HC Deb 21 November 1928 vol 222 cc1877-80

Resolution reported, That it is expedient—

  1. (a) to authorise the appointment of two additional members of the Judicial Committee a the Privy Council and of one additional Lord of Appeal in 1878 Ordinary, and in connection therewith to authorise the charge on the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of—
    1. (1) yearly salaries not exceeding two thousand pounds to be paid (in addition to such sum, if any, not exceeding two thousand pounds in the case of any person, as may be provided out of the revenues of India by way of increase of salary) to each of the two persons so to be appointed as members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and of yearly pensions not exceeding one thousand pounds to be granted to persons so appointed; and
    2. (2) a yearly salary to be paid to the person so to be appointed as an additional Lord of Appeal in Ordinary not exceeding in amount the yearly salary now payable to a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and of yearly pensions to be granted to persons so appointed not exceeding in the ease of any person the amount of the yearly pension which may now be granted to a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary:
  2. (b) to repeal section thirty of the Judicial Committee Act, 1821, and section four of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act, 1887."

Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)

The Committee yesterday unanimously recognised the importance of adding to the present strength of the Judicial Committee and the House of Lords. The facts were then fully stated. They were accepted as accurate by the hon. and learned Member for S.E. Leeds (Sir H. Slesser), and the Committee unanimously accepted the Resolution. I hope that it will now be accepted with the same unanimity by the House.


I certainly thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the superior courtesy that marks his treatment of the House, compared with that of some of his right hon. Friends, but I do not wish him to assume that the unanimity of the Committee yesterday marks complete agreement with the action of the Government in this direction. There is a very considerable section on this side of the House who object very strongly to the appointments, the conditions of the appointments and the conditions of the men whose retirement has created the vacancies. We are not unaware of the whole story, and there are many of us here who want to protest, quite deliberately, however coolly and calmly we may do it, against the obvious haste with which the Government, in the last days of its existence, is rushing to toss all the perquisites and privileges that it can bestow into the hands of its friends before it demits office. Time and again we have had charges made against boards of guardians like Chester-le-Street, West Ham and Bedwellty about additional shillings being given to unemployed people or to widows or orphans because people wanted to please the electors. Here to-day we are being asked to hand over a valuable Government telegraph service to the friends of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. That is item No. 1 of our business. Item No. 3 is to hand over to the friends of the right hon. Gentlemen in the Diplomatic Service large gratuities and pensions. The fourth item is to hand over pensions and privileges to the judicial friends of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am not wasting the time of the House because I know that it is a hopeless business to oppose this Government even with the whole of the Labour party, and it is much more hopeless to have only a fraction of the Labour party against the Conservative party backed up by right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. But the fact that I am not prepared to do any fantastic or foolish things does not make any the less my detestation of the conduct of the Government or the strength of my protest against it.


The Attorney-General said that last night this question went through without opposition. It may go through to-night again without opposition, but I want to make it clear that some of us feel very strongly on this question, and on one of the points in connection with it, namely, the pension of £5,000 that is being paid to Lord Birkenhead, seeing that he has gone to the City. We may not divide the House to-night; it may be unwise, seeing that so many Members have left the House, but we will certainly take the opportunity of dividing the House on Friday against this monstrous proposal of continuing £5,000 a year pension to Lord Birkenhead, seeing that he has gone to the City.

Bill ordered to be brought in upon the said Resolution by the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General.