HL Deb 24 June 1851 vol 117 cc1137-40

in moving the Third Reading, said, there could he no doubt of what the noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst) had laid down, that the appointment of these important functionaries, the Registrar and Assistant Registrar, must be substantially in the Chancellor; but no provision was necessary for that purpose. The Judges were substantially appointed by the Chancellor, and they were exactly as those registrars named by the Crown under the Great Seal. So the Registrar would be really appointed by the Chancellor under the same words.


said, this argument was far from satisfying him. The Judges, that is, the Puisne Judges and Chief Baron, were certainly appointed as his noble Friend (Lord Campbell) had stated. No Minister ever interfered. The Chancellor took the pleasure of the Crown, without any previous consent of his Colleagues, and generally before he ever named the indi- vidual to any of his Colleagues, in order to prevent all access to party or personal intrigue. This course was long established, and the habitual pursuing of it made the rule clear and inflexible. But how was it with newly-created judicial places, or, what came to the same thing, judicial places to which the appointment was newly arranged? How was it with Masters in Chancery? This furnished a case exactly in point; for those functionaries—and they were important judicial officers—were since the Act of 1833 appointed exactly as it was now proposed by this Bill to appoint the registrars, namely, by the Crown under the Great Seal. Before 1833, a Master was appointed in a manner which he (Lord Brougham) conceived to he wholly unbecoming such an important office, by the Chancellor calling up to the bench the Counsel whom he had selected, putting his hat upon him, and then having him sworn in. It seemed to him more becoming that the appointment should be like that of the Judges, by patent, under the Great Seal; and this was done with the express intention of placing the Masters on the footing of the Judges; and then being, as a matter of course, named by the Chancellor, without the interference of his Colleagues, exactly as the Judges were. But this course had not been taken. The Treasury had interfered, and the Great Seal, he was sorry to say, had yielded, at least on several occasions. Persons had been appointed by the Minister, whom the Chancellor had not selected—some whom he would not have selected. There were more instances than one of this interference. He spoke of his most certain knowledge, and from communication, in some instances, both with the Minister and the Chancellor. It was most hateful to name names; but if any one disputed his statement, if any one cast a doubt upon it, he would certainly name the instances. He observed, having paused, no one disputed or doubted, therefore he should name no parties. But he must add that he did not complain of improper appointments having been made: nothing of the kind—some might have been better, others less good; but he complained of the mode and manner of the appointments, namely, the interference of the Minister with the Chancellor's judicial appointments; and he made this complaint with every respect and all kindness, both towards those friends who unhappily wore no more, and whose loss he lamented, and towards those friends whom he still had surviving. He contended that they had committed a great error in judgment, arising from grossly misunderstanding the ground of the change which had been made by the Act of 1833. But the provision of that Act had been held to transfer the appointment of Masters to the Treasury from the Great Seal; the present Minister had distinctly stated in a Committee, when he was examined, that he laboured under this complete misapprehension; and the same provision in the present Act might be well expected to have the same effect, and to be construed into authorising the Minister to interfere with the Chancellor in naming the registrars, a thing which all were agreed ought not to be permitted.


said, after what had been done as now stated, and not denied, express words should be added, vesting the nomination in the Chancellor.


said, it would be an unprecedented course to take.

Bill read 3a (according to Order), Amendments made.


begged leave to call the attention of their Lordships and the country to the fact, as he believed, that in the Bill before the House they had now arrived at a satisfactory solution of a most important and difficult question. He made that statement with the less hesitation, because—although this measure had been a Government measure, and had been introduced with the full sanction and approbation of the Government, and introduced also into Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne, at the commencement of the Session—the chief merit, nevertheless, of solving the difficulties of detail provided for by the Bill belonged to able and learned men; and, above all, to the members of those Commissions which had been appointed on this subject; and most of all was that result owing to the indefatigable labours of his noble and learned Friend (Lord Campbell), who was Chairman of the Commission. He wished more especially to call the attention of the House and the country to the fact that this measure, having come now to their Lordships' House, far from being rashly, hastily, or inconsiderately adopted, had been the result of the most complete and careful inquiry that had ever accompanied the introduction of any great measure of legal reform, and had originated in the universal disposition to attain an object which had been desiderated for centuries past in this country. The simple object of the Bill was to make the history of the title to every estate in the country easily and cheaply accessible. The way in which the Bill sought to accomplish that object, had received, after a little discussion, the authority of every Member of weight in their Lordships' House, or learned in the law. It would leave that House, he was persuaded, with the highest sanction that had ever been accorded to any great measure, and he trusted it would receive the concurrence of the House of Commons.

On Question, agreed to; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.