HL Deb 16 March 1843 vol 67 cc1073-4
The Lord Chancellor

presented a petition from the Law Institution, praying for the removal of the Courts of Law from Westminster to some more central situation, and praying the House to take the subject into its early consideration.

Lord Brougham

said, that this subject occupied a great deal of attention in the profession, and no doubt there was a convenience in the plans suggested by the petition: but he must confess that he had a very strong prejudice in the continuance of the Courts of Law at Westminster, where they had been time out of mind. There was this reason, too, in favour of their present position the very great convenience to both Houses of Parliament being in the immediate vicinity of Westminster-hall, professional men, and the judges.

Lord Langdale

said, he was sorry to hear his noble and learned Friends express such decided opinions on the subject of the petition. He thought that the question would not be disposed of in so perfunctory a manner; and he hoped that their Lordships would not come to any resolution on the subject without careful inquiry and consideration. His own opinion was, that a removal of the Courts would be attended with many advantages, and that the expense, which would undoubtedly be great, was the only serious objection to the proposal.

Lord Brougham

said, he had not the slightest objection to inquiry, for he could not have the slightest doubt as to the result.

The Lord Chancellor

said, it was highly desirable that the younger Members of the Bar should attend Court as frequently as possible, to learn their business, to become familiar with the law, and with its administration. He had himself found the advantage of this course. When the Courts sat at Lincoln's Inn, as they did sometimes, the consequence was, that the Members of the Bar who were actually engaged in business attended in Court. The others were at chambers, ready to be called upon when summoned; but if a man went once to Westminster he generally remained throughout the day, and there he studied the law and the manner in which it was administered, and that was a great advantage, and, in his mind, the strongest argument against the removal of the Courts. He concurred, there- fore, with his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) in deprecating a removal of the Courts of Law from West minster-hall.

Lord Campbell

said, that he had always opposed the removal of the Courts from Westminster-hall, not merely from the prestige in favour of that locality, to which he must say he did not attach small importance, but because he thought, upon the whole, that the suitors would not derive any benefit from the proposed alteration. If men were constantly working all day in chambers, ready to go into Court when the cause in which they were engaged was called on, he thought that was a great evil. The profession was generally too much worked, and he was of opinion that the walk to and from Westminster was highly beneficial. They must remember the old adage—" All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy." [The Lord Chancellor; "All work and no pay.] He thought, allowing a little relaxation from the more severe studies of the profession, and now and then a little criticism on the judges, or jokes circulated at their expense, or at the expense of their brethren at the Bar, was no very bad thing. He should, therefore, be very sorry to see any alteration which would make the profession more like a mill in which a horse had to turn round and round from year to year as long as he could continue to go in harness. He must also protest against Lincoln's-inn fields being occupied in the manner proposed, for it was one of the lungs of the metropolis. It was highly ornamental and useful to the health of the dense population of that part of London, and he should consider it a great misfortune if these new Courts should occupy that beautiful area. He had not heard any other place mentioned. [Lord Langdale: Whitefriars.] His noble and learned Friend would go to Alsatia—and sweep away all the alleys and courts of that part of the town, and he should not object to see those places removed; but, as he said before, he must stand up for Westminster-hall, where he hoped the law would be continued to be administered for the benefit of many future generations.

Petition to lie on the Table.

House adjourned.