HL Deb 26 July 1869 vol 198 cc678-81

(The Lord Chancellor.)


House in Committee (according to Order).

[Temporary Provisions.]


expressed his regret that the Government had refused to increase the salary of Mr. Commissioner Bacon, who was to be appointed the Chief Judge of the new Court. He also pointed out that some of the details in these compensation clauses were of no entirely novel kind.


said, that he also was dissatisfied with the clauses—especially with the proposal that in some cases the compensation was granted on the condition that the recipients should, if called upon, perform the duties of some other office—possibly in a remote part of the country. Such clauses would have the effect of narrowing their choice of fit men to fill public offices, and, instead of economy to the public, the result would be exactly the opposite. They were also a great hardship upon these officers — many of whom were of advanced age.


regarded the clauses as a violation of the rights of property, by which altogether not quite £1,000 would be wrung from the pittance of these unfortunate men. The clause, which would inflict great hardship, was suddenly introduced in the other House near the close of the discussion in Committee; and he would suggest that, as the rules of the House did not permit the clause to be altered, it would be wiser and more reasonable to strike it out in order that the matter might be re-considered, and a new clause really meeting the exigencies of the case be inserted when the Bill went down to the House of Commons.


explained the circumstances under which the Government had modified their original proposal to appoint as Chief Judge in Bankruptcy one of the Judges of the Superior Courts. As the Bill was origin ally framed it gave the office of Chief Judge in Bankruptcy to one of the Judges of the Superior Courts. These Judges now consisted of six in each Court; and it was thought that one Judge of each Court, either of law or equity, might take upon him the duties of the Court of Bankruptcy, on the understanding that he should not be compelled to travel on circuit while acting in bankruptcy. Sir Roundell Palmer suggested that it would be imprudent to hand the jurisdiction over to the Common Law Courts when there were already Judges in Bankruptcy who could take the Chief Judgeship without calling on the Judges of law or equity. And they accordingly offered to the acceptance of Mr. Commissioner Bacon the position of Chief Judge in Bankruptcy, that arrangement having been recommended to them in the other House as one that would avoid additional charge to the country, and prevent a waste of money in compensation. With respect to the question of the salaries of officers, there were two classes of officers. The first consisted of the Commissioners, who held for life or during good behaviour. The second class consisted of Registrars and Official Assignees, who did not stand in the same position as the first class, being subject to removal by the Lord Chancellor for cause shown. They were remunerated by fees; the clause provided that their fees should be ascertained on a proper and fair average, and then that those officers should receive a sum amounting to not less than two-thirds of their average fees. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Romilly) was not correct in saying that this was introduced at the last moment. So far from that being the case, there was a good deal of discussion on the matter in "another place," and those who did not hold by good behaviour addressed him very fully, and so did their friends. There was therefore no surprise. Great blame had been thrown on the Government for bringing in matters in that way; but on that occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the late Government (Mr. Hunt) and Mr. Sclater-Booth very honourably said that they had known exactly the same difficulty to arise at another time when a certain clause was brought in without consultation with the Treasury, and they had taken it upon themselves to alter it. He had the full approbation of the Treasury for proposing that those who held during good behaviour should have their full salaries, and those who did not should never receive less than two-thirds. There were plenty of precedents for this proposal. With regard to Clause 133, the case was this—if a person was compensated with full salary his whole time was paid for, and they ought to be entitled to say to him—" Here is an office under the Act. You give up one office; take another." There were precedents for that. When the Court of Chancery was reformed they threw on the Vice Chancellors one day's work more per week than they had before. They gave them exactly six hours' additional work. Again, under a former Bankruptcy Bill, Sir George Rose, who was one of the three Judges, had his office abolished; but he was afterwards offered the post of Master in Chancery, and he very honourably took it. He could not see that there was any breach of faith in asking gentlemen who should receive the full amount of their salaries to accept a new office. If anyone retired on less than his full salary the case would be different, for he would not be paid for all his time. He should be willing, however, to amend the clause, so that it might run thus—"Any office or employment of equal or greater salary under this Act." In that way no gentleman could feel aggrieved on being asked to accept a new office.


expressed a hope that, in offering employment to any one pensioned under the Bankruptcy Act, regard would be had to the place of residence of the person who might be offered employment.


said, law authorities would always take care of members of the profession.


said, that any Chancellor would be careful for the interest of any person who might reasonably object to change his residence.

Amendments made: The Report there of to be received To-morrow.