§ Order for Second Heading read.
§ Sir G. HEWART
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
This is a Bill which was promoted by the Law Society and supported by the provincial law societies, and was introduced in another place. It follows the precedent of the successive Bills which in previous years have been introduced in another place and passed through all their stages. The Bill was passed through all its stages in another place in 1013 and in 1914, but upon each occasion lack of time in this House prevented the Bill making any progress. The Bill has had the approval of successive Lord Chancellors, Lord Lore-burn, Lord Haldane, Lord Buckmaster, Lord Finlay, and the present Lord Chancellor (Lord Birkenhead). The object of the Bill is to make certain changes as to the methods of enforcing discipline in the 1773 solicitors' profession. Under the Solicitors Act, 1888, the offending solicitor has to appear before the Discipline Committee of the Law Society. That committee investigates the complaint against him, and if the committee are of opinion that a prima facie case is made out against the solicitor it is their duty to bring their report before the Court, and the Court thereupon makes such order as appears fit. The result in practice has been great delay and great- expense. The cases are often quite simple, and the proceedings before the Court are, to all intents and purposes, formal. What this Bill proposes is that, instead of that procedure, the Discipline Committee of the Law Society should take such action as might have been taken by the Court. The Bill provides for an appeal from the order of the committee to the High Court, at the instance either of the applicant or of the solicitor. It is a Bill of modest scope, and I trust that now at last the House will make up for lost time by passing it through all its stages without delay.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a second time.
§ Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into the Committee on the Bill."—[.Sir G. Hewart.]
§ Bill accordingly considered in Committee, and reported, without Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I feared to intervene at an earlier stage, lest any intervention of mine might stop the speedy and successful progress of this Bill to its present stage. I just wish to say now that this Bill will, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the Council of the Law Society, and of all the members of that Council for many years past, have a most excellent disciplinary effect upon those members of the profession who have been guilty of breaches of duty with regard to the very responsible position which they hold towards the general public. This Bill really only gives something of the powers which medical men already possess for dealing with matters of breaches, not merely of etiquette, but of substance in their own profession, and I am quite certain of this, that this Bill when it becomes an Act will be administered by the Law Society with full weight being given to the onerous duties which are placed in their hands, and I am 1774 also certain that those duties will be discharged, not only with fairness towards the members of their profession who come before them, but with a very high and lofty sense of what that profession owes to the public.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the third time, and passed, without Amendment.