HL Deb 21 March 1834 vol 22 cc493-6
Lord Ellenborough

in rising to move that a return relative to appeals should be amended so as to distinguish Scotch from Irish appeals, wished for a moment to draw their Lordships' attention to the returns which had been laid upon their Table. Those returns had been drawn up by the Clerk-Assistant, and it would have been more satisfactory to him if sittings on Scotch as well as English and Irish appeals had been noticed, It was not, he was certain, the intention of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack to produce an impression on the House with respect to the conduct of his predecessors which would be otherwise than correct; but, looking at the Return then laid on the Table, he found, that during the period in which the noble and learned Lord had presided on the Woolsack he had sat 156 times, and had been assisted by other noble Lords forty-four times; while, in a shorter period, Lord Lyndhurst had sat 160 times, and had been assisted by other noble Lords nineteen days. He stated this as a fact, in justice to Lord Lyndhurst, in consequence of what had been asserted the other night. In the course of one session Lord Lyndhurst had sat sixty-five days—a greater number of days than had been devoted to judicial matters by any other individual whose name appeared on the face of the Return. Lord Eldon, in 1821, sat fifty days; in 1822, fifty-two days; in 1823, fifty-eight days; when undoubtedly his labours were assisted by Lord Gifford. He had, however, in 1824, sat forty-four days; in 1825, forty-six days; and in 1826, fifty days. This ought to be known, lest a wrong estimation should be made of the labours of the noble and learned Lord's predecessors. No one imputed to the noble and learned Lord any laxity in the discharge of his duties: yet it was but right that the public should know, that the noble and learned Lord's predecessors had exerted themselves to as great an extent as he had done.

The Lord Chancellor

observed, that when on a former evening he had addressed the House on this subject, he had no intention to make any invidious comparison of his labours with the labours of others. But when he found individuals twitting him, or accusing him with being remiss in the performance of his duty, his object merely was, to state his own case in a plain manner. No such intention entered his mind as that of bringing himself into that sort of comparison, which, God knew, would be disadvantageous, and not advantageous, to him. He had no object in view, except in so far as to show their Lordships that he had not been inattentive to his duties. He had not seen the Re- turns, excepting for about a minute, and therefore he could not speak confidently about them. He had, on a former evening, made a comparison between the two Sessions, when Lord Gifford assisted the then Lord Chancellor, and those in which he had had the honour to fill the situation which he now held, and he said, that he did not shrink from a comparison of his labour with the business which had been gone through in the time which he had specified. He thought it would be found that in the first year, in which he sat in that House in his present situation, he had sat not fewer days than Lord Gifford had done in the year to which he had most particularly referred. He believed, that he had sat an equal, if not a greater number of days. In the glance which he took over the Return, he might have mistaken the column of causes for the column of days of sitting; that was possible; but assuredly he meant to institute no invidious comparison whatever. During the time which he sat on appeals, he did not rise, as had been customary, at 3 or 4 o'clock. He frequently renewed his sittings after the political business was at an end. Frequently he sat till 9 or 10 o'clock at night, and that, too, be it observed, from 10 o'clock in the morning. It was not his intention to impugn the great and valuable services which the country had derived from the exertions of his immediate predecessors, and which he himself, when at the bar, had an opportunity of witnessing and appreciating; but what he stated was, that he had not had the benefit since he presided in that House, of the assistance of any actual judge. He had not had the aid of the Master of the Rolls, as Lord Eldon had; neither had he the assistance of the Chief Baron, of which Lord Lynhurst had very properly availed himself. It was true he had had the able assistance of his noble and learned friend, the late Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, without which he could not have gone through so much business. He must observe, before he concluded, that there was a fallacy in the manner in which the Returns were drawn up. It gave the arrears at the end of the Session, and the number consequently depended on the question whether the Session was long or short. In 1830, the Session began in November; the appeals, therefore, could only be entered up to November. In this year it began in February, so that there were three months and more for appeals to be entered. The comparison, therefore, would be between the appeals entered in ten, and entered in thirteen months. Yet what was the result at the beginning of this Session? There were eighty-four appeals, or ten fewer than at the beginning of the Session of 1831.

The amended Return was ordered.

Back to