HL Deb 11 August 1843 vol 71 cc536-9
Lord Campbell

rose to make a motion which he believed was one of course—namely, that a select committee be appointed to search the journals of the House of Commons, respecting a bill sent down for the consideration of that House, regarding the succession of personal property in Scotland. The bill was, as he understood, thrown out by the intervention of the Government, and of this he complained, for by such a proceeding the Government not only abandoned its promise to reform the law, but it obstructed others who wished to do so. The bill to which he alluded was intended to remedy a defect of the law of Scotland, and to carry into effect a principle which existed in the law of this and most other countries, and the propriety of which measure had been recognised by all the lawyers in that House. At present, according to the law of Scotland, representatives were not admitted to personal succession in that country. This bill was to remedy that defect. This bill had been approved of by all the learned persons who had been Chancellors, and who had seats in that House. It had been approved by all the judges of Scotland, save one, and by the members of the faculty of advocates, with one or two exceptions. It appeared that no objections had been raised to the merits of the bill. He understood that the opposition to it had originated with the present Lord Advocate of Scotland, who had not a seat in Parliament. That learned Lord was said to be the author of the bill introduced by the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) respecting Scotch benefices, and a greater mass of absurdity and bad legal drawing he had never met with. He moved for a select committee for the purpose which he had stated.

Lord Brougham

entirely concurred with his noble and learned Friend in all that he had stated. He was desirous that the journals of the other House should be searched, although he was afraid that the information his noble and learned Friend had alluded to, would turn out true, and that the very useful bill had been lost through the obstruction of Members of the Government. It filled him with surprise to find that his noble Friend at the head of the Government in their Lordships' House thought it better to attend to the judgment of the minority—of one of the judges of Scotland and one of the faculty of advocates—than to take the law from his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, and his noble and learned Friends near him. It was inconceivable that the Government could persist in such a course; but this was not all, nor was this kind of deportment on the part of the Government confined to this single case. He had been rated for a judgment that he had given, and he and his noble and learned Friend were told that they knew nothing of Scotch law, and that they were obnoxious to the charge of having caused the secession from the Scotch Church, because in the course of giving judgment in the Auchterarder case they had travelled out of the record, as it was aversed, and gone needlessly into a variety of matters which were not before them. He would inform those persons, whoever they might be and in whatever place they were, when they used that language, that he for one would do his duty in the discharge of his judicial functions, without reference to what might be their opinions as to the manner in which he fulfilled his duties, and that he would as soon take the opinion of any messenger in the office of the person who made the remarks, on a point of law as the opinion of that person. He said it with all possible respect—with all the respect, he meant, that it was possible to give in such a case. To persons who so travelled out of their record, their narrow limits, their shallow depth, he should not think it worth while to enter upon any lengthened reply. What was the amount of what had been urged against him? To say what had been said, it was to say that Lord Cottenham and himself did not know what they were about—for it came to that—that Lord Lyndhurst, who was these persons' own colleague, did not know what he was about either—in concurring in the judgment that had been given, and that they did not know what an obiter dictum was, or when they introduced matter in giving judgment that was irrelevant to the decision of the question before them. He and other noble and learned Lords, had attended to the judicial business in the House for several years past; and, during the last two or three years they had received great assistance from his noble and learned Friend (Lord Campbell); but. if they were to be taunted by unlearned men—by men who knew nothing of the subject on which they spoke, or who gained any knowledge they possessed at third hand from other people—if they were to be so taunted and so treated, he would not say such conduct would drive himself and his noble and learned Friends from their position in that House, but if they were not supported by their Lordships, his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack would have the House to himself. He would certainly not attend if he was to be treated in this manner; and, he was convinced that Lord Cottenham, and his noble and learned Friend near him (Lord Campbell), would adopt a similar course. They devoted all their days, and many of their nights, to the judicial business which came before that House; and he believed that at no former period had gentlemen elsewhere allowed themselves to be induced, by communications or by conversations with one or two discontented judges and barristers—totally neglecting the opinion of the great body of the judges and of the profession—to shape their conduct upon private, personal, and petty insinuations.

Motion agreed to.

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