§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, as your Lordships probably know, this 1079 is one of the measures which were promised in His Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne, and it has already passed through all its stages in the other House without opposition. The main part of the Bill is contained in the first clause, which abolishes the qualification by estate for Justices of the Peace; but the opportunity has been taken to include various other clauses from a Bill which was moved by the noble and learned Earl opposite, the late Lord Chancellor. The second and fourth clauses are taken from that Bill, and the third clause is inserted at the wish of the Incorporated Law Society.
Qualification by estate was put into an Act passed in the year 1744, which provided that a Justice of the Peace must be possessed of land of the value of £100 a year, either freehold, leasehold, or copyhold. Then in 1875 there was this addition made, that as an alternative a Justice of the Peace might be in occupation of a house worth £100 a year. Both of those qualifications will go under the first clause of this Bill. Your Lordships will recognise how this qualification has restricted the appointment of Justices of the Peace in the past. In some places it has been impossible to discover gentlemen qualified in this particular way to become justices, and in some counties this has been a source of very real inconvenience in the administration of justice.
Your Lordships will agree with me that the best qualification for properly carrying out the duties of a Justice of the Peace is a thorough and sound education. At the time when this qualification was first made obligatory it is not too much to say that only those people who had property were properly educated. But the happy diffusion of education and knowledge among all classes has qualified a large number of men for the office who, though they possess the confidence of their fellow-countrymen, do not possess the necessary property. There is the anomaly of certain gentlemen elected to occupy very responsible positions, and who, although they occupy the position of Justice of the Peace ex-officio for a certain time, cannot be permanently appointed to the Commission.
1080 I think your Lordships will agree that it will be a very happy thing if it is possible to draw more widely in the future upon a large and deserving class of the community who possess all the qualifications necessary for a good Justice of the Peace. Finally, I may point out that this qualification by estate is a very partial one, because it only gives the qualification to one particular kind of wealth, and people possessing wealth in other forms are not made capable of exercising the office. I venture to hope that in these circumstances your Lordships will pass this Bill and do away with qualification by estate.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a." —(Earl of Beauchamp.)
§ *THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH
My Lords, I do not often intervene in your Lordships' Debates, but I should like to say a few words on this Bill, which affects very considerably the position I occupy. I do not propose to offer any opposition to the Second Reading, but I think we ought to remember that this Bill, short as it is and short as has been its introduction, does involve a very large issue.
The noble Earl has not, I think, referred to the true reason why it was thought necessary to impose a property qualification for justices of the peace. In the old days quarter sessions controlled the local government of the country, and it was obviously very important that those who were responsible for the administration of the finances of the county should have some qualification which would suggest, at any rate, that they had a knowledge of the business which they were called upon to discharge. The Local Government Act of 1888 abolished the necessity for the qualification in that respect, and I for one cannot ignore the fact that circumstances to-day do point in a manner that they have never pointed before to the desirability of abolishing property qualification.
We cannot ignore, and we do not wish to ignore, the experience we had at the last election, when representatives of a certain class were returned in considerable numbers, and in most cases by large majorities, to have a share in making 1081 laws. I do not think it would be easy to argue that representatives of the same class are unfit to administer justice under the laws which they them-serves have had a share in framing. This question of property qualification always seems to me to be something on the lines of the speed limit of motorcars. If you can devise a speed limit which ensures safety under all conditions, it is a very valuable thing; but, if not, you had better do away with it. As the noble Earl in charge of this Bill has said, a property qualification does not carry with it all other qualifications, and, therefore, I for one shall not offer any opposition to the Second Reading of this Bill.
But the Bill, as I say, opens out a very wide question with regard to the character of the recommendations to be made to the Lord Chancellor for appointment on the Commission of the Peace. I think it is only right that, standing in the position we do, we should have some definite statement from the Government as to their wishes with regard to the political aspect of such appointments. There was a debate in your Lordships' House in the year 1893, arising out of a Resolution passed in another place. The noble Marquess who leads this House took a prominent part in that debate, and expressed opinions, with many of which I entirely agree. He said—Whatever a man's opinions may be, the holding of those opinions ought not to have the effect of keeping him off the Bench. If it does, the result will be to shake confidence generally in the magistracy.With that we all agree, and I should resent as strongly as anyone the keeping of men off the Bench, simply because they held particular views. Whether that is done or not is another matter. If it is true, as has been urged in different directions, that the public has lost confidence in the impartiality of the Bench, the sooner that confidence is restored the better.
The noble Marquess went further, and instanced the result of the Home Rule Bill. He complained that owing to the introduction of that Bill, a considerable number of magistrates had transferred their allegiance from one side to 1082 the other, thereby constituting a grievance which had to be redressed. But if, whenever there is any split in a Party, the principle is to be adopted that new appointments must be made in order to redress the balance, it will land us in considerable difficulties. In that case, in the near future, we shall have free food magistrates; we shall have protectionist magistrates; we shall have magistrates who desire secular education; we shall have magistrates who desire religious denominational education; we shall have magistrates who wish to feed the children of the poor; and we shall have magistrates who wish to feed the representatives of the people; and instead of there being, as in the old days, the simple division of Whig and Tory, there will be a complicated system of compound fractions. It seems to me that this is not a principle that will meet with general approval.
The noble Marquess went on to explain the objects of the Resolution of 1893, which only meant that in future the Lord Chancellor would examine more closely the recommendations made and would not refuse to receive recommendations from other persons than the Lord-Lieutenant in regard to the appointment of justices of the peace. I believe that accurately represents the views of noble Lords opposite to-day. What we should like to know is, what are the other sources from which these recommendations are to come? I hope we shall hear definitely and distinctly from the Government whether it is their wish that the Commission of the Peace shall be a reward for active Party services. I take it that the other sources referred to are the ordinary wire-pullers in the various districts. If it is the wish of the Government that the Bench should be the reward of Party services, then, undoubtedly, that source is the best to which they can go; but if the object is at the same time to restore confidence in the impartiality of the Bench, which is supposed to have been lost, I venture to think that when it becomes known that those who recommend justices in the future are active partisans on one side or the other in the different counties, confidence will not be restored by that means.
1083 We hear a good deal about the preponderance of one Party on the bench. That is not denied, but I think it is largely exaggerated. I have no doubt that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has received various statements from different quarters representing what is supposed to be the political complexion of the various benches. This is not the first time that it has been done. I was supplied with one myself by the late Lord Herschell when he was Lord Chancellor. It was grotesque in its inexactitudes, and if any argument based on figures is to be valuable those figures must be authentic and accurate.
May I refer for a few minutes to the case of my own county? I have been Lord-Lieutenant now for fifteen years. The county I represent is a large one, large in area, large in population, with great centres of industry. The difficulty of selection to-day is very great, but when I was appointed I succeeded, with a few years interval, a series of Liberal Lords-Lieutenant lasting over fifty years. I found on the benches in Staffordshire 320 magistrates, of whom 260 had been recommended by Liberal Lords-Lieutenant. If there was the disproportion that is alleged, then it was obviously not because of Party appointments. I have always endeavoured to follow the example set me by the Liberal Lords-Lieutenant who preceded me. I have never inquired into the politics of any candidate recommended. I have always held that the administration of justice is an important duty, and that the men selected must be men of impartiality and men whom the county will trust no matter to which side they belong. With those views in mind I have always endeavoured to avoid Party extremes, and judging by the dissatisfaction expressed by the leaders of both Parties in my county, I can console myself with the sorrowful reflection that I have not been altogether unsuccessful.
At present the responsibility of recommending rests with the Lord-Lieutenant. As long as that is so, he is, of course, solely responsible, but if the responsibility is to be taken away, if it is to be divided, you cannot leave him the sole and only target for those who think that improper appointments have been 1084 made. A Lord-Lieutenant recognises that the greatest of his responsibilities is the selection of fit and proper persons to recommend to the Lord Chancellor for appointment on the Commission of the Peace. As long as the responsibility is supposed to be his, no matter who recommends, no matter who appoints the Lord-Lieutenant will be held responsible if the appointment is a bad one.
We hear a good deal to-day about trusting the man on the spot. Do not let us forget that in this connection the man on the spot is the Lord-Lieutenant; he resides on the spot, in many cases he has been born on the spot, and in most cases he hopes to die on the spot. If any great change is contemplated, before that change is undertaken let us remember the remarks that fell from the late Lord Selborne, himself a Lord Chancellor of a Liberal Government, in the debate to which I have already referred. Lord Selborne said there were many bad ways of appointing a magistrate; election was bad, but Party nomination was a great deal worse. While no doubt a Lord-Lieutenant has his limitations, and his shortcomings may be many, are we quite sure that the proposed alteration will be an improvement? At any rate, before we make any definite change in this direction, let us remember that we have it on high authority that it is sometimes better to bear the ills we have than fly to others that we know not of.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord LOREBURN)
My Lords, the immediate subject of this Bill is the removal of the qualification at present required by the law for the appointment of magistrates in counties. I have not heard the noble Earl express disapprobation of that proposal. I do not know that we shall hear such disapprobation, because the system of procuring men by means of a money qualification is an ancient system in this country which has been discredited by use. It used to be applicable to Members of Parliament, for example, but it is no longer so applicable. I hope that soon it will be no longer applicable either to the appointment of magistrates, because in this country, if there is one thing clear 1085 above others, it is that merit among men is by no means proportioned to the amount of money they happen to possess. That really is the subject-matter of the Bill so far as it is in the least degree capable of controversy. The other clauses, which have not been referred to, are, I think, drawn from the suggestions of previous Governments, and consist of minor proposals for the improvement of the administration of justice by magistrates.
I am most anxious to present to the House, which contains so many lords-lieutenant, my view of my duty in this matter and of the way in which it should be exercised, in order that I may receive the assistance and support of the lords-lieutenant. I would first state quite frankly what is the situation which I have found. I have received large numbers of representations, from all parts of England and from some parts of Scotland, to the effect that an enormous preponderance of the justices of the peace in many counties are of the Conservative Party. Sometimes the proportion is five to one, sometimes twenty-five to one, and in one case it was seventy to one only a few years ago. That ought to be recognised as an unfortunate state of things by men of all opinions and Parties. For what is the result? It means that there is a sense of injustice among many persons competent to discharge these duties, who believe themselves to be excluded from the performance of them by reason of their holding a particular set of political opinions. I am thankful to believe that Englishmen will not sit down contentedly in a status of inferiority on account of their political opinions. I hope they never will do so, and it has been the strength of this country that they have always refused to do so.
This state of things also impairs the administration of justice, for this reason. It is urged by some that political considerations ought to be excluded altogether. That is possible with the Judges. They are expected to observe a constant neutrality. Their whole time is taken, and you pay them for it; and they are under usage and custom obliged to observe neutrality. But with the justices of the peace the case is entirely different.
1086 They give gratuitous, if most valuable service. I have never impugned their desire to be impartial. But they are like their neighbours and unlike the Judges and stipendiary magistrates in being constantly, and properly, engaged in political work. It is not ignoble work—the effort of two or more Parties that their views should prevail according to the judgment of the country. Party conflict I regard as an honourable conflict, for the country must be governed by Party. But what is the effect? That the most prominent men in the county, selected for the office of magistrate, are also by reason of their energy and ability embarked in active political controversy; and when the public see that the active combatants in political controversy are, if they be Conservatives, upon the Bench, and if they be not Conservatives, mainly not upon the Bench, it may be left to the judgment of any candid man to say whether that is likely to increase public confidence in the administration of justice. That is the state of things which I found. It will not be disputed that there is a great preponderance in nearly all the counties of England. What is the source of this evil—for as Such I must regard it? I have been in correspondence with not a few lords-lieutenant, and I have received the most courteous and fair representations from them. Nearly all of them assure me that they have never known, or rarely known, what the political opinions were of the gentlemen whom they recommended for appointment. I most unreservedly accept that statement, and I believe that if they had known the political opinions of those recommended to them for the Commission, and whom they in turn recommended to the Lord Chancellor, the probability is that the present disparity would not have been so marked. But there have been two causes which have largely operated in producing this disparity. One is the existence of this property qualification which the Bill is intended to remove. Undoubtedly it has limited the choice, for it is the case that the wealthier part of the community are mostly on one side of politics. I profoundly regret it, but it is the fact, and it has necessarily a reflex action upon the appointment of magistrates.
1087 Another cause is this—that lords-lieutenant in the great industrial counties cannot possibly know all the persons recommended, and they have to act on the advice and recommendation of local people. The local people have very likely to act on the advice and recommendation of others below them; and so there is a constant delegation of authority and a constant diminution of responsibility the further you go from the original source. When names are sent up, what more natural if, among a number of capable persons to be appointed to the Bench, those who make the recommendation prefer the persons with whom they are more in touch, who are more agreeable for holding the same opinions, and to be reckoned, therefore, as more sensible? That is why the lords-lieutenant have been led to create this tremendous preponderance which many sincerely regret. The better course is that which has been in the main—I will not say always— followed by my predecessors. In appointing to the borough benches the Lord Chancellors have, as a rule, made themselves acquainted with the existing political complexion of the bench as well as with its composition in other respects, not for the purpose of procuring partisan appointments, but for the purpose of avoiding the giving of any partisan complexion to the bench, and of securing a fair balance of opinion. As far as I can judge from the correspondence with which I have been favoured, the lords-lieutenant seem to have acted on the reverse policy and to have made no such inquiries. They have said Virtute me involvo, and have refused to know what the political opinions of the persons, recommended were.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I really do not know why knowledge acquired by investigation is to be regarded as tainted. The communications that have passed between the lords-lieutenant and myself contain a disclaimer of any desire or intention to act in a partisan spirit, and I think that the better course is to know and to consider the recommendations for the purpose of preventing the 1088 very preponderance of which I have spoken. That is the wiser course.
The noble Lord desired to know what was the position to be taken up by the Lord Chancellor in regard to the lords-lieutenant. In the recommendations that have come to me I have in every case, and will in every case, communicate them to the lords-lieutenant. I have done so repeatedly, and I shall always continue to do so. I believe, from the experience I have already gained, that I shall be met frankly and courteously, for, above all in these things we are both serving His Majesty in a public duty, and it is our duty as far as we can to assist each other. I will do what I can to represent to the lords-lieutenant the wish that the appointments of thoroughly suitable persons should be made to the county bench so as to redress the present undue preponderance of opinions of one particular kind. I think that it is a mischief that ought to be redressed, and I shall certainly, as hitherto, make respectful communications to the lords-lieutenant, believing that they are free to receive recommendations from all classes and conditions of men, and that the Lord Chancellor is not the only person who ought to be excluded from making recommendations. I hope that it is not necessary for me to disclaim any desire to act in a partisan spirit. My object is nothing more or less than to co-operate with the lords-lieutenant, if they will do me the honour of receiving in good part communications from me, in the work of making the bench such as will evoke the confidence of the country and lead to the effective administration of justice.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, if my noble friend behind me travelled a little beyond the limits of the Bill on the Table, we are at any rate indebted to him for having elicited from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack a speech to which we listened with the greatest interest, and to the tone and temper of which, if I may be permitted to say so, no one on this side of the House could take exception.
The Bill contains, as has been truly said, only one clause of serious importance, that which puts an end to the 1089 estate qualification of county magistrates. This change in the law has been recommended to us on two grounds. We are told, in the first place, that the existence of the qualification inconveniently narrows the area of selection, and, in the second place—and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has enforced that argument—that the possession of the qualification affords in itself no security of the fitness of the individual selected, I desire to say a few words with regard to each of those points.
I think it is on the whole true that the estate qualification does not afford a full and sufficient guarantee of the fitness of the person selected to serve on the bench. On the other hand, it seems to me that the existence of the qualification has served in the past a useful purpose. It has been an indication given by the Legislature as to the kind of persons to whom it was desired to entrust these judicial duties. Those persons were, above all things, to be persons of education and of independent position; and there can be no doubt—I think that has been admitted— there was a time when it was not unreasonable to look to the property qualification as affording, perhaps in a rough-and-ready fashion, some guarantee that the individual possessing the qualification possessed also a sufficient amount of education and a sufficient amount of independence of position.
The Bill on the Table contains a clause which shows how necessary, in the opinion of His Majesty's Government, that independence of position is. I refer to the clause under which solicitors are permitted to serve on the Bench, but are not allowed to practise as solicitors before the bench of which they are members.
The property qualification served another useful purpose. It rendered the task of the lord-lieutenant and the Lord Chancellor somewhat easier by keeping within limits the area from which appointments to the judicial bench were made. The task of selection is difficult enough, and it will certainly become very much more difficult now that the area of choice is so greatly enlarged. While, however, there was undoubtedly something to be said, in favour of the estate 1090 qualification, I am yet bound to say that, in my opinion, the time has come when that qualification ought no longer to be insisted upon.
Your Lordships have heard from the noble Lord who introduced the Bill, and I have heard it from other sources, that there are some parts of England in which the existence of this condition so narrows the field of selection that it is difficult or impossible to find enough individuals to take their place on the county benches. I freely admit moreover, that we have arrived at a time when a test of this kind has become obsolete. It was invented, I believe, in 1744, and things have changed a good deal since that time; we can no longer pretend that either independence of character or position, or education, are to be found entirely or almost entirely within the class to which the property qualification was applicable. We have also to bear in mind that in the case of the borough magistrates this qualification is not insisted upon, and I believe that I am right in saying that in Ireland it is wholly unknown.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
And also in Scotland, For these reasons I, for one, would certainly advise your Lordships to accept what I conceive to be the principle of the Bill. The only real security, after all, which we possess for the proper selection and appointment of magistrates is that care shall be taken by those who make recommendations to the lords-lieutenant, by the lords-lieutenant in making their submissions to the Lord Chancellor, and by the noble and learned Lord himself in dealing with them. If proper care is exercised in all these quarters, I say by all means let us accept as magistrates competent persons, whether they are found inside or outside the property test. After listening to the speech of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, I am encouraged to express my confident opinion that we may look in the future for a full and sufficient exercise of that care.
This Bill has created a certain amount of alarm—I think it alarmed my noble 1091 friend behind me—because many persons detected in it an indication of a desire on the part of His Majesty's Government to depart altogether from the old usage, and to fill the benches with gentlemen who would be appointed, not because more magistrates were required, or because those gentlemen themselves were fit and competent people, but in order to give recognition to Party services or Party fidelity which had not been, in the opinion of noble Lords opposite, sufficiently recognised in the past. All I can say is that if I could believe that these appointments were to be made in that spirit, I should feel that a very serious and a very unmerited blow was to be struck at the magistracy of this country. I believe—and the noble and learned Lord has, I think, very generously admitted it this evening—that the record of the county benches is a clean and honourable record. I am glad to see the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack nod assent to that. I referred, as did my noble friend behind me, to the debates which took place in 1893, and I noticed that the Statesman who now fills the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer went out of his way to express the conviction that, taking the magistrates as a class, they were entirely free from the suspicion of partiality or incompetence. I believe that to be the general feeling entertained by the people of the country.
Now, what is the complaint, and the only complaint, which is made with regard to magistracy? It is that which has been indicated this evening by the noble and learned Lord. I mean the complaint that, owing to various circumstances, there is among the magistrates as a body what the noble and learned Lord described as an enormous preponderance of gentlemen belonging to one particular Party. How large that preponderance is I do not know. If it is indeed such an enormous preponderance, then I agree with the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack that it is unfortunate, and I do not deny that the existence of such a preponderance may possibly give rise in certain quarters to a feeling of suspicion and injustice, But what I do venture to add is this. Let us beware, in our endeavour to put 1092 an end to that sense of injustice, lest we do something very much more dangerous to the common welfare, and that is redress the balance by adding enormously to the number of magistrates and appointing men selected not on account of s their fitness, not on account of the independence of their position, but because they have certain Party connections, or have rendered certain Party services which it is desired to reward and to recognise.
The debate which took place in your Lordship's House, in 1893, and to which my noble friend referred, was a most interesting one. I may remind your Lordships that on that occasion this House resolvedThat it is inexpedient to disturb the present usage for the purpose of putting on the Bench justices whose political opinions arc in consonance with those of the Government of the day.That Resolution was carried nemine contradicente, and although not less than the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack I should rejoice to see a diminution of that disparity to which he referred, I should, I confess, greatly regret any attempt to give to these local Benches a representative character. I believe that the only result of an attempt of the kind will be to give them a partisan character. You would then have the magistracy of each county, and on every bench, a microcosm of Parliament. You would have, as my noble friend suggested, not two Parties but three or four Parties or cliques among the magistrates, and if that came to pass the want of confidence, if there be any, would be much greater than it is at present.
I was glad that my noble friend recalled the late Lord Selborne's memorable warning when he told your Lordships that of all the bad ways of appointing Judges and magistrates Party nomination was the worst. That warning, coming from a Member of this House of Lord Selborne's high position, is not one which your Lordships can afford to forget.
One word more with regard to the position of the lords-lieutenant. Speaking as one of them, I would say that we recognise that the final and 1093 ultimate responsibility for these appointments must rest with the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, but we feel our responsibility for the recommendations which we lay before him from time to time, and we earnestly hope that nothing will be done to diminish that feeling of responsibility.
It is impossible for the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack to sift for himself the great mass of names which may be put forward from various sources, and if he will forgive me for saying so, I would add that he cannot expect us to help him, as we would desire, if we feel that our advice is liable to be perfunctorily set aside. I do not believe for a moment, after listening to the noble and learned Lord, that our advice will be treated in that manner, and holding that belief firmly I, for one, accept this Bill, not reluctantly, but ungrudgingly, feeling that it will do something to widen usefully the area from which magistrates are now selected, feeling that it removes a test which has ceased to be applicable to the present conditions of our public life, but at the same time upon the assumption, that in the future, as in the past, the primary questions must be whether any given individual is upon his merits, and from his character, his education, and the independence of his position, really fitted to take his place beside those who will be his colleagues.
*THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (The Marquess of RIPON)
My Lords, this discussion has wandered somewhat from the Bill before us, but I by no means regret that, because the debate has been an extremely interesting and valuable one. It is valuable if only for the speech of the noble Earl opposite, which elicited from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack a statement as to the view he takes of this question and of his duties in regard to it, which I think from its tone and its spirit commended itself to the House. The noble Earl quoted some words of mine which I ventured to address to your Lordships' House some years ago. To what I said then I adhere. My noble and learned friend has put the ideas which at that time I had in my mind so very much better than I did that I have nothing to 1094 say on my own behalf, or on behalf of His Majesty's Government, further than that we take the speech of the noble and learned Lord as stating the principles on which this matter ought to be conducted.
My noble and learned friend spoke of the very great preponderance in some counties of magistrates of one political opinion, and he said that in one case the preponderance was seventy to one, and in others forty or fifty to one. Such a vast disproportion I look upon as an evil. I think it ought to be the object of lords-lieutenant, whatever opinions they may hold—and it certainly would be the object of my noble and learned friend, I have no doubt—to take all reasonable means for the purpose of diminishing a serious disproportion of that kind. I agree entirely with my noble friend who has just sat down that no one ought to be appointed in regard to any Party or political consideration who was not fully and entirely fit for the important office of a justice of the peace, and I am quite sure your Lordships need entertain no fear that, as far as my noble and learned friend has authority in this matter, he will depart from that principle.
I believe it to be the object of my noble and learned friend and of the Government to act to the utmost extent in friendly communication with the lords-lieutenant of counties. My noble and learned friend said so, and I observed that your Lordships accepted that statement, and that lords-lieutenant in this House are willing to act in that respect in relation to my noble and learned friend. Therefore, as far as that part of the speech is concerned, I need say no more. I distinctly think, as I have said, that such a disproportion is an evil, and I venture respectfully to hope that the lords-lieutenant themselves will endeavour, in co-operation with the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, to mitigate that evil.
There really is very little to say in respect to the Bill itself. It has met with no opposition. It was very natural that my noble friend opposite should pronounce what perhaps might be called a funereal oration on the principle of estate qualification for magistrates. Whatever may have been the value 1095 of the qualification or the necessity for it, if it was a necessity, in past centuries it has entirely passed away. To lay down in these days a pecuniary qualication for the exercise of any description of office is altogether contrary to the spirit of the times, and I am delighted to think that this, which is almost, if not quite, the last remnant of that system, is likely to be abolished with the unanimous assent of your Lordships.
When I had the honour to be lord-lieutenant of the North Riding, which position increasing years have obliged me to resign, I was often met by requests for the appointment of magistrates in the great mineral division of Cleveland, who would be drawn from the working classes of that district. I know that working men have been appointed in boroughs, and that they have been useful and have acted extremely well, but it was impossible for me to appoint any such men in that great district. The property qualification stood in the way, and I was obliged to say: "I am very sorry. Mr. So-and-So appears to me to be a man well-fitted for the office, but he has not the qualification, and the refore I cannot recommend him to the Lord Chancellor." I think that was a mischievous system calculated to create discontent, and I am very glad that Parliament is now about to put an end to it.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.