§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty representing that the number of the puisne judges of the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice now amounts to sixteen, and that the state of business in the said Division requires that one additional judge should be appointed to the said Division under the first Section of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, 1910, and praying that His Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a new judge of the said Division of the High Court of Justice accordingly.In moving this Resolution I would desire the House to realise that the only object is to carry out the unanimous recommendation made by the Royal Commission now sitting to inquire and investigate into the delays in the King's Bench Division. I would impress upon the House that nothing they may do to-day will in the slightest degree affect the position of the Royal Commission or will prevent the House in the future objecting to the appointment of more judges. What I want to make quite clear is that this is really a recommendation made by the Royal Commission, in order to meet the arrears at present and pending the inquiry of the Royal Commission. It is not intended in any way to stereotype the number of judges at eighteen, nor is it intended in the slightest degree to have the effect of preventing the House of Commons on any future occasion to object to the appointment of any new judge when the number is less than eighteen, so long as it does not get below sixteen. There was considerable discussion as to the appointment of two additional judges of the King's Bench Division, and in 1910 we passed a Statute which said that whenever the number of judges should fall below fifteen the old practice should be resorted to, and a judge should be appointed in the ordinary course, without any action by this House; but that beyond fifteen neither of the two judges should be appointed without an Address from both Houses of Parliament to His Majesty on the ground that the state of 45 business necessitated the appointment of either or both of the two judges. If we now appoint another judge it will bring the number of puisne judges up to seventeen, or, including the Lord Chief Justice, to eighteen, for the King's Bench Division. Suppose that within the next six or twelve months, or at any time, there is a resignation, or for some other cause, there is a vacancy in the Divisional Bench, the result will be that this matter would have to come again before the House of Commons. We are preserving the absolute right which the House of Commons, or rather Parliament, took by the Statute of 1910. Whatever the House may do—I say this particularly having regard to the Notices of Motion which I see on the Paper, and in which some Members seem to think it is not desirable that we should have as many as eighteen King's Bench judges—or, at any rate, that they do not desire it without certain suggested reforms being carried out—I want to make it quite clear that nothing done to-day will prevent the House giving effect to that view at any time when the Commission has made its Report. That stands absolutely untouched by anything done to-day. In the First (Interim) Report of the Royal Commissioners [Cd. 6761] there are three paragraphs that I would like to read to the House:—In view of present circumstances, we do not consider that this number"—That is the number of judges now—is now sufficient to overtake the arrears and thus remove a delay which is the cause of justifiable complaint by suitors.We propose to proceed without loss of time to consider the various suggestions made to the Joint Committee, and to ourselves, for enabling the King's Bench Division to deal satisfactorily with all its work by better arrangements for the conduct of its business and greater economy of time.I would call particular attention to this:—But even if any of such suggestions could be immediately adopted, we should not be justified in recommending them without full examination of their probable effect on the important public interests concerned; and pending such examination, arrears would continue to accumulate, which it is essential to the proper administration of justice should be removed.We therefore humbly recommend to Your Majesty that in the meantime an additional judge should be appointed to the King's Bench Division in the manner authorised by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, 1910, so that the number of judges be maintained at eighteen until the presentation of our final report.Anyone examining the evidence which has been given before the Royal Commission will see that whatever reforms you may introduce, that it is essential that you should get rid of the arrears that have accumulated and are accumulating. Let 46 me remind the House of what happened on the last occasion when we discussed this question on 25th October, 1912. In consequence then of arrears and delays, I moved a similar Resolution to that of today. In 1910 the House passed the Statute to which I have made references, and we appointed two additional judges who quickly began with the arrears which had accumulated, and made great inroads upon them. Unfortunately during the next year there was the death of one judge, and the retirement of another who had been ill for several months. The consequence was that there was a great loss of judicial time during that year, with the immediate result that the arrears began to accumulate very quickly. In the end the state of things was such that in October of last year I moved a Resolution, as I have said. I then stated to the House that it was our intention to appoint a Royal Commission, which was subsequently appointed. The House will remember that the hon. Member for Mansfield moved an Amendment that the House should recommend the appointment of two judges instead of one. I do not want to go into the discussion that took place on that particular Friday, but may I shortly remind the House that I was pressed very hard from both sides of the House to accept the Amendment. I did not feel I was justified in doing that in view of the notice on the Paper asking for only one judge, and the fact that doubtless many Members had not come down to the House thinking that there would be no question of two judges. The Government Whips were not put on, and the view that one judge would meet the case was adhered to by the House. I ventured to say that if the Royal Commission in the course of its investigation found that a second judge was necessary, that no doubt the House would take what had happened in October, 1912, into consideration on the discussion of that recommendation. That is the position at the present moment. I content myself, therefore, with reminding the House of what took place then without going into details, as I confess I do not see that any very useful purpose would be served by going into all the details; but, having regard to the evidence placed before the Royal Commission, composed of men of various views, and considering that they have unanimously recommended that an additional judge should be appointed, I submit to the House that we may safely appoint 47 another judge, so that arrears may be disposed of, and that the suitors may get the justice to which they are entitled.
§ Mr. WATT
I beg to move, as an Amendment, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words "pending the final Report of the Commission and the consideration of all the recommendations of that Report, no steps be taken to increase the numbers of the judges in the High Court of Justice."
As my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) did not rise to move the Amendment on the Paper in his name, I propose to move that Amendment. I adopt that Amendment because it will give the House an opportunity of discussing in a wide fashion the whole question if it so desires. It is an extraordinary thing that on the subject of the arrears in the King's Bench Division two Commissions have sat in the last four or five years. One Commission reported in 1909, and recommended that various changes should be made in the methods of the King's Bench; but, strange to say, not one of the recommendations of that Commission have been accepted by the Government. As was indicated by the Attorney-General, fresh judges were appointed, and these judges have, to a certain extent, done something to remove what he calls the arrears; but now, owing to illness and retirement, the Attorney-General comes forward with a new Motion, that the number of judges should be increased without at the same time suggesting to the House that any of the recommendations of the Commission of 1909 will be adopted by the Government, and without suggesting to the House the method of dealing with these arrears. I object to the number of judges in the King's Bench Division being increased for several reasons. I object to the increase, firstly, because they are not dealing now with the number of cases they formerly dealt with, and because what they call arrears are in point of fact, the programmes of business before them, and that during the last few years the judges are managing to tackle fewer cases in the King's Bench Division.
I object to the increase in the number of judges because they have not only dealt with lesser cases, but they work an extraordinarily few number of hours in the week, and I object from the fact that they are paid out of the Exchequer of the 48 country a sufficient sum to warrant the country getting its business done efficiently. As to the number of cases they now dispose of, let me quote from statistics given in the evidence of Lord Lore-burn when he was Lord Chancellor before the Commission which reported in 1909. As the distinguished head of a distinguished body of judges, he strongly objected to the increase in the number of judges from sixteen to eighteen, and said so clearly in his evidence. The words he used were:—I am not able to advise that two judges or any judge should be appointed.Notwithstanding that, the Commission did recommend an increase, and of course the Government adopted that recommendation. In his evidence upon that occasion the ex-Lord Chancellor pointed out what I have already stated, that the arrears were due to the fact that the judges of that Division were doing less in the way of tackling cases than they had done a few years before. He pointed out for example that in 1901 the cases dealt with were 1,653; in 1902, 1,775; but that in 1908 the number had fallen to 1,243, so that in point of fact the judges of that Division are at the present moment dealing with only two cases where so lately as eight or nine years ago they dealt with three cases. They are tackling only two-thirds of the business now that they tackled then. Lord Loreburn further pointed out that what are called arrears and what were referred to-day by the Attorney-General as arrears, and which he put forward as a basis for an extra judge, are really the programmes of the Courts. Lord Loreburn says:—What are called arrears really mean the business programme—the work to be done by the Courts.Even if we accept the expression "arrears," no great case is made out, because the number of cases in arrears—that is to say, the number of cases on the programmes of the Division—has not largely increased. In 1900 the figures were 768; in 1904, 736; in 1906, 927; in 1907, 997; and in 1913, on which this Commission which is now sitting has made a temporary Report, the arrears are only 918; so throughout these years there has been a steady number of cases called "arrears," but called by Lord Loreburn "programmes." There has been no such increase as to call for the appointment of new judges. Then as to the number of hours, perhaps it will surprise the House to realise that the number of hours the judges of this Division sit is twenty-five in 49 the week, and that the number of days which a judge sits in the year is probably about 200. As Lord Loreburn says in his evidence, and indeed as most of us are aware, there are fifty-two weeks in a year. The judges sit for thirty-six weeks and have holidays for sixteen weeks, and during the thirty-six weeks they sit they only sit twenty-five hours per week, so that the judges we have cannot be said to be an overworked body. Not long ago I asked the Attorney-General for a statement of the number of days in the year upon which these judges sat, and I received, on the 28th April, an answer which shows that the greatest number of days on which Mr. Justice Lush sat was 209 during the year. In the column which is specially devoted to absence through illness, unfortunately, it appears there that Mr. Justice Lush was absent sixty-one days from that cause, and that number must come off the 209 days. Another distinguished judge sat for 207 days, and he was absent on account of illness for sixty-six days. Those are the two judges who had the highest totals, and the lowest runs down to 152 days. With a 25 hours' week, and working from 150 to 200 days per annum, I do not think that the present number of judges in this Division is insufficient to tackle the work. As to the salary, I asked the Treasury to indicate to the House the amount of money paid to the judges in this Division, and on the 7th May I was told the amount was £56,510 per annum and that £17,500 was paid in pensions to ex-judges of that Division, so that something like £75,000 is paid to these judges in order to do the legal work of the country. In view of these considerations, I think it is unwise for the House to consent to this Address asking for the appointment of another judge. I oppose this proposal more emphatically because there is a measure now before the House dealing with the appointment of two new Lords of Appeal. In the first three or four hours of the first sitting after the Recess, the Government are asking us to pass measures which will cost the country £17,500 a year for judges, or a capital sum of £400,000, and this is the Government which came in on the ticket of economy. I think the Government would do well either to abandon this suggestion or, at any rate, abandon the Appellate Jurisdiction Bill, which is the more expensive of the two. I know that we shall be overridden in this matter by the Government, who will receive the support of Conservative Members opposite, 50 who are always willing that new judges should be appointed. I think the time will come when the Government will regret that method of overriding their own supporters. The Government are adopting the principle of utilising one majority for one type of legislation and another majority for another type of legislation, and I think that is a most unconstitutional method to adopt.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I beg to second the Amendment.
Hon. Members below the Gangway who are opposed to the appointment of this judge are not necessarily opposed to the principle of the appointment of judges if they are actually required. We recognise that there is no more important function of government than the administration of justice, which must be kept up to the mark, and the expense must not be considered if it can be shown that it is necessary to spend money in order that judges should be available to the people of this country. Under those circumstances we should be ready to support the Government in spending money. The reason we are opposing this proposal is because we are opposed to the method which is being adopted for dealing with this question. The Attorney-General has pointed out that merely agreeing to this proposal to appoint an additional judge will not prejudice our case for a reform, but we think it will. We are asked to support this appointment because the Royal Commission has asked for it, and we are told that some time later on, when another judge may be asked for, we can object to the appointment and press for our reform. When will this kind of thing end? This is the only chance we shall get. The Government tell us that we cannot start our reform now because the arrears must be disposed of. On the last occasion this question was before the House the Attorney-General was able to show that in one particular case the judges had done something and an Order in Council was passed by which at Assizes the judge may hear civil as well as criminal cases. I think that is a step in the right direction. What reason have we to suppose that anything is going to be done to meet our views? A Joint Committee was appointed in 1909 and they heard a lot of evidence and made a number of recommendations to the Government, only one of which has been considered.
51 We think that now is the time to press upon the Government the great necessity there is for considering these matters which cause delay in the administration of justice. In 1850, when Charles Dickens wrote "Bleak House" and made his celebrated attack on the Court of Chancery which had the effect of reforming that ancient institution, what did he say in a later edition of "Bleak House?" He attended a meeting which was addressed by one of the judges of the Chancery Division, at which it was said that the real reason for these delays and for this denial of justice, was that there was not enough judges in the Chancery Divisions. That was the complaint then, and it has been the complaint ever since. When the Joint Committee sat in 1909, it really was a duel between the late Lord Chancellor (Lord Loreburn), and the Lord Chief Justice. Lord Loreburn took the ground we are taking to-day, and he stated in the most definite terms that there was no necessity whatever for the appointment of these additional judges, and at that time the arrears were very much greater than they are now. In 1910 the arrears were over 1,100 cases. That means cases untried, but really they are not arrears, because every case put down is not a case in arrear. No Court in the world has got a clear list, and there are always a number of cases coming on for trial. Lord Lore-burn said he did not think there was any necessity whatever for appointing two more judges, and I would ask hon. Members to read the evidence given by Lord Loreburn on that occasion, and they will see how he suggests that these arrears, or this failure to keep the work up to date, can be disposed of.
I intend to go into the different suggestions made by Lord Loreburn to deal with this difficulty. I do not think that the Attorney-General is justified in saying that this is not the occasion to press for a reform. If it is not, when will the occasion arise. The Attorney-General stated that there is a Royal Commission sitting. Probably when it has sat for three or four years, and when they have made their final report, the Government will take the matter up. Of course three or four years will not make much difference in a matter of this kind. I understood that a Royal Commission was to be appointed, not for the purpose of holding up this matter and taking the responsibility off the shoulders of the Govern- 52 ment, but for the purpose of further investigating this matter in order that those opposed to the appointment of these judges might have a full investigation of the matter. A large number of Members were opposed to appointing even one judge. There was no excuse or reason for the Government appointing a Royal Commission. The facts were all before them. They had the evidence of Lord Loreburn, and they had the evidence, directly opposed to him, of the Lord Chief Justice, who, when he appeared before the Joint Committee in 1909, practically took the stand that everything was as perfect as it could be and that there was no necessity for any reforms whatever. Lord Loreburn, on the other hand, thought that there was great necessity for reform. While the Lord Chief Justice was supported by two distinguished leaders of the Bar and two judges of the King's Bench Division, Lord Loreburn was supported by the President of the Law Society, who made some most practical suggestions.
There is one reform, however, which was not brought before the Joint Committee at all, and which seems to me is really one of the most important of all. There should be an age limit for judges in this country. The Lord Chief Justice said, "No. So long as a judge is alive he is capable of performing his judicial duties." He and Mr. Justice Phillimore took the extraordinary ground that the older a judge gets the more competent he becomes. That, no doubt, would be true if it were not for the frailty of human nature, but I have no hesitation in saying that when any man, whether he is a judge or not, gets beyond sixty-five, he is not able to do the same work day after day as he has been prior to that age. An age limit has been adopted in many other countries. Sixty-five is the age limit in the United States, and I am told that it is sixty in India. There is no age limit here at all. An hon. Member asked the Prime Minister a question about the matter, and he said the Government did not intend to take up the question at all; he was satisfied that every judge as soon as he became incapable of doing his ordinary work would resign. I suggest that has not been the case in this country. I do not wish to name anyone or to make any attack. I should be very sorry if any of my remarks were interpreted as an attack upon the judges of this country, for whom I have the greatest respect. We all look up with the highest respect not only to the Bench in this country, but also to 53 the Bar which practises before that Bench. The decisions of the judges of England are quoted all over the world, and are regarded as a judicial exposition of the law of a very high plane. My remarks, therefore, are not intended in any way as an attack upon the judges, but as a Member of the House of Commons I consider it my duty to deal with matters which seem to me to require legislation and change. The responsibility of the judges is to carry out the law as it is laid down by Parliament. It is the responsibility of Members of this House, when it is shown there are gross defects in the law, to deal with those gross defects and to call upon the Government to remove them, as far as they can, by administrative action, and, when that is not sufficient, by legislation. No man when he gets old appreciates the fact, and the pecuniary arrangements give the strongest inducement to a judge to hang on as long as he can. A judge is probably appointed when he is about fifty-five or sixty years of age—many of them are over sixty when appointed—and he is not entitled to a pension until he has sat on the bench for at least fifteen years, except in special circumstances. Therefore, in his own interests—probably he is not a rich man—he must stay, if he is appointed at sixty years of age, until he is seventy-five before he can get the benefit of the very proper legislation which gives a judge a pension on retirement. That is a matter which requires the attention of the Government.
I was very much surprised to find that the appointment of shorthand writers was not at all customary in the Courts of Justice in this country. People in Canada and in the United States of America would never think of attempting to conduct their Courts of Justice on the old system of requiring the judge to take the whole of the evidence down in his own handwriting. Anyone who proposed such a thing would be looked upon as silly. That is another defect in our system. When a man gets old he cannot write with the same freedom as he did when younger, and this causes the greatest delay. I know this because I practised in Canada before they had the system of shorthand reports. The difference between the two systems is simply wonderful, not only in speed, but also in efficiency, especially when you get into the Court of Appeal. When a judge of the Court of Appeal reads the evidence as it is in the shorthand writer's notes when ex- 54 tended, he has a picture before him of everything that occurred at the trial, and not simply the statement that a man made condensed into a sentence by the judge. He has the actual words with the hesitation of the witness. This is a matter which would not require legislation. It would only be the question of spending a little more money in providing shorthand writers.
The only objection I have heard is that there would not be enough shorthand writers, but that is absurd. If you were willing to pay a reasonable salary, as, of course, you would have to do, it would not be long, if there are not enough shorthand writers at present, before there were enough. They have no difficulty in Canada or in the United States, where they pay a very large salary, especially in the United States, in getting shorthand writers, and the money is well spent. Mr. Winterbotham, the president of the Law Society, in his evidence referred to the present circuit system as antiquated and wasteful. I am sure he is entirely right. One of my hon. Friends on the occasion of the last discussion gave an extract from Lord Russell's diary when he was on circuit in Wales. The Government have been in power for eight years, and have never attempted to deal with this question, and the Attorney-General was frank enough to say that they dare not tackle it because the towns where the Assizes are held would not give them up. What do they want them for? So that the judges and the barristers and the officials and witnesses may spend a few shillings over the bars of the hotels and for their night's lodging.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
That I said they would not give them up because people went there and spent a few shillings over the bars of the hotels?
§ Mr. MARTIN
The right hon. Gentleman's suggestion was that the Government found it impossible to deal with the matter, because the moment they proposed to do so the towns where the Assizes were held—Reading, for instance—were up in arms because they would not have this source of income and because Members would get up in this House and protest vigorously. What other reason is there? It is not for the administration of 55 justice, because Mr. Winterbotham says that when a judge goes to a place and finds there is nothing to do his time is wasted. He has to stay there one day and then travel to some other town. Mr. Winterbotham suggests that a number of these small places, which were perhaps entitled to Assizes one hundred years ago but which would not need them now, should be grouped together. The solicitors are in favour of it—
§ Mr. MARTIN
I do not know whether Durham is an Assize town or not, and whether they want to have a few shillings spent there, but it seems ridiculous if that is the only reason the Government can give, and it is the only reason why these Assizes are held in these small places. They ought to have been done away with years ago. Mr. Winterbotham suggests that there should be more criminal trials at Quarter Sessions and more cases taken at the County Courts. That is a very simple and plain suggestion. It does not need a Royal Commission to inquire into it further. A judge of the High Courts goes to Reading or to Durham or to any of these other small places to hold a Court and to try two or three petty criminals who would be just as well tried at Quarter Sessions. I am quite sure the Attorney-General would not take the stand of the Lord Chief Justice, and say that no reform is required. Surely all these things can be done without a Royal Commission. Take next the question of the County Courts. When the Prime Minister introduced the Supreme Court of Judicature Bill, 1910, he stated that nearly all the recommendations of the Joint Committee did not require legislation, but could be remedied by administrative action. He went rather far in that statement. It is true many of the recommendations could be given effect to not by the Government alone but by the Government and the judges combined, but it is equally plain that so long as the present Lord Chief Justice is at the head of the judges they will not agree with the Government in making any of these changes. If we are to have any reforms at all, we shall require legislation especially for the purpose of any extension of County Court jurisdiction. I give the Government every credit for good intentions. When Lord Loreburn was Lord Chancellor he did introduce into the House of Lords an admir- 56 able County Courts Bill which passed that House, and which largely extended the jurisdiction of the County Courts by transferring cases for considerable amounts from the King's Bench Division to the County Court. But what happened to the Bill when it came into this House? Many notices of opposition were given to it. We know the practice is not to print more than six such notices, but we are well aware that there were very many more objections to this Bill, and these objections to a beneficial measure came from the lawyers in this House. [An HON. MEMBER: "I thought you were one."] I am not a lawyer in this country. I have not been able to get into the trades union here. I have spent a great part of my life in the law, and at the same time have been a politician, and I can say from personal experience that no great legal reform has ever been carried in Canada without the most active opposition on the part of the lawyers of that Dominion. I believe the same thing holds good in this country.
The fact is the County Courts Bill was very strenuously objected to by the lawyers, most of whom sat on the other side of the House. When we on this side objected to the appointment of an additional judge the Government promptly dealt with us, and, in order to do so, used the majority they possessed, largely reinforced by the votes of hon. Members opposite, in order to enforce against our wishes and against our protests the proposal for appointing additional judges. Why did they not mete out similar treatment to the lawyers who opposed the County Courts Bill? That was a small measure which no lawyer could reasonably have opposed in this House, but the Government, in the face of their notices of opposition, kept quiet.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
Twice I offered in this House to eliminate from that Bill those elements which were looked upon as controversial, in order to pass the rest of the Bill, which was undoubtedly very much needed. Of course, I wanted the whole Bill, but time did not allow us to pass it, and, consequently, I had to do what is very often done, I had to try and make terms, and so I offered to eliminate the controversial elements. Unfortunately I was not successful. But I am still ready to reintroduce the Bill without these controversial portions.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I am not making any attack upon the right hon. Gentleman. 57 What I wish to point out is that, while the Government compelled us by the use of the brute force of their majority, a majority consisting almost entirely of Tory Members, they did not take the same course in regard to the lawyers opposite who were opposing the County Courts Bill. The Attorney-General tells us that he offered to eliminate the most controversial matters. I say he had no right to do anything of the kind. The County Courts Bill might have been controversial from the lawyers' standpoint, but it was not so from the point of view of the country generally. Therefore, why did not the Government use their majority to force the lawyers to accept the Bill. If they had done so, the Attorney-General would not have found it necessary to be here today asking the House to appoint another judge for the King's Bench. No doubt some County Court judges are better than others, but I understand that, generally speaking, the County Court Bench stands very high indeed, and that solicitors, at any rate, are quite prepared, no matter how large the amount involved or how important the point raised, to have their cases tried in the County Court.
I come next to the third suggestion, a most important one, that there should be a shortening of the Long Vacation, and more regular Saturday sittings from 10 to 2. With regard to the Long Vacation, it is a disgrace to the administration of justice in this country that, on the 31st July, there should be, as there was last July, 918 cases waiting to be tried, and that the workshop in which these cases were to be dealt with should be closed for two and a half months. It would be perfectly reasonable to cut two or three weeks off the Long Vacation. If you have sixteen judges and lessen their vacation by ten or twelve days each, you get the equivalent of a year's work of one judge. Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the Government would be justified, on the ground of economy alone, if, instead of asking this House to appoint another judge at a cost to the country of £5,000 a year, it was to shorten by two weeks the holidays of the existing judiciary, and thus practically give another judge. Why should a judge have 153 days' holiday in a year? Is there any other class in the community which has such a holiday? I should like to make it quite clear that I do not think it is the fault of the judges these things occur. It is the fault of the Bar. They want the holidays just as much as 58 the judges. Whether it be for the good of the country, or otherwise, the legal profession have a tremendous pull in this House. The laws are, to a large extent, made by them. Why is it the House does not sit until three in the afternoon? It is in order that the legal Members may attend to their practices in the Courts. How is it that the hon. Member for White-chapel (Sir Stuart Samuel) had to fight a by-election the other day because his firm had done important work for the Government in looking after the silver question, while lawyers in this House can take thousands of pounds of work from the Government every year without anything being said about it? It is because the lawyers practically control the House. No one would suggest that the hon. Member who sits for Whitechapel was affected in his votes by the silver transactions of his firm.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I am very sorry, but in the course of my study of this question, I have been thoroughly impressed with the fact that it is the privileges of the Bar that really stand in the way of the reforms for which I am asking. I want to see carried out the reforms asked for by Mr. Winterbotham. We find that these lawyers have got the finest trade union in the world. I do not wish to violate the ruling of the Chair, but I would like to say that I have spent thirty years in the practice of the law, and surely I ought to know as much as a young boy coming direct from a university; yet I cannot practice the law here unless I am willing to spend three years and pass a whole lot of examinations. I cannot understand why the Labour party in this House do not more strongly endeavour to get for their own unions power to do away with competition such as the lawyers possess in their trade union. This is a very serious matter, and I want it to be realised that the responsibility for the trouble rests not with the judges but with the Bar and its privileges. Then there is the suggestion that the judges should sit on Saturdays. When the Prime Minister introduced the Supreme Court of Judicature Bill in 1910 he gave a very definite promise that the Government would interfere to ensure that the judges did sit on Saturdays.
§ Sir ARTHUR MARKHAM
He said they would sit a couple of hours longer during the week in order to make up for a short sitting on Saturdays.
§ Mr. MARTIN
It amounts to the same thing. They were either to sit on Saturday, or to have longer sittings on other days.
§ Sir CHARLES HENRY
If they did not sit on Saturday they were to sit longer on other days, and that is what is occurring.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I doubt it very much. Not long ago I asked the Prime Minister for a return showing the number of Saturday sittings. No doubt some of the judges have sat on a considerable number of Saturdays, but many of them sat for a very short time indeed. The fact is, instead of the hours of judges lengthening they are getting very much shorter. I think it was Lord Haldane who, when a Member of this House, stated that when he commenced practising, the Courts used to sit from ten till four. Now the time is generally eleven to four. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Then is it the case that the judges are less punctual? That is a matter which can be put right, probably without any legislation. The fourth suggestion made by Mr. Winterbotham was that there should be some assistance given by the Chancery Judges. The Chancery Judges have their cause lists practically up to date, and there is no complaint in regard to that Division. I believe it happens quite frequently that a Chancery Judge concludes his daily work long before the hour for closing the Courts. Mr. Winterbotham and other witnesses suggested—I think Lord Haldane also made the suggestion—that there might be considerable assistance given by the Chancery Judges. It was pointed out to the Committee that they could give considerable assistance in connection with the Divisional Court. The Divisional Court has appeals from the County Courts, applications for new trials, and a number of matters of that kind with which to deal. It was suggested that the Chancery Judges might be called upon to give a good deal of assistance, and thus free some of the King's Bench Division Judges to deal with those cases.
The fifth suggestion made by the president of the Law Society was that the arrangements for carrying on the business of the Courts at the present time were 60 very bad indeed—that suitors, solicitors and counsel were very much put about by expecting cases to come on at a particular time, and then finding they did not come on. His suggestion was that the shifting of judges should be avoided, and that a judge should have his list, say, a non-jury list or special jury list, or common jury list continuously month after month, so that he could keep control of it and be able to so arrange matters that a great deal of the time which is now wasted should not be lost. There was another suggestion that from time to time retired judges might be called upon. All these things were discussed at length in 1909—four years ago. The Joint Committee, while they overruled the suggestion of the Lord Chancellor that it was not necessary to appoint any additional judges, made it very plain indeed that while they recommended the appointment of two additional judges, it was to be a purely temporary measure. When the Government accepted the recommendation of the Joint Committee to appoint two additional judges, they impliedly agreed that they would act upon the further suggestion that as soon as the arrears had been disposed of the question of reforms would be gone into by them. My charge against the Government is that they have entirely failed to carry out that pledge in any way, shape or manner, except in regard to the one little matter to which the Attorney-General referred, and for which I give him credit. With regard to the present Royal Commission, when that Commission was promised the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division (Sir A. Markham) asked the Government in appointing the members of it not to put many lawyers upon it. I supported the hon. Member in that suggestion, and, in fact, I went further, stating that I would be glad to see a Commission dealing with matters of this kind with no lawyers upon it at all.
§ Mr. MARTIN
It is a remarkable thing that so far as the Commission have gone they have called none but lawyers as witnesses. Every witness has been either a lawyer or an officer of the Court. I suppose that is not to be taken as a precedent, and that before the Commission gets through their labours other persons will be called.
§ Mr. MARTIN
This Commission has a large number of lawyers upon it. I have 61 not a word to say against any individual member of the Commission. I have no doubt they are all very estimable men. Some five of them are Members of this House and every one of them stands well in the House. No doubt they will give their very best attention to the matters brought before them. My complaint against the Commission is that you cannot expect, especially with the strong pull of the legal profession, to get reforms reported upon by a Royal Commission unless you have upon that Commission a number of really strong law reformers—men who understand the question, men who have made a reputation—there are men of that kind—and who have gone into these matters. I have no doubt in the world that such men as the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. G. H. Roberts) and the hon. Member for the Wellington Division of Shropshire (Sir Charles Henry) and other Members of this House would be most valuable allies, but I do not suppose that any of those Gentlemen would put themselves forward as law reformers. No doubt they are prepared to look into the question from the business standpoint and from the general standpoint, but they can be easily blinded by the lawyers, who really do understand the question, but who do not use their understanding of it for the purpose of suggesting reforms. They take the stand the Lord Chief Justice took when he declared that no law reforms were needed at all. There are a couple of Members of the House of Lords upon the Commission. I have nothing to say against either of them, although personally I do not look forward hopefully to any serious reforms coming from the House of Lords. The next member of the Commission is Sir Charles Darling, one of the judges of the High Court. I object very much to the inclusion of Mr. Justice Darling in that Commission.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not think it is open to the hon. Member to go through all the names of the members of the Commission and to pick holes in them here and there. This is not the time for doing that. He can do that when we reach the Vote for Temporary Commissions.
§ Mr. MARTIN
The Attorney-General has made the suggestion that we should swallow this proposal to appoint an additional judge, and that we should wait until this Commission has reported before we concern ourselves further with this matter. Surely I can object to that step, and I do 62 object to it. I think the Government have adopted the wrong system of dealing with this matter. All the facts were before them, and they should have taken the responsibility upon themselves of dealing with the matter, without referring it to any Commission. I make the charge against the Government that they have referred this matter to a Commission, and that they have appointed the kind of Commission which is not likely to report in favour of any reforms whatever. From that standpoint, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that I have a right to consider what gentlemen have been appointed upon this Commission.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
To the first proposition the hon. Member has laid down I assent altogether, namely, that he is entitled to ask the House not to accept the findings of the Commission; but solemnly to go through the names of the members of the Commission, and to canvass the merits or demerits of each is quite beside the mark upon this occasion.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
Is it not within the power of the hon. Member to contend that this Commission was a white-washing Commission, and to show that by the names of the people who sit upon it?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The proper time to do that is when the appointment of the Commission comes under review. It is not under review now; it will come up for review upon the Vote for Temporary Commissions.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I submit that the Motion before the House at the present time is to consider the recommendation of this Commission, namely:—We therefore humbly recommend to Your Majesty that in the meantime an additional judge should be appointed to the King's Bench Division in the manner authorised by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act,and that since we are discussing the recommendation of this Commission we are entitled to consider the names of the people who form that Commission.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not see that that follows at all. As I have said, the hon. Member was quite entitled to ask the House not to accept the recommendations of the Commission, but that to solemnly go through all the names of the members of the Commission and to find a petty fault here and another petty fault there, is quite out of keeping with what is the 63 proper conduct of business upon this occasion. The hon. Member will have an opportunity later in the Session, if he desires to avail himself of it, of criticising the Government for having appointed certain members of that Commission. He is now entitled to ask the House not to accept their recommendations.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
Is that not rather a question of propriety than a question of Order? Is it outside the Rules of Order of this House to discuss upon this occasion whether that Commission is a properly constituted Commission to whose recommendations this House can agree?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Yes, it is irrelevant to the Motion to appoint another judge; it is very far remote from it and irrelevant.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I beg the hon. Member's pardon; he referred to two Noble Lords, and said he would not take anything from them. I must ask the hon. Gentleman—he has been speaking for nearly an hour—to address himself more closely to the subject now under consideration.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I do not very often address the House, and I am very sorry I have taken up so much time. This is a very important question. I think you misunderstood me, Sir. I have not suggested that we should not adopt the Report of this Commission, far from it. If the Report of the Commission is a good report, I shall be very glad myself to accept it. What I have suggested is that I am endeavouring to attack the Government. I say that the Government have not done their duty; I say that they should have dealt with this matter themselves instead of shelving it, as they have done, by referring it to this Commission. When you stopped me, I was going into the question of the different members of this Commission, not for the purpose of attacking the members particularly, but for the purpose of showing their entire lack of qualifica- 64 tion to deal with the important questions which the Government have shelved by handing them over to this Commission. With regard to the judge, I have nothing against him—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must again ask the hon. Member to apply himself to the Motion now before the House. He will have an opportunity upon a future occasion, if he desires to avail himself of it, of criticising the composition of the Commission and criticising the Government for having appointed it. That will find its proper place upon a future occasion in Committee of Supply. At the present moment the question the House is asked to consider is whether it will adopt the interim Report of the Commission and appoint an additional judge.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I suggest very strongly to the House that they should not adopt the suggestion of the Attorney-General to appoint another judge. The only reason he has given for making that suggestion in his very short speech was the unanimous Report of this Commission that it should be done. I say it should not be done. I say that we are not in this House to be guided in our actions by what a Commission sitting outside the House may think fit to suggest, unless we are in agreement with that suggestion ourselves. My hon. Friend (Mr. Watt) went into the question of these arrears, which are such a bogey in this matter. They are not arrears at all; they are cases to be tried; and Mr. Winterbotham, who is no doubt a most capable president of the Law Society, in his evidence before the Joint Committee, pointed out that of the list which there is before the Court at any particular time, not more than 65 per cent. ever come on for trial at all. The reason is this. A great many lawsuits which are before the Courts are practically bogus lawsuits, the parties knowing perfectly well they have no case. They are put through the Court, the pleadings are closed, and then they are put upon the list, and they stay upon the list as long as they can, being a great worry no doubt to the defendant, and as soon as they are reached they disappear. The moment you can get to the point of having the clerk of the Court call out the name of the case, Jones v Brown, there is an end of Jones v, Brown, because there is no case and it disappears, so that we have, in considering whether we ought to appoint another judge, to take off at any 65 rate one-third from the list of arrears. The list, as it was on the first of the Michaelmas Term, 1912, was 966—not 966 cases in arrear, but 966 cases which were to be tried. That only makes about fifty cases to each judge. That does not seem to be a terrible thing for a judge to tackle, and we must remember that we have to take off a third of these, so that, instead of being 966, according to Mr. Winterbotham's evidence, only 600 are real live cases which require the Court's intervention. That reduces it to about forty cases to each judge. In addition to that, Mr. Winterbotham told the Committee that solicitors put down cases at any rate three months before they expect them to be tried, that the normal list before any of the Courts would at any rate go back at least three months, and that no solicitor expects to get a case. I can quite corroborate that from my own experience, because the circumstances are practically the same here as in Canada in matters of this kind. You cannot expect to bring a case of any importance for trial and get your evidence ready in less than three months from the time it is put upon the list.
These arrears, especially if you take off the third which are bogus cases, do not extend over about five months' work, so that the Government are asking us to go to the expense of appointing an additional judge at a salary of £5,000. I do not object to the salary. If you are going to have a judge at all, it is poor economy not to pay him a good salary so that you can get good men. That is one great mistake we made in the Colonies. We pay judges altogether too little. I do not object at all to the amount which a judge gets, but I object to the Government coming forward and making no case whatever, so far as I can understand it, in opposition to the deliberate opinion of one of the greatest lawyers of the country, who was till a few months ago a Member of the Government (Lord Loreburn), who under circumstances which were worse than they are to-day—there were over 200 more cases in arrear than there are now—said deliberately that there should not be any additional judge. We want to have these reforms. The Attorney-General says the reforms are not stopped. We can bring them up again when he comes to ask for another judge, and then he will make us the same answer. I do not think any case has been made out for this Motion. The right hon. Gentleman only 66 spoke for a few moments, and the only reason he could give was that this Commission had recommended it. That is not a sufficient reason. Hon. Members opposite find a good deal of fault with the Government from time to time for their failure to carry out their pledges of economy which they made when in Opposition. I should like to know what position right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench would take up if they were sitting on the Opposition Front Bench and the Tory Government were proposing to incur an expenditure of £5,000 a year, especially when we remember that £12,000 more are coming later on. I know perfectly well they would consider it a gross waste of public money. Because I happen to be a Liberal and a supporter of the Government of the day, that does not prevent me saying most emphatically that, in my opinion, this suggestion to appoint another judge is a gross waste of the public money.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I must first apologise for rising when I did, but I presume I had risen so many times to oppose the appointment of judges that you naturally assumed I was opposed also to the appointment of this judge. For years past I have done my humble best to get reforms in the judicature system of this country. I have made long speeches. I know every quotation which my hon. Friends have read to the House, and I have given them myself time after time, and on many occasions you have called me to order for doing so, because the only step a private Member can take in a case of this kind is obstruction. I want to tell the House why I am in favour of the appointment of this additional judge. There have been two reforms in the judicature system of this country, one already made and another one promised, and as a humble Member I claim the credit for both. In the first place, the declaration made by the Prime Minister in 1910 was the result of a compromise in which the Prime Minister undertook to say, on behalf of the House of Commons, that in his opinion the judges ought to sit an equivalent number of hours if they do not sit on Saturdays. The judges have loyally carried that out. I understand from one of His Majesty's judges that it is a fact that the judges in the main have respected the statement made by the Prime Minister on behalf of the House of Commons, and that they have sat these additional hours, whereas before the 67 House was asked, in 1910, to appoint these additional judges, the judges had not been sitting on Saturdays or an equivalent number of hours. In October of last year we were again threatened with one of these useless discussions, and we were going to get no more forward. I became tired of seeing this question raised repeatedly, and I do not think it is in the interests of the dignity of the House of Commons that we should have reflections constantly made on His Majesty's judges here when these Motions are made, and therefore I went to the Attorney-General and the Lord Chancellor and said, "Surely it is time something should be done to put a stop to these discussions which are taking place. All we want is reform." I am as earnestly in favour of reform as my hon. Friend. The Attorney-General said he would give the most careful consideration to the question whether a Royal Commission should be appointed. He subsequently appointed a Commission, not, as my hon. Friend suggests, merely to shelve the question, but he appointed it on the representations of several of my hon. Friends and myself, who urged this course on him. Then I asked the Attorney-General that there should be a reasonable number of business men on the Commission and that there should not be a majority of lawyers. The Attorney-General found very great difficulty in forming this Royal Commission, but it has been appointed, and on the whole it has a very fair composition.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
It is true that no Member who had taken any active part in opposition to the appointment of the judges was appointed, except the hon. Member (Mr. H. J. Craig), but it is not quite true to say the Government took this course, because I think the Attorney-General would have taken the names of one or two other people if they had been willing to serve. It is not quite true to say that those who have been in opposition to the appointment of additional judges were excluded from the Commission. But the Attorney-General then gave his word of honour on behalf of the Government—and I accept the word of the Attorney-General before that of any man in this country that he will carry out and do what he said—that as soon as this Commission reported, which would be at the earliest date possible, the Government would forthwith introduce legislation to deal 68 with this question and to carry out these reforms. What is the good, therefore, of my hon. Friend reading out all these reports and going over all the same ground?
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
That is all very well, but we have accomplished something. We have the pledge of the Attorney-General—a pledge which is perfectly satisfactory. It is no use the hon. Member telling us what they do in Canada. That does not get us any more forward in dealing with these arrears. He is at liberty to go before the Commission and deal there with any grievances he has against the Bar.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
We are here for the purpose of enacting legislation. I would point out that under our present judicature system we deny the obtaining of justice to hundreds of His Majesty's subjects. What are the facts? I had a case taken in the Chancery Court a few weeks ago, and it came on for hearing in fourteen days. What is the position in the High Court? I was concerned in a case in that Court which could not be heard for seven months. It was put down in July last, and it came on for hearing at the very end of February. After all, that is surely an undue delay, and we ought to endeavour to shorten the time within which cases can be heard. I hope the Commission will see their way to recommend something in relation to that matter. The point is that under the present judiciary system many subjects are denied the speedy justice which ought to be given in every Court in this country. We have a pledge from the Attorney-General on behalf of the Government that this matter will be dealt with. As the Attorney-General has given that pledge to the House, I am not going to believe that the reforms will not be carried out. I do not say that we will get all we are asking for, because the reference to the Royal Commission is drawn so very close that the scope of the inquiry may not allow the Commission to recommend all that we would like. The Attorney-General has stated to-day that if this additional judge is not appointed, the arrears must still continue. Why are we only appointing one judge? That is what I wish to know.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
We could not appoint another judge under the Act, and it is necessary that one judge should be appointed.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
It is not a question of appointing one judge. If any judge falls out, as in the case of the Lord Chief Justice, whose unfortunate illness has led to the bench being understaffed, or if a judge retires, are His Majesty's subjects to be debarred from having justice because these gentlemen are not on duty? Many of them are of advanced years. What I wish is that the Attorney-General should have come down and told the House how many temporary judges ought to be appointed in order to get rid of arrears altogether. It is a perfect scandal that this congestion should go on, irrespective of the merits of the reforms which we are all anxious to see accomplished. After all, the House has to look at this question from the practical side. I submit that after we have the Report of the Royal Commission, legislation will follow, not this Session perhaps, but certainly early next year. When in 1910 the Judicature Act was brought in, there was no provision to make the appointment temporary. We got that safeguard put into the Act. There is no reason why the House shoud not accept the Motion for the appointment of an additional judge. When we have disposed of this subject, we are going to embark on the discussion of the Appellate Jurisdiction Bill, which I shall oppose in every legitimate manner at every stage.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
As a humble Member of the Royal Commission which has been somewhat roughly dealt with by the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment, may I be allowed to say a word in support of the Motion proposed by the Attorney-General? We thought it our duty to make an interim Report some time ago, and I quite concur with the Attorney-General that it contains simply an interim recommendation, and leaves the House absolutely free to make whatever comments it pleases. It is a Report of an interim character simply to meet the pressing needs of the present moment. The Lord Chief Justice gave evidence, and I am rather afraid that was not conducive to his health in his present state. On that occasion the question was put to him:—Do I gather that it is your opinion that an addition to the Bench is absolutely necessary?He replied:—Absolutely necessary; but I should try at first one more judge.70 Then he was asked:—Supposing we come to a decision that that was necessary fairly early in our proceedings, would it be of assistance to you if we made an interim Report to that effect?He replied:—Of the greatest assistance.That is the opinion of the Lord Chief Justice, and I may tell the House that every witness examined was of the same opinion.
§ Mr. S. ROBERTS
No, I beg your pardon. We have examined a good many witnesses who are not lawyers. It is possible that the evidence of the gentlemen who are not lawyers is not contained in this book, as their evidence may have been given subsequently. Therefore the hon. Member may not have seen their evidence. We certainly examined a great many witnesses who were not lawyers.
§ Mr. S. ROBERTS
That is what I said. The position was this: At Michaelmas, 1910, the number of cases standing for hearing was 1,120. In October of that year two extra judges were appointed. These two extra judges sat for four and a half sittings, and the effect was that by the Hilary sittings of 1912 the number of cases was reduced to 599. In November of that year Mr. Justice Grantham died and Mr. Justice Lawrence retired. Therefore there were two vacancies. The Lord Chief Justice, in his evidence, told us that the reduction was going on slowly with one additional judge. In his evidence he said:—That was so satisfactory that when Mr. Justice Grantham died I told Lord Loreburn that I did not think we wanted the eighteenth judge, and I was willing to try to continue with the seventeen—that is, one extra. I was wrong, but still I thought so at the time.The result of that mistake was this: The number of cases increased again from 599 at the Hilary sittings of 1912 to 918 at the beginning of the Hilary sittings this year, and they have been accumulating since owing to the unfortunate illness of the Lord Chief Justice. The state of arrears in the Courts shows that additional judges were necessary at that time to keep down arrears. The hon. Member for the Mansfield Division (Sir A. Markham) said he was an advocate of appointing more than one judge. Perhaps, individually 71 I should be of the same opinion, but speaking as one of the Royal Commission I feel that I must not in any way anticipate the report. We have not quite finished our work, but we have very nearly finished, and I sincerely trust that before this House rises in July or August the Government may be in possession of our report. I do not think that it would be proper and fair to my colleagues to in any way anticipate the recommendations we may make. There are various points to be dealt with, and I think to-day we should confine ourselves to the subject before the House, namely, the appointment of an additional judge. I wish to draw the attention of the House to the evidence of three of the witnesses.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Is it competent for the hon. Member to quote from a document which is not available to the House?
§ Mr. S. ROBERTS
The hon. Member can get a copy of the report at the Vote Office. I am reading from a report which was issued to every Member of the House about six weeks ago. I was going to draw the attention of the House to the evidence of three gentlemen who represent different classes of the law. The first is Master Lawford, who has the arrangement of the business of the King's Bench Division. He said:In my opinion it is absolutely necessary.…to have ten King's Bench judges in town continuously.That would enable us to have two judges sitting for special jury actions, two for common jury actions, one for non-jury actions, and one for the commercial list, and either three judges in the Divisional Court taking the Crown paper, or two judges taking the civil paper if the third judge was not required at the Old Bailey.He was asked:—What would that involve? Do you mean if there were eighteen judges that could be carried out?He replied:—If we had eighteen judges, provided that no judges were absent from illness or any other cause, that scheme could be carried out.That is the reason why I said just now that individually I am of opinion that at least eighteen judges, if not more, were wanted. If you do not get eighteen, and if there is any illness, or if absence arises from any other cause, this scheme cannot be carried out. The next witness was Sir Walter Phillimore, who was appointed as the representative of the Committee of Judges. His evidence is given on page 71. He said:—The Lord Chief Justice says that he could work with eighteen, and on the whole I and the rest of the 72 Committee agree. You could keep down the arrears with eighteen, but you would still have the same inconvenience of broken periods through judges being away on Circuit, or at the Central Criminal Court or elsewhere. In order to work on a uniform smooth system one of our colleagues says twenty, and another says nineteen, but these without a margin for illness or anything of that kind. Two of the Committee have proposed plans upon this basis.Therefore, you have the opinion of the King's Bench judges that eighteen is an actual minimum. I may mention now the evidence of another witness, Mr. Harrison, who was appointed to represent the Bar and he tells the same story that eighteen judges are required. At Question 1338 he is asked:—Do you mean two in addition to the number already appointed?—No, Mr. Justice Bailhache is one, and I submit that at least one more is essentially necessary. Personally, I should like to have an additional judge also, that is to say, I think that two more judges now would be very desirable, but I think that even with an additional Judge, which I conceive there is no doubt ought to be appointed, you still have judges sitting on Circuit such long hours as I consider undue and improper for the administration of justiceAs a member of that Commission sitting and hearing the evidence of eight or nine judges of the High Court, personally I have been deeply interested in the character of those men. You have not got any public servants of greater integrity or with a greater desire to do their duty than the judges of the English bench. They are willing to do their duty and to assist in every way they can in removing any complaint of arrears which exists, but do not press the willing horse too much. Do not overwork your bench to such an extent that you will wear the good machine too quickly, and get an inferior kind of justice. I urge the House, whether to-day or on a future occasion when there may be another Motion put forward, always to consider this question of not pressing the judges too much. Rather, as one hon. Member pointed out before, overdo your judge power than under do it. Then you will have a proper result. I think I may mention without impropriety one other point which is very nearly connected with the appointment of judges, and which was alluded to by the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment. I mean the salary paid. In my opinion £5,000 a year, which is paid to judges now, and which was settled in 1830, is not equivalent to what it was then, owing to the difference in cost of living, style of living, and other things, and I believe that we should be well advised to make the salary even higher than it is. Sir Walter Phillimore in his evidence touched on this point, and excused himself for doing so, because he said that he was very near the age at which 73 he should terminate his judicial career, and therefore it could not be said against him that he was advocating an increase of salary for himself. He said:—I am getting to the end of my judicial career, and therefore I think that I may—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Maclean)
The hon. Member is going now beyond the scope of the Motion before the House, which is the appointment of an additional judge. No question of salary arises on that Motion.
§ Mr. S. ROBERTS
I think you were not in the House when the hon. Member did allude to this subject about the salary, and I am trying to reply to what he said in seconding the Amendment. It amounts to this, that, speaking for the English Bench, £5,000 a year is not now really an adequate salary. I trust the House will agree unanimously with this proposition. I believe that if the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment had heard the evidence which we have heard they would not have made the speeches which they have made this afternoon. The evidence has convinced us that to meet present requirements the addition of one judge to the Bench is absolutely necessary, and while we recommend that we leave it open to the House to judge for itself whether it wishes to keep the present number of judges at eighteen or to increase that number.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
It is quite true that I am one of the less qualified Members of this Royal Commission. I certainly possess the quality of not having had a legal training, but I am very familiar with the case which has been made by the hon. Members who have, respectively, moved and seconded the Amendment. When I went on the Commission I had a very strong feeling in favour of their case, and I will not say that my feelings in that particular are yet materially altered. But when a Member of this House accepts an invitation to sit on a Royal Commission the presumption is that he is willing to view dispassionately the evidence which is placed before him, and while I am not convinced even now that any permanent addition to the number of judges is necessary, on the other hand, I am positively convinced that the present state of business in the King's Bench Division renders desirable the additional appointment which is now being asked. It is not denied that there are considerable arrears in the King's Bench Division. It is quite true that you cannot merely quote the 74 figures and say that this is the programme of business. There must always be some number of causes in the list, but when that number exceeds the amount of work that can be performed within a reasonable period, then the excess of that number must constitute arrears in the Court. Therefore it is true to say that considerable arrears do now exist, and that much congestion and inconvenience ensue there-from. The Royal Commission has not yet completed its labour. All the points which have been the subject of speeches here this afternoon will be reviewed exhaustively. But we are quite entitled to ask that we shall not be forced unduly to come to a decision until we have been able to work out the effect of the various recommendations which may be made to us. It is a very easy proposition to say, "Let us knock off all the weeks of the Long Vacation, and thereby, in cumulative effect, we shall get the result of two additional judges." But it is not sufficient to put this forward as an abstract proposition. We have got to be able to work out and to ascertain what may be its real enduring effect upon our judicial system. I am not going to say that I am not altering my view with respect to the holidays of the judges. I have very strong opinions thereon myself, but I think that the recommendation which is before the House this afternoon renders lengthy consideration of those matters totally irrelevant.
The Lord Chief Justice stated in the course of his evidence:—Take County Court appeals, where small sums of money are involved, no witnesses are required, and the papers already have been in the office of the King's Bench Division nine months without being able to be heard. There is quite a number of actions for trial. Those cases ought to be heard within about six weeks after they are set down.Later on he states:—County Court appeals are always six months in arrears.In face of a fact of that character, we feel that the position is one which cannot be tolerated. Every person who enters a Court has a right to expect that the cause will be dealt with within a reasonable period, and in my humble opinion six months is altogether an unreasonable period for cases of that character. My hon. Friends say, "Make them work." I quite agree that they ought to work, but I am not convinced that they do not work. I have traversed the case of my hon. Friends many a time before I went on the Royal Commission. They have urged nothing new this afternoon. As a member of the Royal 75 Commission, any suggestion that they can make to us shall receive appropriate consideration. Even if they are able to submit to us that a class of witness differing from those who have already been heard can be of value to us, then, as far as I am concerned, I am prepared to use my influence to see that those witnesses are properly heard. But I can assure my hon. Friends that from the Noble Chairman down we are concerned to deal as fairly as we can with the great problem which has been referred to us. It is quite competent for hon. Members to allege that one is such a weak-minded person that he can be easily fooled, but one has no right to imply that one is such a knave that he would intentionally mislead the House as to the convictions at which he had arrived as a result of the evidence. I know that there are various reforms which can be adopted. When these reforms are submitted to the House it will be ascertained whether the cumulative effect of those reforms renders it unnecessary largely to increase the number of judges. On the other hand, if I am convinced as a result of this inquiry that an addition to the King's Bench Division is necessary, at any rate, I shall have as much courage as my hon. Friend has, and come out and support the recommendation made by my colleagues and myself. I do not think it is necessary to speak at length on this point. I want simply to make this point, that the whole case submitted on the Motion here to-day is in no way affected by the adoption of the Motion. That is to say, what the Royal Commission recommend is not that there shall be a permanent addition to the number, but that there shall be a single additional appointment in order to relieve the present congestion. If a vacancy occurs, either by death or retirement, that vacancy cannot be automatically filled up, as I understand, and it can only be filled up subsequent to an Address being voted by this House. Therefore we always have the security that this question must come before the House, and my hon. Friends will have the privilege of renewing their opposition if they feel so inclined. But I think we are entitled to ask that they should allow the Royal Commission reasonable time. I believe my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Samuel Roberts) is perfectly correct in saying that we are extremely anxious to avoid undue and protracted consideration of this matter. I 76 believe that another month or two will see the labours of the Royal Commission pretty nearly ended, and the Report presented to this House. If, at that time, it is ascertained that the recommendations then made are not adequate as interpreted by my hon. Friends, then they will be perfectly free to pursue their opposition, and to make counter suggestions if they desire to do so. I do not blame them for having availed themselves of the opportunity presented this afternoon, but I do respectfully suggest that their case is in no way prejudiced if they are prepared to accept the Motion made by the Attorney-General.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I do not rise for the purpose of replying at any length upon the matters referred to by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment. I desire to say that the utmost we are asking from the House of Commons this afternoon, after appointing this inquiry which is proceeding before the Royal Commission, whose report we can expect certainly within a reasonable time, is that we should give fair consideration to their views. They have had the witnesses before them, and whatever may be their views as to the future, they are at all events unanimously of opinion that this appointment ought to be made at once in order to cope with the arrears. I am not going to detain the House with any observations of mine upon the necessity, upon the absolute necessity, to provide an open door to suitors in order that they may not have to stand outside waiting for admission. Open the door to the suitor at once, and give him his opportunity. I have always said in this House, and I repeat it, that I infinitely prefer to hear of a judge being idle because there is no suit for him to try, than to hear of a suitor waiting to bring his action, and very often having to settle it because he cannot get a hearing. I do ask the House to adopt the Motion, in order to carry out the recommendation of the Royal Commission which this House appointed. I repeat that no one is prejudiced by anything that takes place today. There will be an opportunity for discussion if another judge is to be appointed, or there will be another opportunity for discussion when legislation is proposed. I am anxious that this Royal Commission, which has been devoting its time to this subject for the information of the House of Commons and the country, should at least be treated with consideration and respect by this House, and the Royal Commission having come to the conclusion that it is 77 necessary this appointment should be made at once, I trust that it will be done without travelling over the whole ground which was discussed so often in this House before the Royal Commission was appointed. I resent very strongly some of the observations of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East St. Pancras (Mr. Martin), who suggested that this Commission was a whitewashing Commission. He has absolutely no justification for that statement, and I do not know on what ground he made it.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
All I can say is, having heard what the hon. and learned Member said, I absolutely cannot understand him. The reference was made by me, and I explained to the House that what we were anxious to do was to get the decision of the Royal Commission on the particular reform advocated by my hon. and learned Friends, and by the hon. Baronet the Member for Mansfield and other Members of the House. If we had extended the reference the result would have been that the matter would have taken two or three years, and, in order to avoid that, we have limited it to the special claim which is the subject of discussion.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
My hon. and learned Friend must have forgotten that those were two different bodies, constituted for different purposes. The Joint Commission in 1909 was appointed to determine whether the state of business at that time justified the appointment of additional judges. It is quite easy to make suggestions, but those who are familiar with the subject know that it is not quite so easy to carry them out. It is really only those who are constantly engaged in working under the present system who know the difficulty of carrying out suggestions which are made. We have the suggestion that lawyers are always opposed to reforms, but all the Members on this Side of the House are in favour of reforms—and there are many lawyers on this side of the House—and the hon. Member showed quite plainly that reforms can only be carried with the assistance of members of the Bar. My hon. and learned Friends 78 who moved and seconded the Amendment are both members of the Bar, and it is a very natural thing that those who are most familiar with the subject should criticise and suggest. But we have added to the Commission, the majority of which is composed of those who are not lawyers, in order that they may consider the evidence put before them, and deal with it as business men dealing with a business proposition. That is what has to be done. The judicature of this country is a great matter, and it is essential that it should be dealt with in a businesslike way, and that suitors, whether rich or poor, should find ready and speedy access to it. I hope that it will not be necessary for us to discuss this Motion at any great length, for I realise, from what has been foreshadowed, that there will be opposition to the Bill which is to come on next, and I am therefore anxious that the House should pasts this Motion in order that we may proceed to deal with it.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I hope the House will understand that I do not wish to stand between it and a Division, but this is one of the occasions when we have an opportunity of saying a few words. It is true that I am a lawyer, but I am a member of that branch of the profession which comes directly in contact with the public. The Attorney-General and the hon. and learned Member for East St. Pancras are members of the Bar, and do not come directly in contact with the people. They do not realise, as I have realised from day to day, what delay in the Courts really means. The solicitor who has charge of a case is always in contact with the client, and he knows the consequences of delay, and he knows, from his contact with the public, how clients take their cases to arbitration rather than wait for them to be dealt with in Court. As a member of the humbler branch of the legal profession, I am more in touch with the feelings of the general public upon the subject. The suggestion made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Mansfield that there should be a temporary judge is not sufficient. Consider what is to happen. This House is going to sit for two or more months, and it is quite clear that the Government cannot spare time for the appointment of another judge by another Resolution. We shall adjourn from August probably to February of next year, and the moment a vacancy occurs the value of the judge to be now appointed 79 would be gone, and the House when it again met would have to deal with arrears even greater than they are at the present time. May I give the exact figures for the Michaelmas term—this present term? There are now 1,712 cases—or there were last week—awaiting trial in the High Court and the Court of Appeal. That is a higher number than were awaiting trial at the end of the Trinity sitting, and certainly a higher number than during the last few years, if not in the history of the Courts. In 1910 there were 1,619 cases; in 1911 the number had got down to 1,271, and to-day they are up to 1,712, a higher number than at any period during which we have been discussing this question.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I do not dispute the figures, but I think the inference which is drawn is not quite right. I do not think the increase is an increase of the arrears of the King's Bench Division. In point of fact the King's Bench Division for the moment is just a little better, because in the last sittings there is naturally the greatest reduction of the number of cases.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am very glad to hear that; still, in regard to the King's Bench Division, the total number of cases last week was 675.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
That is better still—that is to say 99 more than there were at the commencement of the Trinity sitting of 1912, and 32 more than at the same date in 1911. Therefore the state of affairs in the King's Bench Division is not better than it was. I cannot do more than quote from the most reputable law journals. I asked one of my clerks to verify these figures and I am told they are correct. That means that the state of affairs in the King's Bench last week was worse than at the beginning of the Trinity sittings in 1911 or 1912. Apart from the ordinary cases for trial in the Divisional Court of the King's Bench Division, in 1911 there were eighty-two cases waiting for trial at the commencement of the Trinity sittings, and last year there were 190, and this year there are 206, so that the cases in the Divisional Court also are worse than they were last year or the year before. Then in the Revenue Paper there are ninety-two petitions under the Finance Act of 1910, all set down for hearing since the beginning of last year.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
That is a Department with which I am very familiar, and while I want this recommendation I do not want any false inferences to be drawn. The number of petitions are in the main awaiting a decision, and the whole of that number cannot be stated to be cases which are actually waiting for hearing.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I do not want to misrepresent the position, but I think those petitions illustrate the dangers and difficulties of delay. Here are ninety-two petitions set down nearly eighteen months ago which are awaiting the decision of another case. That case has been taking all this time, which means a certain denial of justice, because the Courts are so blocked that the governing case which is going to decide them cannot be heard. I cannot see any other explanation of that position. There they are, as the Attorney-General said, waiting for another case to be decided.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
Not decided! It has already been decided on the revenue side of the King's Bench. I think what my hon. Friend is referring to is a number of cases which are awaiting the decision of one particular case in the House of Lords which has already been argued once, and has to be reargued by a fuller tribunal. I think all those petitions or the majority of there await that decision.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
That shows how long it takes for a subject to get a decision when he goes up to the House of Lords, where the point has to be argued again. That is a matter, however, which will come up on the Appellate Jurisdiction Bill as to the necessity for a double hearing the House of Lords. I cannot understand why hon. Members opposite who Profess to be democrats object to justice being made speedy. [An HON. MEMBER: "We do not."] The hon. Member who spoke from the Labour benches told us that when the Commission reported various reforms would have to be made, and that it might not be necessary to have another judge. I believe exactly the opposite. I am a legal reformer, and I am in favour of reform and making justice as speedy and as certain as possible. I believe if you had reforms effected that not less people, but more people would come to Court, and that you will need more judges the better you make your administration, and the better you make your mode of bringing cases to trial, because people will go to His Majesty's Courts instead of 81 going to every kind and form of arbitration. I believe, and I say it with considerable experience of litigants, that people like to have their cases tried by a judge of the High Court. They have immense confidence in the impartiality and freedom of the judges of the High Courts. They do not like their cases being tried either at Assizes or at what are called Commissions, which are very feeble efforts to get rid of arrears. People have, and I think very rightly, an objection to their cases being tried by a man who is not really a judge. We are trying to work the judicial system of this country with practically the same or a smaller staff than we had fifty years ago. The whole complexity of modern life has grown so much, and there are more cases—
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Of course there are less, because people will not go to the Courts at present, but I believe there are more writs issued, and more cases put down for trial. The hon. Member for East St. Pancras said they were bogus cases, but I do not agree. They are tired because they are people who get so waiting for their cases to be disposed of, and who under those circumstances will take any settlement. We have got the Long Vacation coming in two and a half months' time, and of those 1,760 cases I have mentioned, I would venture to say that at least half will not be heard this sitting. You will have when the Courts rise at the end of July at least 800 cases awaiting trial, County Court appeal cases of rich people and poor people standing over for ten weeks, and what is going to happen? The hon. and learned Member knows the rich man is going to make the poor man take less than he otherwise would take because of the law's delay. I know it in my own practice that when July comes the poor litigant is not only desirous, but bound to take less than he is entitled to because he knows he cannot stand the case being taken over the Long Vacation, and not being reached possibly until November and December. It is the poor litigant who cannot afford the law's delays. Though the trials are perhaps fewer than they were fifty years ago, they are longer because of the complexity of the cases, and because of the typewriting, and because of the voluminous correspondence, and because of telephones and things that make life more comfortable, and they are longer because of the scientific witnesses 82 who are bound to be called to-day. The hon. and learned Member knows perfectly well that where it is possible the litigant prefers to have the very highest class of scientific evidence. After all, what the litigant wants is that his case should be tried out to a finish and not jostled through. I can tell him how angry and how wrath the litigant comes out of Court when he feels that his case has been jostled through in order to clear the list. When it is not so, he says, "Whether I was right or whether I was wrong, does not matter because my case has been tried out, and everything I desired my counsel to say has been said and patiently listened to by the judge and jury, and, though they have decided against me, they have listened to everything and I am satisfied that I have had a fair trial." Without any desire to animadvert on the judges, there is a tendency in the human nature of the judges to try, when they get towards the end of June and July, to get their list clear as far as possible, and to try and force settlements. Things of that kind are entirely detrimental to the best interests-concerned.
Saturday sittings have been referred to. Again, I do not believe with the hon. Baronet (Sir A. Markham) that the absence of Saturday sittings in jury cases has anything to do with these arrears. I know again from my own experience that the judges who do not sit on Saturday have been sitting for months past, ever since the Prime Minister gave the undertaking, for an extra period on the other five days of the week so as to make up the difference. It may be said that the weekend habit has increased, and so it has. The whole position of affairs is different from what it was thirty years ago, and you have got to work your Courts in the interests of the public. Witnesses do not want to go to Court for half a day on Saturday and jurymen object in the strongest way to going down for three hours on a Saturday morning. They are members of the public who have got to be considered. Do not let the hon. and learned Gentleman run away with the idea that there are no Saturday sittings because of the laziness of His Majesty's judges. It is more convenient for the general body of litigants and of the public represented by the jury that no cases should be taken on Saturday, and that is the reason. I do strongly appeal to the House with regard to County Court appeals. I think it is a crying shame that a County Court appeal 83 to a King's Bench judge, in a simple case with no witnesses, should involve nine months' delay before hearing, and yet that is the case to-day. I would like to refer to one point mentioned by the Lord Chief Justice with regard to Saturday sittings. On Saturday, the 11th January, at the beginning of the sittings, and a day on which of all others you would think the judges would have been idle, here is what they were doing. There were four judges on Circuit, three judges hearing cases from the Court of Criminal Appeal which usually take about five hours, one judge in Chambers, six judges to take fourteen cases which might be small but were none the less important to the litigants, and there was a commercial judge sitting in the Commercial Court, and Mr. Justice Lawrence was sitting in the telephone case. The Lord Chief Justice stated that for the whole time he has been Lord Chief Justice, he is prepared to stake his reputation that the judges have not shirked their work.
I feel very strongly on this question of the understaffing of the Bench. In recent years there has been an enormous increase in the points that come before judges. We have, for instance, all those petitions under the Finance Act of 1910. There was no Finance Act up to three years ago, and those petitions which are an entirely new class of business, need almost a new judge to look after them. There is all our new legislation, some of it very complicated, most of it very badly worded, and a great deal of it legislation against which I have often raised my voice, and that is legislation by reference which makes it exceedingly difficult for the ordinary man to understand, and involves him in litigation without desiring to be so involved. We have then criminal appeals, and we did not appoint another judge after the Criminal Appeal Act. We passed the Poor Prisoners Defence Act, which has increased the length of criminal trials at Assizes, and we did not appoint another judge.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
There was one more judge appointed. The Court of Criminal Appeal in Michaelmas, 1911, sat twelve days, and in 1912 sat twenty-six days, a total of thirty-eight days with three judges, or 114 judge days during four sittings of the High Court. The Railway and Canal Commission took sixty days during four sittings, and there is practically the work of one more judge. I again ask the House to realise that our judges are hard-worked. There is no necessity for me to eulogise the work of the judges after what has been said by the Attorney-General. I strongly object to this tinkering with the matter. I believe that, in the interests of the general public, before very long we must improve the whole staffing of our judges, and whichever Government is in power will have to deal with the matter, not in this tinkering manner, with one judge here and another in eight or nine months' time, but must appoint, not merely two more judges, but three or four, in order that the desire expressed by the hon. and learned Baronet the Member for Mansfield may be carried out. He is a typical litigant, and the kind of person who would growl horribly if his case was not heard. Litigants are entitled to have their cases heard, and it is in the interests of the public generally that there should be speedy justice.
§ Sir CHARLES HENRY (who was indistinctly heard)
As a member of the Royal Commission, I wish to add a few words on this subject. Let me assure my hon. and learned Friend that I have not been in any way influenced in the manner he described. It would have been a fallacy to appoint that Commission without any legal members. This interim Report was brought forward after full consideration and lengthy deliberation. Without anticipating what may be the final Report of the Royal Commission, I believe it will be found impossible to work the King's Bench Division with the efficiency required unless there is an established strength of at least eighteen judges. The hon. Member for East St. Pancras (Mr. Martin) referred to various points in regard to which reform is necessary. With many of those suggestions, which are not in any way new, I entirely agree. If he has studied the Report of the Royal Commission, as no doubt he has, he will have found that consideration has been given to such questions as the curtailment of the Long Vacation, the retiring age of judges, and the improvement of Assizes. The hon. Member for 85 one of the divisions of Glasgow opposed the appointment of an additional judge on the ground of economy. He must be aware that a large part of the salary of the judge is met by payments from litigants, so that the whole amount is not a charge upon the Treasury. It is necessary that suitors should have their cases tried with the greatest expedition possible. The appointment of an additional judge does not necessarily mean any additional charge on the Treasury. I believe that the Royal Commission will advocate reforms by which the work of the King's Bench Division may be placed on a more systematic basis. We have had it brought before us that the Chancery Division is working smoothly, and that it is well up to the requirements. I believe that we shall be able to make recommendations by which there will be more continuity in the King's Bench Division, the work will be adequately coped with, and the delay and inconvenience at present experienced obviated, and that as a result of the Royal Commission some of the disadvantages at present experienced will be removed.
§ Mr. MUNRO - FERGUSON
I have listened with great interest to the speeches in support of this proposal, in large part from legal Members, but I am bound to say that their arguments have not removed the objections which I expressed when the proposals of 1910 were before the House. I think that in the three years which have elapsed something might have been done to meet the objections which were then raised. No doubt it is very easy to create a new post. I do not think there has ever been a time when it was more necessary that the House should exercise a jealous supervision over the creation of new posts. Members are agreed that it is not one judge that is wanted. An hon. Member below the Gangway said that many judges were wanted, and we have just heard from an hon. Member opposite that three or four additional judges are necessary. It is therefore evident that one judge can do very little good. It is not a question of the amount of salary. We are all ready to pay a good salary; but it has not yet been proved that the salary, however large, appertaining to the new post would meet the requirements of the case. This interim Report is based solely upon the evidence of lawyers. That is no doubt very good in its way, but it is evidence that requires consideration. All lawyers' evidence is not in the same direction. We have had the evidence of Lord Loreburn, and, if the 86 evidence of lawyers is to be quoted, I would as soon take that of Lord Loreburn as that of anybody else. His evidence is very strongly the other way. The arguments of Lord Loreburn were used when the proposals of 1910 were subjected to criticism in this House. There is no desire on the part of those of us who oppose this particular creation to promote the law's delay. That is a very unfair assumption. We all desire to expedite the administration of the law, and it has been indicated how that can be done. There were complaints in Scotland not long ago in regard to the law's delay in connection with the Court of Session. Some of the more elderly judges were made to sit longer than usual; some fresh appointments resulted, and there have been no complaints since. Besides the question of the age of some of the judges, there is the question of the places to which they have to go, and the question of method. It is said that the Attorney-General has given a pledge. We are all ready to accept that pledge. But, for my part, I think that no pledge is necessary. I submit that before a new post is created the necessary reforms in procedure should be taken in hand. We might wait until July, when the Report of this Commission is to appear before we create any more posts. I need not repeat the reasons which I gave on a former occasion against a similar proposal. No case has been made out for creating a fresh judgeship until the machinery of the Courts of Justice in England has been revised and made thoroughly efficient. When that has been done it will be time enough to go to the Treasury for the creation of more judges.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
I think it it only right that I should say a word from the Welsh point of view. In what I am going to say I shall not be expressing any professional views. I am going to express the view of all the Welsh Liberal Members with whom I have conferred upon this question, and who instructed me to give evidence before the Royal Commission. The evidence that I gave was given, I think, after they had made the particular Report upon which the Government now propose to act. That does not in any way detract from—indeed, it rather adds to—the value of the testimony which I wish to give to the House from the Welsh point of view. I listened to the long speech of my hon. Friend the Member for East St. Pancras. I admit to the full his right, after his long experience of the profession 87 in Canada, and in view of the high position which he attained there, to criticise our legal machinery; but the data upon which he ventured to address the House of Commons were, I think, somewhat limited. I would like to know whether the hon. and learned Member has ever heard of the Welsh Judicature?
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
Then the hon. and learned Member does not know of the obligation which Parliament undertook to the Welsh nation as late as the year 1830. It would be quite improper for me on a Motion of this kind to attempt to lecture the House of Commons upon history. Let me say quite briefly, however, that Wales was only incorporated into the English realm in the reign of Henry VIII. The twelve counties of Wales were constituted by one Act of Parliament, and the alterations in the executive administrative, and judicial arrangements for the Government of Wales were made by a subsequent Act—34 and 35 of Henry VIII. By that Statute a special judicature, called the Courts of Great Session, was constituted. There was established in Wales, side by side with the old common law, Superior Courts at Westminster, not only a jurisdiction in what are called Common Law matters, but also Chanceries for the administration of estates and so forth. Those Courts were founded in the reign of Henry VIII., and were continued in operation until 1830. There is a long and interesting history connected with those Courts. I am not concerned to deny that there were many defects connected with the administration of justice during the time that those Courts exercised their jurisdiction; but upon the whole they did their work quite as well as the Superior Courts at Westminster did theirs in the English counties. In consequence of the Reports of various Committees and Commissions, which are apparently now all forgotten, an arrangement was made by which the Welsh Courts should be abolished and three judges added to the Superior Courts at Westminster. As a consequence of that, it was enacted by Section 19 of the Act in question that henceforth Assizes should be held in the Welsh counties just as in the English counties. There is a kind of legislative bargain. I do not say that it is a contract in any way enforceable. I do not want to put the matter too high, but I say that, 88 when the House of Commons in its wisdom abolished our Welsh Judicature, it took upon itself an obligation to give us a system that at least as good as that which was abolished. The way, therefore, I put the present question to myself has nothing on earth to do with the question of whether a judge is either idle or not on a particular day, whether you sweat your judges or not, or whether they are paid too high or too little. That is not the way we Welshmen look at the question. We ask that the system which was intended to be put into operation by the Act of 1830 shall be carried out. It is not carried out now. It is perfectly true that in regard to many counties our business is extremely light. I am quite ready to believe that if you reduce the matter to an expenditure of pounds, shillings, and pence, and put on the one side the expenses of sending a judge to a particular county and to a particular Assize, and put on the other side the question of what is the value of the actual judicial service rendered by him, that the carrying out of the system might be deemed to be somewhat extravagant. But what is forgotten is the evidence of Mr. Winterbotham, who was referred to so often by my hon. Friend, and who is an eminent solicitor and very well qualified to speak in regard to all the details connected with the question. What do you find Mr. Winterbotham saying? That when you are dealing with the Assizes that the sort of question you have got to-day to consider is not the civil remedy, but the criminal business.
In regard to the civil business there are other facilities for disposing of it. If you cannot get a High Court judge, you can get a County Court judge, and you can agree to submit to his decision, and you can always go to arbitration. But the moment you touch the question of the administration of criminal justice, the moment you have to deal with Crown pleas these other considerations come, and it is our opinion that the arrangements for the administration of justice in Wales involve the sending of High Court judges into every county in Wales for the purpose of the criminal administration of justice. That is the principle that we lay down. We lay it down on the hypothesis that you are going to keep one High Court For England and one for Wales, and upon the hypothesis that the circuit system of Assizes is going to be kept up; Assizes which derive their authority from the 89 writs issued from a centralised office. We are quite ready when the time comes to consider the question of whether there ought to be a new Provincial Judicature set up; whether you should not have a High Court of Yorkshire, for Lancashire, and for the Northern Counties, one for Wales, and so forth. So long, however, as you are keeping up the present centralised system of the administration of justice we ask that that system shall be honestly carried out in Wales. What has taken place of late years? The grouping of counties. It is perfectly legal. It is done, I understand, by Order in Council made by virtue of Acts of Parliament which have been duly and properly passed. But we object to this new basis. We object to it for many reasons of a detailed character which it would be impertinent on my part to enter into on an occasion of this kind. I have only intervened in this Debate—I will not say with the intention of raising it to a higher level—but with a view of putting the question properly as we conceive it: The question of whether the High Court of Justice or whether, if you like, the Central Government is now doing its duty in regard to the administration of justice in Wales. If in order to carry out the arrangement made in 1830 more judges are necessary let there be more judges appointed. We think that the present staff of judges is insufficient, and for that reason I support the Motion of the Attorney-General.
§ Mr. RADFORD
I will not follow my hon. and learned Friend in his interesting historical disquisition in regard to Wales, but I trust, and ask him to hope, that when the Recommendations of the Royal Commission are made justice will be done to Wales and that she will have no reason to complain. I rise to give with regret my reasons at not being able to support the humble Address moved by the Attorney-General. I firmly believe that the arrears in the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice are not due to a shortage of judges, but are due to inefficient administration of the King's Bench Division. That opinion, I believe, is shared by the Bar in great measure, and by all persons who are under the necessity to appeal to our Courts for redress. No man goes willingly into a Court of Justice. He is sometimes obliged to go there to defend his rights, or even in some cases to assert them. He comes away with the impression which I do not think he gets in the Chancery Division, that in the King's 90 Bench Division there is a general sort of inefficiency. In moving this Motion the Attorney-General very properly relied on the fact that he had the interim Recommendation of the Royal Commission which was dealing with this subject. In his speech the right hon. Gentleman relied upon it, and he relied upon it again in his speech of a few minutes ago. I should like to remind the House what was the maxim sanctioned by the custom of our ancestors, namely, Redress before Supply. We are asked here to vote Supply. We are promised redress at some indefinite date. What that date may be I do not know. I was very glad to hear the hon. Member, who is a Royal Commissioner, and who addressed the House, express himself sanguine that he will get an early Report. I think I gathered that my right hon. Friend was hopeful that the Government would deal with the Report rapidly. I wish that these sanguine aspirations may be realised. I am not a very old Member of the House, but I know that the best intentions do not always lead to prompt legislation. Therefore, I would suggest to those Members who desire redress to see that they get it now if they can, and leave the future to take care of itself.
What is to be done in order to promote efficiency in the King's Bench Division? It is not for me to dictate to the House or the Royal Commission, but several things have been named which I think obviously need attention. The length of the Long Vacation is a public evil and almost, I think, a public scandal. Members of the House who do not belong to the legal profession—and in this somewhat thin House possibly the majority do—may be reminded that the Long Vacation begins on 1st August and ends on 12th October, and that is not the only holiday which our judges get in the course of the year. I do not begrudge them that holiday, but if that holiday were reduced by merely the twelve days in October and the judges allowed two months, that would give us twelve days extra of judicial time. If you take from those twelve days two days that might be Sundays—and I know that I am making a mistake against myself by suggesting that two Sundays tome necessarily in every twelve days—you get ten days which might be saved in judicial time if the Long Vacation were shortened. If you multiply the term days by sixteen judges you get 160 days, which is pretty well the working time of one judge in the course of the year. That is not the only 91 reform to be carried out. We all know perfectly well how, under the circuit system, time is wasted. Economies have to be effected there. There is something to be said in regard to the number of days and hours during which each of the judges sit. I do not wish to be critical about that, but I am firmly convinced that if the Common Law Division were efficiently managed, we could cope with our arrears and do our business effectively and to the satisfaction of the country without the slightest need for the appointment of any additional judge. That is the opinion which I have formed, and I feel bound to express it in justification of the vote which I propose to give. One word about the suggestion which was made as to judges retiring on attaining a certain age. That is a plausible suggestion, but I am bound to say experience shows that it is not a sound one. Some of our older judges are some of our best. I say that with pleasure and with a kind of satisfaction that the faculties of humanity should endure so long as they do in our judges. I have known judges who at sixty-five have not delivered their best judgments, and it might have been said that they had not reached the plenitude of their powers. It would have been a misfortune to the country if they had been prematurely retired at that somewhat early age. Therefore, I do not see that any increased efficiency is likely to be attained by a regulation such as that suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras. But there are perhaps several reforms which might be efficiently carried out. We want efficiency. I should like to appeal to the present Lord Chancellor who has earned the gratitude of the country by introducing efficiency into our Army to try his hand in introducing efficiency into the Common Law Division of the High Court of Justice. It would give him great glory if he were successful, though I should like to suggest to him that the job would be much more difficult than his previous one.
I do not wish to drag out this Debate at this late hour, but I conceive that the whole point upon which the Debate turns is whether in the public interest it is necessary that an additional judge should be appointed to deal with the present arrears. Opportunity has been taken in this Debate to urge all the grievances and bring out all the charges against the judges and the legal profes- 92 sion that have been debated on many previous occasions. They were all discussed in October of last year. I was rather astonished that the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment should not have read the Report of the present Royal Commission which came out the other day. If they had read it the long speeches which they made about the various grievances that they deplore and reforms that they desire would never have been made, because they would have found in this Report that all their points were dealt with at very great length. If it were earlier in the day I would go all through the Report and point them out. As it is it would not be convenient I think and would not really influence in the slightest degree the Debate. The whole point rests upon the question of the urgncy of the matter. Another unfortunate part of the Debate has been that the Attorney-General opened the case so shortly; that he did not give us the figures, and we have never had the figures. The right hon. Gentleman relied entirely upon this Report. This Report gives the figures. The hon. Members who moved and seconded the Amendment have surely never read them! May I be allowed in a few words to place them before the House—they are so extremely simple, these figures upon which this question ought really to be decided? The normal business of the Courts at the Michaelmas sittings from the end of October or the beginning of November was, according to the Lord Chief Justice's evidence, 300 jury cases and 110 Divisional Court cases, that is 410, or let us say, 500 cases. In November, 1910, there were 1,120 cases in the list, and therefore the Common Law Courts were very much in arrear. This House thereupon appointed two judges to deal with these arrears, and by the next year, November, 1911, they reduced the arrears from 1,120 to 740—that is they knocked off 380 cases between them over and above their ordinary judicial work. What happened since? Mr. Justice Grantham died and Mr. Justice Lawrence retired, and for, one year we were without these additional judges, with the result that the arrears crept up in the November of the next year from 740 to 966. So we see at once that it was owing to the absence of two judges, that the arrears accumulated.
During the year 1911–12 the arrears were somewhat reduced because Commissioners were appointed to go on Assizes, yet in: spite of this the arrears rose to 966 cases. This year there were 966 cases to be tried. 93 As the normal amount should be about 500 cases, you get an addition of 466, and as the amount of cases which one additional judge knocks off is nearly 200, you really require not only one judge but two judges to sweep away the arrears. Therefore upon the figures the case is doubly made out with regard to the necessity of having an additional judge to deal with these arrears. That is the case upon the figures. It seems to me the only other point is that dwelt upon by Members on the other side of the House, whether the House is justified in going to this expense. We had the hon. Member for Leith Burghs saying it was very important that this House should look with extreme care before it made any new appointments. When I consider the Members from whom opposition to this Resolution comes I am rather astonished, for they are more responsible than anyone else for the creation of an army of land valuers with salaries amounting to £500,000 a year. That would be enough to pay the salaries of 100 judges at £5,000 a year each, and when the hon. Member objects to the creation of an additional judge on the ground of expense, he is surely straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.
The hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that in Scotland they were well satisfied with the judges they had, and that when these judges were overworked they applied for another and got one. I do not see how that helps his argument. I would point out that if you take the whole of our judges—they are thirty-two in number—and compare them with the population, you will find that in England we have one judge to 1,300,000 people, whereas in Scotland they have one judge for every 366,000 people, and in Ireland they have one judge for every 313,000 people. All these facts are set out fully in the judicial statistics for last year circulated to the House by Sir John Macdonnell, one of the Masters of the Supreme Court, and they show that England is very badly handicapped in the matter of judges. In Australia there is one judge to every 139,000 of the population and in New Zealand one for every 168,000, and I am surprised that the hon. Member for East St. Pancras did not give us the figures for Canada; these figures would soon destroy his whole argument. In France the figures are one judge for every 80,000 people. Scotland is content with the number of her judges. Of course, because she is well supplied in proportion to her population; the judges are not overworked there, and the same is the case in Ireland. Why is it always a tight fit in 94 England? Hon. Members from Ireland feel that they have got more judges than they want; there is no cry for a reform there, because they intend to get rid of some of their judges when they get Home Rule and put the money into their pockets at the expense of this country. Hon. Members opposite support that, but when it comes to getting sufficient judges for England they preach economy of the most penurious description.
I went very carefully into the figures with regard to the fees paid for judges' salaries, and taking the whole of the expenses and deducting from them the whole of the receipts, I find the receipts are 68 per cent. of the total. Therefore, the expenses are only 32 per cent. of the total expenditure for judges' salaries. Applying that as I suppose it should be applied the whole of the expenses of the judicature, the whole amounts of the High Courts and the Court of Appeal and the Court of Bankruptcy, 32 per cent. is the net cost of the whole expenditure to the State. Therefore, a judge's salary being £5,000 a year, 32 per cent. of it is £1,600, and that is really what it is going to cost to appoint an additional judge. It is well the House should know the exact figure and that applies to all his staff, to his clerk, office and everything else; 68 per cent. of the total expenditure is paid for out of receipts. I ask the House whether, with these facts and figures before them, and with the actual necessities of the case before them they can hesitate to pass a Motion of this kind. I understood this was not a party question, but that it was a question in which public interest should be considered. If that is so, I appeal to hon. Members who do not seem to have read this Report and who do not seem to have known the facts, now that they have heard the facts, to withdraw the Amendment and to allow this Motion to be passed without a Division, if possible.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
The hon. Member who has just sat down said that opposition to this Motion came from hon. Members who themselves desired to create a lot of new Government positions and from Members responsible for the large number of valuation officers created by the Budget of 1909–10. If the hon. Member had been in the House at that time he would have known that the costly valuation now going on was not asked for by hon. Members on this side, but was the result of a concession made to the Opposition. He wished to have the valuation made by the landlords, 95 but in response to requests from the other side the valuation is being made by the Government. We opposed the creating of Government valuers so far as possible. In now opposing this Motion for the creation of a new judge, we believe we are in no sense acting contrary to the public interest. We believe that if the reforms promised and advocated so ably from both sides in the last ten years were carried out the present judicial staff would be sufficient, and we are consistent here to-night in advocating these reforms preliminary to putting any increased charge upon the community. The Attorney-General in his speech made the one point, I think, against this Amendment that a Government official could make. He said, if you will allow us to have this new judge, that will not in any way check the reforms which the Commission may recommend later on. If you allow this judge to be created now, then in six months or a year there will be some other vacancy on the bench, and the Government will again have to come before Parliament and ask for the appointment of a new judge, and you can raise your objections then if the reforms advocated by the Commission are not carried out. I bow to the legal knowledge of the Attorney-General on every occasion, but I am inclined to think his knowledge of constitutional history is at fault when he urges this House to incur expenses without first redressing grievances.
One of the immemorial practices of this House has always been to insist upon the redress of grievances before voting money, and I maintain that we on these benches in demanding that reforms should precede Supply are acting in entire accordance with the well-established traditions of past centuries. The argument used by the Attorney-General to-day might have been used by the Minister 600 years ago, when he said it was necessary in the public interests that money should be provided for the war with France. It was then stated in the reply that before voting money the House of Commons should first have grievances redressed. That is all we are asking for in this Amendment which I put upon the Paper, but which I did not desire to move, because, unfortunately, I have not had a legal education, and this question of the judiciary and its reforms is one that necessarily requires a legal education to discuss in all its bearings. This Amendment asks for one thing, namely, that we should await the Report of the Commission before we vote for extra judges; that we 96 should not be content to accept an interim Report, but should rather treat the whole question as one in order to assure ourselves that we may not get merely the acceptance of one proposal of the Commission, but that we should also carry into effect that which Lord Loreburn advocated in his evidence before the Commission read to the House to-day, in order that we might get those reforms carried out, as well as other recommendations made by the Royal Commission. This House has been charged with not being a business assembly, and the Government have been charged with not being a business man's Government. I think there is some truth in that charge. Here we are asked to support a system in our Courts of Law which no private business man would carry on, and which long ago have been discarded in all other branches of the public service. It is quite true that many of our old judges are our best judges, and the same thing might be said of our permanent officials, but it is the general ride that at a certain age a man's brain begins to flag, and it is wise for them to retire from active work. There are arguments why the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury should retire at a certain age, and those arguments must apply to the judiciary as well as to any other branch of the public service. It is only because we have had remarkable examples in the legal profession of people who retain remarkable vitalities to a great age that we come to regard it as natural that a judge should have no retiring age and that he should continue to serve as a judge until he decides himself to retire. We all know how difficult it is for a man in that position to dispense with his own services. As a matter of fact, we all think we are indispensable in this House, whereas a great clearance would no doubt be a good thing for the House of Commons. One of the reforms we ask for as a preliminary to the granting of an additional judge is that there should be a retiring age fixed, or some limit set, to the age at which a man should continue to act as a judge. Those are questions which a business Government would certainly take in hand at the earliest possible moment. In asking for this reform we do not wish to specify the age, but a reform of this character is necessary in the public interest, and it would be carried out if the House of Commons was a business assembly, and if we were not up against one of the biggest Vested interests in the country.
97 There is another point which must be dealt with, and it is an evil which is admitted by hon. Members on both sides, and that is the political appointment of judges. Strong political partisans in this House should not be promoted to the judicial Bench, however excellent they may be as lawyers. The fact that a man is a politician, if he is appointed to the judicial Bench, vitiates the trust and confidence of the people of the country. On this point we have had fair words from the Government. We have had a promise of reform upon which there is a unanimous sentiment in the country and yet nothing is being done on those lines. We are asked merely to vote for this appointment and allow the grievance we have put forward to be redressed some time next year or the year after. The question has been very fully dealt with already as to whether the Long Vacation should not be cut down by two weeks, as suggested by the Lord Chancellor, which would provide practically an extra judge, or, at any rate, the time of another judge. It has been said that the bar generally is opposed to any reduction of the Long Vacation, but I do not believe it; on the contrary, I believe many of the members of the Junior Bar suffer considerable privation because of the Long Vacation, and they would welcome any curtailment of it. The opposition to this curtailment comes from the higher grade at the Bar who manage to make a very sufficient income during the 200 days on which the Law Courts sit. We urge that this reform should precede the Grant of any public money for a new judge. It is all very well for the Attorney-General to say that this new judge will cost the country less than nothing because his fees will find the necessary money. May I point out that if a fortnight was cut off the Long Vacation the country would save the cost of this extra judge? Therefore it is beside the point to suggest the appointment of this extra judge instead of curtailing the Long Vacation.
I do not like to touch upon the circuit question because I am not a lawyer, but anyone who has read the evidence given before the Royal Commission will agree that there is room for effecting an enormous saving of time in the circuit system. I protest against the idea that it is impossible for the Government to drop Assizes at certain towns because of the pressure of the representatives of those towns urging that the Assizes should be retained there. That is a type of the -worst form of log-rolling that goes on in 98 some of our Colonial centres. We represent not only the particular district which sends us to Parliament, but we represent the people generally, and we must look after their interests and not the particular interests of the town we represent. It is the duty of the Government not to give way to local pressure of that sort, and we should consider the general interests of the whole community and carry on our business in the most economical way regardless of the pressure of individual Members and individual towns which happen to have Assizes in those towns. Reforms on all these lines are generally accepted by Members on both sides of the House, and yet we allow year after year to go by without having these reforms carried out. It is useless for the Government to say they must have another judge now, and that the reforms will follow later on. They have told us that so often that we begin to wonder whether this vested interest is not too strong for the Government, and whether we are ever going to get these reforms at all. The opposition of the Royal Commission has been referred to by the hon. Member for St. Pancras, but I think we ought to look with a some-what critical eye upon a Royal Commission composed so largely of that very vested interest against which we are fighting. I hope that the Government will realise that to-day they are fighting against Liberal traditions and preserving existing abuses, and on these benches we are trying to carry out the old Liberal traditions and opposing abuses and demanding that they should be redressed. I think those reforms should be carried out before any more time is allowed to elapse or any more public money is allowed to be spent in this way.
On this occasion the Government will beat us with the help of Conservative votes. They will get their extra judge and the Appellate Jurisdiction Bill, and the Bills they have put down for discussion during the next two days. I wish to protest as vigorously as I can against the action of the Government in putting down Bills to which we as Radicals object on the two days immediately following the holidays. We have had present during this discussion the Attorney-General, who has sat on the Treasury Bench during a very long Session. We have now present another Law Officer of the Crown, but we have no other Minister to support him, and the whole of the Members of the Cabinet are absent and take no part in these Debates 99 when the Opposition come to their support. The Government believe they have a party behind them which will support enthusiastically all these measures, but I do not think they are acting fairly by their own supporters in this House when they use the two days immediately after the holidays to co-operate with the Opposition in order to fight their own supporters on controversial measures of this character which ought to be brought on at a more convenient time. They do this in order that the Members of the Cabinet may stop away. I do not know whether the Attorney-General expects us to go on with the Appellate Jurisdiction Bill to-night. I hope he does not, but I would sooner have that Bill than the Mental Deficiency Bill. I think it would be a great advantage if the Government or some of the Lords of the Treasury would try to find out from their own supporters what their views are upon such measures as these before they bring them forward, because it puts us in a difficult position to be constantly opposing Government measures. It makes our position more difficult still when after long days and nights spent in opposition to measures brought forward by a Liberal Government, but which are Conservative in character, we have to support the Government during long sittings in opposition to the party opposite. I hope in future that the Government will consider their own supporters when discussing such measures as these.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
I happen to have had some personal experience of the arrears in the King's Bench Division of the High Court, and I know what real urgent necessity there is for the appointment of a new judge. I confess I find it difficult to understand the opposition to the suggestion which comes from the Government. Able speeches have been made by hon. Members opposite advocating all sorts of reforms which they think might be effected in the judicial system, but a Commission has been appointed by this House for the very purpose of investigating those questions. Nobody can suggest that Commission ha sany political complexion, or that it brings to bear on its work anything but an honest desire to effect every reform that is possible. Among the reforms which this Commission has been considering is the appointment of a new judge, and they have thought this matter so urgent and have felt that an additional judge is so much required, that they have made an 100 interim Report advocating the immediate appointment of a new judge. It is merely in pursuance of that report that this Motion is brought forward. Under those circumstances, wide as the range of necessary reform may be, and many as the grievances which hon. Members opposite think there may be, what possible opposition can there be to giving effect to the Report of the Commission which has been made in the interests of the House of Commons and of the public in the direction of reform?
I approach this question entirely from the point of view of the public and the taxpayer, and I suggest that there are just two things to which the public is entitled. First of all, they are entitled to have a sufficient number of judges to secure that when a case is set down for trial it shall come on within a reasonable time. Admittedly, the public have not got that at the present time. They are entitled to something more. They are entitled to ask that the judicial machine for which they pay shall not be overstrained, but that when they do come before a judge they shall come before a man who is able to give them the best he has to place at the disposal of the State, the closest attention, the greatest knowledge of the law, the best consideration, and the clearest intellect he can bring to bear on the dispute before him. If you underman the Judicial Bench, and if you leave it with no margin of strength, you do harm to the public interest in both those capacities. First of all, they do not get the prompt trial to which they are entitled, and, consequently, when they do get a trial there is a great danger of the judicial machine not working properly because it is undermanned and over-strained. Just think of the conditions under which a judge is appointed in our country. In all foreign countries a man enters the Judiciary as a man enters the Civil Service, but we appoint as a judge a man of ripe experience who has earned his law in the best of all schools, and who has learned it correctly because it has meant his bread and cheese. You get a judge bringing to bear on his duties his ripe experience and knowledge of the law, but the system has the disadvantage that you are unable to appoint a judge when he is young. A judge when he is appointed is, as a rule, getting past middle life. Consequently, you are jeopardising the interests of the public and the taxpayer if you put a strain upon him which he cannot properly bear.
101 Hon. Members are accustomed to sitting on Select and other Committees upstairs, and I appeal to their experience. When the consideration of a Bill has lasted some time, and the Committee has been sitting from eleven o'clock in the morning until three or four o'clock in the afternoon, hon. Members come here to the House weary, with their brain fagged, and not feeling that they can bring to the Debates in this House the clear intellect they would desire. Suppose, instead of sitting as one of a body, they had sole responsibility, and they had entrusted to them criminal matters of life and death and questions involving the whole of a man's future, his reputation, and his career. The responsibility which rests upon a man sitting solely, is not only very great, but is very fatiguing, and, if you have a judge sitting in that capacity and with a proper sense of the responsibility upon him, unless you have some margin of strength, and allow him reasonable and proper hours of recreation, you will overstrain your machine, and you will not get your money's worth.
I should like to see the judicial system extended instead of curtailed. I am one of those who think that it might with advantage be applied to the procedure of the Select Committees of this House. I should like to see someone presiding over these Committees with an elementary idea of the laws of evidence, so that we might not have the spectacle of a witness being cross-examined by five or six different people consecutively, most of them asking the same questions over and over again, with the proceedings varied by an occasional interval during which the members of the Committee quarrel among themselves. That is a spectacle which does not conduce to the dignty of this House, and I look forward to the time when the procedure of our Select Committees will be strengthened, if not done away with, and some form of judicial inquiry by a judicial officer of this House substituted. I do urge upon the House and appeal to those hon. Members who oppose this at the present time to realise that it is the interests of the public which are suffering, and that if you are going to raise your judicial system to a condition which shall not only be admirable but also sufficient, you must provide that justice in the future shall not only be pure but shall also be prompt.
§ Mr. MORTON
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has spoken of the Royal Commission as having been appointed by this House. He surely 102 ought to know—if not, his legal knowledge is very defective—that this House had nothing whatever to do with the appointment of the Royal Commission. If we had, we should probably never have had one appointed. I am not complaining about the Royal Commission, except that I agree that there ought never to have been any lawyers put upon it. It is putting them in a position which is unfair to them. You ought to take the lawyers as witnesses, but to make them the judges is ridiculous. We could not have expected anything else than what has happened. They have reported that they want another judge. They are very careful only to ask for one at a time. I object to the Motion of the Attorney-General altogether. We are entitled to have the full report upon the reforms which we have been demanding for so many years before we appoint any more judges. The Government are in an absurd position. They say, "Appoint this judge and pay him, and then find out after wards whether he is wanted or not." That is what used to be called in Scotland Jedburgh justice: "Hang a person first and try him afterwards." I object to making any further appointments until the reforms we have been demanding have been carried out. We must insist upon doing away with the Long Vacation. I do not want to say a word against lawyers. It is not at all necessary, and I do not forget that I have 1,200 barristers in my Constituency. The majority of them object to this Long Vacation because it keeps them out of work. There is no occasion for a Long Vacation at all. If more judges were really wanted, I should be the last person to vote against them; but surely we are entitled before any more are appointed to insist that you tell us what you are going to do with regard to these reforms!
Two months ago a Royal Commission was appointed to go into all these questions, but they have only gone into one question, and that is the appointment of an additional judge. The Government want to do now exactly what we objected to some months back. They then asked that one additional judge should be appointed and promised an inquiry before any more were appointed. Now they come back and practically want us to appoint two judges without going into the reforms we have been demanding for so long. Why should not the judges work eight hours a day and every day? Labourers are not paid so well as lawyers, and they are glad if they can only get an eight hours' day. At 103 present judges work about five hours a day. It is certainly the fact that judges are appointed late in life. After a successful lawyer has made a huge fortune he is appointed as a judge, so that he can have a good holiday. They make the bench a sort of home for invalids. Therefore it is very likely that five hours are enough, but I think judges should work at least eight hours every day except Sunday, and that a month's holiday in the summer is plenty. I dare say the Government can force it through whether we like it or not. But I would ask them to remember that they too often ignore those who are their best supporters, and especially the sixty Liberal Members who come from Scotland, who do not go into ambush against them, or threaten to vote against them unless they are allowed to have their own way. Remember, we Scottish Liberal Members could turn the Government out whenever we chose. But we do not attempt that because we are sent here to uphold the Liberal cause. It is rather hard on us that when we want to discuss a matter of economy like this—and bearing in mind that the Government and ourselves are pledged to economy—it is I say rather hard for us to be told, when matters like this are brought forward, that they must be treated as party measures, and dealt with as matters of confidence. It is not fair thus to treat us truly honest Liberals. I think we, at any rate, who represent Scotland are entitled to more consideration. We are too often treated with contempt. We are subjected to the Closure when we try to secure an opportunity to discuss matters affecting our country. I should be very glad indeed if the Attorney-General would withdraw this Motion. There is no reason why the Front Bench, although it is Liberal, should not be honest in dealing with us. No one will object to their fulfilling promises honestly made. In this case the Attorney-General gave us a promise that, before another judge should be asked for, all these reforms to which reference has been made should be inquired into by a Royal Commission. But no such
§ inquiry has yet been carried out. The Royal Commission has only done that which we asked it should not do, and that is to recommend the appointment of a second judge.
§ I am only acting fairly towards the right hon. Gentleman in asking him to be consistent; to withdraw this Motion and to insist upon the Royal Commission reporting in detail on the other matters before we are invited to spend public money in this way. It will be a great satisfaction to us real Liberals if the Attorney-General will do this. It will also give satisfaction to the country generally, for no one is satisfied with the present arrangements for the conduct of legal business. It may be asked what the Scottish Members have to do with this matter. In the first place, there are a good many Scottish Members on the Front Bench, and we have a right to look after them. Then, all the world over, you will find Scottish men interesting themselves in looking after the affairs of the whole world. It is our pleasant duty on many occasions to protect English people, and this, being a matter concerning English Courts of Law, we are naturally anxious to give our assistance in regard to it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is making a mistake to-day. He is badly advised on this occasion, and, unless he acts as I have suggested, he will not be entitled to our respect and regard. There is nothing which is disliked so much in the City of London as wobbling of this nature. We have no use for an Attorney-General who two months ago held one opinion, and to-day holds an entirely opposite view. I appeal to the right hon. and learned Gentleman to do what is right and fair, and to insist on the Royal Commission reporting on all these matters before we spend other people's money by appointing a new judge.
§ Question put, "That the Question be be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 172; Noes, 43.105
|Division No. 87.]||AYES.||[7.38 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barnes, George N.||Brady, Patrick Joseph|
|Adamson, William||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Brunner, John F. L.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Bryce, J. Annan|
|Alden, Percy||Bird, Alfred||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Black, Arthur W.||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Boland, John Plus||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred|
|Arnold, Sydney||Bowerman, Charles W.||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Radford, G. H.|
|Chancellor, H. G.||John, Edward Thomas||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Clough, William||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Clynes, John R.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Reddy, M.|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Crooks, William||Joyce, Michael||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kelly, Edward||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||King, Joseph||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Leach, Charles||Robinson, Sidney|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Levy, Sir Maurice||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Lewis, John Herbert||Rowlands, James|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Doris, William||Lynch, A. A.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||MacDonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Falconer, James||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Shortt, Edward|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Curdy, C. A.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Furness, Stephen||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Ginnell, Laurence||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Glanville, H. J.||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Sutton, John E.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Molteno, Percy Alport||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||Mooney, John J.||Thomas, James Henry|
|Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Morison, Hector||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Nolan, Joseph||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Nuttall, Harry||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Webb, H.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Doherty, Philip||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Hayward, Evan||O'Grady, James||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Malley, William||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Henry, Sir Charles||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Wiles, Thomas|
|Higham, John Sharp||Parker, James (Halifax)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Parry, Thomas H.||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Hodge, John||Pearce, William (Llmehouse)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wing, Thomas|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Forster, Henry William||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gilmour, Captain J.||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Goldsmith, Frank||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Barnston, Harry||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Royds, Edmund|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hills, John Waller||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Boyton, James||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Joynson-Hicks, William||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Butcher, John George||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Macpherson, James Ian||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||M'Neill Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Martin, Joseph||Rawlinson and Mr. Fell.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question"—to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to insert instead thereof the words, "this House refuses to increase the number of judges in the High Court of Justice until the Commission have considered and reported on the necessity of a 106 retiring age for all judges in consonance with the regulations for all Civil servants."
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member did not tell me that. He got up and moved an Amendment, and I naturally supposed it was the one in his own name. That is the one which has been nut and which has been discussed, or supposed to have been discussed.
§ my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme and as to the fact that I was moving his Amendment.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member ought have pointed that out. I have already twice read it out from the Chair, and he ought to have pointed it out on the first or second occasion.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 202; Noes, 13.109
|Division No. 88.]||AYES.||[7.47 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||O'Malley, William|
|Adamson, William||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Alden, Percy||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Harcourt, Rt Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Hayden, John Patrick||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Barnes, George N.||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Barnston, Harry||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Henry, Sir Charles||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Bird, Alfred||Higham, John Sharp||Reddy, M.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Hills, John Waller||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Boland, John Pius||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Hodge, John||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Boyton, James||Holt, Richard Durning||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Robinson, Sidney|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hudson, Walter||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Rowlands, James|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Royds, Edmund|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Butcher, John George||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Joyce, Michael||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Shortt, Edward|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Kelly, Edward||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Clough, William||Levy, Sir Maurice||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Clynes, John R.||Lewis, John Herbert||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Lyell, Charles Henry||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Lynch, A. A.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Crooks, William||Macpherson, James Ian||Thomas James Henry|
|Crumley, Patrick||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dawes, J. A.||M'Curdy, C. A.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Dickinson, W. H.||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Doris, William||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks., Otley)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Webb, H.|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Molteno, Percy Alport||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Falconer, James||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Morrell, Philip||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Fell, Arthur||Morison, Hector||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Williams, Liewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Forster, Henry William||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Furness, Stephen||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Wing, Thomas|
|Ginnell, Laurence||Nuttall, Harry|
|Glanville, H. J.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Doherty, Philip||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||O'Grady, James|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Martin, Joseph||Radford, G. H.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Sutton, John E.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Munro-Ferguson Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|John, Edward Thomas||Outhwaite, R. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Pringle, William M. R.||Watt and Mr. Wedgwood.|
Bill read a second time, and committed.
§ Resolved, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty representing that the number of the puisne judges of the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice now amounts to sixteen, and that the state of business in the said Division requires that one additional judge should be appointed to the said Division under the first section of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, 1910, and praying that His Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a new judge of the said Division of the High Court of Justice accordingly."