HL Deb 08 July 1873 vol 217 cc1-4

Before we proceed to the Orders of the Day, I wish to make an appeal to the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cairns). I prefer doing it now to waiting till his Notice comes on, and I make the appeal with the more confidence because it re- later to a Bill on which the noble and learned Lord co-operated with great fairness with my noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, in order to attain an object of importance to this House, and of the greatest importance with regard to the administration of justice in this country. The noble and learned Lord proposes— To call the attention of the House to the change in the proposals of the Government in reference to the Appellate Jurisdiction of this House which has been made since the Judicature Bill passed through this House, and to the consequences involved in this change; and to ask the Government whether they intend, and at what time, in the present Session to lay before this House a complete scheme for regulating appeals in Scotland and Ireland analogous to the appellate system for England contained in the Judicature Bill. It is impossible not to understand that the first portion of this Notice refers to certain proceedings going on in the House of Commons at the present moment. Now, I have always been led to believe that, though the practice in matters of this kind is similar in both Houses, and though, in some respects, we are much more loose in the observance of points of Order than the other House, we ought in anything that regulates the relations of the two Houses to be equally scrupulous with them as to the mode in which we act. I have taken some pains to ascertain, and a combination of authorities satisfies me beyond all doubt, that such a Notice would not have been allowed to remain on the Votes of the other House. I think it is obvious, therefore, that it cannot be in accordance with the practice of your Lordships' House. I am quite aware that it is easy by ingenious devices to overcome any difficulty as to reference to the other House. I should deprecate that on the part of any Member of this House, and I am quite sure that the noble and learned Lord, in his position in this House, and having occupied with great distinction a post in which he superintended our discussions, would avoid any practice of that sort. I am informed by one of the most distinguished Members of the House of Commons—a Member perfectly independent of Her Majesty's Government—that the person of highest authority there would feel himself in considerable embarrassment in maintaining the universally acknowledged practice with regard to references to this House if Notices of this kind were given here. It is obvious that if we begin, retaliation will follow; and that, however convenient for us to anticipate a discussion to come on on any particular Bill, inconvenience and mischief would arise with regard to the mutual practice of the two Houses. I therefore venture to point out to the noble and learned Lord the difficulties of the position in which we should find ourselves, and to appeal to his sense of what is right in this matter not to go against the practice in the House of Commons, and which, I believe, is equally the practice of your Lordships' House.


I feel grateful to the noble Earl for the caution which he has been kind enough to give me, and shall endeavour to profit by it. I should have thought it more convenient if the noble Earl had waited to hear what I had to say before suggesting that what I was about to say would be out of Order. There is, however, this difference between the noble Earl and me. I have had the advantage of hearing what he has said, and I venture to suggest that nothing is more out of Order than for the Leader of this House to tell us that he has consulted the authorities in the House of Commons, and that when their practice differs from ours our duty is to follow it.


I protest against the remark of the noble and learned Lord. Wishing to know what was the undoubted practice of the other House, I ascertained it from those most likely to tell me; and to imagine that to ascertain a fact in that way is an insult to your Lordships' House shows the very great difficulty which the noble and learned Lord has in making the slightest answer to the points which I submitted to him.

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