HC Deb 07 April 1925 vol 182 cc2113-5

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 71 A.

[Mr. DENNIS HERBERT in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of the salary and pension of one additional Judge of the High Court who may be appointed under any Act of the present Session."—[King's Recommendation signified.]

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL Sir Douglas Hogg)

The Committee will remember that a few days ago we passed the Second Reading of the Administration of Justice Bill, and under Clause 5 of that Measure it was provided, with the general assent of all parts of the House, that there was to be appointed an additional Judge in order to deal with the arrears that have accumulated in the Admiralty Division, and to make sure that that division was properly staffed. The object of this Financial Resolution, as explained by the memorandum which has been circulated, is to ensure that when the Administration of Justice Bill becomes law this new Judge will be paid the ordinary salary of High Court Judges.


This Resolution is to provide for the appointment of an additional Judge for the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division. We have three Judges now in that Court, and if you appoint a new Judge he will probably not have had much practice in the Admiralty Division, and scarcely any practice in the Divorce Court. You ultimately get the ridiculous position of three Judges taking Admiralty work, and sometimes you find the same Judges doing for a whole term Divorce Court work, of which they have had no experience. Surely it is necessary that the Admiralty Judge should be attached to the King's Bench Division, so that he might do not only Admiralty work but also Common Law work, and then the Divorce Court work could be left to the two Judges who are able to do divorce and probate work. I raised this question on the Second Reading of the Bill, and I have never heard the idea defended that there should be any connection between the Probate, Admiralty and Divorce work, because very often the Admiralty Judge has had no experience in the Divorce Court. I hope the Government will not simply add another Judge in Admiralty work in the temporary division, but by some slight alteration do something which will secure that the Admiralty Judge will be doing common law work and not Divorce Court work.


I presume it is open to me now to make some comments upon the proposal of the Attorney-General. The Motion before the House is quite separate from the proposal made three months ago for the appointment of two temporary Judges. This is a permanent arrangement which I am sure would be welcomed in all shipping circles at home and abroad. This is part and parcel of a much larger Bill, and I believe if he had taken the larger Measure in hand he would have got it through in two or three sittings, and we could have had the temporary Judges at work before Easter.

If this is part of the larger Bill, it will be an inducement for us getting the larger Measure through more rapidly, and perhaps the Chief Whip has that in mind. In supporting this proposal I can do so without compromising the general view that the time has arrived when there ought to be a revision of the duties of the High Court Judges, and we ought not to leave the case of Scotland out of consideration. I do not disagree with what has been said on the subject of the Probate and Divorce business being taken in the Admiralty Court, and I think there ought to be some further allocation of this work without further delay. It is essential to have the Admiralty Judge at work to transact British as well as foreign work, and I hope this appointment will be made as soon as possible.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.