HL Deb 09 February 1844 vol 72 cc467-9
Lord Brougham

said, an account had been laid on the Table of all Appeals and Cases before the Privy Council which have not yet been heard, and which were ready for hearing on or before the 1st day of February, 1844, which return, although of a negative character, was very satisfactory, being "nil."

The Lord Chancellor

took that opportunity of stating his opinion to be unchanged, that it was necessary to have a permanent head of this court.

Lord Brougham

had no objection to such a plan, which he had himself proposed; the establishment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council had been unquestionably productive of great benefit; but he had formerly expressed his opinion, and that opinion he still retained, that it was susceptible of improvement, and, if supported, he would endeavour to remedy its imperfections. He had no objection whatever to bring in a bill for that purpose, embodying such alterations as seemed to him to be necessary, for experience had shown him that the existing law did not go far enough.

Lord Campbell

was of opinion that the system, as it stood at present, worked extremely well. With his noble and learned Friend that system had originated, and the public were much indebted to him for what he had done. His noble and learned Friend might be said to be at the head of the Judicial Committee; but still, so excellent was its arrangement, that they contrived to get on very well in his absence, although they missed those witty remarks with which his noble and learned Friend enlivened every subject. His noble and learned Friend was pleased with the return "nil," but how did it happen that such a return could be truly made? The reason was, because, while his noble and learned Friend was at his chateau in France, enjoying all the luxuries of the climate, the other members of the Committee were sitting day by day amid the fogs of Downing-street, busily employed in getting rid of the arrears. He was not favourable to the creation of any new judicial office. The Committee had been recently strengthened by the accession of the legal talents of Mr. Pemberton Leigh, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Cornwall, and he conceived they were perfectly capable of transacting all the necessary business.

Lord Brougham

thought the objection premature, because his noble and learned Friend did not know his plan. It would be more effectual than his former bill. As his noble and learned Friend had alluded to him, he hoped he might reciprocate the compliment, which he did fully and sincerely, though he could not say, that his noble and learned Friend shed any liveliness on any matters before the Council, which he knew to be of such a nature as to be perfectly dry—they were so remarkably dry that he defied all the liveliness of all the Members to give them anything they had not in their own nature. He would state what he felt himself, that he had very great scruples of conscience and much delicacy in calling upon his noble and learned Friends, who had other duties to perform, to come and give their hours and labour in that Court, and to render perfectly gratuitous services to the public. It was a thing which he abhorred to find the discharge of judicial functions merely voluntary. They had now it was true, the accession of Mr. Pemberton Leigh. Nevertheless, though that gentleman was a very great and beneficial accession to the Judicial Committee, it must not be forgotten, that they had recently been deprived altogether of the services of the Common Law Judges who had sufficient business elsewhere, owing to the winter circuits, and the great increase of business in banco, consequent on the bill of his noble and learned Friend Lord Denman, and the new rules. He alluded to Mr. Justice Erskine, Mr. Baron Parke, and Mr. Bosanquet, who, however, was no longer a judge. The only two they could rely upon were Dr. Lushington and Mr. Pemberton Leigh. With respect, however, to Mr. Pemberton Leigh, the same objection existed that he had already stated. Here was a gentleman sitting week after week and assisting in the decision of most important causes, without either salary or pension. He thought that this ought not to be the case. It was a defect that could easily be rectified, and it was indifferent to him in what way it was done. Certainly, a remedy might be adopted, at a very moderate expense to the public and with a great diminution of labour to those who were now obliged to act. Such being his opinion, he should lay his plan before the House in the form of a bill, founded on the measure of 1834, for better regulating and expediting the busi- ness before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, ancillary to proceedings in the House of Lords. He should submit it, in the first instance, to his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, to his noble and learned Friend near him, to Dr. Lushington, and to one or two other persons, in order to put it into the best shape before submitting it to their Lordships.

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