HC Deb 17 July 1912 vol 41 cc380-1

asked the Prime Minister when he will give facilities for the Motion standing in the name of the hon. Member for the Brentford Division of Middlesex, in relation to the presentation of a humble Address to His Majesty the King on the subject of additional judges? [Mr. Joynson-Hicks,—High Court of Justice (King's Bench Division),—That a humble Address be presented to His Majesty the King, representing to His Majesty that the state of business in the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice requires that the two vacancies which have last occurred among the puisne judges of the said Division should be filled.]

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)

It would be impossible in the present state of business that facilities could be given to discuss this Motion, but I hope before the House rises for the August Adjournment that the Government may be able to make a statement of their intentions in the matter.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware the present condition of affairs at the Courts is very serious indeed, and amounts in some cases to a denial of justice?


I understand representations of that kind have been made to the Prime Minister, and I know he is prepared to give a statement on the subject.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware there is considerable opposition on this side of the House to the Motion?


On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, with reference to my notice of Motion, I need hardly say that it is not with any desire to treat the statement of the Prime Minister otherwise than courteously that I feel it is essential that, if possible, this question should be debated. A mere statement by the Prime Minister would not effect the purpose I have in view. With regard to the notice of Motion, Standing Order 1 (2), says:— At half-past eleven of the clock the Speaker shall adjourn the House without Question put, unless a Bill originating in Committee of Ways and Means, or unless proceedings made in pursuance of any Act of Parliament or Standing Order, or otherwise exempted as hereinafter provided from the operation of this Standing Order, be then under consideration. This Motion is a proceeding made in pursuance of an Act of Parliament. By the Act of 1910 providing for the appointment of new judges, it was provided by Section 1, Sub-section (2), that it should be lawful for His Majesty to fill any vacancy provided that "Whenever after 1st August, 1911, the whole number of puisne judges amounted to fifteen or upwards, such vacancy shall not be filled unless and until an Address is presented to both Houses of Parliament." My proposition is within the terms of that Act to present a humble Address to His Majesty, asking that these vacancies should be filled, and I ask it not indeed with any desire to press this Motion tonight, but in order, if it is decided in my favour, that I may consult the convenience of the Government in order to put it down for a short discussion on some night and get a statement from the Prime Minister thereon which could not affect the purpose without an Address. Under those circumstances I ask your ruling as to whether that is not an excepted business under Standing Order 1 of the Rules of the House.


I had some hesitation about it in the first instance, because I thought all these cases of exempted business had reference to matters which would come into operation unless an Address were presented. That is to say, that time was really of the essence of the matter. But on further consideration I think the wording of this Standing Order is so wide, "proceedings may be made in pursuance of any Act of Parliament," that it would include the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman.