HL Deb 29 July 1861 vol 164 cc1710-2

thought it but justice to the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Public Works to correct an error into which he had fallen in the remarks on the state of public business which he had addressed to their Lordships on Friday evening. On that occasion he said that the Bill for providing the money for the new courts of justice had been passed on Thursday night, or ra- ther at an early hour on Friday morning; He had been informed since that the Bill which had been so passed was not the one which he had supposed, but the Public Offices' Site Bill, and that the other measure had been dropped in the House of Commons. He presumed that the Courts of Justice Building Bill, which stood for Committee in their Lordships' House, would be dropped also, as it was connected with the one which had met that fate in the House of Commons. With regard to the Law Consolidation Bills, he was glad to hear that when they came on for the 'second reading, it was the intention of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack to call attention to the alterations which had been made in them since they left their Lordships' House last Session.


observed that the Bill to which his noble Friend had referred, as one which he expected to see dropped, had been read a second time, and he could see no reason for not proceeding with it.


said, that the Courts of Justice Building Bill had been read a second time, because he believed it was necessary to read it a second time before the date fixed by the Standing Order as the last on which second readings could be taken; but it was distinctly understood that in reading it a second time the House did not pledge itself to a particular site.


said, that although the site was indicated by the Bill, their Lordships were not pledged to that particular locality, nor to spend any particular sum of money. But he thought it ought to be pressed forward, seeing that it had met with no opposition in either House. He would explain what alterations had been made in the Criminal Law Bills when the House was in Committee on them tomorrow.


said, there could be no doubt that there was a clear and distinct understanding when the Courts of Justice Building Bill was read a second time the other night, that it should not conclude their Lordships to any opinion on the principle of the Bill. He was surprised to hear that it was now intended to press on the Bill after the other Bill for the appropriation of certain funds to be expended in the erection of the new courts had been withdrawn.


said, their Lordships would perceive, on looking at the Bill, that neither the neighbourhood nor the site was determined. The Bill gave more power for the acquisition of land for the purpose. The utility of passing it lay in the fact that some £8,000 or £9,000 which had been expended upon the necessary surveys would otherwise have to be repeated next year, in the event of a Bill being passed by the House of Commons devoting a particular sum to the erection of Courts of Justice. If the present Bill passed this amount would be saved in case the scheme were proceeded with; but if the Money Bill did not pass, this Bill would by that fact become a dead letter.


believed that the proposed Courts of Justice, if erected, would be productive of great public inconvenience. Reversing the old rule that "equity follows the law," all the law courts and lawyers would be obliged to follow equity to an inaccessible locality in the centre of London.


said, that distinct reference was made in the Bill to the plans and specifications agreed upon by the Commissioners, which referred to districts and houses that were perfectly well known; and power was sought under the Bill "to purchase, take, and use for the purposes of this Act, all or any houses, tenements, buildings, and lands described on the above-mentioned plans." It was, therefore, an error to say that no particular site or neighbourhood was pointed to. Doubts and uncertainties would be excited by this measure in the minds of owners and residents in particular properties, and he thought it a very grave question whether a saving of the cost of preparing the surveys anew might not be dearly purchased by the passing of the present Bill.


said, though the site might be indicated, no advantage could be taken until the money was expressly voted for the purpose by Parliament. Two things, therefore, must be done in the next Session before the plan could be carried out—the money must be voted; and if that money were the suitors' money that question must be decided by Parliament.


thought it highly inexpedient to proceed with this scheme in the face of a Treasury Minute stating that the estimate would probably be exceeded by a million.