HL Deb 25 March 1830 vol 23 cc829-30
The Earl of Eldon

presented a Petition from the Gentry, Clergy, and Freeholders of the county of Pembroke, against any alteration in the system of Welsh Judicature;—also a similar Petition from the Mayor, Burgesses, and In-habitants of the town of never ford west. The noble and learned Lord said, he wished to take that opportunity of expressing his regret that he had been unable to attend in his place when the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack introduced the subject of the proposed changes in the law to their Lordships' notice; which was not from undervaluing the importance of the subject, or from any want of respect to the noble and learned Lord, but literally because he was unable. He would, therefore, without going into the subject to which their attention had been called, take that opportunity to state, that he would give his most serious consideration to the measures about to be introduced, and if he should be found opposing any part of them, it would not be from any spirit of contention, but from conscientious grounds of objection. Had he been in his place on Monday, he should most readily have corroborated what fell from the noble and learned Lord as to the unfounded assertions respecting the expense of the commissioners of inquiry into the Court of Chancery. The gentlemen who acted in that commission never received one farthing for their trouble. They not only gave their services gratuitously to the public, but their attention to the business of that commission was given at the sacrifice of considerable professional emolument. With respect to the inquiry proposed into the state of the Ecclesiastical-law, he admitted that the necessity of it was made out by a recent case, to which he would not then more particularly allude. As to the revision of the Criminal-law, Ins professional habits for a very long period of his life were such as to render him not the most competent judge on that subject, but he very willingly gave credit to those who had undertaken the task for a disposition and ability to improve the law and its administration. On the subject of the proposed change in the Welsh Judicature, he must say that there were parts of the judicial administration in that country with which he should be very unwilling to part;—for instance, he should not like to take from it the Equity Courts, which he considered to be a great advantage to that country. However, he would give the subject, when it came before him, his fullest consideration, nor would he assent to any change of part of that law without being most fully satisfied that the change would be an advantage to the country. He saw, in some publications, mention made of frauds in conveyancing: there might have been some, but as an old lawyer he would say to those who wished to alter the system, that they might make themselves easy on that ground,— generally there were no such things. He would again repeat, that he would give his best attention to the whole subject, and would support the proposed alterations, as far as he should think they were likely to benefit the public. With respect to allusions which had elsewhere been made to himself [as we understood the noble Lord, who spoke in a very low tone,] the practice of his professional life had been to adopt the lesson which he had heard from Burke—where he found he had been properly blamed he endeavoured to correct his conduct; but where he had been improperly blamed, he pursued his course steadily, without reference to the opinions of others.

Earl Cawdor

said, that he was sorry to differ from the petitioners, but he thought that the assimilation of the practice of the law in England and Wales would be a great benefit to the latter country. He was sorry to have to differ on this point from the noble and learned Lord who had just sat down; but so far from thinking that the Equity Courts to which the noble and learned Lord alluded were a benefit to Wales, he thought them an encumbrance and a hindrance to justice.

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