HL Deb 27 August 1835 vol 30 cc1009-12

On the Motion of the Viscount Duncannon, the House went into a Committee on the Sheriffs' Accounts (Ireland) Bill.

The Marquess of Westmeath

observed, that heretofore the Sheriffs' accounts were audited by the Court of Exchequer, and it appeared to him that the proposed change—that of transferring the duty to the Chief-Remembrancer—would not operate beneficially, by making the audit more effectual than it was at present. Their Lordships' had been told by the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Plunkett), in recommendation of this Bill, that it had been debated in the House of Commons, and the noble and learned Lord mentioned the names of several learned Gentlemen who had taken part in the debate. But though he respected the individuals who had thus been mentioned, still that circumstance or the fact of the Bill having passed the other House, ought not to prevent him or any other noble Lord from stating any objections to it which they might entertain. He had imbibed an opinion in the correctness of which he knew not whether their Lordships would agree with him. He did not consider that the Gentlemen of the learned profession were always the best law-makers. In his view of the case, the knights and burgesses in the other House were the proper persons to frame laws; and he believed, that if the Legislature were not overrun with lawyers, the laws would not be a bit the worse for it. He meant to propose a Clause in this Bill to insure the due attendance of the Chief Remembrancer, to which Clause he conceived, that neither the noble Viscount nor the noble and learned Lord could offer any reasonable objection. The Clause would provide, "that the Chief Remembrancer or his deputy should be bound to attend in his Court, under the same rules and regulations, and at the same hours, that the Masters in Chancery were bound to attend in theirs." He thought this provision was necessary, because it would be a very hard thing if individuals, attending with their Counsel, should be obliged in consequence of the absence of the Chief Remembrancer or his deputy to attend again, and to retain such Counsel by refreshers. When he saw innovations daily made in various law and other departments in Ireland, he felt that it was the duty of the twenty-eight Representative Peers of Ireland to watch over the interests of that country; and he certainly should use any influence that he possessed to correct any evil that was likely to flow from the adoption of new propositions. By the provisions of this very Bill an individual would lose the office which he now held, and yet he believed, that that individual had received no notice on the subject. The noble Marquess concluded by moving his Amendment.

Lord Plunkett

said, that the noble Marquess was entirely mistaken as to the facts. With regard to there not being a sufficient security for the performance of the duty, he begged to say, that a sufficient security was to be found in the character and conduct of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had so long filled the office of Chief Remembrancer, and throughout the whole time with the full approba- tion of all who had any business to do in the Court. The noble Marquess did not like the legislation of the lawyers; but, surely, when a question arose as to the constitution of a Court of Justice; and as to the means of administering justice, they would not go to the country gentlemen in preference to taking the advice of lawyers who were practically acquainted with the matter. The lawyers of both sides of politics were in favour of this Bill, which was framed in imitation of the Bill that was passed in England on the same subject two years ago. As to the Amendment of the noble Marquess, it amounted to a censure upon the present Chief Remembrancer. Such a censure was totally undeserved by the learned Gentleman, as the Earl of Eldon, if he were present, would readily testify. The supposed Amendment would, in fact, make the labour of the Chief Remembrancer less than it was at present. The Amendment was to the effect that the Remembrancer should attend at the office in the same way as the Masters in Chancery did in their offices. Now there were four Masters in Chancery, there was almost as much equity business in the Irish Exchequer as in the Irish Court of Chancery, and the Remembrancer of the Exchequer having duly performed his business, he must have done almost as much as the four Masters in Chancery. This Amendment would make him do no more than one of those Masters in Chancery, so that the public would lose three-fourths of his services. He opposed the Amendment.

The Earl of Devon

said, that the censure implied in the Amendment on the conduct of the Chief Remembrancer was quite undeserved. He had long known that Gentleman, who had practised for years in the Court of Chancery in England, and he was sure, that there was no one who would more scrupulously attend to the performance of his duties.

Lord Brougham

, in like manner, asserted the great propriety and regularity of Mr. Blake's conduct; and said, that he should not be doing justice to that most respectable officer, if he did not stand forward to add his testimony to that of his noble and learned Friend, the Chancellor of Ireland, and his noble Friend opposite. Mr. Blake's conduct in Ireland was admitted, by all who knew anything of the matter, to be exemplary. The proposed Amendment was not only an injustice to Mr. Blake, but might be an injury to the public, by making the Chief Remembrancer take the amount of labour of the Master in Chancery as the maximum of what was required from him.

Amendment negatived—Bill went through the Committee, and the House resumed.