§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Northants, South)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out "quarter," and to add "eighth."
Under the Bill every judge, and indeed, every judicial officer to whom the Bill applies, who is appointed after it becomes an Act, will receive only three-quarters of the pension to which his predecessors would have been entitled. The present holders of the offices listed in the Schedule have the option of deciding whether to retain their present rates of pension or to accept the provisions of the Bill. Their successors will not have that option if the Bill goes through in its present form. It is for that reason, amongst others, that it is particularly incumbent upon us to satisfy ourselves that the proposals contained in the Bill are right, fair, and beneficial to all who come within its scope.
No one will dissent from the proposition that the State should be a model employer, both with regard to pay and pensions, and in dealing with both judges and civil servants. In the Bill we cannot tonight deal with pay, but we can make sure that those who come within its scope, after their retirement from the public service, receive a proper pension. As I have said, under the Bill every new holder of one of these offices will give up a quarter of his pension. In return he will receive a lump sum of twice the amount of his annual reduced pension. If he dies before retirement, his family will receive twice the amount of the reduced pension or the last annual salary, whichever is the greater.
113 I am grateful to the Attorney-General for the answer published in HANSARD of 24th November to my written Question. It appears from that answer that the provision whereby the families of certain judicial officers can have a sum equal to the officer's last annual salary, if it is larger than twice the amount of the pension, will benefit only the families of the Lord Chancellor, Lords of Appeal, the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls.
It is also clear from what was said on Second Reading that this exchange of a quarter of a pension for a lump sum free of Income Tax and Estate Duty places no burden upon the Exchequer, although, I suppose, there might be some loss of tax. It may be argued that this exchange will in a considerable number of cases be a financial advantage to the Exchequer, and I hope to satisfy the Committee that this is so. It is a factor which we should take into account in determining whether it is right to reduce the pension by as much as a quarter in every case.
Taking, for example, the position of a married county court judge with one child, the effect of the Clause as it stands will be that he is deprived of £333 per annum of his pension. In return, he will get a lump sum of £1,000—not £2,000, because £1,000 of that £2,000 will go in contribution for the benefits to be received by his wife, if she succeeds him, and by his child, if under the age of 16 at the time of his death. This means that, after tax, the reduced pension of the county court judge, who is married and has one child, will be £794 a year instead of, now, after tax, £1,008. That is to say—if my mathematics are correct, and I think that they are—it follows that the county court judge, in return for the lump sum of £1,000 and the possible benefit for his widow and his child, is giving up a net amount of £214 a year.
After five years of retirement, the £1,000 lump sum would be more than swallowed up by that sacrifice. If the county court judge lived more than five years in retirement, then for every succeeding year it would seem that the Exchequer would gain an advantage from the proposals contained in the Clause.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
Is the hon. and learned Member taking into account this time the effect of tax? He 114 did not do so last time, when my arithmetic was correct and his was not.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I would not accept that the hon. Lady's arithmetic was correct last time or, indeed, on any occasion without checking it. I assure her that these figures have not only been calculated by me, but have been carefully checked by an accountant.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Yes, without tax. I have made it clear that I was showing the position after deduction of tax. That is the position of a county court judge, married and with one child, who is entitled to full pension—but he is only entitled to full pension if he has served as a county court judge for 15 years. One arrives, therefore, at the rather curious position that while it would be to the advantage of the family of the Lord Chancellor or of a Lord of Appeal if the holders of those offices were to die while in office, it would certainly be to the advantage of the wife of the county court judge to keep her husband at work for as many years as possible.
I ask the Committee also to consider the position of a county court judge retiring after, say, five years' service because of a permanent incapacity. His gross pension—that is to say, before deduction of tax—will be £500 a year. He will get a lump sum of £500. The pension of his widow would be only £116 a year, or just over £2 a week. The pension for one child is £43. This does not appear to me to be a very generous provision for a man who has permanently broken down whilst in the service of the State.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Yes; after five years' service, that is the figure. The figure I gave earlier was after 15 years' service. Neither, in my submission, is very generous provision for county court judges who have served the State in the law.
My argument is that we should not reduce the pension by as much as is proposed in the Bill. Everyone will agree that judges, both of the High Court and the county court, carry a great responsibility and must maintain a certain posi- 115 tion in the community. To do their onerous duties properly, they must be free from financial worry, independent, and not bothered about how to discharge a tailor's bill while trying to listen attentively to a dull case. There was some reference to this on Second Reading, when my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) referred to the fact that this freedom from financial worry was really a safeguard for the poor man who comes before the courts that he will receive impartial justice.
In the table which he has so kindly published, the Attorney-General has set out the full financial effects so far as they can be calculated of the Bill before deduction of tax. It appears there that the county court judge's salary is now £2,000 a year. But there are no fewer than 26 county court registrars now drawing the same salary and there are two county court registrars drawing a salary in excess of that drawn by the county court judge. Two are getting more than the judge presiding over their courts. I do not for a moment dispute that county court registrars hold responsible positions, but their jurisdiction is limited and I do not think anyone with any knowledge of the position would say that the duties of the registrar and the county court judge are in any way comparable.
I do not think anyone would deny that the county court judge's responsibilities are far greater than those of the registrar. Yet, after this Bill takes effect a county court registrar will be able to secure a higher pension during his retirement, a larger lump sum and death gratuity, a larger widow's pension and a larger children's benefit. It may be asked, "How does this come about?" The answer is that registrars are civil servants. They came within the recommendations of the Chorley Committee and, in consequence, no fewer than 56 of them received increases of salaries.
Not only they, but also other minor judicial officers mentioned in the First Schedule, masters of the Supreme Court, Chancery masters, taxing masters, all can earn more in salary than can a county court judge. Their maximum is £2,500 a year. Official referees have £2,000 and registrars of the Probate Admiralty and Bankruptcy Division have a maximum of £2,500.
116 The effect of this Bill as it stands will be that all these minor judicial officers—minor in comparison with county court judges—will get a higher pension on retirement, and their widows will have a larger benefit and a larger children's benefit. The only persons who will have no increase are those both of the High Court and the county court who bear the honourable title of His Majesty's judges. This Bill proposes that those categories, not having had any increase of pay, the High Court and county court judges, will be deprived of a quarter of their pension. In my submission it is clear that their comparative position with other minor judicial officers has deteriorated and, on this ground alone, we should see that their pension is not reduced as much as is proposed.
I also put the case for this Amendment on another ground. I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General will agree that it really is very doubtful whether some of the present county court judges could afford and can afford to enter the scheme outlined in this Bill. Of course the present county court judge will have an option, but the future county court judge will have no option whatever if the Bill is passed in its present form.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross)
He is quite at liberty to accept the terms, or not. I am going to have something to say about the views of those from whom county court judges will be recruited in the future, but in the future a candidate to the county court bench will not be bound to accept appointment.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
There is no direction of labour to the county court bench, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that unless the terms are fair and reasonable he will not be so likely to get recruits to that bench of the character he desires.
§ The Attorney-General
That is a question of salaries as opposed to pension. I do not entirely disagree with the views of the hon. and learned Member about salaries.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I say it applies both to salaries and pensions. I am trying to deal as shortly as I can with a rather complicated matter. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman disagrees 117 with me I shall be interested to hear him, but I think he will agree when I say that it is very doubtful that some of the present county court judges will be able to afford to enter into the scheme. After all they will have to manage on more than £200 less in income a year after 15 years' service and I challenge the right hon. and learned Gentleman to deny that some county court judges, unless they have private means, are now finding it impossible to maintain their standard of living, which is inseparable from their position if the status of the county court is not to be seriously impaired.
I am sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman will admit that some of the county court judges have the greatest difficulty in carrying on. I am also sure that unless the pay and pension are improved—as they both go together—there will be increasing difficulty in getting new recruits. Indeed, if something is not done—and done soon—I think there is a real risk of the administration of justice deteriorating, if not breaking down. I recognise that we cannot do much about that situation in this Bill, but we can at least secure that not only the county court judges but the other officers referred to in the Measure do obtain proper pensions.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has on many occasions, including the Second Reading of this Bill, expressed himself as sympathetic on the salary question—
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
This is the second time the hon. and learned Gentleman has made reference to the deterioration of the county court bench. Earlier he made a reference to the danger of litigants not getting justice from county court judges paid as they are today. In justice to county court judges, I think the hon. and learned Gentleman should say that he is not suggesting that the litigants are not getting justice from county court judges.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I never said anything which was capable of any such interpretation. I did not say anything to the effect that the benches were deteriorating. I said that the position of the county court judges in comparison with the position of the other minor judicial officers listed in the Schedule was deteriorating and if the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes), would consider the Schedule, he 118 would see that that is amply established. I do not think it is necessary for me to deal with the other part of the interruption of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
Before that interruption I had mentioned that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has expressed himself as sympathetic on the salaries question, but, in dealing with it he has referred—and may again in dealing with this pensions argument—to other lowly paid workers in other spheres. I am surprised that he has advanced that argument, which really is not tenable in view of the fact that the Chorley Committee's recommendations have been carried into effect with regard to so many civil servants. The question does arise, if this provision can be made for civil servants, why cannot it be made for judges? More than sympathy is required; it is action which is wanted and I wish the right hon. and learned Gentleman could announce that he is introducing a Bill to deal with it.
As I say, we cannot increase the salaries by this Bill, but we can at least secure that the servants of the State receive a proper pension on which to live in their retirement. I do not believe that three-quarters of their present pension after taxation is enough for county court judges, or indeed for many others in the list although the table which has been published shows that all others except the Sheriff of Aberdeen, the salaried sheriff substitutes and clerks of assize can get higher pensions than the county court judges. This cut of a quarter of the pension is too much. The three-quarters which would be left is not sufficient. These retired servants of the State deserve well of their country, and it is for those reasons that I am moving this Amendment to diminish the reduction from a quarter to one-eighth.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I wish to ask a few questions about this Amendment. I listened with something like distress to this pitiful recital of the story of a sweated industry; but some of the figures which were supplied in the answer to the Question to which the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller), referred, especially those which related to the higher paid persons mentioned in this Bill, make me rather of the opinion that if we accepted this Amendment we should be 119 treating the higher paid judges too generously. We have been told that the State should be a model employer but, judging from the figures given in the answer to which I have already referred, the State is being asked to be a super-model employer towards the higher paid judicial gentlemen.
I have tried to work out what this Amendment would mean in practice. So far as I can see, it means that the Lord Chancellor, instead of getting a pension of £72 a week, would have it raised to £84 a week. This is in addition to the receipt by the Lord Chancellor of a lump sum of £7,500, a death gratuity of £10,000 and a widow's pension of £1,250 a year. How would the Amendment apply to the Lord Chief Justice? If it were agreed to, we should be raising the pension of the Lord Chief Justice from £58 a week to £67 a week, and this in addition to a death gratuity of £8,000 and a widow's pension of £1,000 a year. Whatever case of hardship may be made in respect of county court judges, I cannot think that the Committee would be justified in increasing the pensions of people who are very well paid.
The Lord Chancellor or the Lord Chief Justice will have had many years in the legal profession during which they will presumably have been very well paid. The process of becoming a Lord Chancellor is a long one, and I presume there may be some potential Lord Chancellors and Lord Chief Justices here. I do not know how these high salaries will appeal to the ordinary man. Before a person becomes Lord Chancellor he has to be perhaps Solicitor-General or hold some other legal office, and he will presumably have commanded some of the highest fees at the Bar for about 15 or 20 years, and will have had an opportunity to save. If he has been a wise and prudent person, he will have saved and invested a substantial sum.
It is all very well making these appeals for legal gentlemen, but how would paying heed to them affect all the other salaries of civil servants and municipal employees who are legal gentlemen, such as town clerks and the clerks to county councils? The result would be the payment of inflated pensions and salaries to gentlemen who are, on the whole, very well paid as compared with other members of the community. I suggest that those Members of the Committee who are in- 120 terested in the legal profession should be satisfied with the sums outlined in the Bill, without seeking the additional sums suggested in this Amendment.
§ Mr. F. P. Crowder (Ruislip-Northwood)
I thought it most unfortunate that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) should have seen fit to quote as examples the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice when dealing with this Amendment. He gave a figure of something like £72 per week as against £58. At first sight that does, of course, appear to be an enormous rise, but has the hon. Member taken the trouble to see how much more per week that increase would mean to those two individuals after payment of Income Tax and Surtax? The difference would be very slight. It would be a matter of sixpences rather than pounds.
The hon. Member also said that of course these gentlemen—and there are not many of them—have to be of some eminence and ability to rise to such a position, and that they will have had opportunities throughout their career to save. Has the hon. Member considered the difference between saving now and saving before the war? We have often heard that judges' salaries have not been increased since 1831—that is, something like 119 years ago—but it is to the last 19 years that I would refer the hon. Member. Before the war it was quite possible for anyone at the Bar who had the ability to rise to be either a county court judge or a High Court judge to save upwards of £20,000 to £25,000 during the 15 or 18 years of really lucrative practice that he would enjoy. Even before the war it was very difficult to save much more unless the person concerned happened to be one of those extraordinary people who was able to earn at a super-high rate. Today he is robbed of that £25,000 lump sum.
It is suggested that, in return for benefits given with the other hand—and in this Bill the Government take something away with one hand and give it back with the other, so that nobody is really better off—his pension should be reduced. That pension, due to the high cost of living, the war and various other matters into which I cannot go, because it would be out of order to do so, has been cut by half. I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider taxation, which has almost doubled, Surtax, which has rocketed to the skies, the Purchase Tax, which the recipient of the 121 pension has to meet in the shops and the increased cost of living all along the line. All that means that the miserable pittance of a pension—one can only describe it as that—has been cut by more than a half.
It has always been the proud boast of hon. Gentlemen opposite, both in this House and at meetings, that as a result of their administration everybody is so much better off. I am certain that the last people whom they would wish to deprive of that benefit are the judges, even to the extent of this very small degree the granting of which I am now advocating. Let me quote as an example a High Court judge. After serving for 15 years, he has great responsibilities which must fall upon him. There is his clerk to be considered. No provision is made for the judge's clerk, and every judge today must, out of conscience, provide for him.
I was speaking to a judges clerk in the Temple the other day. He told me that when his master was earning a great income at the Bar, he did extremely well. Loyal and faithfully he followed his master in the latter's service as a judge. He served him on circuit at assizes and in London at the meagre salary of £650 a year for 15 years. When that judge retired the clerk was given 14 days' notice in which to tidy up his master's affairs, and that was the end. There was not so much as a letter of thanks from the Treasury, not even a tiny gratuity to see him through the difficult months which must ensue for a judge's clerk when he has to look around for other employment. That responsibility today must, out of conscience, fall upon the judge himself. That means he may have to keep his clerk going for possibly six months, possibly for a year in order that the clerk's family may be kept alive until he can find another job.
This Amendment is asking very little indeed of the Government, but it would improve this Bill because it endeavours to bring the judges into line with the rest of the country, if only on the pension basis. I am sure that hon. Members opposite, who are so proud of what they consider they have achieved for the people of this country in improving conditions, would be the very last themselves to want to place the judges in a condition of some penury.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
Several hon. Members opposite have 122 made eloquent pleas for two depressed classes, the clerks and the county court judges, with whom I think people on this side have considerable sympathy, but neither of those pleas has any logical connection whatever with the Amendment. They are matter that might be discussed on some other occasion, but they do not affect the arguments for reducing the pension by one-quarter or by one-eighth for all the persons mentioned in the Schedule to this Bill. I was interested to notice that the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller), who moved the Amendment, reserved his eloquence for county court judges because he thought he had rather a better case, whereas on Second Reading he referred to High Court judges.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
If the hon. Lady had followed my argument she would have found that I referred on the occasion of the Second Reading, as I did on this occasion, to both High Court and county court judges.
§ Mrs. White
I was referring to the more eloquent and more lengthy part of the hon. and learned Member's speech. It was a bachelor High Court judge who, for some reason, had the greatest sympathy from the hon. and learned Gentleman. Taking the figure of £3,500 after 15 years' service and, with the assistance of the Inland Revenue authorities, working out what the tax would be on the sums concerned—either the present pension or the pension reduced by one-quarter—I found that it was perfectly correct to say that the lump sum, which is tax free, received in lieu of the reduced pension, would last for approximately 15 years. That is taking no account of any interest which one might receive on the lump sum. I understand that there is no fixed age for retirement for High Court judges. I am told it is 72 for county court judges. If, for the purposes of argument, one takes 72 as the retirement age for High Court judges, one can live happily and comfortably until one is 87 on the present proposals, without detriment. In fact, if one took the lump sum one could go a little bit longer.
If one takes the Amendment, which asks for a one-eighth instead of a one-quarter reduction, and one makes a similar calculation, allowing for the fact that the tax on the higher proportion of pension is at a higher rate, the period 123 works out at approximately 37 years. Therefore, one could live happily to the age of 109 before one was at a disadvantage in any way. In other words, what the Opposition Amendment is trying to do is not to concern itself with the widows or orphans but with seeing that all the persons in the Schedule, irrespective of status or means, do in fact have a very much increased pension.
I feel that those of us who have looked into the matter properly and worked out the calculations correctly would not be inclined to support a Measure—leaving aside a special plea for clerks and county court judges—which would mean a very considerable increase for most people at the taxpayer's expense, unless they happened to live to an extremely ripe age.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Gage (Belfast, South)
I should like to make a plea on behalf of what the hon. Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) I suppose would call yet a third class of the judicial oppressed. It is a plea on behalf of His Majesty's judges in Northern Ireland, which I think has not been heard so far. That is not to say that I do not agree completely with what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller) said about county court judges and about judges' clerks. It is too often forgotten that the pension of the judge's clerk morally has to come out of the judge's pension, because no other provision is made for it.
Everything said with force about those cases applies with equal force to the case of His Majesty's judges in Northern Ireland. The reason why nothing has been said so far about their position is that up to a week ago there was no copy of this Bill in Northern Ireland and so it was difficult for them to decide how this matter was going to affect them. Their salary, which was originally £3,500, was cut in 1926 by £500. That general cut in salaries made in 1926 was eventually restored in all cases, except in the case of His Majesty's judges in Northern Ireland. The ground given for the smaller salary and smaller pension in Northern Ireland was that it is a smaller place and there is less work to do, and to some extent that is true. But I am sure that the Lord Advocate will agree with me that because Scotland is somewhat 124 smaller than England it is all the more important that the judges who work there should be in a position to live detached lives. Everything is smaller and closer and therefore the judge, from sheer necessity and not because he wants to be so, must be in a position to live a detached life.
What was considered adequate in 1926 is obviously no longer adequate, either in respect of salary or in respect of pensions. Indeed, the High Court judge in Northern Ireland who has small children to educate finds himself in the position of having to sell his house and perhaps to sell his motorcar and travel by bus to his court. It is not that he objects to travelling by bus as such—he did so frequently as a barrister—but it is difficult for a judge when he travels constantly with people who appear before him as witnesses, litigants or sometimes even in the dock. It is one of those things that ought to be avoided.
Therefore, the case for an increase for judges in Northern Ireland is stronger than any of the other cases, because their salary and pension are smaller than those of their brothers who do the same work in this country. My hon. and learned Friend's Amendment is the only way by which they can be given some dignity and comfort in the evening of their lives and, in those circumstances, it deserves the hearty support of this Committee.
§ The Attorney-General
We have had a wide, and in some cases, as in the case of the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Gage), moving discussion on the question of the salaries of His Majesty's judges, but this Bill, of course, deals not with their salaries but with their pensions. I hope that in discussing the various Amendments to the Bill in Committee we shall try to deal with the question of the judicial pensions. I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller), in whose name the Amendment stands, will not think it right to press the Amendment to a Division.
Many of us want to improve the position of some of the judges. I have said personally more than once that I have great sympathy particularly with the position of the county court judges. I have made clear my personal view about this matter on the Second Reading of the 125 Bill and on other occasions, but I have also said—and I make no apology for saying it again—that in the existing circumstances of the country, when men and women living at very low wage levels have to be asked to make great sacrifices and exercise great restraint, and are for the most part responding loyally to the demands that are put on them in that respect, we have to go carefully about the improvement of the position of the judges, and we have to accomplish it by stages which are acceptable to the country as a whole.
I do not think that the case for the judges is improved by the hyperbole of expression, by the extravagance of language, which is sometimes used. It does not really help to parade before the country phrases such as that which was used by one hon. Member when he said that the judges' pension was a miserable pittance. It does not help those who would like to see the position of the judges improved to say that their remuneration at the present time is scandalously low, as someone else suggested.
The present Amendment and some of the speeches which have been made in support of it from the opposite side of the Committee are really a classic example, so far as concerns those of us who sympathise with the position of the judges, of the better being the enemy of the good. This Bill is really in danger of that kind of Amendment. Here is a Bill which proposes to accomplish something good so far as it goes—something which the judges of this country certainly greatly welcome.
§ The Attorney-General
Certainly. Here I pause to deal with an intervention made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes). I would certainly assert—and I think the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South would agree with me in this—that the standard of His Majesty's judges has never been higher than it is today, and there is no indication whatever at present of any sign of deterioration amongst them. I should confidently assert exactly the contrary.
His Majesty's judges in this country, both those in the High Court and those in the county court, urgently desire that 126 this Bill should be passed. They think it is a good Bill. I have no doubt at all that they could draft a better Bill if they were in a position so to do. I have no doubt at all that they will continue to press the claims which they consider they have in regard to salaries, and which they are entitled to press. This Bill is entirely without prejudice to those claims. But His Majesty's judges in this country certainly want this Bill—
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Is it not the case that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has been informed that some of the county court judges will not be able to take advantage of the provisions of this Bill?
§ The Attorney-General
That may well be so, but because the minority of the county court judges will not be able to take advantage of the provisions of this Bill and will exercise their option to contract out of it, they do not want to impose their position on the majority of judges who will greatly benefit from the Bill. I really do not see the point of the hon. and learned Gentleman's intervention.
I referred to the judges in this country; I meant the judges in England. As a matter of fact, I understand that the same position applies to the judges in Ireland. They did have some misgivings about the Bill. I think it would be fair to say that they wanted the Bill in regard to pensions associated with a Measure which would result in an increase in salaries as well, but that not being practicable at the moment, they themselves do not oppose this Bill. As to the existing members of the Irish Bench, as of the English Bench and the Scottish Bench, they can contract out of it. There is no doubt at all about those from whom future judges will be recruited in Northern Ireland. My right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate will speak about the position of those in Scotland. There is no doubt at all about those from whom future judges will be recruited in England and in Northern Ireland, that the silks are unanimously in favour of this Bill.
I wrote to the Attorney-General of Northern Ireland only the other day—[Interruption]. I apprehend that that 127 remark had some reference to the incident which occurred in the House last Friday week. If that is so I regret it. I think that once these matters have been dealt with, and apologies have been accepted, they should not be raised again. The right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) departed from that principle of good manners earlier this evening. As to the Attorney-General of Northern Ireland, there is no occasion for jeering about the matter. I wrote to ask him what was the view of the leaders of the Irish Bar about this Bill. He told me he had consulted all the leaders, and they were all unanimously in favour of this Bill.
I think that is perhaps more important than the views of the existing judges who can opt out of the Bill if they choose to. We have to consider the future position of their successors. Their successors are normally recruited from silks, and the silks of Northern Ireland are unanimously in favour of the Bill. It may be perfectly true, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said, that here and there, if we take a hypothetical case of some future judge and examine it actuarially, the judge will be worse off under the new pension arrangements than he is today. That is quite possible, and I concede the point at once. That judge or that nominee for the Bench would examine what his future position would be if he became a judge and if, on doing so, he found that he would be worse off, that he would be in a position in which he could not afford to become a judge, then he would not be compelled to accept the appointment.
The fact is that the great majority of future appointees to the Bench will be better off and, taking all the judicial officers as a whole, they will be £40,000 a year better off when this scheme is in full operation. That is the contribution which the State is to make towards this rearrangement of the pensions scheme. To say that a particular judge, if he accepts the appointment, may be worse off than he would be under the existing terms is neither here nor there, for the great majority of judges will be better off; they will share in the extra £40,000 which, if matters were left as they are, the State would not contribute at all.
There are two other points which are often forgotten in attempting an actuarial 128 calculation of the position of some hypothetical future judge. Often the Income Tax position is forgotten, and the fact that the lump sum escapes Income Tax, as it does, is a very important consideration. People often lose sight of that in estimating whether or not a particular individual will be better off or worse off under this scheme than he would be under the existing arrangements.
Another thing which is often forgotten is that the State, so to speak, has been at risk from the beginning of the judge's appointment. Some 20 years ago I took out a life insurance policy and, after 20 years, I thought it must have a good surrender value—20 multiplied by £x. I thought I should like that and I made an inquiry to find out what the surrender value was, but I was pained to find that it was nothing like 20 times the premium I had paid each year. I asked why that was, and the insurance company replied. "Do you not see—you have been on risk all the time and if you had died the day after you took out the policy we should have had to pay the insurance benefits, whatever they were."
Thus, the State will be at risk in regard to that judge from the day he is appointed, and if he dies the day after his appointment his estate will be entitled to the death gratuity, the widow's pension and the children's allowances—and that is something of very considerable commercial value. In trying to calculate whether a particular hypothetical judge, appointed at some future date, will be better off or worse off than he is now, one must take into account that from the moment of his appointment he is, under the new scheme obtaining cover for his widow and for his children which he never enjoyed before.
Now let me turn to the exact terms of the hon. and learned Member's Amendment. The Bill as at present drafted proposes a reduction in the pension by one-quarter of what would otherwise have been the rate. That reduction is the actuarial equivalent of the lump sum or death gratuity which may be granted under Clause 2. As I explained to the House on Second Reading, that part of the scheme is not intended to involve any contribution from the State. It is simply a re-arrangement of the existing pensions provisions in regard to the judge and it has nothing to do with the widow's pension or the children's allowances.
129 To reduce the pension by only one-eighth instead of by one-quarter whilst giving the same lump sum as that provided under the existing scheme would ultimately involve an additional charge on the Exchequer of £45,000 a year—that is to say, double the cost of the whole of this pensions scheme, including the widow's and children's pensions put together. Of course, it would entirely alter the whole basis of this scheme, which is that it should be, if I may use the expression, a fifty-fifty scheme in which the State, broadly, makes a contribution equal to that made for a period by the judge.
Incidentally—and I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member has considered this; I think perhaps he has not, and I am sure the judges concerned will not thank him for the suggestion which he is making—to cut down the reduction in the pension and leave the lump sum as it is would destroy the basis on which the lump sum itself is paid free of Income Tax, and that is, of course, a vitally important matter in regard to the lump sum. The reason why the lump sum is payable free of Income Tax is that it is regarded as a capital payment compounding the pension which otherwise would have been paid, and it is because it is actuarially a compounding of the quarter of the pension that it does not attract Income Tax.
But immediately we depart from that calculation, and pay a lump sum which has no relation to the reduction in pension, and which is, in fact, twice as much, on any view, as the one-eighth of the pension which had been commuted, he would become liable to Income Tax and Surtax on that lump sum payment. The hon. and learned Gentleman must ask himself whether any judge would welcome the proposition he is now putting forward, that although his pension should be reduced by a quarter, the lump sum payment should be subject to Income Tax and Surtax at the full rate.
I hope I have satisfied the Committee that this Amendment is really not in the best interest of the great majority of judges. There may be one or two here or there who would be better off under the existing scheme. That is quite possible. On balance the judges who participate in this scheme are going to benefit to the tune of £40,000 a year. [An HON. MEMBER: "In a full year?"] Starting 130 at £10,000 and rising to £40,000. They are going to be £10,000 better off as soon as the scheme comes into operation, and after 30 years £40,000 better off. Not only that. They are going to enjoy what most people regard in these days as something very important—a not insignificant lump sum free of tax altogether. [An HON. MEMBER: "Without contributions."]
Having regard to these facts, and to the fact that the judge is going to be on cover from the moment of his appointment until his retirement, and until his death in regard to his wife and children, I ask the Committee to say that this is obviously a scheme which is beneficial to the judges as a whole; which is, as I said, desired by the majority of those in England and Scotland, as it is by those from whom judges will be recruited; and that we should not attempt to meddle with the scheme which they have accepted.
§ Mr. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman sits down may I ask him one question? He spoke earlier of all the members of the Bench and Bar in England and Northern Ireland, and in his closing remarks he referred to Scotland. Is it the case that the Bench in Scotland have approved this scheme? I had rather thought that, on behalf of their successors rather than themselves, they had raised considerable doubts.
§ The Attorney-General
I did say that I would leave that to the Lord Advocate. I am always a little nervous of treading on Scottish ground. Having heard from the Lord Advocate what the position was, it appeared to me far from clear. The Lord Advocate will, no doubt, explain the matter of the Scottish judges to the Committee at the appropriate stage. I think it may arise on the Amendment giving judges the option. What the Scottish judges have asked for is that not only existing members of the Bench should have the option but that future members should have the option as well—in other words, that they should get the best of both worlds. That is something which would upset the whole basis of the scheme. But the Committee may desire to leave the Scottish judges out of the Bill altogether. I do not think that they would welcome that. I do not understand that that is their position, but that they would like the position to be a little better than it is in this Bill.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
For a few moments I should like to draw the Attorney-General's attention to what the Lord Advocate said on 20th November, 1950:I should indicate to the House that, so far as Scotland is concerned, it is only the judges of the Court of Session who have indicated their lack of desire that this scheme should be applied to them. That opinion was expressed by 13 out of 14."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th November. 1950; Vol. 481, c. 89.]That opinion was expressed by 13 out of 14. It is a very significant qualification. The observations made regarding England and Wales and Northern Ireland are doubtless quite true and very convincing, but the suggestion that Scottish judges are largely in agreement with this proposal is quite at variance with the statement indicated by the Lord Advocate.
I have only one other observation to make in an attempt to meet what the Attorney-General has said. He said that this was a gift by the State of £40,000 or thereabouts. I draw his attention to the Explanatory Memorandum where it says:The revised method of paying pensions will in the long run cost the State no more than the existing scheme.If it is a gift of £40,000 and at the same time I am told that it is costing the State no more than the existing scheme, I have a little difficulty in finding which is true. Both statements cannot be true. Either this is an advantageous scheme or it is not, and in the opinion of 13 out of 14 Scottish judges it is a disadvantageous scheme. The Explanatory Memorandum makes it clear that the advantages which have been indicated are not of the measure suggested by the Attorney-General.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)
I must confess that I was completely dissatisfied with the reply of the Attorney-General. The question whether one welcomes a Bill or not is a matter of words. Obviously, this Bill is better than nothing, and I can well understand that if it were put to certain judges that they were to have either this Bill or nothing at all, there would be a unanimous view that this Bill was better than nothing. It is better than nothing. It does provide ultimately for £40,000 from public funds to be added, directly or indirectly, to the remuneration of judges, and to that extent it is a good Bill and to be welcomed. But our view, 132 on these benches, is that it is nothing like good enough.
The Attorney-General said that if this Amendment were accepted it would ultimately involve an additional burden of £45,000. I am very glad indeed to hear it. I think it is the least burden it should involve; it is the least that should be done for the judges. Whether or not it upsets actuarial calculations leaves me completely indifferent, because the plain fact of the matter is that until a Bill is brought forward to increase the salaries of the judges, this is the only way in which we can ventilate the matter. I suggest that their terms of service should be improved, and it does not bother me in the least bit to hear that actuarial calculations will be upset, or that it will cost £45,000 a year.
The real argument of the Attorney-General against the Amendment was that the "wage freeze" ought to apply to the judges. That, I gather, is the sort of view with which the anarchical Member for Ayshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes) would probably agree. I call him "anarchical" because he usually objects to most things, from whichever Front Bench they come. So far as the "wage freeze" is concerned, I do not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman was completely frank with the Committee, because for certain judicial officers the "wage freeze" has been held not to apply.
Under the recommendations of the Chorley Committee certain salary increases have been granted. I have been given a document which indicates to me that the existing rate for registrars on fixed salaries, taking the 26 in the largest category, is £1,700, and the new rate is £2,000; for registrars on scale, in the case of 12 of them, which is the largest category, the existing scale is £1,500 to £1,700, which has gone up to £1,725 to £2,000. It may well be that those increases are very well justified, and if the Chorley Committee thought so they probably are. But those recommendations have been implemented, and I suggest that, having implemented those increases, it is illogical to talk of the "wage freeze" applying to other judicial officers. I have a long list of other people who have been given increases under the Chorley Committee's recommendations.
The point which we on these benches make is that at present county court 133 judges, in particular, are not being paid the rate for the job. This Government has littered the country and the community with large numbers of highly paid executives. The Prime Minister gets the equivalent of £100,000 a year—
§ Mr. Lloyd
Anyhow, six figures. The full-time members of the Railway Executive get £5,000 a year. Our case is that at the present rate of remuneration the county court judges in particular are not adequately paid. Under this Bill a county court judge will have to maintain his wife and family on a pension of £1,000 a year; he will get a lump sum benefit of £2,000, and the only other benefit is the widow's pension of £333 and a small children's pension. We simply say that this is not enough, and that one way of improving that situation is to accept this Amendment, because this is a matter of status, and I think that the status of the Judicial officers of the country has to be maintained.
The hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd) said something about judges after five years' service getting this pension. In the case of most of these people, they have done many years service in the legal profession before they become judges.
§ Mr. H. Hynd
May I say that my interjection was intended to express surprise that after so short a period of service as five years, a pension of that magnitude should be payable without contribution.
§ The Attorney-General
There may perhaps be some misunderstanding. As I said, so far as the judges are concerned—this does not apply to the lower officers—they are "on risk" from the beginning, and if they die the day after appointment their dependants get a lump sum—death gratuity as it is called—widow's pension and children's allowances. That is not so in the case of the Civil Service. That is one of the distinctions to the advantage of the judges which this Bill makes.
§ Mr. Lloyd
It was exactly that point, put from a different angle by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, with which I was seeking to deal. The service of these people did not begin on the day they 134 were appointed judges. They had been members of the legal profession; many of them may have worked for 30 years before accepting that position. So far as the Civil Service is concerned, the normal course is for civil servants to enter on their pensionable service when they begin their employment.
So far as the county court judge is concerned, he probably has not made anything at all until he is 25. The people from whom future county court judges will be recruited will in many cases have sacrificed some years of lucrative employment by service during the war, and under existing rates of taxation they have not been able to accumulate a sum to give them sufficient what would be called "unearned income" by hon. Members opposite to enable them to retain in retirement the dignity and status of their job. I say quite definitely that at the present time the community is not paying these people enough, and one way of improving their conditions of service is to accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
I want to query one argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He said that if the Amendment were accepted, the actuarial basis of the death gratuity would be altered, and the death gratuity would then become subject to taxation. Cans that be correct? I suggest that because the one-eighth reduction in pension which is now proposed would contribute to the total of the death gratuity. Would not that part therefore be tax-free? If the principle is accepted for the whole, the same principle must be accepted for the part. I doubt very much, with respect, whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument is mathematically correct.
§ Mr. John Foster (Northwich)
The Attorney-General maintained that if we do not accept the Bill in its entirety and the Amendment is agreed to, it will be to the disadvantage of those concerned. As the hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) pointed out, this Bill is better than nothing, but it needs to be improved.
I should like to bring one point to the Attorney-General's notice. There is some connection between the pension and the lowness of the judge's salary at the present time. The Attorney-General has expressed his sympathy with the view that 135 the remuneration of the judges should be increased. If the judge has a family, and knows that he is going to retire at a certain time, the small savings which he can achieve at present—but only small savings—will to the extent of the pension be relieved of the burden of supporting his wife and children and himself after his retirement.
If the Attorney-General wanted to increase the salaries of judges, one indirect way of doing that by the Bill, which is a point he could have brought forward in favour of the Bill, was by making a pension available to the judge and by making provision for his wife and children available to him. He does, to that extent, increase the financial standing of a judge who has some small savings. In reply to the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes) it is true that if we take the gross amount of £54 a week and increase it to £72 a week, it seems a lot of money; but it is necessary that a judge should be in a position that is aloof from the community.
§ Mr. Foster
No, Sir. My argument is that the Bill and this Amendment would increase the financial resources of the judges while they are working.
There are many people in the Civil Service and people with political positions who have allowances for cars and so on, and if the judge, by having this increased pension which the Amendment allows, is able to treat himself during his working time, not to the luxury of a car, but to the possibility of having a car to take him to work, he is only putting himself in the position of many civil servants and those in political positions who also have cars to take them to work. At the moment, we have the spectacle of a judge not being able to keep himself aloof from the community, which is something he has to do, as he may be brought into relation with people he may have to judge later on.
The Attorney-General will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe I am right in saying that there is a car available to the Attorney-General, as well as the Solicitor-General, to take him to work. Therefore, there ought to be a car or a car allowance for a judge. The provision of a slightly larger pension would enable 136 a judge so to arrange his financial resources as to be able to have a car while he is working. That would be a way of indirectly raising the judges' salaries, which the Attorney-General has said is a necessary thing to do.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
As the hon. and learned Member has got on to the subject of allowances, would it not be more appropriate if a judge got an allowance for his clerk, who is a necesary functionary in a judge's life? If provision is made for a judge's clerk by way of salary, should not provision also be made by way of pension?
§ Mr. Foster
I quite agree. The reason I did not take that example is because it has been already dealt with. The position of a judge's clerk is a scandal. The judge has to make financial provision for his clerk, although, as I have said, this argument has already been dealt with.
§ Sir H. Williams
I was a little distressed when the Attorney-General objected to an increase in the remuneration of judges on the grounds of the "wage freeze." I would point out that wage rates are four times what they were when these salaries were fixed. When the salaries of judges were fixed, Income Tax was much less than 9s. in the pound. The value of the salary of a judge is about one-eighth of what it was when it was fixed. I thought it was very ungenerous of the Attorney-General—
§ The Chairman
I must point out that it is not in order to discuss the question of the salaries of judges, except as incidental to the Bill, which deals with pensions.
§ Sir H. Williams
I should not have said anything about it but for the fact that the Attorney-General led me astray. He had already led me astray on a previous Bill. He must be more careful; otherwise I shall not take his legal advice.
Some surprise was expressed at the remuneration of the Prime Minister. He gets £4,000 tax free, two tied cottages, a free car, and adding it all up it comes to about £350,000 a year gross. I am sorry that the Attorney-General made such a bad bargain on his life insurance policy. I can declare my interest, for I am a director of a small but expanding company and I can offer him much better terms than he got. He could not have had proper advice at the time.
137 It is a monstrous thing that the judges are so placed that they cannot retain the position of people, who ought to be completely aloof from the storms and stresses of life in order to perform their vitally important duties in the way they should do. I hope that hon. Members opposite realise the gravity of the situation, because if this continues there will come a time when we shall be unable to attract men of that high intellectual standard of impartiality that is most vital to a clean administration of justice.
§ Mr. Viant (Willesden, West)
I have sat here during this debate and have been exceedingly interested in the pleading of the Opposition for these people who are living in genteel poverty. I am astounded that the Opposition have not been more appreciative of the Government's action in this matter. The hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) availed himself of the opportunity to bring in the subject of salaries, wages and allowances, and he went out of his way to make an attack upon the Prime Minister. My hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is not alone in his opposition to the generosity of the Government at the present time. Some of us are rather surprised that these proposals should be introduced at this juncture. There is a large body of wage earners in the country, like the railwaymen, who can scarcely keep body and soul together.
We have a good Government, a Government which have excelled in what they have already done. They are exceedingly generous, and because of that they are making these proposals tonight. Hon. Members opposite should be a little more appreciative of the Government's generosity. Some of the people who will read the reports of this debate in the Press tomorrow morning will be comparing their onerous position with that of those living in genteel poverty, whose interests are being so well advocated by the Opposition tonight. I suggest to the Opposition, in view of the Government's generosity, that they should withdraw their Amendment and allow the Government's proposals to go through without any opposition. After this debate, some of us have the feeling that we would be prepared to throw out these proposals holus-bolus, and if that were to happen, those judges who are to benefit would 138 have no one to blame but Members of the Opposition.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Marlowe (Hove)
The hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Viant) has reiterated the argument about the wage freeze. I do not think it is relevant to this matter. We cannot draw any fair parallel. However, it will come as a considerable surprise to a number of people to learn, as the hon. Gentleman has just announced, that after six years of Socialist Government there are large numbers of people in this country who, he says, cannot keep body and soul together. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman will get thanked by the leaders of his party for that contribution to the debate.
§ Mr. Viant rose—
§ Mr. Marlowe
I do not want to take up the time of the Committee with this totally irrelevant argument about the wage freeze, but if the hon. Gentleman insists upon it he cannot expect me to be sympathetic because I am not in favour of the wage freeze. I am in favour of as many people as possible keeping body and soul together. I do not support the hon. Gentleman's policy of the wage freeze and therefore I am at liberty to disregard that argument altogether.
I want to deal with some of the arguments of the Attorney-General, because he put forward some that sounded attractive and forceful. One was that if the Amendment were accepted the result would be that the lump sum would become subject to tax. The right hon. and learned Gentleman extlained the tax rules which would bring that result about. For the moment I thought that that was an impressive argument, but it is not, really. If that were likely to be the case, all that the Government would need to do is to legislate to meet that situation by putting an Amendment into the Bill to prevent its being brought about. Therefore the argument is not one of any great force.
§ The Attorney-General
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman seriously suggesting that we should alter the whole basis of Income Tax law, in a particular which was recently the subject of legislation I believe, so as to put the judges into a special class?
§ Mr. Marlowe
The Government did not hesitate in doing so in the case of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman said he had consulted those who are concerned. He rightly said that the opinion of the present bench is not of very great value because members of the bench are able to contract out of the scheme, and he thought it better to get the opinion of those who may be affected later. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument was, "We have asked them whether they like the Bill and they say they like it." I can promise him that if he puts the Amendment into the Bill and asks them again, they will like the Bill still more. They want a Bill which deals with them with greater justice.
The only other point relates to the amount of the contribution which the judicial officer makes. The deduction of a quarter which is to be made from his pension is, of course, his contribution towards the pension scheme. We have had no figures of any kind to show how that result has been arrived at actuarially. I suppose that it has been worked out by somebody, but it seems to me to be capable of improvement. The amount of contribution which the receiver is to be paid is the question at issue. It may well be that the figures have been worked out on a false basis.
It seems to me very unlikely that there will be any great requirement of children's benefits under the scheme. Figures have been used to arrive at some of these results. It may be that it has been assumed that the actuarial basis was similar to what applies in the Civil Service. A large number of civil servants retire at the ages of 60 or 65, whereas most high judicial officers do not retire until well in the seventies. Experience shows that the prospect of many of them having a child of 16 or one undergoing full-time education after retirement is remote. I put the argument forward because it is relevant to the contribution which a judge ought to make and the deduction which should be made, and if the children's benefit is largely illusory it is strictly 140 relevant to the amount of the contribution that he should make, and therefore the amount of deduction which should be made from his present rate of pension. I hope that before the Bill leaves the Committee we shall be given the figures to show how the actuaries have arrived at their figures. As things stand at the moment and until better evidence is provided, I hope the Committee will support the Amendment.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)
have what I believe to be a helpful suggestion. In view of the total opposition which has been expressed by hon. members opposite, apparently with friendly intentions towards the judges on whose behalf they seem to speak, why should we not withdraw the Bill? Why should we come forward with a Bill upon which the friends of the judges have expressed themselves to be so dissatisfied that they are not even above uttering gratuitous insults against the Prime Minister who is the head of the Government which is responsible for bringing the Bill forward for the benefit of the judges? It is astonishing that after so much opposition we should be considering going on with the Bill at all. I wonder if my suggestion will help the Attorney-General.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
Surely it is agreed on all sides of the Committee that the position of the judges ought to be better? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, it is. The Attorney-General said so himself. Giving his own personal opinion, and in the strongest possible terms he said that the position of the judges ought to be better. He is the person who is chiefly responsible and he knows most about it, and he has said that the position ought to be improved and that he would like to bring in a Measure to see that that is done. All that he says is that this is not the appropriate occasion and this is not the appropriate Bill for doing it. Yet he also says that the Bill does make the position better.
Although I agree with the Attorney-General that the language of hyperbole should not be used, I think he approached one might say, asymptotically to hyperbole when he said that this would make the judges £40,000 a year better off. That will be after 30 years or more, according to the terms of the Bill; and nobody can 141 pretend that it is likely that the value of money will remain undiminished during that period, and it is still more unlikely that any Measure whatever to improve the position of the judges will be brought in before 30 years have passed.
His argument to the Committee should have been directed to the narrow point whether the £10,000 a year, which is all that the immediate improvement will be, is an adequate step to deal with the position of the judges at the present time. The Explanatory Memorandum not only says that it is £10,000 but that it is likely to fall in the immediate future, so that the immediate contribution which is being made is £10,000 a year.
I would have more hope of this Bill, and of the effort of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to improve the position of judges in general, if it were not for the vehement protests of his supporters at any improvement which is suggested. These have come from the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes), the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) and numerous hon. Members opposite. Does the Attorney-General think he will have an easy passage in the future when he brings forward his promised Bill to improve the position of His Majesty's judges—
§ The Attorney-General
I am loath to interrupt the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I have promised no Bill and he ought not to put words into my mouth about it. I think he must have listened with care to what I said. I expressed a purely personal view that I would like to see the position of some judges, particularly county court judges, improved. Equally I would like to see improved the position of a lot of other persons earning now much lower salaries or wages. I said that this was not the time when one could hope to carry the country on any improvement in the position of the judges, that we must proceed by stages in regard to this matter, and at no time whatever have I expressed, either on my own behalf or on behalf of the Government, any promise to bring in any Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot rose—
§ The Chairman
Order. I must ask hon. and right hon. Members not to deal with the question of the salaries of judges except as purely incidental to the purpose of the Amendment. The purpose of the 142 Amendment is perfectly clear—to reduce the amount of deduction from pension. The question of salary does not come into the matter at all. I hope the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will not pursue the point, because I have already indicated that it does not come within the purview of the Amendment or, indeed, the Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I will withdraw in a full and ample manner any suggestion which I may have made inadvertently that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had in any way promised to introduce a Bill. In his own words I would say that he said he would like to improve the position of the judges as, indeed, he would like to improve—
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
—the position of some others of His Majesty's subjects. I will put it no higher than that. According to the right hon. and learned Gentleman this is an attempt to improve the position of certain of the judges, and it has not met with any very favourable reception on the part of his hon. Friends who support him. We say that the position of the judges should be improved still further. Hon. Members opposite say it should not be improved at all. Indeed the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White), also repeated this statement although she, born in the purple in the Civil Service, must know that the problem of how adequate remuneration is to be secured for the higher ranks of His Majesty's servants is a very real one indeed. The necessity of attracting into the ranks of His Majesty's servants the highest talents—as was done in the case of her most brilliant and distinguished father, who gave many years of great service to the State—is a constant pre-occupation of those who have to deal with this difficult problem. We say that in many cases the proposals under this pension scheme will not produce advantage to many of the people whom it is desired to advantage, and in some cases will certainly be disadvantaged.
Is that a good thing for His Majesty's Government to do at the present time? We say, no—and it is easier for a layman to say this than a lawyer—it is not, because the strength of the Bench is the protection of the poor. It is not a gift to be made to wealthy men. There are men in this society of ours who could buy 143 up these salaries a dozen times over. This is not a question of how men are to become rich but of how men are to obtain justice. As an ex-Minister I know the enormous importance of having and retaining the highest talent in the ranks of the higher civil servants. These are not ways of enriching a few choice individuals. These are ways of ensuring that the service of the country is carried on, and it is of perhaps greater importance to a Socialist State than to any other.
§ Mr. H. Hynd
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman overlooking the fact that 99 per cent. of crime in this country is dealt with in the courts by unpaid justices of the peace?
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The hon. Member, if I may say so, does not seem to me to be applying his mind to the really difficult point. The really difficult point was well put by the late President Roosevelt when he spoke of "malefactors of great wealth." It is not the drunk and disorderly person who is the chief problem to a State and more particularly to a Socialist State; it is the wealthy man. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, Admittedly, there can be a malefactor of great wealth as well as the poor man.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The question, "Why cannot the poor man judge him?" might as well be applied to the question of the late Dr. Jones, the Secretary to the Cabinet—why cannot the poor man serve the Cabinet? The question of incentive in the higher ranks is one with which every State has to grapple, and it is not dealt with merely by saying, "Let the highest rank receive the same remuneration as the lowest." It has been found in practice that we get a higher service to the State by doing our utmost to attract into the ranks of its servants people of the very highest qualifications. It is a general problem with which we shall have to deal in every sphere, and I only say now that to attempt to raise arguments against an improvement of the position of the judges because other people are getting less is to shut one's eyes, and to shut them wilfully to one of the great problems of the present day. All we say is that the proposals which we brought forward seem to us to be reasonable and moderate.
144 There are many people whose immediate pensions are being very seriously reduced. The hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) made an interjection. The Sheriff of Aberdeen is to have his pension reduced from £900 to £675 a year.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I do not wish to put words into his mouth, but if the Attorney-General will concede our later Amendment that the future Sheriffs of Aberdeenshire should have the same option as the present Sheriffs of that county, we shall be happy to meet him on that point. But the pension of the Sheriffdom—let me put it that way; I am sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not disagree—of Aberdeenshire is to be reduced from £900 to £675.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
He gets a lump sum, he gets a gratuity, and his widow gets a pension of £225 a year.
I am talking now for a reduction, and here is an instance of a man whose pension is being cut. What the right hon. and learned Gentleman has to defend is the question of those who are being cut and the fact that in many cases a reduction is actually being made. The Attorney-General said that he had consulted those concerned. He said that he had consulted the "silks" in Northern Ireland, but has he consulted them in England? I only know, from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller), that he has never been consulted in this matter.
§ The Attorney-General
Consultation with the "silks" would not take quite that form. I will ascertain whether the "silks" in England have been consulted or not. The point did not arise here because the judges in this country were wholeheartedly in favour of the Bill. If anybody chooses to dispute that, I hope he will do so now, because we want to meet the views of the judges on this matter. If anybody suggests that the judges do not want the Bill, I shall be glad to hear it said.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I am perfectly willing to take up that challenge. Is it not the case that the judges of the Court of Session in Scotland, by 13 out of 14, have said that they do not want the Bill? [Interruption.] The right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot have it both ways. He cannot make a general case applying to all the judges and then object to a specific instance being brought forward. I bring forward that specific instance, which I do not think he can deny, and I am sure that his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate will not deny it.
The Attorney-General spoke of the case of Northern Ireland and said that the "silks" there had been consulted and were well in favour of the Bill. I asked what was the parallel case in England. The right hon. and learned Gentleman offered very courteously to obtain that information, but so far he has not given it to the Committee.
§ The Attorney-General
Well, I will give it now. I understand there was no specific consultation with the "silks" here. The "silks" in this country are organised, as the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller) knows very well, on an entirely different basis. We have a very active Bar Council which makes representations immediately in regard to any Bill which has a legal connotation and on which it holds a view one way or the other. As a member of that body, and as one who regularly attends its meetings, I have no doubt that if they had opposed this Bill they would not have remained silent. In this country—I mean England when I say that; perhaps it is an inaccurate expression—the judges were wholeheartedly in favour of the Bill and no question arose about it. Only in Scotland and Northern Ireland questions did arise and there we thought it right to fortify our view by obtaining the views of sheriffs substitutes and of the "silks" in Northern Ireland and of the lower ranks of the profession.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The right hon. and learned Gentleman rests on representations having been made when they were in favour and on there not being representations against. If I brought forward such an argument, I am sure he would lose no time in immediately tearing it to pieces. We say that an adequate answer has not been given to the moderate and reasonable view put forward to the Committee, and we therefore feel it necessary to divide on the Amendment.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
In view of what has been said about the "silks" of the English Bar, I wish to say that in the last few days I have dined and lunched in the Law Courts and had many opportunities of which I availed myself of discussing this very matter with my colleagues and I did not come across a single one who was opposed to this Bill. On the contrary, they all took a favourable view of it.
I do not want to prolong the debate, but I say that the burden of justifying this Amendment rests on those supporting it and one would have expected some justification of an actuarial nature or in the form of the Bill's effect on Income Tax of judges or the net sum which ultimately will be received by judges if the Bill goes through in its present form. One would have expected some justification of a concrete form from the proposers of the Amendment. We have had nothing of that sort, but, instead, we have had airy generalities about the standards of the Bench and the Bar, which are not in dispute. The Attorney-General has put forward arguments of an actuarial and Income Tax character which seemed persuasive to me and, in view of the absence by the proposers of any argument of a similar nature as to the concrete effects of the Bill, I think they ought to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That 'quarter' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided; Ayes, 146; Noes, 131.149
|Division No. 10]||AYES||[9.25 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Blackburn, A. R||Brown, T. J. (Ince)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Blenkinsop, A.||Burton, Miss E.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Booth, A.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Bottomley, A. G.||Champion, A. J.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Bowden, H. W.||Chetwynd, G. R.|
|Bartley, P.||Brockway, A. Fenner||Clunie, J.|
|Benn, Hon. A. N. Wedgwood||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Collick, P.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Collindridge, F.|
|Cooper, J. (Deptford)||Jeget, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.)||Richards, R.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Robens, A.|
|Dariing, G. (Hillsboro')||Keenan, W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stake, N.)||King, H. M.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Daivies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Kinley, J.||Royle, C.|
|Deer, G.||Lee, F. (Newton)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Logan, D. G.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Donnelly, D.||Longden, F. (Small Heath)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. J. (W. Bromwich)||MacColl, J. E.||Slater, J.|
|Dye, S.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McLeavy, F.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Finch, H. J.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Follick, M.||Manuel, A. C.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mellish, R. J.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mitchison, G. R.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Gitzean, A.||Moeran, E. W.||Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W.)|
|Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Moody, A. S.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Grey, C. F.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Ungoed-Thomas, A. L.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Morley, R.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Hale, J. (Rochdale)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Hannan, W.||Moyle, A.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Mulley, F. W.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Hargreaves, A.||Neal, H.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Harrison, J.||O'Brien, T.||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Oldfield, W. H.||White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Orbach, M.||White H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Hoy, J.||Pannell, T. C.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)||Pargiter, G. A.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Parker, J.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Popplewell, E.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Porter, G.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Proctor, W. T.||Winterbottom, R. E. (Brightside)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Woods, Rev. G. S.|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Reid, W. (Camlachie)||Yates, V. F.|
|Jeger, G. (Goole)||Rhodes, H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Pearson and Mr. Sparks|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Fort, R.||Marples, A. E.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Foster, J. G.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Maude, A. E. U. (Ealing, S.)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Gage, C. H.||Medlicott, Brigadier F.|
|Baldock, J. M.||Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool Toxteth)||Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)||Nabarro, G.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)||Nicholson, G.|
|Black, C. W.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Harvey, Air-Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Headlam, Lieut-Col Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Odey, G. W.|
|Braine, B.||Heald, L. F.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr J. Q.||Heath, E. R.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Bromley-Davenport. Lt.-Col. W.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Osborne, C.|
|Brooke, H. (Hampstead)||Higgs, J. M. C.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hill. Dr. C. (Luton)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Prolumo, J. D.|
|Channon, H.||Hopkinson, H. L. D'A.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S. (East Grinstead)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Clarke, Brig. T. H. (Portsmouth, W.)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Robson-Brown, W. (Esher)|
|Clyde, J. L.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Roper, Sir H.|
|Colegate, A.||Hylton-Foster, H. B.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Cooper, A. E. (Ilford, S.)||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Russell, R. S.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Johnson, Howard S. (Kemptown)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Scott, Donald|
|Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Cross, Rt. Hon. Sir R.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Spens, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Stevens, G. P.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Crowder, F. P. (Ruislop—Northwood)||McAdden, S. J.||Storey, S.|
|Cundiff, F. W.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Davies, Nigel (Epping)||McKibbin, A.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)||Thompson, K. P. (Walton)|
|Drewe, C.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W.)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Tilney, John|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Vosper, D. F.||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Walker-Smith, D. C.||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)||Major Conant and|
|Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, E.)||Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.|
|Watkinson, H.||Wills, G.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.