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it. The advocates of the Bill had particularly praised it for its clearness. It was indeed overloaded with perspicuity, full of qualifications, and limitations and exceptions and provisoes, patching up one hole and making another to patch up in turn; and involved in inexplicable explanations. But after all was not the result, as he had stated it, that the Lord Chancellor might send causes he did not like to his Vice-Chancellor as he pleased, just as he would order away a corked bottle; was not the Vice-Chancellor to take whatever was sent to him-to abstain from whatever was not thus sent to him? To begin or to leave off, exactly when and where the Lord Chancellor pleased, at the beginning, or the middle, or end of a cause just as might suit the Chancellor's fancy? Had he, or was he intended to have, any regular, known, fixed, intelligible, substantive province or authority? (Laugh.) Scrub, in the play, Mungo, in the farce, Sancho, in his island, were in a state of settled jurisdiction compared with this new officer! If the form of his tribunal were copied from any thing at all, it must have been from Sancho in his little island! (Laugh.) It was to be a delegation by fits and snatches, the offspring of the humours and leisures of the Chancellor, dealt out in bits and scraps of jurisdic
It really required more credulity than the authors of the Bill had a right to expect, to imagine that the Bill, even though it should receive the polishing hand of the learned serjeant, could ever answer the purposes for which it was intended. As an unlearned member of parliament, his vote should be against the introduction of a magistracy which it was not fit to create. It was not his fault that the proposition was so objectionable. They had a right to take time to consider this Bill; as the Lords had paused for eleven years before they hit upon this mode of remedying an inconvenience of such great and growing mischief. If indeed it was contended that they were not entitled to object to this plan, without having some other more perfect plan to propose; he would answer, that he had no doubt another plan might easily be devised; but he denied the necessity, or even the propriety of originating it in the House of Commons. The onus was on the Lords; not on them. The evil was with the Lords, who pleaded their own fault, and applied for the remedy. The evils, he believed, were exaggerated,
and must vanish at the touch of a reforming hand. Let the Lords adopt an efficient measure, and the mass of evil would soon shrink to a manageable size.
He was unable to follow the reasonings of Chancery lawyers; but was such an officer as a Vice-Chancellor ever recogniz ed before in England? He felt the highest respect for the present Lord Chancellor, but he must consider that he was called upon to legislate, not only for the present times but for posterity. He wished to preserve the office of Lord Chancellor in this country in all the plenitude of its powers and splendour of its authority. He believed in his conscience that it was most essentially important to the constitution that it should be so preserved. He thought that it was one of the highest prerogatives of the sovereign, that he could take a man from the profession of the bar, and place him at once by an act of power in a situation giving rank and precedence above ducal coronets. This high prerogative, however, like all others, would be exercised with a responsibility to public opinion; and although the crown might make whom it would Lord Chancellor, yet it would never will to make any man a Chancellor, who, in the public eye, was not conceived to be fit for that high station.
He was not imputing any negligence to lord Eldon, when he said, that if this Bill should pass, a time might come when all the business of the Court of Chancery might be thrown upon this new officer and the Master of the Rolls, and that in future times a Lord Chancellor might be chosen chiefly from other considerations, unconnected with his legal knowledge or ability to preside in the Court of Chancery. This Bill might therefore, lead to the destruction of the high office of Lord Chancellor, which he conceived to be, as it now stood, an office of the greatest importance, as well in a constitutional point of view, as with regard to the administration of the important duties of the Court of Chancery. He, therefore, could not support a Bill which appeared to him to do things'utterly unwise; to create a magistracy unfit to be created, and to endanger by innovation upon its character and duties a magistracy which it was of the highest importance to maintain unaltered and unimpaired; a Bill not calculated to remedy the evil which it professed to obviate, and risking the introduction of other evils which it might be diffi
cult hereafter to cure: a Bill directed to the removal of an obstruction in the course of justice avowedly of a temporary nature; and effecting (or rather not effect ing) that object by a permanent dismem. berment of the highest judicial office of the constitution.
other remedy could be devised? but whether that proposed ought to be resorted to? He conceived that the present Bill would alter materially the constitutional course of the business of the Court of Chancery, and the office of Lord Chancellor, After a few successions of Vice-Chancellors, there would be no more men found to discharge the high office of Lord Chancellor, in the manner it had hitherto been dischargfu-ed by so many illustrious men. As to the great increase of business in Chancery, which had been so much spoken of, there was certainly a very great increase in the bankrupt business, but a very small increase in other respects. He denied that the business, strictly so called, of the Court of Chancery had increased since the year 1750. The number of suits was not now greater than in the time of lord Hardwicke, but they were perhaps heard at greater
Sir Samuel Romilly could not content himself with giving a silent vote upon this question, which if agreed to would effect a complete change in the character of ture Lord Chancellors; and that the country would never again see such men as Somers, Camden, or Hardwicke. He could not support the present Bill; for although he must admit, and every body must admit, that the evil which was stated was a most serious one, yet he conceived that the remedy proposed was still more serious, and that it was an evil still greater than that which it purported to reform. The evil which now existed might, how-length. There might possibly have been ever, be considered as a temporary one; less indulgence, or, as he might say, less whereas, the remedy proposed would, if invitation to frequent hearings, and re, agreed to, bring upon them one that in his hearings at that time, and which were opinion would be permanent. They were now equally injurious to the clients of now called upon to remedy an evil, which that Court and to the public at large. the other House had taken no step for As to the number of motions in lord many years to remove. The House of Hardwicke's time, he did not know that Lords, though the arrears had long been they were much lower than at present, algrowing upon them, had never taken any though less time might have been taken active measures for removing the evil. up in the arguments upon them. Lord They had not continued their sittings Hardwicke had generally, besides his mornlonger in order to diminish the arrear of ing sitting, sat two evenings every week causes before them, nor had they met for hearing causes, and instead of closing his earlier in the day, nor ever proceeded to sittings at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, had the decision of any appeal in the absence frequently closed them at two o'clock in of the Lord Chancellor. This it had been the morning, and therefore it was not exthe practice of the House to do in former traordinary that in his time there was so times, and in some cases it might be better small an arrear of business. If he were that the cause should be decided on in his called upon to suggest a remedy to the absence, as Appeals from his decisions fre- evil complained of, he should say, that quently came before them. He thought what appeared to him the most unobjecthere could be no difficulty in procuring tionable would be to separate the bankthe attendance of a sufficient number of rupt business from that of the Chancery. lords to hear causes, in the absence of the It was said that as many of those bank. Lord Chancellor, and by this means alone rupt cases involved points of great diffi the evil might gradually be removed. He culty and importance, and the decision did not think any other remedy was ne- was to be final and without appeal, it was cessary, and at least he thought what he absolutely necessary that the Lord Chanhad mentioned ought to be tried, be- cellor should determine them himself. fore a measure like that now proposed were He could not allow the justice of this conadopted. If their lordships had either clusion. If they were cases of difficulty met earlier in the morning for this purpose, and importance, it certainly required that or continued their sittings by shorter ad- they should be decided by a man of abijournments, or had decided causes even lity, but he saw no necessity why this when the Chancellor was not present, man must be the Lord Chancellor. Men there would not now have been such an could be easily found, of the highest proarrear of business before them. The fessional eminence, who would be perfect question however was not whether any ly competent to this part of the duty; and
a sufficient compensation could be found out for them, in the emoluments from those bankrupt cases. He could not avoid, however, quoting here, the opinion of their committee," that it was highly objectionable that judges should be paid from fees, especially from fees ostensibly belonging to their secretary or some inferior officer." By this it appeared that the fees of bankruptcy, which were paid to an officer for the bankruptcy, were accounted for by that officer to the Lord Chancellor. This, in his opinion, was decidedly wrong-a judge ought never to be paid by fees. He should therefore most earnestly recommend that these fees should be abolished, and the salary of the Lord Chancellor proportionably increased, if it should appear that the other emoluments of his office did not afford him a sufficient remuneration. Next to taking away the bankrupt business, he thought the separating the office of Speaker of the House of Lords from that of Chancellor, would be a far better mode than that which was proposed in the present Bill. He saw no reason why the Chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster might not be made an efficient situation, and why he might not sit in other courts. He knew that the présent possessor of it (Mr. Bathurst) was eminent in the profession of the law while he practised it; and he did not see why the place might not in future be given to professional men, with duties annexed to it. As to the nature of this office, it was to be totally different from that of the Master of the Rolls, or of the judges sitting under a commission. They, when sitting in the place of the Chancellor, heard and determined every cause which came before them, whether important or not; but never was there such an indignity put before upon any judge, as to tell him that he was never to determine any cases of difficulty or importance. As the ViceChancellor was to be for life, while the office of Lord Chancellor was removable at pleasure, it might at some future time happen, that a Chancellor might have an unreasonable prejudice against the ViceChancellor. It was well known, that lord Thurlow had such a prejudice against his Master of the Rolls (lord Alvanley, than whom there was hardly ever a better equity judge), that he would never allow him to sit in his place. Such things might happen again, and instead of that mutual agreement and concord subsisting between these great law-officers which would tend
to the dispatch of business, a state of things might arise from which only increased, extended, and protracted litigation must ensue. He wished that ministers, would really find out the opinion of the profession at large upon this subject, and not confine themselves to the opinions of a few of their parliamentary friends. It was said the public would pay nothing for this new officer, as he would be partly paid out of the interest of the fund of unclaimed money now in Chancery. He could not avoid noticing this fund, out of which part of this salary was proposed to be paid, called the Dead Fund, and amounting to 9,000l. per annum, being the interest of money put into that Court and never claimed: its very existence appeared to him a subject which called for parliamentary enquiry. It was the money of suitors placed in that Court for security; but which the suitors were often obliged to abandon from the great difficulties they found in bringing forward their cause. It was possible it would never be called for; but had they a right to assume that this would be the case? Considering the remedy proposed a greater mischiefthan the evil complained of, he must oppose the present Bill, which would do the greatest mischief to the Court of Chancery, and entirely alter its constitution, while it created a new and unnecessary officer to be subjected to every species of indignity, or else to be altogether useless.
Mr. Wetherall was strongly in favour of the measure. If two years discussion and consideration of it were not sufficient, he did not know what would be reckoned a reasonable time for enquiring into its expediency, nor what would satisfy the gentlemen on the other side. The business of the Court, he maintained, had increased so much, that since the year 1750 the number of Appeals had been not only doubled, but trebled. This proved the evil complained of was not a temporary evil, and therefore, being permanent, it was one which called for the permanent remedy now proposed. The hon. and learned gentleman then entered more into detail, and contended, that the Bill offered the most efficacious and constitutional means for redressing the grievances under which the subjects of these realms now laboured, from the necessary delay and arrear of business in the Court of Chancery and House of Lords. He denied that the new officer would be either inefficient or degraded, and on the contrary, argued
that many men of competent legal know ledge, high character, and excellent abi. lities, would be found eligible to, and ready to undertake the discharge of, its important functions. He replied to the arguments for separating the bankruptcy business from the office of Lord Chancellor, which suggestion he condemned as most unwise, since it would be imprudent to give the power of finally adjudicating property of an amount so immense as that contained in these cases, to an inferior of ficer; and if appeal was allowed, then the separation would afford no relief. He also expressed his opinion, in common with the opinions of every lawyer and statesman who had turned their attention to the subject, to be entirely hostile to the idea of separating the duties of Speaker in the House of Peers from the other duties of the Lord Chancellor. This had been so universally held to be inexpedient by all men whose authority was of The House then divided upon the weight, that it would be idle in him to re- Amendment, Ayes 122; Noes 201; Mapeat their reasons for coming to the con-jority against the Amendment 79. The clusion, in the propriety of which he most original question for the second reading perfectly coincided. He justified the of the Bill was then carried without a diapplication of the Dead Fund to the pay vision. ment of part of the salary of the new officer, and closed his observations by warmly approving of every part of the
Mr. Ponsonby maintained, that the evil created by the Bill would be far greater than the evil it was intended to remedy. The measure would go to alter the judicial system of the country in its very basis; which attempt had never been made before, and was not in the power of the crown itself. He trusted the House would resist that attempt, and reject the Bill altogether, by voting for the amendment.
that several amendments upon the measure might be suggested in the Committee; but he contended, that in principle the Bill was most deserving of their unanimous support, which was the whole extent of the vote they were now called on to give. They wanted a prompt decision and an effectual remedy for a very crying evil, and in his opinion, the measure proposed would be found the best practical remedy that could be devised. It had therefore his most cordial support.
The Solicitor-General, (Sir W. Garrow) in a speech of great animation, gave his opinion in favour of the Bill, and against the Amendment. He insisted on the necessity of providing justice for the sub. jects of the realm, now exposed to many inconveniencies, by the delay in the courts of law; and replied to the various arguments which had been addressed against the Bill. He ridiculed the idea of taking a judge from each, or from either of the other courts, for the purpose of constituting or relieving a court of equity. The judges in the courts of common law had already more business to form than, with their utmost diligence, they could get through, and it was absurd to look for relief to those quarters. What then were they to do? A great evil existed-an evil which amounted almost, in many cases, altogether to a denial of justice to suitors and to the public. Were they to acquiesce in this state of the Jaw, or ought not the House rather to declare that it wanted an instant remedy, which they would hasten to apply by passing a Bill of the description now be fore them. He did not mean to say but
List of the Minority.
Canning, Rt. Hon. G.
Fitzgerald, Ld. H. Fitzroy, Ld. J. Flood, Sir F. Foster, F. Frankland, W. Fazakerley, J. N. Gascoyne, J. Gaskell, B.
Grattan, Rt. Hon. H.
Lewis, T. F.
East India Company, and had contributed to maintain the high character by which it had been so long distinguished. On the other hand, there were instances of officers who had been originally in the service of the Company, having afterwards entered into the royal navy, in which they had risen to the highest rank and honours. Upon the whole, considering the character of the Company's naval of ficers, for nautical knowledge, skill, ability, and courage, of which many instances had occurred in the course of the present war, lord Hardwicke trusted that, whenever the subject of the East India Tierney, Rt. Hon. G. trade was discussed, their case would reTighe, W. ceive that degree of attention from parlia ment to which it is so justly entitled.
Taylor, M. A.
The Petition was ordered to lie on the table.
Pole, Rt. Hon. W. W.
HOUSE OF LORDS.
NAVAL OFFICERS IN THE SERVICE OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY.] The Earl of Hardwicke rose and said, that the Petition which he held in his hand was from a description of persons who, whatever might be the ultimate decision of parliament upon the great and important question which was shortly to be submitted to their consideration, had as strong a claim to have their case considered with the most favourable attention, as any class of individuals whose interests were connected with the subject to which he alluded: he meant the officers employed in the naval service of the East India Company. Many of these gentlemen had received their education in the royal navy; and from the great extent to which the navy of this country was carried in time of war, had found themselves, on the return of peace, deprived of the profession to which they had dedicated some of the best years of their lives; in some cases, from not being appointed to any commission in his Majesty's navy, and in others, where they had received their first commission of lieutenant, from being disappointed of any further advancement or employment in the navy. In this situation, many officers had entered into the naval service of the VOL. XXIV.)
PETITIONS RESPECTING THE CLAIMS OF THE ROMAN CATHOLICS.] Petitions against the Catholic Claims were presented from the archdeacon, clergy, and laity, of the archdeaconry of Colchester, the archdeacon and clergy of Essex, the archdeacon and clergy of St. Albans, and the dean and chapter, archdeacon and clergy of the diocese of Worcester by the bishop of London; from the corporation of Chichester by the bishop of Chichester, and from the corporation of Ripon by the earl of Harewood.
The Duke of Leinster spoke to the following effect :-I do not rise to oppose the Petitions lying on the table; but I am anxious to seize the first opportunity, lest I should be prevented attending the main question, of expressing my firm conviction of the justice and expediency of admitting our Roman Catholic fellow subjects to all the benefits of the British constitution. I am at a loss to discover what possible interest these petitioners can have, in excluding the great body of my country. men from all share in the government. I am sure your lordships and the country have a great interest in giving them the same motives of attachment that Englishmen have. Give them these, and they will not only be loyal subjects, but an attached and grateful people. I live among them, and I am anxious to bear my testimony to their deserving the full enjoyment of those privileges, to which, as subjects of this great and free country, they are entitled by their birth.
A Petition to the same effect from the corporation and some of the inhabitants of (2 K)