§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT CAVE) rose to move, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty representing that the state of business in the King's Bench Division requires that vacancies (not exceeding two) should be filled in the number of Puisne Judges of the King's Bench Division notwithstanding that the number of those Judges amounts to fifteen or upwards, and praying that his Majesty will be graciously pleased to fill such vacancies accordingly in pursuance of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act, 1925. The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, you may remember that we passed a Resolution of this kind last Session but owing to want of time it could not be taken in another place. The Address is to be moved in another place to-day and I think it desirable to ask your Lordships to pass the Address again this Session. There is nothing in the Act which expressly says that an Address of this character must be adopted in the two Houses in one Session of Parliament; but the Act requires an Address from both Houses, and I think it would be in accordance with our parliamentary practice that the Address should be moved in both Houses in the same Session. I hope your Lordships will not object to passing the Motion a second time. The need of the additional Judges is even greater than before, for the arrears of business have grown.99
§ Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty representing that the state of business in the King's Bench Division requires that vacancies (not exceeding two) should be filled in the number of Puisne Judges of the King's Bench Division notwithstanding that the number of those Judges amounts to fifteen or upwards, and praying that His Majesty will be graciously pleased to fill such vacancies accordingly in pursuance of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act, 1025.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, I only wish to say that from those whom I represent here no opposition will be offered to the Motion. The matter is one for the executive Government to judge, and the only people who can judge are those who represent the executive Government. On looking into the figures I do not think that the expenditure involved is large, but at all events it is highly desirable that justice should be done and done in the shortest time. If in the view of the Government that requires the filling of these vacancies, so far as we are concerned we do not wish to interfere with the responsibilities of the Government.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, no doubt your Lordships will remember that last year when this matter was discussed there were various suggestions put forward with regard to reforms of the judicial system. I was rather hoping that the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack would have been able to tell us that some progress had been made with regard to those matters. The noble and learned Viscount will remember that there were two directions in which some reforms were urged by members of your Lordships' House. First it was urged that there should be a considerable revision of the Assize system, and secondly that there should be a shortening of the long vacation. Nothing, I think, has been done with regard to shortening the long vacation, which those of us here who try to do our duty envy the fortunate members of the Judicial Bench, though I hope that there will be some rules issued shortly which will show that something is to be done in regard to the 100 revision of the Assize system. Whether that be so or not, I venture to invite the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack to tell us whether any steps have been taken with regard to either of these matters of reform, which have been mentioned more than once in your Lordships' House and in which I think people in the country take a considerable amount of interest.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, with regard to the Assize system, I think your Lordships will know that something has been done in recent times. There was in the last Administration of Justice Act a section which provided that where an Assize was deemed to be unnecessary in a particular place it might be dispensed with and the prisoner, or the prisoners if there was more than one, transferred to a neighbouring Assize. I said on the last occasion that that provision had not been used. It has been used since and I think it will have a very beneficial effect, but I would rather wait to see how that enactment works before proposing any further change with regard to Assizes. As for the long vacation, that is an old question. No doubt the noble Earl knows that our long vacation in England is shorter than the long vacation in any other English-speaking country, very much shorter. Any change is in the hands of the Council of Judges. Whether they will make any further change I do not know, but I have no doubt that the speeches made in your Lordships' House will have sunk into their minds. I would like to add that I think the present system of bringing forward periodically a fresh Motion for two new Judges is inconvenient. It means that there is a gap between the time when a Judge disappears and the time when an Address can be moved. I wish to inform the House that when there is an opportunity I shall propose to ask Parliament to deal with this particular practice.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and Address ordered to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past five o'clock.