HL Deb 13 July 1888 vol 328 cc1224-6

, who had a Notice on the Paper that he would call the attention of the House to the judicial system of Ireland, and move a Resolution, said, this subject was one of very great importance. His objects in bringing it forward on his own responsibility were with the view of economy in the very large sum which was at present expended on the administration of law and justice in Ireland, and to attain efficiency in the great judicial power then existing, and to bring back to the Superior Courts the jurisdiction and authority which modern legislation had gradually filched away. In consequence of the legislation contemplated by Her Majesty's Government, and in order to assist him in the Motion he had intended to submit to their Lordships, he had moved for certain Returns on the 20th of April last. Those Returns had not as yet come in—at least they had not been laid upon the Table. Since this Notice had been put upon the Paper very great alterations had taken place, which had induced him to ask leave to withdraw his Motion, though he was not one who wished to put down a Motion of so great importance as this and then to withdraw it. In making this announcement to their Lordships he wished to state the reason why he adopted that course. First of all, a Bill dealing with the Irish Judicature, with the principles of which he entirely agreed, but which was subjected to very grave criticism, and which probably did not go far enough, was introduced on the 20th of February last; and he saw that from the pressure of other Business—he was not in the least suggesting that they had not a bonâ fide intention to press the measure forward—that Bill had been necessarily abandoned by the Government. In addition to that they had the Land Commission Bill—a Bill dealing very largely with the subject of the administration of Land Law in Ireland, and a Bill which would be open to very considerable contest. A great part of that Bill had also been abandoned for the present, and for it was to be substituted, as he understood—he was only speaking of what he read in the public Press—a Continuance Bill—that was to say, the powers of the Land Commission were to be continued by a clause in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. In addition to that they had three other Bills—Mr. Healy's Bill and two others—dealing more or less with the administration of law and justice in Ireland, which would also have to be abandoned in the House of Commons. He merely wished to say that he was induced by these considerations to come to the conclusion that it would be inexpedient to involve their Lordships in a discussion which at the present moment would lead to no practical result, and to ask their Lordships to permit him to withdraw his Motion. But, before doing so, he hoped he was not exceeding his privileges or trespassing too far on their Lordships' indulgence if he offered a word of advice to the Government as to those and other measures connected with the administration of law and justice in Ireland. The subject was of so extensive a character that it could only be dealt with by the Government, and there would be no use in a private Member originating a measure dealing with it. What he would suggest was, that a small Commission should be appointed to consider the whole subject fully—whether a Departmental or a Royal Commission—and he had very large hopes that when they sat again after the holidays something practical would have been done in the matter which would present a solid foundation for legislation.


said, he was not aware of the terms of the Motion intended to be presented by the noble and learned Lord until he had unfolded its contents. There could be no doubt it embraced matters of the highest importance, some of them of a far-reaching character, and the noble and learned Lord would naturally present them with a weight and authority which would insure for them their Lordships' best consideration. With reference to the noble and learned Lord's suggestion for the appointment of a Committee or Commission, that would, of course, receive attention; but any proposals deal- ing with the judicature must be taken on the responsibility and the initiative of the Government, and he was not aware that the Government had found any difficulty in considering all these questions. The proposals did not appear to be new; they had been, from time to time, considered by successive Governments, and they would receive consideration before the Government introduced legislation on the subject. With regard to the Bills to which his noble and learned Friend had referred, he was not aware that the Bills introduced by private Members had been abandoned. The statement of the Government in the House of Commons only dealt with their own measures.