HC Deb 03 April 1911 vol 23 cc1798-9

asked the Prime Minister whether there is any proposal to abolish or diminish the powers of the highest appellate court, commonly called the House of Lords, in view of Mr. Justice Avory's remark at the conclusion of the election libel action brought by the hon. Member for the Skipton Division of Yorkshire, that he might go to the Court of Appeal or to the House of Lords, if there is one; and whether, in view of the confusion in the minds of electors between the House of Lords in its legislative and judicial capacity, colour to which is now given on the high authority of one of His Majesty's judges, ho will consider the advisability of designating the House of Lords in its judicial capacity by some other title?


I am informed by the learned judge (as is indeed obvious) that the observation referred to was made in a spirit of pleasantry and was only intended for counsel to whom it was addressed. I see no evidence of such confusion in the mind of the electors as the hon. Member attributes to them.


Is there any objection to reconsidering the question of combining the functions of the Privy Council with the judicial functions of the House of Lords?


Is it not a fact that in reference to the House of Lords in its judicial capacity, provided three members of the judicial bench are present, the sitting of that House of Lords is a sitting of the House of Lords itself, and that any Member, whether he be a lay Member or not, is perfectly entitled, so far as the law is concerned, to take part in the Sitting.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that considerable confusion has been deliberately instilled into the minds of the people in this regard, especially in respect of the Osborne Judgment.


No, Sir.


Is it not the fact that the forms of the House of Lords in giving judgment are exactly the same as the forms of the House of Lords in ordinary procedure, and that so far as the law is concerned any Peer twenty-one years of age can take part. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed, agreed."] No, it is not agreed.