§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Mr. WATT
My hon. Friend the Member for East St. Pancras (Mr. Martin) intended to move that this Bill be read a second time this day three months, but, apparently on account of the early finish of the discussion on the Finance Bill, he has been taken unawares, and is not present to propose the Amendment. Therefore I rise to move, as an Amendment, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day three months."
My first objection to this Bill is that it is practically a Money Bill, and, notwithstanding an Act passed by this House 2448 some months ago preventing the House of Lords from either rejecting or amending a Money Bill, we have the Government introducing this measure into the House of Lords, thus giving them the power of amending or rejecting if they so chose. That is, however, a minor point, although it had to be explained in the Upper House and practically apologised for by the Lord Chancellor and Viscount Haldane. But I object to this measure on its merits. The first Clause provides that judicial sittings of the House of Lords and the Judicial Committee shall not take place at the same time. Practically that is the primary, if not the only, object of the measure, but that power exists already in the Lord Chancellor's hands, because he can so arrange the sittings of these Courts as to secure that they shall not take place at the same time. But Clause 2 is the kernel of the Bill. Under it an opportunity is to be taken, by bringing about this arrangement as to not sitting at the same time, to institute two new Lords of Appeal, and in Clause 3 we have the arrangement that the salaries are to be £5,000 a year, with a pension of £3,500 after a service of fifteen years. There is no necessity for two new Lords of Appeal to be appointed. Already there are twenty-six judges who are eligible to sit in these two Courts, and the work done by these judges is not very large. Last year there were only 178 cases before the two Courts—100 in the House of Lords from the United Kingdom, and 78 in the Privy Council. Though we have twenty-six judges who can be called upon to try these 178 cases the Government tell us that is not sufficient. Some of these judges are very seldom drawn on. I have received from the Attorney-General particulars of the various attendances of these judges, and some of them have only been called on nine, ten, eleven, or twelve times in the course of a year to act in either of these particular Courts. Instead of appointing two new judges Lords of Appeal, as suggested in this Bill, these distinguished gentlemen might be called upon more often than ten or twelve times in the course of a year. They are not overworked. I cannot for the life of me conceive why the Government take the opportunity of appointing two new Law Lords to fulfil these arduous duties, and it is because of the absolute want of necessity of such appointments that I move this Motion.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am in sympathy with the first Clause in this Bill. I understand that the Government are asking the House to pass this Bill in compliance with an arrangement made at the Colonial Conference which took place last summer. But the first Clause of this Bill, it will be found, will afford all that the Colonies asked for in connection with this matter. The complaint made was that there were not enough judges very often sitting in the Privy Council to hear appeals from the Colonies. It was felt, for instance, in Australia, where I think there are six judges sitting in the highest Court of Appeal, and in Canada, where I also think there are six judges sitting in the Court of Appeal, that it was not very satisfactory to have the judgment of these Courts reversed by, perhaps, three judges, or scarcely ever more than four, sitting in the Privy Council. It is abundantly plain, from the discussions at the Colonial Conference, that the suggestions made with regard to the Privy Council were not made in any hostile spirit, but rather with a view to improve the appellate tribunal—which is eminently satisfactory, certainly to Canada, and, I believe, to the other dominions from which appeals come—the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The proposition put forward at the Conference, I think by Australia, on which the principal discussion took place, was a proposal to have only one Court of Appeal, to amalgamate the House of Lords and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, so that there should be one Court, and one Court only, which would hear appeals from the United Kingdom and the highest Courts of all the different Colonies.
The Government, while not controverting that idea, but I think rather approving of it, were unable to give full effect to it, but they proposed to make certain modifications which would go far in that direction, and the representatives of the Colonies were satisfied with the proposal made by the Government. It was no part of the proposal of the Colonial representatives that this country should pay £10,000 a year more for two new judges. That proposal came entirely from, the Government, and was accepted by the Colonies for the simple reason that it did not make any difference to them how much it cost this country, if the Government wished to have more 2450 judges. So far as the Colonies were concerned, judging from the verbatim report of the discussion, what they wanted was that the Judicial Committee should be a larger one. The reason that in the past the Judicial Committee has been a Court, sometimes with three and generally with four judges, arose entirely from the fact that the same judges, with one or two exceptions, sit in the Judicial Committee, and are also judges in the House of Lords; and as it has been the practice for the House of Lords and the Judicial Committee to sit at the same time there has not been usually the number of regular judges to supply both Courts with more than three or four judges. The first Clause of this Bill entirely cures that difficulty, because it provides that the House of Lords and the Judicial Committee shall hold their sittings at different times. The result is that the whole force available in the House of Lords is available for the sittings of the Privy Council.
The Colonies would be quite satisfied if there were in the Privy Council as many judges as sit in the Colonial Court from which the appeals come. That is in no case more than six. Surely the Government cannot say, while they have in the House of Lords available to sit in the Privy Council at least fourteen judges, without counting at all any of these learned Gentlemen to whom my hon. Friend has referred, and who are not looked upon as regular judges in the Court, that there can be any difficulty at any time in seeing that six of these judges shall be available for a sitting in the Privy Council. If there be any difficulty, there is a large number of judges who have the right to sit in the Privy Council who hold other judicial offices in the country who could always be called upon, so that there never could be any trouble whatever in getting a Court satisfactory to the Colonies consisting of six judges. What is the reason that in these circumstances the Government ask for the appointment of two new Law Lords? They may say that the Colonies ask for it. I say that is not so. What the Colonies asked was a very different thing, simply to have one Court of Appeal. The Government said, "We will submit a scheme to you," but no Colonial representative asked that there should be additional judges appointed. It is well known that both in the House of Lords and in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council there are no arrears of business. The business is right up to date. All the judgments have been 2451 delivered except possibly in one or two cases which may have been argued within the past few weeks. We had a proposal last year to appoint two new judges in the King's Bench Division. The reason of it was that the division was some four or five hundred cases in arrear, but the promise was given that no additional judges should be appointed to the King's Bench Division until the number had been reduced by resignation or death. The appointment of these two judges, with that undertaking given, made it plain that the Government would not for a moment have suggested the appointment of additional judges to the King's Bench unless it had been absolutely necessary in the public interest to dispose of the arrears of work. When Mr. Justice Grantham died the other day the Government made no appointment, and another vacancy will have to be caused, by death or resignation, before another judge can be appointed. How can any Member of this House, pledged to economy, as are all Liberal and Labour Members, vote to throw away £10,000 per annum for the salaries of two additional Law Lords? Ten thousand pounds represents a capital sum of about £334,000, which is about the sum that was devoted the other day in India to education in the coming year, and which has been referred to as a great act on the part of the Government; yet, at this late day of the Session, we are asked to throw away what nearly represents that capital expenditure without a single reason of any kind being given, except the reason that this had been arranged with the Colonial Conference.
I think I have shown very clearly and distinctly that there was no such arrangement at all, and that the Colonies did not ask for it or suggest it in any way. We know perfectly well that once these two new judges are appointed the number will never be reduced. These judges will become members of the House of Lords in addition to the four Law Lords who now sit there. That means a permanent addition to our expenditure. We, as Liberals, are pledged to economy; the Government are pledged to economy; and how can we vote for this proposal? Hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House have been engaged in the Debate on the Budget Bill, and they have criticised very strongly the action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, showing how ruthlessly pledges with regard to economy given when in opposition have been violated. What do they think of economy of this kind? They 2452 cannot at one part of the day be talking about economy, and then a few hours later for ever put a charge on the revenue of this country of ten thousand pounds. Apart from this proposal to appoint two additional judges, for which I see no reason whatever, I am very glad indeed that the Government have introduced this Bill. I would like to point out to the Attorney-General one or two perhaps rather small matters connected with the Judicial Committee. One great difficulty—I did not see it mentioned in the Colonial Conference—has reference to a grievance connected with the Colonies. It is that cases for argument in the Privy Council are not fixed. It seems to me that the Government might well make some arrangement by which an appeal brought from the Colonies should have its date for hearing fixed two or three months ahead. It is growing more customary, as the appeals involve larger amounts than they did in former years, for eminent counsel to come from Canada or other Colonies to argue these appeals. It will be understood, of course, that only men who are eminent at the Bar are retained in these appeals, and their time is very valuable indeed.
It is a very heavy charge on litigants in Canada to have to pay these eminent counsel for long trips to this country. The journey is a short one. In six days you can land in London from Toronto, which is the principal city for this litigation in Canada. If the date of the hearing were fixed, counsel could come over to this country for a few days, could stop long enough to argue his case, and could then get back to his work in the Colony. There is another matter to which I should like to call the attention of the Attorney-General. I do not understand myself how it is that English counsel have a right to practise in the Privy Council in connection with Colonial appeals. I am not making that observation with any wish to prevent English counsel from practising there, or from being engaged in those appeals But I do not understand exactly how it is that they have this right to appear in Colonial appeals. It is admitted that the House of Lords and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are to all intents and purposes one Imperial Court of Appeal, because the same judges sit in both the House of Lords and in the Judicial Committee. How is it that English and Scotch counsel can appear in Colonial cases before the Privy Council, while a Colonial counsel cannot appear before the 2453 House of Lords? I think there is wide scope for our Imperialistic Friends on this side or the other side of the House to do something with regard to this anomaly, which precludes counsel from the Colonies from appearing before the House of Lords.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, but if he is going to elaborate his argument in regard to this point, I should like to know whether it has any reference to the Bill.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
I do not think it has. The hon. Member can make a passing reference to the matter, but he ought not to develop his argument at any great length.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I do not intend to develop it at any great length. It seems to me that we are dealing with the Privy Council procedure, because there is another point, which is not in the Bill at all, on which an arrangement has been made, and it is that, instead of the Privy Council giving one reasoned judgment, each member of it shall hereafter give a judgment. We are dealing with the relation of the Privy Council to the Colonies, and I do not think it is out of order to point out anomalies which may exist. I ask what right English counsel have to appear in the Privy Council with regard to Colonial cases.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I allowed the hon. Member to make his statements, but now he is asking for a reply that involves a debate I could not allow.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I propose to move an Amendment in Committee which will raise this point so that I shall not deal further with it now. The question is a question of economy and whether an expenditure of £10,000 is justifiable or at all necessary in order to meet the matters which have been raised by the Colonies. I have shown, I think, conclusively, that there are fourteen judges who sit every day and who can be depended upon to make up a Court of at least six members which would suit all the Colonial representations. Under those circumstances, I think that every Liberal and every Labour Member who votes for this proposal renders himself liable to the charges which were hurled across the floor of the House to-day against the Liberal party for its failure to carry out its promise of economy in administration.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I think that there is a considerable amount of misconception both in the mind of my hon. Friend who moved the rejection and in the mind of my hon. and learned Friend, who spoke with some knowledge of what took place in these proceedings with reference to the number of judges who are, to use the expression of my hon. and learned Friend, bound to sit as judges. Their argument is on the basis that there is a large number of judges who are under obligation to sit on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and in the House of Lords. That is really a complete misconception. I appreciate how it has arisen and I will tell you how. There are only four Law Lords in existence who are appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act. They are presided over by the Lord Chancellor, so that there are altogether only five who are bound to sit, and are in duly bound to attend in the House of Lords, or as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, for the purpose of deciding cases which come before them. There is a large number of gentlemen who held, or are holding, high judicial office, and who are entitled to sit in the Judicial Committee, though they are not available for service every day. Take, for example, Lord Haldane. He is not available every day to sit on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, although he can on special occasions sit, and has sat, and is ready to sit whenever he can. In the same way the Lord Chief Justice of England, the President of the Court of Sessions may sit, and also the President of the Probate, Divorce, and Admiralty Division may sit in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as a holder of high judicial office, but he has his daily work, and it is quite impossible for him to sit in the Judicial Committee on the day when he has his ordinary regular work. In the King's Bench, in the case of the Lord Chief Justice, and in the Provate, Divorce, and Admiralty Division the work would fall into arrears, and you would require to have more judges. They do sit when there is some special occasion which makes it desirable that their presence should be required in the hearing of particular cases.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
They are enumerated by the hon. Member who moved in the number he referred to, because I know he had before him the number I gave him of 2455 those who are entitled to sit in the Judicial Committee. There are others who are entitled to sit either in the House of Lords or in the Judicial Committe, but who are not bound to sit. They are retired judges, who are entitled to their pensions, and who are under no obligation to sit either in the one house or the other as judges. You may take, for example, the instance of a very distinguished judge, who constantly does sit. He is at a very advanced age, although, I agree, very vigorous. I mean Lord Halsbury. He is always ready to give his services, but he is under no obligation whatever to sit. When he does sit it is on request; but he may, if he likes, never sit at all. He has the reason which quite justifies him in not sitting—that he is not a paid judge of the tribunal. With regard to the others, they are retired judges, available as judges who have held high judicial office.
§ Mr. MARTIN
Last Session, when Lord Mersey was transferred to the Lords, if I remember aright, the Premier told us that he at least would be available to sit in the House of Lords and in the Privy Council.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I remember what the hon. and learned Gentleman is referring to, but I do not think that that is quite what took place. He retired, as perhaps the House will remember, on account of health. He said that so long as he was able, and when he was able, he would give his services, and he has no doubt given his services. On the other hand, he is under no obligation to sit either in the Judicial Committee or the House of Lords. The reason of the introduction of this Bill is, as has been pointed out by my hon. and learned Friend, in order to carry out a desire expressed by the Imperial Conference. I do not mean by that that they said they wanted two new Law Lords. What they have said and do desire is a stronger Court, and a Court composed of more judges, for the very excellent reasons which were given by my hon. and learned Friend.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
That was proposed, but it did not find favour with the rest of the dominions. There were many difficulties connected with that. Some thought it might be that Australia might 2456 not like a New Zealand judge, or Canada might not like to have its cases decided by an Australian or New Zealand judge, and that proposal fell to the ground. What we are dealing with here is a very important matter for the Empire. What we desire to do is to lay the foundations of a great Imperial Court that is to be the supreme Court of Appeal for the whole Empire, and what is desired is to strengthen that Court so that we may give confidence to our Dominions-over-the-Seas and to the Crown Colonics whose appeals come to our Court over here. If we can get, as we wish, the appointment of two new Law Lords, it will put us in this position, that we shall have always available six Law Lords who will be under obligations, and who will have to sit so long as there is work there to do in order that they may go through the list and finish it. If you have six Law Lords who are bound to sit arrangements could be made as suggested by the hon. and learned Member, the force of whose point—that distinguished lawyers coming over here from Canada and elsewhere should know on what date they will have to come—I quite appreciate, and think is very important. It goes a long way to help you to carry that out if we are enabled to form the Court we desire here, because if we have a number of Law Lords under obligation to sit, then you can regulate your list for some time ahead, and say what cases you will take when the Court sits. If the Court is to be left in the position it is now in—that is to say, that it does not know when it can be formed, since there are only four Law Lords with the Lord Chancellor, who has often other work to do, and is not available—then the consequence is you cannot make arrangements ahead for both of your Courts to sit, and it is either the House of Lords or the Judicial Committee who has to sit.
There is this further point, that you want a Court composed of more than four judges for the purpose of hearing appeals. As my hon. and learned Friend has rightly said, the Dominions are very anxious to have a Court composed of more judges than at present sit. I would call his attention to the first Clause of the Bill, of which he approved, but I do not think he paid sufficient attention to certain words in it, namely, that the Court shall, so far as practicable, be arranged in such a manner as not to sit simultaneously. That is to say, the object is that you should be able to have your judges sitting either in the House of Lords or in the Judicial Committee. But when you have pressure of 2457 work you will have to sub-divide the judges, so that some sit in the Judicial Committee and some sit in the House of Lords. You cannot possibly do that at present. You cannot rely on being able to make the arrangements necessary unless you have six Law Lords always under obligation to sit. That is the real object of introducing this Bill. It carries out an arrangement arrived at by the Imperial Conference last June. If we can do what we desire, if the House approves of this Bill, which will enable us to do it, the consequences will be very important, because the appeals to the King in Council are undoubtedly a very valuable link between us and our Dominions overseas, a link which I am sure everyone would be sorry to see disappear. It is important, if you are to strengthen that link, that you should give confidence to the Dominions, and that when they come to our Courts here they should be satisfied that they get the best hearing they possibly can from the Court best constituted.
Reference has been made by my hon. Friends to economy. I think they treated us a little harshly. We have been exposed to criticism on the ground that it was proposed in the House of Lords that the salary, of the Law Lords should be reduced; that is to say, that the Law Lords now to be appointed should receive instead of £6,000 as hitherto, only £5,000 a year, and that all future appointments of Law Lords are to be at the rate of £5,000 instead of £6,000 a year with pensions reduced proportionately. As a result of that it will not be a very long term of years before we shall be getting all the benefits of this proposal—we shall have two new Law Lords and a Court composed of six judges—and it will not be costing the country any more. My hon. and learned Friends also said that we appointed two new judges last year. That is quite true. But the appointment of those two judges was for a totally different purpose, a purpose which has been, or is being effected. I am not sure that I should be right in saying that it has been effected. Those judges were appointed for the purpose of reducing arrears in the King's Bench Division. The friends of economy and efficiency will remember that the Lord Chancellor held out for some considerable time against that proposition, and only fell in with it after there had been an inquiry by a Joint Committee, who made recommendations with which he agreed.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
There is this difference between the two. In the case of the King's Bench Division the judges were appointed because the work was in arrears, and the appointment of the two judges was necessary to clear off those arrears. This House insisted, quite rightly, I think, that if those arrears were cleared off the two new judges should not be appointed when vacancies occurred, except under the special conditions laid down in the Act. The present proposal is not for the purpose of clearing off arrears, and no time can be looked forward to when these judges will not be required. On the contrary, my view is that if we get these new Law Lords, their services and the services of the other Law Lords, will be in greater request than hitherto, because more appeals will come to them, and the whole of the work will increase rather than diminish. In this case there is no question of getting rid of arrears. It is not for the purpose of getting rid of arrears that we want the two Law Lords appointed. It is to constitute a Court. The Lord Chancellor rightly stated, and claimed the credit to which he is entitled in respect of it, that both these Courts are not in arrears. My hon. Friends should bear in mind that he is an advocate of this Bill, and desires the appointment of these new Law Lords. No one will suggest that he is not in favour of both the economical and the efficient administration of justice. I submit, therefore, that there is very good reason indeed why these two new Law Lords should be appointed. If this Bill passes we shall have taken a very important step towards strengthening the link between us and our Dominions-over-Seas by giving them greater confidence in the administration of justice in the appeals which come to this country.
§ Mr. MORTON
It is to my mind an extraordinary state of things that the Government should, without any explanation whatever, have attempted to smuggle through a Bill of this sort at the fag-end of the Session. We have, at much inconvenience and trouble to ourselves, supported the Government in all that we understood was to be the programme for the Autumn Session. We never supposed that at the last moment a Bill of this sort was to be smuggled through without explanation or proper discussion. The bulk 2459 of the Members of the House are away. As far as I can gather from his speech, the Attorney-General is not much in favour of this Bill. I suppose he would say that it is in the brief, and therefore he supports it. He has told us that two judges were appointed to the King's Bench Division last year because the work was in arrear, and he is asking us now to appoint two new judges for the Court of Appeal because the work is not in arrear. That is an extraordinary state of things, but, of course, it is in the brief, and the Attorney-General cannot help it. We have had it stated, and I think really proved, that these judges are not wanted. The Lord Chancellor stated distinctly in the Debate in another place that there were no arrears? Why do you want, these new judges if there are no arrears? The Lord Chancellor did not introduce the Bill. That task was left to Lord Haldane, the War Minister. I suppose that, as there are no arrears, he wants these judges for fighting purposes. As far as we have heard anything about this Appeal Court, what is really wanted, and what our Colonial friends want, is a real Supreme Court of Appeal for the Empire in which the House of Lords should have no place whatever. In 1873 Mr. Disraeli abolished the House of Lords as far as this Court was concerned, but they were strong enough to upset the arrangement three years later and to revive the system, which has since gone on.
The great point I desire to make is that these judges are not wanted. It is a pure waste of money. It is absolute nonsense to tell us that you want to do it because by and by you will reduce salaries all round. We do not want to go in for this increase at all. What I think we reformers say in regard to these Courts is that we do not want to touch this Court of Appeal until we get it completely reformed, and as Mr. Disraeli wanted to reform it—to take it away from the House of Lords altogether. I believe that is the view of the Lord Chancellor. I do not know that he exactly said as much, but he practically said it. So did Lord Haldane. But they seem to think they might do the thing in this way. If anybody can argue that the appointment of two new judges to the present Court will have anything to do with abolishing that particular Court altogether—well, I cannot understand it. I should have thought the best way would have been to reduce the present number of judges. Then you will get 2460 a reform, perhaps, which everybody admits ought to take place. The Attorney-General spoke about some of these Noble Lords who are not obliged to attend. So far as I remember, we give them very large pensions for the express, purpose that they should attend.
Practically the ex-Lord Chancellor—when there is an ex-Lord Chancellor—is given a very high pension so that his services can be available. Therefore I do not agree with the Attorney-General that these people can take their pensions and do no work. It was intended that all these Noble Lords should do something. I do think that the Government ought not to have gone on with this matter now. We shall want considerable time in Committee to consider Amendments, and we have not very much time to give to these Amendments. It is certainly not fair, after our professions of economy, that any such sum of money for these salaries should be voted until the Liberal party in this House have a proper opportunity of considering the matter. I have no hesitation at all in saying distinctly to whoever is in charge of this Debate that the Government is not acting fairly towards the Liberal party. We ought to have had a proper time and opportunity to consider this matter in a reasonable and proper way. There is no sort of demand for urgency, and the Government might have well left this, as they have left much better Bills, over to the next Session. I do hope the Government, as it is practically impossible for them to get this Bill through, will even now withdraw from this present position, and allow us in a proper and efficient manner to consider what ought not to be a party matter at all. I am sure we have not got an opportunity this Session to consider it. I do, therefore, appeal to the Government to act fairly to the Liberal party, who day and night have supported the Government in their many other measures. I must say that it is very unfeeling of them, and very unfair, that this is left to the eleventh hour of the Session to attempt to smuggle through a Bill of this sort.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I only rise in order to attempt to elucidate the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite. We know that ever since the Liberal party have been in power one of the chief cries of hon. Gentlemen opposite has been that we have been creating jobs. Whether or not they can justify that I will not say. But it has been here and in the country one of their main 2461 complaints against the Liberal Government that measure after measure has been brought in which would create new jobs. Now here we have at the tail-end of the Session a measure brought in which creates two very fine jobs of £5,000 a year. I want to know what the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite are on this particular Bill. I am bound to say that I am not very hopeful in view of the presence of a particular Member on the Front Bench (Mr. F. E. Smith), for the right hon. Gentleman, I am afrand, is not exactly "the" Member from whom one would expect sympathy with Radicals in this particular measure. After all, lawyers hang together under all circumstances. I am afraid that we here shall see the Leader of the Tory party, and I expect their followers too, walking into the- Government Lobby in support of this Bill, and against any attempt to prevent these two particular jobs being created. The prognostications are bad in this regard, and will, I am afraid, only too surely prove to be true. I think we might have some words from the right hon. Gentleman telling us what the views of the Conservative party are on this particular Bill. The country at large will be interested to know what the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite are, and the country has a right to expect that the Conservative view will be freely put forward, so that the Press can understand how much value to set upon the bitter complaint about the creation of posts, particularly heavy salaried posts of this sort.
The Radical point of view is perfectly simple and perfectly straightforward. We object to the creation of these two new posts of £5,000 a year. We object to them almost as much as we object to the arithmetic of the Attorney-General. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that we were really going to save money, because the appointment of future Lords of Appeal were going to be £5,000 instead of £6,000. My schooldays study of the arithmetical method called "practice" taught me that six judges at £5,000 a year does amount to more than four judges at £6,000 a year; in fact, that there is a loss on that transaction of £6,000 a year. Even the saving mentioned will only take place in the dim and distant future, when all of us taxpayers are dead. What is the real state of affairs? There are no arrears for either the House of Lords or the Privy Council. There is no prospect of any additional work, Therefore you are simply meeting a need which does not exist by appointing these two judges. You have at present a 2462 chance that both of these Courts, the House of Lords and the Privy Council, may be sitting at the same time. Under the first Clause of this Bill you are doing away with that. You are preventing them sitting simultaneously. Therefore you are making it actually easier for existing judges to meet the litigation.
Yet you come before us at the tail end of the Session with a measure such as this to create judges for whom there is no need, and under circumstances which make their need and the demand for them even less than it has hitherto been. I do think it is monstrous that the Liberal Government should bring forward a measure like this—that has come down from the House of Lords—the Tory Chamber—and endeavour to force it through this House on one of the last days of the Session, when they have sacrificed measure after measure for which there was a demand in the country, and from the Liberal party. I can only hope that if this Bill is to be pressed through that it will be after very strict investigation in Committee, and very serious Amendment. The House will remember that last year two extra judges for the King's Bench were appointed. We begged and prayed that the appointments should be made to end at a certain age, or that the judges should be appointed to retire at a certain age. Both of these conditions were refused. We did gain a concession that a number of judgeships should lapse as soon as any of the judges retired or die. In this case I understand there is no hope whatever of getting these two extra unnecessary judges cut out. But surely we might make an effort to get the appointments made at a reasonable age, so that we shall not have Judges of Appeal appointed at a very advanced age at which they are unable to do the work satisfactorily. We might, too, have some condition inserted in their engagement that their retirement at seventy should become compulsory in order to make way for younger men. Either of these conditions will make this Bill more palatable. As it stands, I can only say that I think every Radical should remember his pledges for economy to his constituents and oppose the creation of these jobs, and vote against the Bill on Second Reading, so that it can be amended in Committee.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I do not profess to be able to judge how far the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is entitled to speak on behalf of those whom he described in compendious language as "the Radical 2463 party." I am sure I shall not convince him when I say that I do not for one moment contemplate myself, either in the present or in the future, occupying one of those judicial positions. I am well aware of the handsome tactical use he will make of any observations that I have to make upon the subject, but I do think that if he founded himself upon the language of the hon. Gentleman who spoke in front of him from his own side, he might well see that other considerations arise here and that this is essentially not a party question, and that such considerations may very usefully assist the House to arrive at a decision. This is undoubtedly not a party measure. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has asked that some expression of opinion should come from this side of the House on the proposed creation of salaried posts in relation to the point made by Conservatives in recent months as to the enormous addition of salaried officials created under the various Bills that have become law. The appointment of these two judges may be defensible or not; that is a debatable matter, proper for discussion; but whether it is defensible or not, the ground on which these appointments are made is distinct from, and not by any means the same ground, as that on which you justify or criticise the creation of 100 or 200 or 500 officials by such measures as the Insurance Bill and the Budget. Both of these may be right or they may be wrong, but the consideration by which you defend both are wholly different. The hon. Gentleman, I understood, contemplated with enthusiastic approval the creation of an army of officials involving the country in expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds in order to carry out the Land Clauses of the Budget, of which he is such an enthusiastic supporter. It may be right or it may be wrong, but whether that was right or wrong does not arise on this question.
The proposal before the House now depends, obviously and necessarily, upon its own merits; and I was astonished that among the Gentlemen who spoke below the Gangway opposite no one who wished to press this particular economy upon the House attempted to deal with the central proposition upon which the Attorney-General founded himself. What were these propositions? The Privy Council hears appeals from all parts of the Empire. No one who has studied the recent development of the Empire and is concerned to maintain the great need for homogeneity 2464 in its institutions, which, after all, is one of the symptoms of modern Imperial development with which men of all parties sympathise, can fail to be struck by the circumstance that in the last ten years a distinct danger has disclosed itself, and that the outlying portions of the Empire publicly stated that in their judgment the Appellate Committee of the Privy Council is no longer satisfactory. Observe the difficulties which the Appellate Committee obviously has to deal with. You invite men who live in countries very remote geographically from us, under the guidance of laws in many cases not identical with ours, to undergo great inconvenience and to submit their jurisdiction to the review of Privy Council. If you are going to induce our Colonies to do that for any considerable period of time, it is quite certain you must give them a tribunal not only adequate for the purpose, but which they believe to be adequate for the purpose. Is any great public purpose served by maintaining the right of appeal in England? I think anyone who has given the matter even superficial attention will say no more useful element making for the consolidation of the Empire or the homogeneity of its institutions can be found than that of having India, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the rest of our Colonies from all corners of the Empire laying their appeals in this country. If that is an advantage, and I believe it is an advantage, not merely from the point of view of lawyers, but I believe it is a profound advantage from the point of view of the civilisation of the Empire, then this proposal and this right of appeal is well worth preserving. It is well worthy of the attention of the House to know that it has been most bitterly attacked, and in influential quarters, in the last ten years.
An Australian judge of some distinction about three years ago attacked the whole system of appeals to the Privy Council, and said that many litigants in Australia were seriously oppressed by the financial burdens of appeals to the Privy Council, and were greatly doubtful whether in the future it would be worth their while any longer to appeal to this Council. He advanced many arguments in favour of his view, and I particularly remember one. He said, "We have in Australia causes determined by Australian laws which do not always correspond with English laws, and it may be that an Appellate Tribunal of five members in Australia pronouncing 2465 upon a law which is very familiar to them are liable to find themselves overruled by a tribunal of four or even three judges in England," and he announced himself as very hostile to that state of things, that he greatly disliked the risk involved, and he expressed the belief that it was very unpopular in Australia. The answer made here to-night is, one speaker after another points out, that there are a large number of judges who can sit in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council but who are not compelled to sit. But no answer was given to the observations of the Attorney-General. It is no good reckoning on the judges who can sit on the Privy Council. The number who can sit there if hon. Gentlemen will only look into it, is very few, and I do not think anyone would be astonished that it should be so. The plain fact is, it is not for that that judges are pensioned, they are not paid because their services may be available in the future.
Whether their pensions are adequate or whether they are expensive, all these pensions are paid for past services. You cannot run a tribunal at all by taking into account that some judge not compellable to serve can be counted upon to sit upon that tribunal upon which he is really not compelled to sit. If you make that necessary deduction from the Privy Council, the fact is you have four judges. The feeling was given expression to at the Colonial Conference that the Appellate Tribunal whose duty it is to pronounce upon appeals from the Colonies is very small, and you had the deliberate representation made by the Colonial Conference that this change should be made. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] The hon. Gentleman says "No," but in substance he is wrong, although in form he may be right. Undoubtedly the wish expressed at the Conference was that the Privy Council should be strengthened. Whatever case there might be for a readjustment between our Colonies and ourselves, there can be no objection to £10,000 being spent in this way in view of the fact that economy is being collaterally effected nearly covering that amount, and where the object is the consolidation of Imperial justice and strengthening a tribunal for the whole Empire. For those reasons I shall have no hesitation in supporting this proposal.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
It would be impossible to exaggerate the importance to the Empire of this Court of Appeal. I cannot say for the moment who sits in that 2466 Court, and therefore I can speak without any personal feeling in the matter. It has struck me as an onlooker that the Court suffered more from lack of quality than lack of quantity. If it is true that the work of the world is being too much conducted by worn-out men, in no part of our administration is that more true than on the bench from the Sheriff Court of Scotland to the Appeal Court of the Empire. I think also that the number of these great appointments is very high, and if these large retiring allowances are given in the case of an ex-Lord Chancellor they ought to carry with them the understanding that the work is done properly. I voted against the appointment of two additional judges last year, just as I voted against the increase of certain salaries in other great offices of the State in the previous year, because I think some of these great salaries have been re-arranged without due consideration and without coming sufficiently under the control of this House. While I attach great importance to the work of the Privy Councils of the Empire, I am not satisfied that these two additional posts are needed, and I do not think this rearrangement of salaries should be carried out without the very fullest control being exercised by this House. Under these circumstances I shall be obliged to vote against this proposal.
I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned." I make this Motion in the interests of the Government. After their very successful management of affairs through the whole of this arduous Session do not let the Government come a cropper at the end of the Session upon a matter like this. I make this Motion in order to give the Government more time to consider this question.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I hope the hon. Members will not persist in this Motion. As a matter of fact we have been waiting for some considerable time for the passage of this Bill and this is not a measure which has been sprung upon the House. This Bill has been upon the Order Paper for some time. I do not wish to have this question adjourned, because I am anxious we should get the Second Reading, and then any further questions can be raised during the Committee stage.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I wish to support the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate, because I think the House ought not at 2467 this period of the Session to discuss a Bill of such importance. In the case of a very tiny Bill which would have enabled the local authorities to feed the poor children the Government could not find time to discuss it. I really think it is quite a monstrous proposition to say that the House of Commons cannot find time to deal with a one-Clause Bill which does not bring forward any great principle in legislation, but simply gives local authorities power to do something which they want to do. Although this House cannot find time for a tiny Bill of that sort it can find time to discuss a large measure of this kind. At this juncture I am not going to discuss the merits or demerits of the Bill, for there will be an opportunity to do that if we do not carry the Motion for Adjournment of the Debate. If we adjourn this Debate now, we might bring on the other Bill I have mentioned and carry it through all its stages this evening. I think that would be an excellent way of using the time at our disposal now instead of discussing a Bill of this kind.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
I should like to ask is there really any urgency for this measure to become law. Is there anything in the meantime that is intended to be done between now and the meeting of Parliament next year to necessitate that this Bill should now be passed. I think we ought to have an assurance on that point. This measure has been brought on somewhat unexpectedly, because the general expectation was that the Finance Bill would have occupied a considerable portion of the evening. I confess that I expected when this Bill came on that we should have a general discussion on the whole question of the relations of the Privy Council, the Appellate Court, and the House of Lords. I had intended to move an Amendment to the effect that the whole question of the judicial authority in cases of appeal should be separated entirely from the Second Chamber. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have suffered politically from the fact that those Courts are so closely associated, and I have heard complaints from many hon. Members in this direction. The decision with regard to the Free Church of Scotland is a case in point, for that was a decision given in the House of Lords against the highest tribunal in Scotland. This is a very important and far-reaching matter, and those who take the view which I do that these appeals ought to be dissociated from the 2468 House of Lords ought, under more favourable circumstances, to have an opportunity of discussing the matter in all its details. If it is absolutely necessary for the Government to pass this measure now, they will be able to do so, no doubt, but there is a stronger feeling against this measure than is probably supposed. Only six notices are allowed to be put on the Paper, but had it been possible to put down twenty I am sure there would have been twenty put down. If the Government persevere with this matter, and if the adjournment is defeated and the Second Reading is carried, I think we are entitled to ask the Government to give us an assurance that this matter will not be discussed to-morrow night. It is too important to take at one or two o'clock in the morning, or anything like that. Therefore, I shall be sorry if they cannot see their way to adjourn the Debate. Seeing the importance of the matter, I say candidly, as a friend of the Government, they ought to adjourn it unless there is some extreme urgency. They cannot complain their Radical supporters have not been indulgent. Throughout the Session we have been silent. So far as the Radical section are concerned they are unanimously against this Bill. They may be right or they may be wrong, but, at all events, their view is worthy of consideration. Therefore, I would urge that the Government would be well advised, after a very successful day's legislation at this late period of the Session, unless there is some extreme urgency, to accept this Motion for Adjournment. After all, it is only a matter of six weeks, or very little more, before we meet again, and that ought to be taken into account. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will welcome any proposal which will postpone any additional charge upon the Treasury, and really in this matter we may count upon him as a friend. If he had only been below the Gangway I can almost imagine what his speech would have been.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I have heard this Debate right through with a good deal of interest, and, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, I naturally sympathise with those who do their very best to diminish charges which are pressing heavily upon the shoulders of the State. My impression is that it is more or less, I will not say a bond or a bargain with the Colonies, but that it is in compliance substantially with wishes which they expressed, and I certainly would not like to take the responsibility of assenting to a Motion for 2469 adjournment which might, in effect, defeat what the Colonies pressed upon us without, at any rate, taking full counsel with my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. My suggestion is that my hon. Friend should assent to the Second Reading of the Bill to-night, and I will represent to my right hon. Friend the views which have been expressed very strongly to-night. I think the request of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir Henry Dalziel) is a perfectly fair one. It is that the discussion should come on at a time when there will be a full opportunity for everybody to express their opinions. I think I can, on behalf of the Government, undertake, to promise that, but I certainly could not accept, on behalf of the Government, the responsibility of accepting a Motion which would determine the fate of the Bill. It would be infinitely better if my hon. Friends would assent to the course I indicate. I would then consult with my right hon. Friend as to whether this is a request from the Colonies, because there is a difference of opinion between my hon. Friends (Mr. Watt and Mr. Martin) and my right hon. Friend the learned Attorney-General as to what is the real desire of the Colonies. My impression is that the Colonies are anxious for it. I should not like to express any view further upon it without consulting my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
Surely upon a question of this kind we must give considerable weight to the opinion of those who are in authority. It is very difficult for those who are not used to practising in our Law Courts to really appreciate the matter. We have had the learned Attorney-General standing up in the House of Commons and declaring, on his responsibility, that these two extra Lords in Ordinary are necessary for the due administration of the highest Court of the land, and that. I think, is an opinion well worthy of everybody's consideration. Speaking for myself, I should say those two extra Lords in Ordinary are absolutely necessary. I think all our Courts throughout the land ought to have some spare judges. The greatest cost and inconvenience are very often caused by one of the ordinary judges being ill and not able to attend, and, if you had a spare man who could take his place, a great deal of unnecessary cost and inconvenience would be saved. With regard to the question of delay, surely all those who are opposed to this proposal are ready to take part in the Debate. It is only twenty minutes 2470 past nine, and quite recently we have been used to sitting up till the small hours of the morning. Hon. Members opposite, I am sure, are not worn out, and can express their views for the next two hours. Why should we not discuss this matter now? It is really a matter of urgency. I think the Attorney-General has given good reason for discussing this at once. This is only the Second Reading, and the Government, I understand, do not propose to take the Committee stage to-night. Any matters hon. Members opposite want to raise can be raised on the Committee stage, and, if they are not in favour of the Bill, they can oppose it on the Third Reading.
§ Mr. MORTON
The hon. Member who has just sat down has forgotten the position altogether. There is no urgency about the matter at all. There are no arrears, and there is no demand from the Colonies for any of these appointments. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has really proved our case. He says he wants to consult his colleagues. Surely, if that is so, it is not fair to ask us to pass the Second Reading now. If we pass the Second Reading, he would have us in a corner. The proper way to carry out what he said is to adjourn the Debate now, so that he can consult his colleagues. It would be putting the cart before the horse if the Bill were read a second time, and he were to consult them afterwards. It is not fair either to his colleagues or to us. I do hope, notwithstanding the arrangement between the two Front Benches, which is always dangerous, and which always puts us "between the Devil and the deep blue sea," though which is the Devil in this case of course I do not know, the right hon. Gentleman will give way, not to the Opposition but to his own supporters. I should like to warn the Liberal Government against coalescing with the Opposition Benches in that way against their own party. The large majority of the Liberal Members here to-day are against this Bill going on. Whether they will be against it by and by if they have proper time to consider it, of course I cannot say, but there has been a very strong feeling expressed that nothing ought to be done until there has been a full opportunity of considering the whole thing. I hope the Government, after admitting they want time to consult their colleagues, will consent to this very mild proposal to adjourn the Debate. Of course, there is not much chance of this Bill getting through this Session. The 2471 Government are not acting very fairly to us in taking the Debate on this occasion, and I hope they will give way to Liberal Members and try and help us to help them to study economy.
Sir H. DALZIEL
If it is understood that the right hon. Gentleman will try to ascertain the general feeling of the House with regard to this matter, I think some of my Friends will be disposed to let the Second Reading go now.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I hope that the Motion for Adjournment will pass. It is suggested that an agreement was entered into at the Colonial Conference to appoint two judges. If that were so I would support the Government strongly, but I am satisfied, after reading a verbatim account of what occurred at the Conference that no such arrangement or suggestion was made. What the Colonies asked for was that there should be at least six judges in the Judicial Committee. By the first Clause of this Bill that is without doubt provided for. In spite of anything the Attorney-General has said there have been for years four judges sitting in the Privy Council and five in the House of Lords. Thus there have always been nine judges available out of a list of fourteen for the purposes of these two Courts. The Government have now arranged that the two Courts shall not sit at the same time, and under this new arrangement there will be ten judges available at all times for the purposes of hearing appeals.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
Are the remarks of the hon. Member relative to the Motion immediately before the House? That Motion is for the Adjournment of this Debate. Surely he is speaking on the merits of the Bill?
§ Mr. MARTIN
I understand that. I was trying to answer the argument put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he attempted to show that it was necessary to read the Bill a second time to-night. I say that is not the case. If this Bill never passed at all, and these two judges were not appointed, and if instead the arrangement made with the Colonies were carried out, it would be found that at all times there were sufficient judges to sit on the Judicial Committee of the Privy 2472 Council. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that if this Motion for Adjournment is carried the Bill will be dead. Why should it not be killed? I know of no reason, and I hope therefore that the Motion for Adjournment will be carried.
§ Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and negatived.
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
I listened very carefully indeed to the remarks of the Attorney-General, and to those made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. It appears to me that certain considerations which have been put forward were not attempted to be answered by them. One question was as to whether this particular form of dealing with the question is likely to bring anything in its train. I understand that the object of the Bill is to appoint two extra judges in order to cope with the work. What strikes me is, that we have no guarantee that the troubles we are now suffering from are not to be perpetuated. Our real difficulty is that we have a lot of old fossils sitting on the Bench whose powers have long since gone of dealing properly with the important questions which come before them for decision. I cannot help thinking that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite and the right hon. and learned Member behind him were to be appointed to these posts, we might get someone who had this at least to commend them, that they are in full possession of their faculties. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I did not know it was an insult to suggest that hon. Gentlemen were in possession of all their faculties. If they think I am wrong I will withdraw the suggestion. Possibly, however, they were objecting to my suggestion that some of the gentlemen whom we are discussing to-night are not in possession of their faculties. That I submit cannot be gainsaid. We are quite able to form our opinion upon such matters when we look at the decisions which has been given, some of them without sense, rhyme, or reason.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think this question should be discussed without making suggestions of that kind.
I do not wish to transgress your ruling, but it does appear to me that my remarks are germane to the situation. The Government believe that 2473 they are making a, serious attempt to deal with something which is radically wrong, and what I am contending for is that, under this new arrangement, there will still be kept on these decrepit old men. I quite understand that remarks of this nature are not very palatable to certain gentlemen who are looking forward to occupying some of these positions, and who object to any suggestion that some day or other they, too, possibly, may become fit subjects for similar remarks. I say these things in all sincerity. I believe that the real way out of the difficulty, not only in regard to this matter, but in regard to judicial matters generally, is to see that judges of all kinds, whether in the Appeal Courts or elsewhere, are compelled to retire from active service before they have reached the stage to which I have referred. The Government has taken rather a mean advantage by bringing this Bill forward at the fag-end of the Session. They have done so under conditions which are very suspicious indeed. On Friday, when we were discussing a Bill of infinitely greater importance than this, we were told that more time could not possibly be given in order to better the conditions under which shop assistants labour. We now know that shop assistants cannot have consideration because two posts are to be created and fat livings are to be offered to certain gentlemen, and that without any certainty that, after the appointment, the judicial affairs of the land will be better conducted than at present. Therefore I am compelled, because I believe that we are not likely to get out of the deadlock we are in at present or to get any more satisfaction for our Colonial brethren across the sea in this matter, to vote against the Second Reading.
§ Mr. KING rose——
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman has already spoken. The hon. Member moved the adjournment of the Debate. That is a speech which counts on the Question now before the House. He is not entitled to speak again.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I listened with great attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith). It seemed to 2474 me that the result of his speech was this: that someone from the Colonies should be put on this Court to represent Colonial views. I hold a very strong opinion that this kind of question will not, and cannot ever be, properly settled until there is a really representative Imperial body sitting in London actually representative of the Colonies. This is one of those questions which really ought not be settled in this kind of way. The two men who are there, one from that bench and one from this bench, will, in my opinion, and I speak as a layman, if they have been presiding over Courts in this country, not have the necessary knowledge of Australian law and legal administration to satisfy gentlemen like the judge mentioned, who complained of the inability of our Appeal Court here to really understand the Australian point of view. That is the first objection I have to dealing with this question at all in this fashion. I am just as keen as anyone in this House for the unity of all parts of the British Dominions, and if I thought this was the way to help it, I should be enthusiastically in its favour. But there is another reason why I object to this proposition, that is that you are going to appoint two judges at £5,000 a year, and the method of appointing them is that they shall have served a certain length of time in other Courts, so that this is really a kind of pension arrangement for them. So far as I have read the Bill, there is no reason why younger men and men who have not sat in the Courts of England should not be appointed. I cannot help thinking that you are setting people like me rather a bad example when you appoint them after they have served fifteen years at £5,000 a year, and then say that the country is to pay them a pension of £3,500.
If the Bill is to go through at all I want the House to understand this, that to a man like me, who is continually called upon to vote for things which impose responsibilities on the workman to make provision for the time when he is not able to work and also for sickness and old age generally, it is rather extraordinary that we should continually have Bills of this kind before the House, under which well-paid servants of the State are not called upon to contribute towards making provision for themselves when they are no longer able to work, and under which you say that fifteen years' public service at £5,000 entitled a man to a pension of £3,500 a year. After this House has been 2475 discussing, as we have been discussing all this year, the provision for workmen, who are very poorly paid people indeed, I must vote against any Bill containing a proposal of this kind. There is another thing to which the Government should give heed. It is that we ought not to be asked to discuss this merely from the one point of view. Speaking as a layman, I have not enough information at present, and I have not heard from the speakers on the Front Bench—I say this with all respect to them—anything like sufficient reasons why it is absolutely necessary that this Bill should be pushed through in this fashion. I have not heard the statement of the hon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Martin), who knows as much about the Colonies as most Members in this House, controverted by anyone, namely, that the Colonies did not at the Imperial Conference ask that this particular method should be adopted. It seems to me that the Government are pushing this thing for some reason or another.
I regret to say something which, perhaps, will not please everyone. Before I came here I used to read in the newspapers that it was always a very dangerous thing when the two Front Benches agreed upon anything, and that the ordinary rank-and-filer in the House of Commons ought at once to sniff danger. I remember that Mr. Labouchere always used to take that view. This is an occasion on which the two Front Benches have agreed that something is to be done, and something which is to cost money. I have heard a good many speeches from the Front Opposition Bench and some speeches from the back benches about the enormities the Government are committing in creating a lot of well-paid posts in the labour exchanges. For this sum you can have any number of these 2½d. jobs. This only provides for a couple of men. I have not heard any right hon. or hon. Member opposite protest against it. It seems to me that the two Front Benches are agreeing to do something which, at any rate, will find two decent jobs for two decent lawyers in the country. I think that neither of the legal Gentlemen who have spoken really ought to have been allowed to speak on this question. The laymen in the House ought to have put this thing through, because we may, one of these days, wake up to find that the two Front Benches have agreed that the two right hon. Gentlemen are the best gentlemen to adorn these positions.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I hope the Government will not push this measure against the judgment of a great many of their own followers. New and large expenditure is very often embarked upon with too light a heart, and this is one of the instances. I think it is unfair to the Colonies to make them a lever in pressing this Bill. They have not demanded anything that involves expenditure. The request they have made could be satisfied without this expenditure. I think, moreover, it would be a very dangerous thing if the Government gave the impression to its followers that if they can get the support of the Opposition to any measure they will ignore their own followers. The complacency with which the Government Bench contemplates the opposition to this measure which their followers have given is apparently due to the fact that they can command the support of the Opposition. It would disorganise our loyalty entirely if, upon all those measures which the Government knew would command the support of the Opposition they could snap their fingers in the face of those who support them so loyally. I hope the Government are not prepared to run that risk by forcing the measure through at this hour of the Session. I appeal to the Government not to press this measure forward and not to depend upon the support of those who usually oppose them and ignore those who usually support them.
§ Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the question," put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.