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The Administrative Departments—Courts Of Justice

Volume 217: debated on Thursday 17 July 1873

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asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether steps have been taken to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the Administrative Departments of the Courts of Justice, as recommended by the Committee on Civil Service Expenditure; or, if not, if the Government will take such steps?

Yes, Sir, we have given immediate attention to the Report and recommendations of that Committee, which we cordially approve. Arrangements are in progress to carry them out, and we desire to complete them as soon as possible.

India—Regulations For European Officers—Prize—Question

(for Colonel STUART KNOX), asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether his attention was called in the year 1870 to the statement at page 608 of the revised edition of the "Regulations for European Officers" issued "by authority," which sets forth that under the Act 3 and 4 Vic. c. 65, s. 22, "the final decision in all disputed questions of prize now rests with the High Court of Admiralty;" and, if that statement is inaccurate, what steps have been or will be taken to correct it for the better guidance of Her Majesty's Officers in India; whether the Index to these Regulations, in which a corresponding statement occurs, is also published "by authority" of the Secre- tary of State; whether some of the Kirwee Prize claims have been ostensibly adjudicated upon, not by a legal court, but by a public Department unaided by legal assessors; and, whether such ostensible adjudication has been in accordance with any of the known precedents, some of which, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Attorney General and other very eminent counsel, are not distinguishable from the case of the Kirwee claims?

Sir, in reply to the first Question I have to say that my attention was called in the year 1870 to the statement that "the final decision in all disputed questions of Prize now rests with the High Court of Admiralty." In reply to the second Question, I have to say that, there being nothing in that statement calculated to mislead persons of average intelligence, it is not intended to take any steps to alter it. In reply to the third Question, I have to say that the Index is as much and as little authoritative as the rest of the compilation—that is, as I explained the other day, it is authoritative in so far as it quotes or correctly interprets official documents. In reply to the fourth Question, I have to say that some of the Kirwee Prize claims were adjudicated on by the Treasury; and in reply to the fifth Question—being, I believe, the 21st which has been addressed to me this Session on the subject of the Banda and Kirwee claims—I have to say that I think the hon. and gallant Member had better address that Question to the representative of the Department whose action he impugns.

Metropolis—Parliament Street—The Public Offices—Question

asked the First Commissioner of Works, Whether any of the houses standing between Parliament Street and the new Colonial and Home Offices are likely to be taken down before the meeting of Parliament in next year; and, if so, whether he will under-take that no steps inconsistent with the ground on which they stand being thrown into the roadway shall be taken previously to such meeting of Parliament?

I think, Sir, it extremely probable that the houses referred to will all be taken down before the meeting of Parliament next Session; but no further work will be done on the land than is necessary for the completion of the new Home and Colonial Offices. That work will not extend over much of the site; but of course the new Home and Colonial Offices must be completed as quickly as possible.

The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the latter part of my Question—whether he will undertake that no steps should be taken inconsistent with the ground on which the houses stand being thrown into the roadway?

No further steps will be taken than such as are necessary for the completion of the new Home and Colonial Offices.

Stipendiary Magistrates (Ireland)—Question

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether the Government intend passing a Bill through Parliament this Session to enable them to deal, if necessary, during the Recess, with the grievances of Stipendiary Magistrates in Ireland?

in reply, said, that the Government had been, both officially and unofficially, in communication with the resident magistrates, with the view of coming to some settlement with them on the subject of their grievances, but they had not yet arrived at any conclusion which he could lay before the Treasury. It was therefore out of his power to say whether it would be possible for him to lay a Bill before Parliament; but he believed the Government would be able to deal with the matter without a Bill.

The Land Act (Ireland)—Chairmen Of Counties—Question

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, What increased remuneration has been given to the Chairmen of Counties in Ireland for the additional duties imposed on them by the Land Act; and, if any arrangement has been made to carry out the provisions of the Act by conferring increased remuneration on the officers of those courts for the additional duties they are bound to perform?

Sir, the hon. Gentleman will find at page 9 of the Supplementary Estimates delivered this morning the increased remuneration proposed to be given to the Chairmen of Counties in Ireland for the additional duties imposed on them by the Land Act. No arrangement has yet been finally decided upon regarding the manner in which the officers of the Courts are to be paid.

Army Re-Organization—Command Of Sub-Districts—Question

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is intended to appoint a permanent Staff Officer to assist the Colonels commanding sub-districts in the duties of their commands, the supervision of the Militia and Volunteers, and the management of the Recruiting Service, besides the command of the Brigade Depôt when such has been formed, entailing upon them a large amount of correspondence; and, when Quartermasters will be appointed to such Brigade Depots as have been formed?

Sir, the plan is stated in detail in the First Report of General M'Dougall's Committee, paragraph 18, to which I must refer my hon. and gallant Friend. The Major, it is there stated, will assist the Lieutenant-Colonel, and his general functions will be those of a Brigade-Major or District Adjutant. It is intended that the Quartermaster shall be appointed in the next Gazette.

Parliament—Private Bill Legislation—Question

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in reference to the Resolution unanimously agreed to by the House on the 22nd of March 1872 in favour of the reform of Private Legislation, Whether he remembers that on the 25th of April 1872 he expressed the hope that the Government might be able to submit a proposal on the subject before the Session concluded, and that on the 17th of June 1872 he assured the House that the subject was under consideration and would not be allowed to drop; and, whether he will state the steps which Her Majesty's Government have taken and propose to take in order to give effect to that Resolution?

said, he would ask his right hon. Friend, in return, whether he remembered what the subject was with respect to which he (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) spoke on the 17th of June last year? What he said on that occasion was that he would remind his right hon. Friend that the share of responsibility he undertook in this matter was mainly to ascertain whether the system of Provisional Orders could be improved and extended. He was carrying on that inquiry and was in communication last Session with other Departments of the Government which were as much interested in the system of Provisional Orders as the Board of Trade. If his right hon. Friend had asked this Question in the beginning of the Session he could have informed him that he had failed to discover any method of extending the system. This year the Board of Trade had issued more than its former number of Provisional Orders; it had made 53 and submitted 46 of them to Parliament. The Local Government Board had increased its number from eight last year to 51 this year; and the number of Orders under the Education Act was sure to be increased. In Ireland a recent Act had begun to come into operation, and when the advantages of Provisional Orders came to be better known, he hoped the Act would have a much larger operation. He was far from saying that nothing could be done to extend the system of Provisional Orders. The Board of Trade might very well extend the system by enabling local authorities to obtain Provisional Orders for the erection of gas and waterworks, instead of their being compelled to proceed by way of Bill. That was a point he would not lose sight of. This did not cover the main subject which his right hon. Friend had in view, and he (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) had reluctantly come to the conclusion that so far as the Executive Government was concerned the power of framing Provisional Orders could not be seriously extended; and if the great and serious question of Private Bill legislation, involving large interests, were to be dealt with outside the walls of Parliament, that could not be properly done through the instrumentality of the Departments of the Executive Government, but a tribunal of a permanent and judicial character would have to be created for that purpose.

said, that his Question had not been clearly put, and he would repeat it in a plainer form.

Portugal—Supplies Of Ammunition—Question

asked the Surveyor General of Ordnance, Whether it is true that a large quantity of small arms ammunition, commonly known as Boxer cartridges, has lately been supplied by the War Department to the Government of Portugal or some other Foreign Government; and, if this is the case, whether the Right Honourable Gentleman will state the exact quantity so supplied?

Sir, three-and-a-half million rounds of small arms ammunition, commonly known as Boxer cartridges, have been supplied to the Portuguese Government at their request, conveyed through the Foreign Office.

Egypt—Claims Of British Subjects—Question

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he can inform the House whether the land and other property belonging to the Alexandria and Ramle Railway Company (in which British subjects are largely interested), taken possession of by the Egyptian Government, has been restored to that Company; and, whether Her Majesty's Consul General at Alexandria was authorised to submit to arbitration the matter of the land so taken possession of?

Sir, the right to the land in question is still in dispute between the Alexandria and Ramle Railway Company and the Egyptian authorities, and the question is one over which, in the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, the British Consular Court has no jurisdiction; it rests, therefore, with the Company either to submit their case to the Local Courts or to let it be decided by arbitration—a course to which, I believe, the Egyptian Government is not averse.

Army—New Passage Hill, Devonport—Question

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is true that the Government intends to throw upon the ratepayers the expense of the maintenance of a road known as New Passage Hill, Devonport, which was originally constructed by the War Department through land the property of the War Department, and has recently been diverted from its former course by the same Department, without first complying with the provisions of the General Highway Act as regards the state of repair of a road before its dedication to the public; and, if so, by what authority?

I am informed, Sir, that the road is a private one, which, if it pleased, the War Department might altogether close. It is not required to be maintained for any military purpose, and Army funds are, consequently, not expended upon it. There is no objection to the local authorities acquiring the road, if they desire to do so, for a public highway.

Army—The Autumn Manœuvres—Billeting—Question

asked the Surveyor General of Ordnance, Whether any and what compensation will be given to the occupiers of licensed houses subject to billeting who have been or will be liable to extra inconvenience owing to the movement of troops for the special purpose of the Autumn Manœuvres; and, if any, how it is to be distributed, and the course of proceeding to enable them to avail themselves of it?

It is intended, Sir, as a temporary measure, to give licensed victuallers and inn-keepers an extra allowance of 3½d. for each hot meal issued. In cases in connection with the Autumn Manœuvres where this allowance has not been given, special application should be made for it direct to the War Department.