. At any rate, there was a general feeling in the House in favour of granting the proposed addition to the judicial staff.
§ *MR. BERTRAM (Hertfordshire, Hitchin)
said the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken in support of the Government proposal began his speech with a quotation that ho had intended to use, but which he thought had been incorrectly made. The quotation in question was from a speech of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in that House in 1899, and the right hon. Gentleman read it to the effect that the Chancellor said he had looked with "surprise," upon a similar proposal made in the year 1899, but what the Chancellor really said, according to Hansard, was that he regarded the proposal then made for an additional judge with—suspicion, because it is so much the easiest way of avoiding difficulties and blinding your eyes to the existence of abuses, that one is tempted to take it.There were one or two points in the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and of the Attorney-General which he would venture to criticise. The former speaker said that His Majesty's Judges desired this addition, assuming, he supposed that they at any rate were convinced that the block of business in the Courts was due to the lack of system and want of organisation which had existed in their administration of justice for so long. Last Thursday week he put a Question to the Secretary of State for the Home 223 Department as to how far His Majesty's Judges had complied with the section of the Judicature Act which called upon them not only to meet every year, but to make a report every year to one of the principal Secretaries of State upon the condition of the judicial system, and as to what, if any, alterations ought to be made with a view to the improvement of the machinery of justice; and the answer he received disclosed a condition of things which was the best reply he could give to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. It appeared that so little were the Council of Judges of opinion that anything need be done that, though they had met every year since 1874, they had only on three occasions thought it necessary to make any report in compliance with the section of the Judicature Act. It appeared to him, therefore, that there was no evidence whatever that the Judges were in favour of this additional appointment. He then came to what was, after all, the most important question. Was there any real reason for assenting to the proposal of the Government? It was said that the block of business was very serious at the present moment. He had taken the trouble to find out what had been the arrears of business in the King's Bench Division for a considerable period of years, and he found that compared with twenty years ago there was now no serious block of business at all. It was perfectly true that on an average the number of actions waiting for hearing at the beginning of the Long Vacation was large, but it was only half the number awaiting decision in 1885. In 1885 the number was over 1,200, and now it had shrunk to something like 600. Then he wanted to ask the attention of the House to the actual amount of work which had been performed by His Majesty's Judges in the King's Bench Division in dealing with civil actions. In 1898 the same number of Judges of that Division, viz., fifteen, gave judgment in no less than 3,050 civil actions, which was at the rate of 203 per Judge. In 1905, the last published year's return, the same number of Judges only succeeded in dealing with1, 967 civil actions, an average of 137 per Judge. That was to say that ten years ago the Judges of the Kings Bench Division dealt with 50 224 per cent. more actions than in 1905. It would be suggested that there were reasons for that, but in 1898 there was hanging over the King's Bench Division an amount of work which had now been sent elsewhere. Since 1898 there had been no increase whatever in the normal work attached to those Judges; there had been no appreciable increase in the number of criminal cases; there was no increase in the number of cases in the Admiralty, Probate, and Divorce Division, to which cases Judges of the Kings Bench had sometimes to lend their assistance. They had been relieved of a large number of cases by the enlargement of County Court jurisdiction, and there had been an enormous shrinkage in the number of commercial cases. The Commercial cases dealt with about three years ago numbered 270, but they had shrunk in 1905 to 192, and since 1898 the Judges of the King's Bench Division had been relieved by the transfer to the Chancery Division of the whole of that heavy work, which had in former years been done at high pressure and under most unpleasant conditions, the work of winding up Companies in liquidation. In spite of these reductions in the work which they were set to do, the King's Bench Division Judges, in 1905, only dealt with 1,967 cases as against over 3,000 in 1898. Those figures to his mind undoubtedly pointed the remedy. More by good luck than by good management, in 1898 a maximum amount of work was-got out of those eminent men who were the Judges of the King's Bench Division, and at the end of that year the arrears which had been 1,200 in 1885, had been reduced to 474, so that it seemed to him perfectly plain that if the House were to insist that re-organisation and system should be introduced into the proceedings of the King's Bench Division, they could very soon wipe off the arrears which were now said to be blocking the Courts. He wished to ask the House to consider how far these arrears were likely to be dealt with by this modest proposal which the Government made. The arrears appeared to number about 660 cases, and if they were really going to deal with the actual number of cases which blocked the Courts at the present moment, they must appoint not one but five additional Judges. It was 225 perfectly futile to come there and suggest that one Judge could deal with the whole of these arrears. The Attorney-General had said a great deal of the complaints of the suitors. He had never himself heard very many of those complaints; they heard a great deal more of them in that House than humble legal practitioners like himself were accustomed to hear from their clients. But the complaints made by suitors were not of the delay which occurred after the case had been entered for trial. What the suitor found expensive and exasperating were those delays which solicitors on both sides found it necessary to interpose between the issue of the writ and the entering of the case for trial, and they might appoint twenty or thirty additional Judges in the King's Bench Division, but no number of them would alter the delays which were thus deliberately interposed; and though they might get a rapid trial once the case was entered, it was of the delays which occurred before the cause was entered for trial that the suitors complained. The question of the reduction of the Long Vacation was a matter upon which he thought members of the bar held but one opinion, but he would remind the House that the whole of the arguments of the Attorney-General could only be met by the abolition of the Long Vacation. It was not by multiplying their Judges that they would ever get rid of the block which must inevitably exist at the beginning of a period of three month sentire rest. They would have to provide that the Courts should sit all the year round, if that argument was to be met. But he did not think that proposal was one to which the House ought to assent, because mere additions to the bench would not deal with the real evil. Until they really organised their judicial system, it was idle to suppose that the addition of one Judge would make any material difference to the block of business which was said to exist at the present time, and he was satisfied, and a large number of Members wore satisfied, that the reply which had been given by his hon. and learned friend to the Attorney-General constituted an irrefutable answer to the proposals of the Government.
§ *MR. CLAVELL SALTER (Hants, Basingstoke)
said the hon. Member for Hitchin had made the point that they did, 226 not need to increase the number of Judges in the King's Bench Division, because the present number would be sufficient if they would make better arrangements and work harder than they did now, but that was a matter of opinion. He had worked in the King's Bench Division for a good many years, and he knew from practical experience what His Majesty's Judges tried to do in the way of arrangements, and how they worked, and how they did not work. They all knew that the capacity of any man, and likewise of any Judge, varied enormously. One Judge could do three or four times the amount of work another Judge could do; but with regard to the point of the hon. Member for Hitchin, ho could only express his own opinion, which was founded on long experience, that they would never get rid of the scandal of this block in the King's Bench Division by hoping to appoint more capable or more energetic men than the average of Judges who now administered justice in that Division. He had listened with great admiration and interest to the speech of his hon. and learned friend the Member for Cambridge, and ho thought it a very timely and a very useful speech. The whole question of reform in the King's Bench Division work was just now attracting considerable attention, and it was most desirable that it should be fully and freely discussed in that House, but the arguments that his hon. and learned friend put forward did not appear to him in any way to justify the conclusions at which he asked the House to arrive. He said in opposition to the suggestion for another King's Bench Division Judge, that they should first reform the circuit system. He (Mr. Salter) spoke in regard to the circuit system as an old circuit man, and one greatly in sympathy with the circuit ideal. Nothing was easier than to make fun of the weak points in the circuit system, but the ideal which brought justice, and the highest justice, to the door of the suitor was a very fine ideal. They, however, were concerned with the circuit system in that debate only in so far as it affected the judicial strength and time in the King's Bench Division. He said as an old circuit man that for the last ten or twelve years, almost from the time when the present unhappy compromise was first attempted, it had been an admitted failure. 227 As far back as 1897, in the Report of the General Council of the Bar, they would find that, two or three years after the present compromise in regard to the circuit system was initiated, it was denounced and condemned by the entire legal body, both the barristers and the solicitors, of the country. He fully agreed with his hon. and learned friend that inquiry into the circuit system was necessary—that reform, and sweeping reform, was necessary—but how did that affect this question? What they wanted, to meet an admitted and urgent grievance, was an immediate increase, and a large increase, in the judicial strength of the King's Bench Division, and although he thought that a wisere form of the circuit system would produce some appreciable economy in judicial time, he did not think it would produce anything like enough to meet their present needs, and he was sure it would produce that economy only after a prolonged and difficult inquiry had been gone through. Therefore, ho hoped the House would not be led by the argument of his hon. and learned friend to postpone the very meagre instalment of reform which the Attorney-General was offering them till after the conclusion of an inquiry so long and difficult. The other point of his hon. and learned friend appeared to be that they should make better arrangements, and that they should adhere to those arrangements when made. The hon. and learned Member for Cambridge belonged to that Division of the High Court of Justice which, from the lofty pinnacle of an admitted efficiency, looked down upon the futile struggles of its unfortunate sister, the King's Bench Division, with a certain air of superiority; but if his hon. and learned friend lived in the chaos and daily difficulty of the King's Bench Division he would know the reason of those extraordinary changes of plan, and he would know why it was that a Judge of the King's Bench Division was a sort of strange example of the mutability of human affairs, never knowing what a day might bring forth, here to-day and gone to-morrow. The sole reason was that the Court was undermanned. He would like also to refer to the topic of the political appointment of Judges. That was a matter on which it was particularly desirable for all of them to think clearly and to avoid cant. There was no subject 228 on which more cant was talked than that of political appointments to the judicial bench. He thought what his hon. and learned friend said was partly platitude, and partly he did not agree with him. If they were choosing a Judge from a number of eligible candidates, and there was among them one who was really and substantially superior to the others in legal ability or in character, they failed in their duty if they did not select that man. If there was a difference in professional fitness and personal capacity, it was a scandal and a miscarriage if that man was not appointed; but if the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge meant to say that if they had two men of equal professional and intellectual fitness and character they were to postpone the claim of one because he had been or was a Member of that House, he respectfully differed from him. And he would go further than that. Where they conceded that professional claims were equal, not only should they not postpone the appointment of a man because he was a Member of that House, but they were, for two reasons, well justified in preferring him because he was a Member of that House. First, because a man was entitled, other things being equal, to the preference on the ground that he had, at some personal inconvenience and labour, attempted to serve the country in that House according to his lights. They were also entitled to prefer him on the ground that where a man was being called upon to take part in the administration of the law it was of material assistance that he should have some experience in the making of the law. If they once admitted that membership of that House stood in the way of a man, they would exclude men who never could have reached the position to which they had attained, unless they had been a successful combination of the politician and the lawyer. In reference to the Motion of the Attorney-General, his only fear was whether the House was not being asked to dabble and to tinker with a great matter. If they tinkered with it, they not only failed to discharge their duty, which was to get rid of this admitted grievance, but they postponed the day of reform. They ought to take advantage of the public attention which was being attracted to this matter, and to take the 229 opportunity, not merely of remedying this grievance, but, if possible, of remedying the whole evil with which they were concerned. The block of King's Bench business, which was a great grievance and scandal, was not, in his judgment, the fault of the Judges of the division. It was many years since the number of these Judges was increased, and, in the interval, the population had increased, trade had developed, and there was truth in the observation of the Attorney-General that, in consequence of the greater complexity of modern trade operations, modern litigation was much longer and much more cumbrous and elaborate than formerly. But were they not making a great mistake in limiting their inquiry and their remedy to the Attorney-General's Motion? The block was not confined to the King's Bench Division. It was a block in the King's Bench business both of first instance and in the Court of Appeal. He did not, as a member of the legal profession, which he was proud to be, hesitate to say that every day solvent and sensible men in this country submitted to injustice and put aside honest;claims rather than submit to the intolerable delay which recourse to the Courts entailed. They thought that litigation ought to be left to fools or very rich men. That was a very great grievance, but the fault rested not with the Judges, but with Parliament. They could have remedied this for years past, and they bad failed to do so. The suitor in the Courts complained of three things. he complained of the expense, the uncertainty and the delay. They were without excuse in his presence, because the grievance might be remedied by a small expenditure of money as compared to what would be granted if they were discussing armaments or guns. If they were to grapple with and to remedy this evil, they must not put on a Judge for the King's Bench Division and leave the Court of Appeal alone. The proposal before the House was to tinker with the matter at both ends, and do no permanent good. There were two ways of remedying the evil. The first and better was to strengthen the Court of Appeal so that it would be able to sit permanently in three divisions of three. That would enable the Court to keep abreast of its present work, and to do the appellate work now performed by the King's 230 Bench Division; and the King's Bench, for some years at least, would be able to get on without any addition to the present number of Judges. The other plan was to leave the Court of Appeal as it was, and to strengthen the King's Bench Division, retransferring to it those appellate functions which had been transferred to the Court of Appeal. While he should accept the Attorney-General's Motion if nothing bettor wore forthcoming, he hoped the House would grapple boldly with the grievance. The cost of the judiciary as compared with armanents was trifling. Therefore ho urged upon the Attorney-General that they should deal adequately with this matter.
§ * MR. RADFORD (Islington, E.)
said that there was another remedy to which attention had not been called in addition to relegating eases to the county courts and the reform of the circuit system, and that was to shorten the Long Vacation by a fortnight. At present the Long Vacation was fixed to run from the 1st August to the 12th October, nine or ten weeks. Though the strain of judicial work might be great, His Majesty's Judges had, perhaps, recuperative power enough to pull themselves together in a holiday of nine or ten weeks. In addition, moreover, there were the Christmas and Easter and Whitsun vacations, or more than 118 days or nearly seventeen weeks in each year. This reform would bring into effective use more judicial power than would the appointment of a single additional Judge. There were thirty Judges, so that the shortening of the long vacation by a fortnight would mean sixty weeks more of judicial work in the year. A new Judge represented little more than half that. Head mitted that the State should be a model employer of labour, but the Judges wore not badly treated. They had £5,000 a year, which was a living wage, and a pension after fifteen years service, and their hours of work were from half-past ten till four, with a liberal half-hour for lunch. Those were humane conditions of employment and would continue to be humane conditions, oven if the Long Vacation were shortened by two weeks, as it was by Order in Council of 12th December, 1883. He was told that this was an impossible scheme, because it would be resisted by the Judges, but he believed that the Judges 231 would gladly make this sacrifice of time if it were necessary for the public good.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
wished to contribute to the debate as a lay Member being neither a member of the English Bar nor of the solicitors' profession. It had been suggested that the appointment of a Judge should be deferred pending the Report of the Lord Chancellor's Committee. But in the meantime he offered a suggestion in all good faith to the Attorney-General, so that the administration of justice should not be retarded. In Ireland they had a whole corps of Judges doing nothing. He would propose that Ireland should loan two or three of these Judges. The Irish people would never miss them. He was amazed to hear that on an average there were 550 cases that had gone forward for trial remaining over at the beginning of the Long Vacation. In Ireland it was proved not long ago that the salaries of the Judges in the Common Law Division were larger than the sums recovered during the year in banc. It was an easy life for the Judges in Ireland, and a little intellectual exercise on this side of the Channel would do them good. With three exceptions, all the Irish judges were true Protestants, and therefore they could serve very well in England. There used to be a Lord Chief Justice in Ireland—so easy was the life and so great was the want of employment—sitting on the Bench, and at the head of the criminal jurisdiction, at eighty-two years of age; indeed he was so old that his son, sitting in the House of Commons, applied to be relieved of his duties on account of old age. There had been a Lord Chancellor of Ireland, able to discharge the duties of his exalted position, who had arrived at the mature age of eighty-eight; and he had known Judges on the Irish Bench as deaf as every man of eighty-eight ought to be. On the aspect of the case as it affected political appointments to the Bench he recalled the saying of Bacon that the political Judge was a hateful thing. Though it was a hateful thing, they had heard of it in England, but, as far as he was aware, there had been no law officer of the Crown who had ever been accused while on the Bench of having shown political bias. He was glad to hear the noble Lord say the appointments were satisfactory. The law officers of the Crown were necessarily 232 active politicians and naturally got high preferment, but, as far as he was aware, there had been no law officer of the Crown who had ever been accused even inferentially while on the Bench of having shown political bias. But the puisne judges were appointed solely by the Lord Chancellor, and the appointments were within his sole discretion. When the Prince Regent asked Lord Eldon on one occasion to appoint a certain individual to the Bench, Lord Eldon who held on to the Government seat with a tenacity which had only been equalled by a Lord Chancellor of recent times, replied that he would do nothing of the kind; that he would rather resign his appointment than recommend any person, the choice of the Judge being his own prerogative. Lord Campbell in his diary stated that immediately on his appointment as Lord Chancellor a puisne Judgeship became vacant, and that he appointed Colin Blackburn, "whom I scarcely knew, knowing that I shall be torn to pieces to-morrow morning in The Times and cold-shouldered by a large number of Liberal Q.C.s." Lord Westbury had gone out of his way to elect non-political persons to the bench. That was the system of legal promotion as formerly understood; but hon. Members had seen in recent years the appointment of gentlemen who were unknown in the Courts, and scarcely known in the House. But they had been speakers in the dull hours of dinner time in the House, who worked, watched, and waited for Governments, and who thought that action in the lobbies of the House was the proper channel through which to get preferment on the Bench. He hoped that the system established within the last twenty years would now come to an end and that appointments to the Bench would be made through professional merit alone. He spoke feelingly on this matter and sympathised fully with the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge in speaking as he did in terms of manly indignation of such appointments, because in Ireland it was not a matter of theory but of practice. No appointment had been made to the Bench in Ireland except for political reasons. He did not say they were not good appointments, but he did say that some of the best men in Ireland, men who had devoted their lives to the practice of the Courts, were never 233 appointed to the Bench. He believed the statement that the Bar was managed in the interest of the leaders to be untrue. The Bar in the best sense of the word was a trade union; they drove out the black sheep, but so long as a man was a member of the Bar he was a friend and a brother. He could not sit down without saying how heartily he agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge in saying that the Bar on the whole was not a selfish profession. Some of the mostillustrious characters and names that had been connected with the House of Commons had belonged to the Bar. But all must admit that the profession was sometimes tarred by selfishness and degraded by their seeing sometimes on the Bench men who ought not to be there.
§ *SIR J. JARDINE (Roxburghshire)
said he intervened for a few moments to state the case as it appeared to him as one of the few men in the House who could regard the matter from the point of view of the Bench itself. He supported the Attorney-General, as the Sovereign was bound by the oath and the Great Charter to see that justice was not delayed. With regard to the remedies and palliatives, it had been suggested that seventeen weeks holiday in the course of the year was rather a large amount of leisure time, even for learned Judges engaged in dealing with the most complicated cases. In the High Court of Bombay the period of the Vacation, in a worse climate and in a Court which had to administer every one of the systems of law known to that Court and to administer them mostly in foreign languages, they got on with far fewer weeks. In Bombay the Courts sat from eleven to five, with a short interval for lunch, which was in his case well filled up by listening to reports from registrars, passing orders of superintendence, of inferior tribunals, or looking up cases. Comparing London with Bombay, the hours here could hardly be called long. With regard to the employment of Judges on Commission, while no doubt it was a case for grave consideration—the public service did sometimes require that a learned Judge should be a Member—it was an undesirable necessity even then, not only on the ground that it was taking up judicial time, but that the proper place where a Judge should be found was the Court of Justice. After 234 considering the reasons and the circumstances he thought this House might vote this Resolution provided these reforms were taken in hand. It appeared to him strange and extraordinary that the highest Judges in the realm should go to these little towns where there was no business to do. The custom of the Judges going on circuit was noted by Sir Henry Sumner Maine as an illustration of the fact that nothing in England wholly died. Every year there was this procession of justice with its trumpeters and javelin men. It was a survival of the royal tours of the old Norman and Anjevin Kings before the Court of Common Pleas was fixed at Westminster Hall in the time of King John, and useful in checking and controlling the barons in their own domains and for doing justice which corrupt Sheriffs had refused. It was ancient and picturesque, but the modern utilitarian arguments seemed to prove that those towns where the business was hardly worth troubling about should be made to send their cases to greater centres where it was necessary to send a Judge, and to see that justice was done and done without delay.
§ MR. J. D. WHITE (Dumbartonshire)
said ho regretted that with this proposal for the appointment of an additional Judge there should not be put forward at the same time proposals for the systematic reform of our judicial system in order to save judicial time. He submitted that if one additional Judge was appointed ho would not be able to cope with the additional work that would be thrown upon the Courts in connection with the Criminal Appeal Bill. One additional Judge would not be able to cope with the extra work that was now before the Courts. Again, the Patents Bill if it became law would throw additional work on the Judge. It would throw upon him work now done by the law officers of the Crown and the Controller of Patents, and he anticipated that for practical purposes patent cases in the near future would probably be found to need a Judge for themselves. In the absence of definite proposals for a a systematic reform of the judicial system, he feared that the appointment of the additional Judge would be merely a palliative and not a remedy, and one which would postpone the issue instead of hastening it.
§ *MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
called attention to the practice of wholesale summoning of jurors in cases where their services were not required. There was also, he said, a great lack of even distribution of these summonses, especially in the suburbs of London. He knew of cases where individuals had been summoned more than once a year, whereas their neighbours continually escaped, and it was those who had little to do who seemed generally to be let off. The summonses, too, seemed to rain on particular suburbs, and even on particular streets, while the recipients were generally clerks and persons who could not well spare a day, while the well-to-do generally escaped summons. He thought as judicial reform was in the air, it should be accompanied by reform in this respect also.
§ SIR JOHN WALTON
said the Committee to which reference had been made
§ was considering every one of the suggestions which had been made in the course of the debate. He hoped that that Committee would be able to furnish a Report before the end of the present year, and that it might be possible to bring in a Bill founded upon their recommendations before the end of next session. By the rearrangement of business recommended by that Committee it might be unnecessary to appoint a Judge to succeed the present appointment. He assured the House that all the reforms which had been referred to would receive full consideration, and that the Government were determined that legislation would be carried into law at the earliest possible moment.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 155; Noes, 41. (Division List No. 279.)237
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Dickinson, W.H. (St.Pancras.N.||Kincaid-Smith. Captain|
|Alden, Percy||Dobson, Thomas W.||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Ashley, W. W.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Erskine, David C.||Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington)|
|Aubrey-Fletcher. Rt.Hon.SirH.||Evans, Samuel T.||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Baker,Joseph A. (Finsbury.E.)||Everett, R. Lacey||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Fenwick, Charles||Lough, Thomas|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Ferens, T. R.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Beach, Hn. Michael HughHicks||Flynn, James Christopher||Lundon, W.|
|Bethell, T. R, (Essex, Maldon)||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||M'Crae, George|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)|
|Branch, James||Fuller, John Michael F.||Maddison, Frederick|
|Brigg, John||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Bright, J. A.||Gilhooly, James||Marnham, F. J.|
|Brunner,J.F.L. (Lancs.,Leigh)||Gladstone,Rt.Hn.Herbert John||Massie, J.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Menzies, Walter|
|Buxton,Rt.Hn. Sydney Charles||Gulland, John W.||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Byles, William Pollard||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Cameron, Robert||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Murray, James|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hart-Davies, T.||Myer, Horatio|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Nicholson,CharlesN.(Doncaster|
|Cave, George||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Noaln, Joseph|
|Cavendish, Rt.Hon. Victor C.W.||Haworth, Arthur A.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Hazel, Dr. A. F.||O'Donnell. C. J. (Walworth)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Helme, Norval Watson||Pearson,W.H.M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Hemmerde, Edward George||Price,C.E. (Edinburgh,Central)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Higham, John Sharp||Pullar, Sir Robert|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hills, J. W.||Rawlinson,John Frederick Peel|
|Clough, William||Hobart, Sir Robert||Rees, J. D.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Holland, Sir William Henry||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Collins,SirWm.J.(S.Pancras,W.||Holt, Richard Durning||Robertson,Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Horniman, Emslie John||Robertson,SirG.Scott(Bradford|
|Corbett,C.H.(Sussex,E.Grinst'd||Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Illingworth, Percy H.||Runciman, Walter|
|Crombie, John William||Jardine, Sir J.||Russell, T. W.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan||Jones,SirD.Brynmor (Swansea)||Rutherford, V.'H. (Brentford)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Dewar,Sir J.A. (Inverness-sh.)||Kekewich, Sir George||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.|
|Scott, A.H.(Ashton under Lyne||Torrance, Sir A. M.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Seely, Major J. B.||Toulmin, George||Williams,Llewelyn(Carmarth n|
|Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Turnour, Viscount||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Ure, Alexander||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Verney, F. W.||Williamson, A.|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)||Wilson, Hon. C.H.W.(Hull, W.)|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Wilson, John (Durham, | Mid)|
|Steadman, W. C.||Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Wason,John Cathcart(Orkney)||Young, Samuel|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A.Pease.|
|Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe||White, Luke (York. E. R.)|
|Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hodge, John||Richards,T.F.(Wolverhampton|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hudson, Walter||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Baring,Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Jowett, F. W.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Beale, W. P.||Joyce, Michael||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Bertram, Julius||Kelley, George D.||Shackleton, David James|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Lockwood, Rt.Hn.Lt.-Col.A.R.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford.East)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Lynch, H. B.||Stanley,H.A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Summerbell, T.|
|Clynes, J. R.||Macdonald.J.M.(Falkirk B'ghs.||Thorne, William|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Macpherson, J. T.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Crean, Eugene||Nicholls, George||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Crooks, William||O'Grady, J.|
|Fell, Arthur||Parker, James (Halifax)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Mr. Buckmaster and Mr. Herbert Craig.|
|Gretton, John||Pollard, Dr.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Radford, G. H.|
§ Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty representing that the state of business in the High Court of Justice is such as to require the appointment of an additional Judge, and praying that His Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a new Judge of the said High Court in the King's Bench Division thereof, in pursuance of the eighteenth section of The Appellate Jurisdiction Act, 1876.
§ To be presented by Members of the Privy Council and of His Majesty's Household.