HL Deb 25 July 1938 vol 110 cc1092-4

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the object of this Bill is, from the point of view of the administration of justice, of very considerable importance. The Court of Appeal in England has now been in existence a great many years, and it has become impossible for that Court to discharge all its duties at the present time with only two Appeal Courts sitting for most of the year. Occasionally it is found possible to constitute a third Court of Appeal by borrowing Judges from other Divisions, but when that is done it adversely affects the despatch of business in the King's Bench Division, and is on the whole a very unsatisfactory way of dealing with the difficulty. There is also this to be said, that it is very desirable, in order that cases should be properly heard, that from time to time assistance should be afforded to other Divisions where, because of the great amount of work that they have to do, or because of illness of judges, or for some other reason, they are unable to deal with convenient despatch with the business of those Divisions.

Accordingly it has been thought best to deal with the difficulty, not by increasing the number of Judges of the King's Bench Division, at any rate at the present time—I do not know what may be necessary in the future—but by adding a sufficient number of Lords Justices to enable the Court of Appeal in ordinary times to sit with three Courts and thereby keep abreast of the extra work which modern legislation has imposed upon the Courts. Therefore this Bill provides in Clause 1 that the ordinary Judges of the Court of Appeal are to be increased to eight, which, with one Master of the Rolls, makes nine Judges, and will enable three Courts of Appeal, each with three Judges, to sit at the same time. In doing this, care has been taken, by means of Clause 2 of this Bill, to provide that the members of the Court of Appeal appointed under this Bill when it becomes an Act, shall have duties which shall include the duty of sitting in one of the inferior Courts when requested by the Lord Chancellor so to do. That will be a very convenient arrangement in cases where the Court of Appeal has got abreast of its work and there is some reason for lending one of the Judges appointed under this Bill to the Chancery Division or the King's Bench Division.

I think that is all I need say to your Lordships about the main objects of the Bill. Subsection (2) of Clause 2 provides for the customary request when persons appointed under this Bill are accredited to act as Judges of the King's Bench Division or the Probate Division. Clause 3 really only brings the existing law into effect having regard to the alterations made in the Supreme Court of Judicature Act by the extra appointments of Lords Justices, and Clause 4 provides in the customary way for the payment of the expenses involved in the appointments. I think it is a simple measure. It is a measure that is obviously necessary, and it accords, so far as it gees, with the recommendations of the Peel Committee. On the whole I think it may be safely commended to your Lordships without qualification.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read 2a and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.