Order for Committee read.
, in moving, That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, said, that it had been arranged that the Motion to be proposed by an hon. Member for the rejection of this Bill should be considered at this stage, instead of on the second reading. The House was aware that this was one of three important measures introduced by the Government in reference to the constitution of legal tribunals. Two of these Bills had been withdrawn, but a similar course had not been pursued with re- spect to this Bill, notwithstanding the near approach of the termination of the Session, because of the urgent necessity which existed for strengthening the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The business of the Judicial Committee consisted mainly of appeals from India and the Colonies, and also included certain important appeals from the Ecclesiastical and Admiralty Courts. At this moment there were no fewer than 257 appeals unheard from the High Court of Judicature in Calcutta alone, not to mention those from the other Presidencies of India and the Colonies. From the High Court of Judicature in Calcutta no appeal had been heard which had not been filed before 1866. When the House considered the enormous loss and injury to suitors which must arise from such a state of things, the necessity for an immediate remedy would become apparent. The evil, he thought, lay in the voluntary character of the arrangements with regard to the Court. Under the Act 3 & 4 Will. IV. it consisted of the Lord President for the time being, the Lord Chancellor, all the ex-Chancellors, the Judges of the Superior Courts at Westminster, the Chief Judge of the Court of Admiralty, the Chief Judge of the Court of Probate, the two Lords Justices, and the Master of the Rolls. A certain number of persons, who had at some previous time held those offices, might also sit in the Committee on being made Privy Councillors. There were at present 11 of them. Under the 3 & 4 Will. IV., Her Majesty had power to name also as Judges two other persons who were not included in the above denominations, and under that authority some of the most eminent persons who had taken an important part in the administration of the appellate jurisdiction had been appointed. In proof of this statement he need only allude to the services of the late Lord Kingsdown, to Sir James Colville, and to Sir Joseph Napier. Amongst retired Judges who had taken part in the business of the Committee he might mention Mr. Justice Patteson, Sir John Taylor Coleridge, and Sir Vaughan Williams. The Judges had undoubtedly been very assiduous in their attendance, but there had been much difficulty in securing the continuous session of the Court. Of course, there might be a question whe- ther a Court of Appeal should not be created in India, or whether the number of cases might not be diminished by raising the limit beyond £1,000, the present lowest amount which could be the subject of appeal; but the immediate question was how the Court itself could be strengthened, so as to secure an attendance de die in diem of competent persons. The Bill proposed, in the first place, that persons who had filled the office of Chief Judge in any of the principal Courts in India, and persons who had filled the office of Legal Member of the Council of the Governor General of India, might receive, in addition to their pensions, a salary of £1,000 a year, so as to give the country a claim upon their continuous services on the Judicial Committee. It was also proposed that any person who was a member of the Judicial Committee, other than those who had filled the judicial offices already mentioned, might receive a sum not exceeding £500 a year out of the Consolidated Fund, the object being that Judges who might retire in the vigour of their intellect and their powers might receive an adequate remuneration for converting a position of dignified leisure into one of full activity. Objection might, perhaps, be raised at first sight to the smallness of the sum named; but the intention was to place those Judges, as far as remuneration was concerned, exactly upon the same footing that they were at present. The salary of a Judge who was not a Chief Justice was £5,000 a year, in fixing which salary the expenses of circuit, about £500 a year, had been taken into account. The retiring pension, therefore, of a Judge who had served for 15 years being £3,500, an additional £500 a year would place him, as far as remuneration was concerned, nearly in the same position which he at present occupied. By a further clause of the Bill it had been proposed to take power to appoint any barrister of 15 years' standing, who should also be a Privy Councillor, and that persons so appointed should have conferred upon them a salary of £2,500 a year. To this clause he was aware that very general objection was taken among members of the legal, profession. On the other hand, there was much to be said in support of the proposal. Some of the most eminent Judges who had ever adorned the Bench, and some who still adorned it, had never been in receipt of a professional income of £2,500 a year. It would be invidious, perhaps, to name them; but members of the legal profession were well aware that there were many such cases. ["No, no!"] One of the most able Judges now upon the Bench was appointed by a late Lord Chancellor, and objection was taken to him on account of the extreme smallness of the income which he had been known to make when at the Bar. He believed he was very much within the truth when he stated that that learned Judge never, during the time when he was at the Bar, made a salary equal to £2,500 a year. The objection taken to his appointment was exclusively on the ground of the smallness of his professional income, although he was known to be a very able and judicious advocate. He might also appeal to his hon. and learned Friends connected with the Chancery Bar whether it was not notorious that the late Lord Cranworth, until he became Solicitor General, never made £2,500 a year. Yet, when he was appointed Baron of the Exchequer, he made an excellent Common Law Judge. He became successively Lord Justice and Lord Chancellor, and nobody could doubt his judicial capacity. It was unnecessary, however, to discuss the subject further, for the Government, knowing the opposition that was raised by members of the legal profession, did not intend to press this clause. Bearing also in mind that, owing to the period of the Session, there was not time for a full consideration of the subject, they proposed that the duration of the Bill should be limited to one year. Next year the constitution of the Judicial Committee must necessarily be considered in connection with the High Court of Judicature Bill and the Court of Appeal Bill, which had been dropped during the present Session; and if any circumstances should arise next year to prevent the Government from giving effect to their intentions with regard to these Bills, it would be quite possible to give to the Act of this year a more extended operation. There was a clause, not included in the present Bill, which, he thought, might well be added. It was known that there were Judges who, from considerations affecting their health or other circumstances, would gladly retire before the expiration of the period at which they could claim their full pensions—Judges of great judicial experience, great knowledge and learning, still equal to some continuous work, but not equal to the strain of being obliged to travel on circuit, as well as to attend the Courts of Law and Equity in London. To meet such cases it would be necessary to introduce a clause, of which he had not yet given Notice, enabling a Judge, after 10 years' service, to resign on his full pension, upon the understanding that during the remainder of the period of his 15 years' service the country would have a claim upon his exertions as a member of the Judicial Committee. There would be thus, under the proposals of the Government, three classes of Judges whose services would be secured. First of all, there would be those—of whom at this moment we had an eminent example, in fact, more than one example, in this country—men who had served the office of Chief Justice of one of the three principal Courts in India; next, there would be those who had acted as the Legal Members of the Council in India, and he knew that men of very distinguished legal abilities had filled that office. There would be next the Judges who had retired, and who, for an additional payment of £500 a year, would give the country a claim upon their continuous services. And, finally, there would be Judges who had served 10 years, and who, in consideration of being allowed to retire on the full pension, would undertake the less arduous but still responsible duties of the Judicial Committee. The Government were aware of the difficulties attendant on bringing forward so important a Bill at this late period of the Session, but the pressing nature of the subject itself and the accumulation of arrears rendered some legislation on the subject necessary. The Government had endeavoured to anticipate objections by removing the clause which had excited most adverse criticism. He, therefore, hoped the House would proceed with the Bill.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—( Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
, who had given Notice of Motion for the committal of the Bill on that day three months, said, that the ground of his objection to the measure was that the effect of it would be to reduce the highest appellate tribunal in the world to the condition of a second or third-rate Court. He did not attempt to dispute the inconvenience arising from the accumulation of arrears before the Judicial Committee, or that there was a very great "blockup" of business. Stated shortly, the remedy proposed by the Government consisted of two parts; the first—the introduction of paid Judges and of regular and continuous sittings; and the second—the reduction of the quorum of the Judges from four to three, and the giving power to the Committee to sit in two divisions for the despatch of business. Now, what were the duties of that great tribunal, which, almost upon the last day of the Session, it was proposed to remodel? Their jurisdiction was to advise Her Majesty upon the appeals presented to her from every Colony and every dependency of the British Crown over the whole world, involving every conceivable question that could arise between subject and subject, or between the subject and the Crown; important questions of criminal and constitutional law, of commercial and maritime law; questions, also, of International and prize law, and intricate questions of the conflict of laws. Cases from the remotest corners of the world—from British Columbia, Canada, the Cape, Natal, the Mauritius, Ceylon, India, Australia, and New Zealand, and even from China—came before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Nor was this all, for to this infinite variety of questions was to be added the great variety in the laws to be applied—English law, Roman Dutch law, French law, Hindu law, English law as modified by the colonial statutes, and a variety of others. Notwithstanding these great difficulties, the Judicial Committee, during nearly 40 years, had exercised its functions not only to the satisfaction of the suitors, but had so advised the Crown in its actions as to place the Committee in the very foremost rank as an appellate tribunal. Its advice and reports were held both in America and France, as well as in England, as judgments of the highest legal authority; and he ventured to say that there was no Appellate Court in the world—none certainly in England—that could for one moment stand side by side as regarded reputation with that great Court. There was no pretence for saying that the House of Lords could be compared with the Judicial Committee in that respect; perhaps one reason was that the Judicial Committee gave their advice to the Crown upon grounds of plain justice and common sense unfettered by technicalities. He, therefore, asked the House to pause before, at the fag-end of a Session, they ran the risk of reducing the Judicial Committee from the position it had gained to that of a third-rate tribunal. Let him remind the House what was the present constitution of this High Court. Before 1833, all appeals to the Crown were referred to the Privy Council at large. That was found to be unsatisfactory, and by the 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 41, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was constituted, and under that Act consisted of the Lord President of the Council, the Lord Chancellor, and the following, being Privy Councillors — namely, the Chief Justices, Chief Baron, and Judges and Barons of the Courts of Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer, Master of the Rolls, Vice Chancellor of England, Judges of the Admiralty Court and of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Ex - Presidents, Ex-Chancellors, and those who have filled any of the above offices, and any two others selected by the Crown, and to these have also to be added, under 14 & 15 Vict. c. 83, the Lords Justices of Appeal. All had been picked men of the very highest attainments. These men had performed the duties gratuitously. He was prepared to admit that gratuitous services were open to objection; but, nevertheless, those learned Judges had brought this tribunal into a position of which Englishmen in every part of the world might be proud. The objection he had to this Bill was, that it would deprive the State of the services of these men. It was made a matter of money, and at the same time the value set upon the services of the Judges was only £2,500 a year, one-half the salary of a Vice Chancellor or a Puisne Judge; and the result would be that men who had thought it the highest honour to be chosen members of the Judicial Committee would no longer accept the office. Men of the greatest attainments looked to this position as the highest distinction that could be conferred upon them in recognition of public services, great learning, and proved judicial qualifications. But, by making it a question of money, the whole system was altered, and the existing attraction done away with. The present proposition was, that there should be four paid Judges; that the sum to be given should not exceed in all £5,000 a year; that the Judicial Committee should sit in two divisions; and that the salaried Judges should be bound to attend and render a quid pro quo.
said, this proposition as to £5,000 a year referred to an entirely different state of things—namely, that this sum should go to one paid barrister at £2,500, and to the increase of the salaries of other persons. It was impossible that any of the persons so paid should have only half as much as a retired Puisne Judge; inasmuch as the retired Judge would have his pension of £3,500, and this, with the addition of £500, would make his position as good as before, taking into account the expenses of circuit.
said, the right hon. Gentleman was entirely inaccurate; a Puisne Judge had £5,000 a year, and his point was, that the employment of a paid Judge at a salary of £2,500 marked that as the value of his services. But if the Bill had been so materially changed at the last moment, that was an argument against going on with so important a measure at the fag-end of the Session. He appealed to the Law Officers of the Crown whether the proposed alteration of the constitution of that great tribunal, to that of a tribunal made up of paid Judges with inferior salaries, sitting regularly and continuously with only three members, would not tend to its degradation and ruin as a final Court of Appeal? There was something which, even to lawyers, was more than money, and that was the honourable recognition of the legal ability, learning, and judicial qualifications requisite for the highest appellate tribunal. He entirely objected, as a rule, to appointing men to the highest Court of Appeal who had not proved by service on the Bench that they possessed temper, judgment, discretion, patience, and those judicial qualities which could only be tested by actual experience. Again, although that Bill was intended by its authors to make the sittings of the Judicial Committee more regular and of longer duration than at present, the effect of Clause 7 would positively be to re- duce them, as the legal "vacation" time which was to be excluded from the regular sittings, comprised 274 out of the 365 days of the year, leaving only three months for these sittings. That, of course, was not the object of its framers; but this fact showed how imperfectly and loosely the Bill had been drawn, and the House ought not at the fag-end of the Session to be called upon to pass it. Moreover, when the reconstruction of the whole of our judicial system was undergoing consideration, the constitution of that great appellate tribunal might well be allowed to form part of that scheme. The hon. and learned Member concluded by moving, as an Amendment, that the House should go into Committee on the Bill that day three months.
Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—( Mr. Watkin Williams,)—instead thereof.
said, that after the statement made by the Secretary of State for the Home Department it was impossible not to feel that a very heavy responsibility rested on the Government for suffering such a state of things to grow up as he had detailed to the House, because there was no doubt that to a certain class of Her Majesty's subjects it was almost a denial of justice when appeals were postponed from time to time, as had been the case in that great tribunal. But that was not the only question they had to consider. Was it, he asked, on the balance of convenience and inconvenience better to adopt a bad remedy which was to go on only for a few months, or to wait for another before dealing with the matter? The addition they now proposed to the Judicial Committee was not equal to the elements of which it was now composed. Questions of International Law came before that tribunal, and it also decided on religious questions. It might be said these new Judges would not decide those great questions; but if that were so, was it just to the millions of our fellow-subjects in our Colonies and in India, who came to the Sovereign of this country for justice, to create a tribunal inferior to that which determined those grave matters among ourselves? It was indecent for the Government to press that measure within two or three days of the end of the Session, when to discuss it was a simple impossibility; and while they were attempting to correct the evil of a great arrear of appeals they might create an evil a thousand times greater by destroying the character of that tribunal. A number of appeals might be settled, but they might not be settled upon sound grounds, and more harm would be done to all parties concerned than could result from letting the question stand over till the beginning of next Session, when the Government might consider and bring in a measure which they themselves believed would be permanent. By limiting the operation of that Bill to a year, the Government showed that they had but little confidence in what they were doing. He did not pretend to go into the question itself; but he must express his deep regret that three days before the end of the Session, when there was no chance of the Bill being properly discussed, there should be an attempt to carry the measure through by the mere force which the Government had at their command. He believed it to be a hasty and ill-considered measure, and if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Watkin Williams) went to a Division he would vote against it.
said, he thought that everyone must feel sympathy with the efforts of the Government to do all they could to remedy what must be admitted to be a very great scandal, and he admitted that the Secretary of State for the Home Department had gone far to disarm opposition by the withdrawal of the 3rd clause. He could not, however, understand how this Bill could be considered a temporary measure. His great objection to it was that the very Judge from whose decision those Indian appeals were made was actually to review and determine the wisdom of his own decisions. It appeared to him to be far better to delay the enactment of a measure on this subject for a few months longer than to pass the present Bill hastily at the end of the Session. The real remedy for the evils complained of was not to be found in this patchwork attempt at legislation. With the greatest respect to Mr. Maine, a gentleman whose great learning was admitted, he could not think that the proposal to put among the Judges of the Judicial Committee a gentleman who had had no judicial experience was at all a satisfactory one. It was to be apprehended that the economical scheme of inducing retiring Judges to accept of seats in the Judicial Committee would lead to men of failing health and very advanced years becoming members of that tribunal. He held that either by high payment or honourable distinction the services of the best men ought to be secured for the Judicial Committee.
said, he approved of the Bill on the ground that the continual postponement of cases brought before the Court was a practical denial of justice, and if the measure were put off till next Session there would be an enormous accumulation of appeals from India. When men were paid for the discharge of a duty those who employed them had a right to exact the performance of that duty. The House had no power to appropriate the Revenues of India to paying the salaries of the two Indian Judges whom it was proposed to appoint.
said, he thought that unless the Government could answer satisfactorily the objection against appointing a gentleman to a Judgeship under the Bill, from whose decisions in India those appeals were made, it was only reasonable that they should assent to a postponement of any legislation on the subject until next Session.
said, the fallacy which appeared to pervade this discussion was that because a great many objections could be urged against this measure it ought not to be carried. But against a great number of things that ought to be done it was possible to urge objections, and this was one of those things. The evil this measure proposed to remedy was admitted on all hands. It was a very great and a growing one. The evil of large arrears of cases in an Appeal Court was much greater than that of arrears in any other Court, because in the latter case the inconvenience was simply one of delay, whereas in the former the longer the hearing was deferred the more appeals there would be. They would, in fact, increase in a geometrical ratio. When once appeals got into arrear the temptation to parties to appeal for the purposes of delay would be irresistible, especially in a country like India, where the interest of money was something like 10 per cent. Well, but how did hon. Members propose to remedy the evil which they admitted to exist? Simply by doing nothing at all. [Cries of "No, no!"] Yes, they objected to any legislation that Session, asking the Government to wait until February next, when, from Calcutta alone, there would probably be about 100 more appeals added to the list, already inconveniently long. They were called upon now by a great emergency to do something to vindicate their character for justice and business habits. Though the Bill was only for one year, what would be done under it would be permanent. Persons holding the most dignified judicial positions would constitute the new proposed Court. At present the appointments were in the absolute discretion of the Crown. Those appointed need not even be barristers, for the Crown might appoint two Bishops if it pleased. What new materials would they have at their command next year to assist them in their legislation upon this question, beyond what they had at present? The Bill would compel the attendance of those Judges, who, in consequence, must be paid for their specific services. It was of the highest importance that one of the Judges, at all events, should be well versed in Mahomedan law in consequence of the vast number of Indian appeals that came before the Court. The Crown had therefore advised the appointment of Sir James Colville, an ex-Judge of the Supreme Court of India. It was ridiculous to suppose that all the judgments had been given in India by one Judge. Hon. Gentlemen who argued that it would be improper to appoint a Judge who had a knowledge of Indian Courts of Law from his having administered justice there, seemed to give very little weight to the acumen which would be brought to bear upon the cases by the learned Judges with whom he would be associated. On these grounds he hoped that the House would assent to going into Committee on this Bill.
said, the question was not whether the evil existed; that was admitted; but whether the remedy proposed was a fit and proper one. Neither in the House nor out of it had they been able to find a single member of the legal profession who could say a good word for this Bill. The Bill went to degrade one of the greatest Courts in the country. It would patch up a bad system, and prevent their dealing as they ought to do with the question of the appellate jurisdiction. The proper course to take was to do away with the duplicate authority of an appellate jurisdiction, by the establishment of a Court of Cassation, which would command the highest judicial and professional ability to be had in this country. The evil of waiting for six months for a real and proper remedy for a great and crying evil would be far less disadvantageous than that of passing a measure which anticipated what ought to be done in the future, and placed a serious obstacle in the way of a great and necessary reform. He should therefore vote against the Bill.
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
The House divided:—Ayes 64; Noes 45: Majority 19.
Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
On Question, "That the Preamble be postponed,"
moved that the Chairman do now leave the Chair.
said, he hoped his hon. Friend would not pursue that course. It was not in accordance with the usual practice. He had made his statement, and the sense of the House had been fairly taken on the question.
said, he thought that the course he had taken was entirely in accordance with the practice of the House. But it was contrary to practice to press a measure of this immense magnitude at the fag-end of a Session, and he was prepared to avail himself of all the forms of the House in order to frustrate it. He denied that the sense of the House had been fairly taken. If those Members who had been brought into the House in order to hear the Question put, and who had voted for the Bill, had heard the previous discussion, he believed many of them would have voted against the Bill.
said, he thought the House ought to hear the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown relative to this Bill.
Question put, "That the Preamble be postponed."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 39; Noes 63: Majority 24.
Preamble agreed to.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Power of Her Majesty to appoint two retired Indian Judges as salaried members of the Judicial Committee).
proposed an Amendment to the effect that the annual payment of £1,000 to be made to each of the two members of the Judicial Committee should come out of the Revenues of India.
At the end of the Clause, to add the words "There shall be paid out of the revenues of India to any person appointed a member of the Judicial Committee in pursuance of this section, during the time that he serves as a member of such committee, an annual payment not exceeding one thousand pounds, in addition to any pension he may be entitled to in respect of his services in India."—(Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
said, the Amendment of the Secretary of State was in direct violation of the Act for the better government of India, of August, 1858. When the Act was under discussion, in which he (Colonel Sykes) took an active part, very strong opinions were expressed of the inexpediency and even danger of permitting the House of Commons to control or dispose of the finances of India, as an unscrupulous Minister might apply them to political purposes; and the result was the unanimous adoption of the following clause in the Act, under the head of Revenue:—
It was evident, therefore, the Amendment could not be legally moved. He must consequently move that the following words be added to the Amendment: —"With the consent of the Secretary of State for India in Council.""The expenditure of the Revenues of India, both in India and elsewhere, shall be subject to the control of the Secretary of State in Council, and no grant or appropriation of any part of such Revenues or any other property coming into the possession of the Secretary of State in Council by virtue of this Act shall be made without the concurrence of a majority of Members of the Council present at a meeting."
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, adding, after the word "India," the words "with the consent of the Secretary of State for India in Council."—( Colonel Sykes.)
said, he did not understand why there should be an "annual payment" if the Bill was intended, according to the explanation of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bruce), as an experiment for only one year.
said, he might explain that it was only the Indian Council who could deal with the Revenues of that country.
, said he thought the words would be unnecessary, for this Act would of itself be sufficient authority for the payment being made.
said, he objected to the Revenue of India being applied to the payment of the salaries of Judges who were to hear cases other than Indian ones—colonial appeals, patent cases, ecclesiastical appeals, &c. India had to bear the whole cost of her Government and whatever other expenses England imposed upon her. When suitors from India appeared before the Privy Council they had to pay large fees, which ought to be sufficient to provide for the salaries of the Judges who heard their cases. Money ought not to be taken from India to maintain an English Court.
said, there would probably be 20 members of the Judicial Committee. It was only proposed to pay out of the Indian Revenue those two members of the Judicial Committee who gave special attention to Indian matters, but Indian suitors would also have the services of all the other Judges, who were paid out of the Imperial Exchequer. Nothing could be fairer towards the people of India than this payment of £2,000 when the advantages to them of the existence of this Court were taken into account.
said, he was sorry to hear that the Government intended to press this proposal for saddling the finances of India with the payment of a paltry sum of £2,000 a year.
said, he had never listened to a more unsatisfactory answer than that given by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bruce). He begged to ask this question, on which his vote would depend—Would the Government say that it was fair and right for the Colonies also to pay their share of the expenses of this Court? and, if not, why should a distinction be made to the disadvantage of India? This was another melancholy instance of the proposals made in the House of Commons at the expense of the people of India, who had no power to protect themselves.
insisted that the British Parliament had a right to appropriate the finances of India to any purpose they chose.
said, it was a proceeding utterly unexampled for a Government to press forward a measure of Law Reform which they could not get their own Law Officers to support. The Attorney General and Solicitor General had been distinctly challenged to rise in their places and support the Bill; but, like honest men, they had left the House.
said, he feared it would make a bad impression in India when the people there learnt that a clause so vitally affecting them had been settled in the very last days of the Session.
said, the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) was doubtless aware that we could not tax the Colonies, that being one of the fruits of the American War. But if the hon. Member contended that, as a matter of justice, a Colony ought not to contribute to the expenses of a tribunal existing mainly, or to a very great degree, for the convenience of the people of that Colony, he must join issue with him. If the Colonies took up so much of the time of the tribunal as India would do they certainly ought to assist in maintaining it. Hon. Gentlemen talked of the people of India, but they forgot the people of England. On what ground of fairness were the taxpayers of this country to be saddled with the cost of the very best tribunal which could be provided for doing justice—not between the people of this country, but between the ryots of India? No doubt an Act of Parliament had been passed directing that the Revenues of India should be appropriated to the Secretary of State in Council for India, but the House of Commons at its pleasure could alter that Act or could substitute another enactment.
said, he must distinctly assert that this Court would not be maintained by the taxpayers of England, but by the fees paid by the Indian suitors and others. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would actually be in receipt of the fees from those suitors, and yet wished to make the Indian people pay this £2,000 twice over.
said, that if the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was good for anything it meant that the House of Commons might appropriate the Revenues of India to political objects, the very thing which the Act of Parliament had been passed to prevent. He must accordingly press his Amendment.
Question put, "That those words be there added."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 36; Noes 48: Majority 12.
said, he wished to state that he should be prepared to move an Amendment limiting the duration of the Bill to a year. He assumed that the Court of Appeal would not exclude men who had held high judicial appointments—men who were of the stuff of which the Judicial Committee should be made.
said, that probably the Court of Appeal would not exclude them, but the question was would the public pay them. He must point out that though, the Bill should only exist for one year the offices created under it would be permanent, and the officers filling them would have to be paid their salaries year after year.
said, that the proposal to make this Bill endure only for a year would at first sight lead people to suppose that the appointments would be only for a year. But when once appointed these Judges would be permanent, and therefore the objections to the Bill continued in all their force. It was unjust and impolitic that this country should tax the people of India for advising Her Majesty as to the decisions that should be given in cases of appeal.
said, there was a great precedent for this transaction. The British Empire desired to do honour to the Sultan of Turkey and gave a grand ball on that account. But the British Empire was too poor to pay for it out of its own pocket, and therefore made the people of India pay for it. That was the precedent Her Majesty's Government desired to follow. The time had not arrived when we could pay for our own magnificence, and therefore we must put our hands into other people's pockets. The Government ought to get some lawyer to support them. The Lord Advocate had retired; but there was an Irish Law Officer on the Treasury Bench, and if the Government could get him to say something in support of the Bill it would give confidence to the profession.
said, he would ask the Committee to consider what would happen if they passed this Bill. The Government could not discuss the finances of India on the 5th of August, and yet three days after when they defeated opposition by official votes they proposed to lay down a most important principle It was the first time in the history of this country that, without the consent of the Secretary for India or the Council of India, two days before the close of the Session, a Bill was proposed imposing a tax on the people of India. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that we did not lay such a charge on the Colonies because we could not, owing to the American War. That was a doctrine which would not be forgotten by the people of India. He lately read a letter from India, written by a gentleman who probably knew more about that country than anyone in England, and he said that these small acts of petty, contemptible meanness had produced a worse effect upon the people of India than if we levied an annual tribute on them. If we levied £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 upon them, they would say there was something Royal in that; it would fall in with their ideas of magnificence; but these repeated acts of meanness and shabbiness were unworthy of a great country and ought to be reprobated by the independent feeling of the House of Commons.
asked whether, apart from all other considerations, it was not better that the people of India should contribute £2,000 a year to the creation of a great Court of Appeal than that they should have a Court constituted in India, the whole expense of which should be borne by themselves?
said, he did not see any such alternative. It would be abandoning the duty of the Imperial Government if we were to say to the Colonies—"You must pay for the constitution of the Court that is to hear your appeals." Nothing could tend more to loosen the bonds which united our Colonies to us.
said, he wished to record his protest against the House of Commons taxing a dependency for the maintenance of an English Court of Justice.
said, the unanimous opinion of the legal profession was decidedly against the Bill. Hon. and learned Gentlemen on the Government side had pronounced against it; but some hon. Members, who had not heard the discussion, had voted with the Government, and among them in the late Division was the hon. and learned Attorney General. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would see by the coming Division the position in which he was placed.
said, it was not unreasonable to ask that the subjects of the Crown should contribute to the expenses of the Court.
said, it was totally unworthy of a rich country like Great Britain to impose such a paltry tax on a poor country like India.
said, that, as a great number of appeals came from India, it was only right that India should pay its quota towards the expense of the tribunal which was to decide them.
said, in answer to the remark of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, he must express his conviction that if that Bill passed the men who had made that tribunal the pride of England, and the greatest Appeal Court in the world, would decline to serve on it.
Question put, "That the words
'There shall be paid out of the revenues of India to any poison appointed a member of the Judicial Committee in pursuance of this section, during the time that he serves as a member of such committee, an annual payment not exceeding one thousand pounds, in addition to any pension he may be entitled to in respect of his services in India,'
be added at the end of Clause 2."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 38; Noes 36: Majority 2.
then rose and said, that the Government had brought in the Bill really with an honest desire to provide for a state of things which they believed to be a most crying evil, and the effect of its rejection would inevitably be the postponement for a full 12 months of any improvement of that great Court of Appeal for India and the Colonies. At the same time, the Government felt the disadvantage of pressing forward so important a measure at that period of the Session, and were conscious that they could not carry it without the general support and approbation of the House. Even if it went on they would have, at a later stage, to appeal to the consideration and friendly aid of the House to dispense with some of its ordinary forms in order to pass it; and it was impossible, after the Division which had just occurred, that they could make such an appeal with any hope of success. Therefore nothing remained for the Government but to abandon the Bill.