House Of Commons
Friday, 26th May, 1876.
Criminal Law—The Convict Orton—Question
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to his refusal to grant relaxation of rules relating to interviews with convicts in the case of Castro alias Orton alias Tichborne, Whether he has seen in the public journals a letter from the cousin of the convict, Mr. Anthony Biddulph, stating that on a recent visit he found him "more than ever like the youth he had known him in former days, the Roger of the Chilian photograph;" and, whether, on this and other grounds, he will grant permission for an interview to those who on the trial expressed opinions as to his identity formed upon his appearance at that period, and who may now desire to reconsider their evidence on that point?
in reply, said, he believed it was one of the Rules of the House that Questions should not be argumentative. The hon. Member had not strictly adhered to that Rule, for it was certainly open to argument whether Mr. Biddulph was a cousin of the convict. He had not seen Mr. Biddulph's letter in the public prints, and could not therefore, on that ground, grant permission for interviews with the convict by other persons. He knew of no other grounds on which to permit interviews with the convict.
Spain—Detention Of British Subjects—Question
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether his attention has been called to the following telegram from Cadiz in the "Times" newspaper of 25th May:—
and, whether the above report is true; and, if so, what steps Her Majesty's Government have taken for his release?"A sad perversion of justice is occurring. A British subject, Henry Pratt, has served eleven years' penal servitude. His time expired two years ago, and five successive Spanish Ministers have declared him free, but have neglected to sign his papers, and he has just been moved from Melilla to Ceuta, still a prisoner, having served two years beyond his allotted term;"
I am glad my hon. Friend has called attention to this case, although the facts are not at all what the Question would suggest. It appears that Pratt, a British subject, was sentenced about 11 years ago to imprisonment for life for the crime of homicide, so that his time cannot be said to have expired. About two years ago he petitioned for his release, and his petition was sent to Her Majesty's Minister at Madrid as well as to the Minister of Justice in Spain. Mr. Layard considered that it was not a case in which he could interfere officially; however, he spoke privately to Senor Sagasta, who was then Minister of Foreign Affairs, and who inquired into the prisoner's conduct and character, and subsequently told Mr. Layard that the account he had received was so very good that he should immediately recommend him for a full pardon. Her Majesty's Representative repeatedly received similar assurances from Senores Ulloa and Castro and Count Casa Valencia, who were successively Ministers for Foreign Affairs. In November last Senor Calderon Collantes, the present Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was acquainted with the case of Pratt, because he had been Minister of Grace and Justice, on a further representation being made, assured Mr. Layard that he was entitled to his liberty, as, although the punishment of imprisonment for life was inflicted by the Spanish Code, practically imprisonment was never extended beyond the term of 10 years, and Pratt should be pardoned at once. As, however, no steps appear to have been taken by the Spanish authorities to carry out the assurances given to Mr. Layard, he was instructed a short time ago to bring the matter officially before the Spanish Government. Sufficient time has not elapsed to enable a reply to be received to this representation.
Metropolis—Traffic At Hyde Park Corner—Question
asked the First Commissioner of Works, Whether it is now in his power to propose a plan for relieving the traffic at Hyde Park Corner and opening a communication between Piccadilly and Belgravia, which has so long been desired for the convenience of the public?
I am happy, Sir, to say that, after long, minute, and anxious consideration, I have approved a plan for the relief of the traffic at Hyde Park Corner by making a road across the Green Park, from opposite Hamilton Place into Grosvenor Place. This road will follow nearly the same track as that of the unfortunate one upon which I staked my reputation last summer, and which was shown on the model which was exhibited in the Conference Room last Session, and which met generally with the approval of hon. Members. The entrance of the road in Piccadilly will be very wide, and so shaped as to enable the traffic coming from the east and north-east of London to make use of this road on its way to Victoria Station and its neighbourhood, without clashing with the carriages coming down Hamilton Place. The engineering difficulties which led to the abandonment of my former scheme will be avoided in this instance by crossing Constitution Hill on the level. At the same time, I may say that arrangements will bemade, by means of a gatekeeper, to prevent any inconvenience arising from the traffic to members of the Royal Family, to equestrians, and to those Members of both Houses of Parliament who have a right to use Constitution Hill. I may add that the head of the police force, to whom is entrusted the regulation of the traffic at Hyde Park Corner, is of opinion that the proposed road will afford an immense relief to the block which now causes so much inconvenience at that portion of Piccadilly.
inquired whether he correctly understood the noble Lord to say that Members of Parliament had a right to the use of Constitution Hill?
said, he had intended to refer only to those Members of Parliament who had the right.
Merchant Shipping Bill
asked the honourable Baronet the Member for North Wiltshire, Whether he is prepared to withdraw the Notice of Motion that stands in his name in reference to the third reading of the Merchant Shipping Bill, on the grounds that the subject had already been twice fully discussed, and also that the powers of the Board of Trade under the existing Act were ample to secure the object which the hon. Baronet had in view?
in reply, said, that desiring not to delay the course of Public Business or to prevent the passing of the measure, he begged, in compliance with the request of the Government, to withdraw his Notice.
in consequence of the reply of the hon. Baronet the Member for North Wiltshire, wished to ask the hon. Member for Birkenhead, Whether he intends to proceed to-night with the Notice that stands on the Paper in his name in reference to that measure?
said, he would rather not answer the question, as much must depend on the course of Public Business. He would, however, not do anything to delay the progress of the Bill, which he believed to be in the main a good one.
Landlord And Tenant (Ireland) Bill—Question
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he will fix an early date for the resumption of the debate on the second reading of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick's Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Bill?
in reply, said, that the hon. Member had sent word privately to the Prime Minister of his intention to put the Question that evening, and his right hon. Friend, unfortunately, not being able to be present, had asked him to give the answer that he would be prepared to find a Government night for the resumption of the discussion on the Bill as soon as the state of Public Business would permit; but that, at the present moment, it was impossible to fix any special day for that purpose.
gave Notice that immediately after that day, whatever it might be, he should proceed with the Resolution which stood upon the Paper in his name.
Public Houses (Ireland)—Sunday Closing—Question
in consequence of the reply of the right hon. Gentleman, begged, to ask him, Whether, as the Government appeared to have time at their disposal, they would afford him facilities for carrying a Bill founded upon the Resolution of the House passed on the 13th instant and relating to the Sunday Liquor Traffic in Ireland?
in reply, said, he had given reasons the other day why Her Majesty's Government could not undertake to introduce a measure on the subject referred to, and the same reasons would render it impossible for them to make the promise the hon. Member asked for.
The Derby Day—Question
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether it is the intention of the Government to make the usual Motion for the adjournment of the House over Derby Day?
Parliament—Order Of Public Business—Question
wished to know, Whether Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer could state the order of Public Business for Monday, and also what will be the probable Business for Thursday?
in reply, said, that the First Order on the Paper for Monday would be the third reading of the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill, which it was important should pass through the House of Lords before the Recess. It was not anticipated that any further discussion would arise on that Bill. Immediately after that Bill the Commons Bill would be taken, and it was proposed to proceed with the latter measure on Thursday. The right hon. Gentleman who was in charge of the Prisons Bill hoped to be able to take it on Thursday. The substantial business for Monday and Thursday, therefore, would be the Commons Bill.
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that on the third reading of the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill there would be a very important discussion in reference to a matter of which he had more than once given Notice.
said, he had forgotten that Notice, being under the impression that the hon. Gentleman did not intend to bring forward the Motion.
Order for Committee read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
The Duchy Of Lancaster And The Agricultural Holdings (England) Act—Resolution
in rising to call attention to the fact that a circular has been addressed to the tenants of the Duchy of Lancaster, by the Chancellor of the Duchy, excluding them from the benefits of the Agricultural Holdings (England) Act of last Session by giving them formal notice that their contracts of tenancy shall remain unaffected by that Act, and to move—
—said: Sir, some time ago, in reply to a Question which I put to him in this House, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster admitted that he had issued a circular attributed to him in The Mark Lane Express, contracting the tenants of the Duchy of Lancaster out of the benefits of the Agricultural Holdings Act of last Session. Now, the 46th clause of the Act expressly enacts that the Act shall extend and apply to the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster. Comparing the expression here made use of with the manner in which the same words are applied in other parts of the statute, it appears to me a matter quite open to argument that the Act, so far as the Duchy of Lancaster is concerned, is not of a permissive, but of a compulsory character. I do not, however, intend to enter into the point, for it seems to me of comparatively little moment whether the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has, in issuing the circular, acted within his powers or exceeded them. What I contend is, that it is evident from the 46th clause that the Act was intended by Parliament to apply to the Duchy of Lancaster. This clause was not only sanctioned by Parliament, but the consents of Her Majesty and of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in respect of it were expressly given before the Bill came down to this House. Moreover, as a Member of the Ministry which introduced the Bill, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster must have had every opportunity of urging any special reason which might exist for the exclusion of the lands of the Duchy from the operation of the Act, and as a Member of the Ministry responsible for the Act he must be regarded as especially responsible for the 46th clause which regulates its application to the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster. In admitting that he had issued the circular attributed to him by The Mark Lane Express the right hon. and gallant Gentleman attempted to excuse his action, and as I wish to do the right hon. and gallant Gentleman every justice, I shall quote his own words—"That, in the opinion of this House, it is undesirable that the benefits intended by Parliament to accrue to any class of Her Majesty's subjects from the passing of any statute should be neutralised by the official action of a member of the Administration responsible for the enactment of that statute,"
Now, admitting for a moment the validity of these excuses for the action of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, I must say that it appears to me his proper time to have thought of these exceptional circumstances was when the Bill was before Parliament, and his proper course was to have struck out the special provision for the case of the Duchy in the measure—instead of dangling it before the eyes of the country as if to give the lie to any suspicion that any Department of Her Majesty's Government intended the measure to be a sham, or brought it forward otherwise than in the best of faith. But, Sir, I shall show that the excuses of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, when closely looked into, really afford no excuse whatever for his conduct in the matter. It is only in the cases of tenancies from year to year, or at will, that under Section 57 of the Act notice is required to be given to debar the occupier from reaping the benefits of the Act. It is not required in the case of existing leases, for the Act specially excepts them. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, tells us that the Duchy is in the habit of advancing money for improvements at a stated rate of interest, as if in so doing it was in the habit of doing everything contemplated under the Act. I maintain that this is so far from being the case, that the question of these advances has practically nothing to do with the operation of the Act. These advances apply solely to improvements coming under Class I of the Agricultural Holdings Act. This class of improvements—permanent improvements—are every one of them improvements which are more properly executed by the landlord than by the tenant, and although the Act of last Session very properly made provision that in the case of limited owners, or when from any cause the landlord did not care to expend his capital, the tenant might make the improvement and receive compensation, it expressly stipulated that such compensation could only be claimed when the permanent improvement was exe- cuted with the previous consent in writing of the landlord. Now, from everything I hear the Duchy is not particularly lavish in its expenditure on improvements. With its income of £35,000, it last year only expended in drainage and other improvements chargeable to capital £731 6s. 9d., and that sum was doubtless laid out to good advantage and at good interest. But whether it was great or small, and whether the tenants paid for it in the shape of increased rents or not has nothing to do with the question. If the Chancellor of the Duchy wishes to retain all works of permanent improvement in his own hand, he has simply to refuse his written consent to the tenants proposing to execute them, and if they persist in carrying them out, they do so at their own risk. If, on the other hand, the Duchy executes them, there is not a shadow of a pretence for saying that under the Act of last Session any compensation could be claimed. But, Sir, some really important advantages could have been claimed by the tenant, and were specially intended by Parliament to accrue to the yearly tenantry of the Duchy of Lancaster under the Agricultural Holdings Act, and they were these—They could under it have claimed compensation for improvements of the 2nd and 3rd class—for boning, chalking, clay-burning, claying, liming, and marling, and for unexhausted manure. More important still, they could have claimed compensation under Section 53 for engines, machinery, and fixtures erected at their expense in accordance with the provisions of the section; and still more important, in the case of a yearly tenant, they could, under Section 51, have claimed twelve months' notice instead of six, in case of any disagreement with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, his Successors, or their subordinates. But the right hon. and gallant Gentleman attempts to argue that practically the tenants will suffer little hardship from their exclusion from the operation of the Agricultural Holdings Act, because they are very seldom disturbed, and holdings often descend for generations together from father to son. That is very possible, but it has nothing to do with the question, and is no justification whatever for the action of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. On the contrary, it simply shows for what a very small gain to the funds of the Duchy he has gone out of his way to defeat the intentions of Parliament. Compensations are not paid under the Act, except on the termination of tenancies; and, if cases of change are rare, cases of compensation would be few. But what I maintain is, that whether such cases of termination of tenancy are numerous or few, Parliament intended—with the concurrence, we all thought, of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—that on their occurrence the out-going tenant should be entitled, under certain conditions, to compensation for certain improvements, and this intention the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has proceeded in the most wanton manner to frustrate. I say, in the most wanton manner, because, according to his own statement, the changes on tenancy on the Duchy estates are very few, and the inducement for the course he has taken, consequently, wholly inadequate. And now let us see with what intention Parliament passed the Agricultural Holdings Act. It did so for the express purpose of securing for the tenant an equitable compensation for any real improvements he might effect on his holding, and so encouraging high-class farming and increasing the food-producing capacity of the country. The yearly tenants on the estate of the Duchy of Lancaster may know that under former Administrations they have remained undisturbed in their holdings, but when they see the present Chancellor passing an Act one Session, and repudiating it the next, how can they help regarding him as the embodiment of fickleness and caprice, and with what confidence can they be expected to invest capital in improving their farms. From statements which I have seen in the agricultural papers, and which have reached me since I put my Notice upon the Paper, the tenants of at least some of the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster are by no means satisfied with their treatment, and would decidedly benefit if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would allow them to undertake permanent improvements, as well as improvements of Classes II. and III. of the Act of last year, under the security which that Act affords. But, Sir, I have not brought forward this matter in the interests of the tenantry of the Duchy of Lancaster. My concern is for the effect which the action of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will produce on the country at large. I have no hesitation in saying that it will have a most disastrous and a most demoralizing effect. When the landlords of England hear of a Gentleman so nearly responsible for the Agricultural Holdings Act—a Chancellor and the head of an important Court—at the cost at once of his own consistency and of the reputation of the Ministry of which he is a Member, declaring that the adoption of the Act would be so prejudicial to the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster, that steps must at once be taken to exclude them from the operation of its provisions, what must they think of its probable effect upon their own interests? Will they not naturally ask themselves whether there must not be something very bad indeed in the Act, when even the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster makes such haste to escape from it? Now, Sir, various Members of the Ministry on different occasions, and notably the Prime Minister at the last Ministerial banquet at the Mansion House, have spoken of the Act as a most important and a most beneficial one, and I entirely concur in their description of it. It may not go so far as many of us would have wished; but I have no hesitation in expressing my own opinion that it is an Act which only requires to be generally adopted to prove a very great boon indeed to the country. And I believe that under ordinary circumstances it would be generally adopted, for its provisions are calculated to benefit the landlord, and to lead to the improvement and development of his property, while giving an equitable security to the tenant. But, Sir, I can conceive of nothing more likely to produce a scare among landlords—to make them once and for all resolve to have nothing to do with the Agricultural Holdings Act—to deprive the country of a great gain, and to render nugatory all the labour which Parliament last year bestowed on this measure, than the action which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has thought fit to adopt. It is for this reason, Sir, that I have deemed it my duty to call attention to the subject and to move the Resolution I now submit to the House."On the advice," he said, "of the recognized and responsible officials of the Duchy, having consulted several of the Council, I did that which was considered best for Her Majesty's estates. …The difficulties intended to be met by the Agricultural Holdings (England) Act have never occurred between the Duchy and its tenants. The tenants are scarcely ever changed, and, as a matter of course almost, the farms pass from father to son, and the improvements, as a rule, are always made by the Duchy at a stated rate of interest."—[3 Hansard, ccxxvii. 1796.]
in seconding the Motion, observed that the assent of the Queen and of the Prince of Wales was obtained to the introduction of the measure. It was promoted by the Government, and it seemed extraordinary that when it became an Act the Chancellor of the Duchy should render it of no avail with regard to property of the Queen and the Prince of Wales. The conduct of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had induced a large number of persons to defeat the intention of Parliament in passing the Act.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is undesirable that the benefits intended by Parliament to accrue to any class of Her Majesty's subjects from the passing of any statute should be neutralized by the official action of a Member of the Administration responsible for the enactment of that statute,"—(Dr. Cameron,)
said, he thought he would be able in a very few words to show that the hon. Member for Glasgow had not made out any case to justify the House in interfering with the management of the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster. The hon. Member said that he (Colonel Taylor), as Chancellor of the Duchy had contracted certain of its tenants out of the operation of the Agricultural Holdings Act. Now, the estates of the Duchy comprised in round numbers 37,000 acres of land in different parts of the country. Of that 30,000 acres were under lease, and were altogether outside of the Agricultural Holdings Act; so that there were only about 7,000 acres liable to be affected by the Act. They might be classified thus—At Need wood there were 23 tenants and 2,143 acres; at Scalby and Pickering, 12 tenants and 1,319 acres; at Pontefract, nine tenants and 380 acres. Those 44 tenants, occupying 3,873 acres, he had ascertained were satisfied with matters as they were before the passing of the Act, and not one of them had expressed a desire for any change. There remained 15 tenants at Methwold, in Norfolk, holding 3,063 acres. This was the soft part of the estate, and he thought it would be attempted to be shown that these tenants had complained of not being brought, under the operation of the Act. In fact, that estate was in a state of transition. Great improvements had been made in it, and further improvements were contemplainted. Some years since a former Chancellor of the Duchy sanctioned the expenditure of £2,687 in the purchase of a steam engine, which had been working ever since, and £3,600 in drainage, and for an embankment to keep out the river Wissey. This had worked excellently, and in the late wet season that estate was the only part of the neighbourhood that was not covered by water. Besides that, within the last five years, £3,730 had been spent, and all without any charge to the tenants. The average rental of that estate was 7s. 4d. an acre, and the average outlay 2s. 6d. an acre, leaving the net rental below 5s. an acre. Notwithstanding that, a memorial was addressed to him last spring asking for a reduction of rent, which he had felt constrained to refuse. Hence to some extent the complaints which had appeared in the shape of letters in The Mark Lane Express, and which contained statements in the main inaccurate. He would not, however, enter further into that part of the question except to say that, instead of a great number, as asserted, only a single notice had been returned to him unsigned from that estate. He contended that Methwold, being in the transition state that he had described in view of the further contemplated improvements, all to be effected at the expense of the Duchy, he was justified in issuing, and almost obliged to issue, the notice which he did, so that difficulties and delay might not be raised in carrying out those improvements. It must be remembered that the Act was optional; and, although he was a Member of the Government, he was also manager of the estates of Her Majesty, and was bound to do the best he could for the interests of the Crown. Some of the most experienced members of the Duchy Council were of opinion that the notice should be issued, and he acted accordingly. With all respect to the Agricultural Holdings Act, it seemed to him that it was calculated in the main to meet cases where estates were badly managed, and where there was not a good understanding between landlord and tenant. That, he was glad to say, was not the case with the Duchy; and he was convinced that the Methwold tenantry had been in no way damnified by the action taken there. He thought it unnecessary to say anything more in justification of the course he had taken.
explained that he had never asserted that the tenants were damnified.
thought it would be a curious and interesting Return—if it could be obtained—that would show the number of noble Lords and Members of Parliament who had been in favour of the Agricultural Holdings Act while it was being passed, but who had since carefully contracted themselves out of its operation. That, however, was no concern of his, nor was it his duty to defend the Government's action. But referring to one of the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Taylor) was quite accurate in saying it had been in a most unsatisfactory state, and three years ago it became necessary to make a searching inquiry into its condition. One of the most experienced land agents was employed for that purpose, and a large sum of money, between £3,000 and £4,000, had been or was in course of being expended on the estate. Pending the readjustment of the tenancies on that estate, he was bound to give it as his opinion that it would not be prudent on the part of the Government to bring it under the operation of the Act. All the other estates of the Duchy were under lease, and the Act would not apply to them.
thought the farmers, especially those in Scotland, were much indebted to his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) for bringing this question forward. Last year they spent considerable time in discussing the Agricultural Holdings Act, and he (Mr. Barclay) then said that unless some of the provisions were made compulsory, it would be of no practical use. What they had heard that evening verified his prediction. They were now to have soon under discussion a Bill of a similar character for Scotland, and from the year's experience which they had now had of the English Act, they might judge whether the Scotch Bill, shortly to be introduced into the House, would be really of any value, and whether it would be of any use even to try to make a good measure of it, on the basis of the English Bill. Two questions had been raised in the debate; one was as to the management of the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the other why the tenants had not had the benefit of the Agricultural Holdings Act, which he believed it was the desire of that House that they should have. That it was necessary for them to benefit by its provisions was proved by the statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy, who had told them that a considerable portion of the estate was let at 7s. 4d. per acre, the charges upon it amounting to 2s. 6d. per acre. That should be the case after the estate had been for so many years under the same holding was the strongest condemnation of its management. He understood that the portion of the estate referred to was of a very poor quality of land, in which tenants ought to place a large amount of capital, and they would, in consequence, require some certainty of tenure. At present they had neither certainty of tenure nor any guarantee of compensation of the nature contemplated by the Agricultural Holdings Act. The reason given by the righthon. and gallant Gentleman for not applying the Act to these estates was that the tenants were quite satisfied, and that they had not expressed any dissatisfaction at being excluded. Well, he (Mr. Barclay) knew something about the position of tenants at will, who made complaints to their landlord. His belief was that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had very little to do with the matter. The complaints would not be made to him personally, but to some agent or land factor, who, if a tenant was, as he thought, troublesome and found fault, always found some means of getting rid of him. It was all very well to say the tenants were satisfied, and probably they might be content to go on as long as they could at a low rental, but it must be remembered that one of the strongest arguments used in support of the Agricultural Holdings Act last year was that by giving certainty of tenure, or certainty of compensation, the tenants would be induced to invest their capital and apply their energies to the cultivation of the land so as to make it worth a great deal more than it was at present. This was a matter in which the public were concerned as well as the landlord and tenant. It was said that the number of tenants at will on the Duchy estate was very small, but the result of this exclusion of them from the Agricultural Holding Act was objection able because it set a bad example to other landlords throughout the country, especially when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman gave as his reason that it was the best thing he could do in the interests of the estate. The contention of his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow was that if the Act were applied to the estate it would render the land far more valuable to the Crown, and place the tenants in a more advantageous position, whilst the public would benefit by the increased productiveness which would certainly result. Until certainty of tenure and certainty of compensation were granted to the tenants, it could not be said that the estates were managed to the full advantage either of the Crown itself, the tenants, or the public.
pointed out that the Agricultural Holdings Act, however beneficial it might prove in certain places, was not applicable everywhere. He himself had notified to his tenants his intention of contracting himself out of it, and he had not received a single word of complaint from them on the subject. In fact, if the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had not contracted himself out of the Act, he would have laid himself open to the suspicion that he was not managing his estates property.
said, that the Agricultural Holdings Act was a valuable piece of legislation, not only for its direct, but for its indirect effect in leading to the adoption of leases or other suitable agreements by landlords and tenants.
believed the tenants of the Duchy of Lancaster were perfectly well satisfied with their landlord, and if asked whether they would prefer the custom of the country or the Agricultural Holdings Act, they would choose the old system. He wished to bear testimony as an independent Member to the fact that the farms under the management of the Duchy of Lancaster exhibited as great progress in agricultural improvement as those in any part of the country. The whole of the estates were under the direction of a most excellent surveyor general. The farms which were contracted out of the provisions of the Act were placed under as favourable conditions as they could have been under it, considering how the custom of the country already gave tenant right to farmers leaving their farms, and in those portions of the Duchy which were under long leases, he believed that as those leases fell in the same liberal and enlightened policy would be pursued. He believed that the lands thus held under the Crown might fairly compare with any in the country as to cultivation and produce, and that change of tenants was most rare.
said, he did not mean to add anything to the vindication of the conduct of the Chancellor of the Duchy, which was already complete; he only rose to refer to a matter which his right hon. and gallant Friend had omitted to notice, and which he had asked him (Mr. Plunket) to bring before the House. In March last a circular was issued to the tenants of the estate which had been more particularly referred to in which there was a paragraph explaining exactly what the Chancellor was doing. The paragraph was to this effect—
"The Chancellor will shortly have under consideration a plan for the re-construction of the Severals farms. The necessary engineering work for the drainage of the land has now nearly been brought to completion; it remains that by a proper expenditure of capital by the landlord, and of energy on the part of the tenants, under the guarantee of leases for terms of years, this estate should be brought into a proper state of cultivation, for the benefit alike of landlord and tenant."
said, the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) had done well to call attention to the operation, or rather the want of operation, of the Agricultural Holdings Act in the Duchy of Lancaster. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would be satisfied, and would not take the sense of the House on the Resolution, which might appear to convey censure on the management of the estates by the Chancellor. He (the Marquess of Hartington) had no knowledge of the management of the Duchy of Lancaster estates, but from what had fallen in the debate he had no reason to think that any fault was to be found with the general management of the estates, and certainly there was no fault to be found with the Chancellor for contracting his tenants out of the Agricultural Holdings Act, because he had acted perfectly properly, and had followed the example of a great many—indeed, the large majority of the landlords of this country, some of them the best landlords in England. Having said that, he thought the decision of the Chancellor a rather curious commentary on the Agricultural Holdings Act as passed by the Government. He ventured in some observations which he made on the second reading of the Bill to express an opinion that the provisions of the Bill would not be found generally acceptable either by the landlord or the tenant. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister—whose unavoidable absence he (the Marquess of Hartington) regretted—contested that assertion, and quoted him, not very accurately, as saying that "there was not the least doubt that every landlord would contract himself out of it." What he had said was, "that he had reason to suppose that a great number of the landlords would take that course." The Prime Minister went on to say—
He thought it was shown, from the speeches made that evening, that he had been able to form a better opinion of the probable effect of the Agricultural Holdings Bill than the Prime Minister, who was responsible to the House for the measure. It had been said, by the hon. and gallant Member for East Essex (Colonel Brise), that although the Act had not been operating to any great extent, it had done a great deal of good, as it had led generally to the granting of leases or suitable agreements. That was no great claim to make for the Act. Precisely the same might be done, however bad the provisions of the Act; in fact, the worse the Act was the more it would lead to these agreements. The provisions of the Act had been found, not in one part or in one set of cases only, but all over England, almost universally, to be totally inapplicable to the cases it was intended to meet. It seemed to him a dangerous principle to pass legislation which was not to be obeyed, and then to congratulate themselves on having passed an Act from which landlords and tenants would be obliged to fly. He believed still more this Session than last that the Act was not intended to have any practical operation. He believed it was intended to meet a certain amount of agitation which had arisen in various parts of the country, and that it was intended to stop the mouths of those who were described by the right hon. Gentleman as "philosophers and economists." He did not believe that the Government thought it would have any general application, and if that was not their intention they were not disappointed."The noble Lord must have an extensive acquaintance with landlords to authorize him in giving so general and sweeping an account to the House. My experience is of a contrary description; but if the noble Lord is correct in the latter part of his speech, that one of the great features of the Bill is that it changes the presumption of the law, and changes it in favour of the tenant, it is not very probable that the landlords would find their tenants so ready to contract themselves out of the Bill."—[3 Hansard, ccxxv. 524.]
said, the noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) had just made some general observations upon the policy of the Government in introducing the Agricultural Holdings Act, and he laid it down that it was not a bonâ fide policy—that it was not intended to benefit agriculture, but to stop the mouths of agitators. He thought, considering the pains that were taken as to the details of the measure, the noble Lord might have held a more charitable view of it. He ventured to say the Act had not been so inoperative as the noble Lord said. What was the principle of the Act? It was that where a tenant had not the security of a lease, he should, on finishing his holding, obtain compensation for unexhausted improvements. It was stated by the supporters of the Bill that on many estates it would not be required—for instance, on large estates where leases prevailed, and where proper agreements already existed, and where the principle of the measure was generally recognized, and where the tenants had security for their improvements. But it was also contended that such a measure was required in the case of estates where there were no proper agreements, and where the tenants had not the security of leases. It was on such estates that the Act was intended to be operative, and it was specially required in the case of glebe lands and rectorial farms, where the rector had not the power to give compensation. Now the noble Lord and others who preceded him stated that the Act had not been generally adopted throughout the country, and that he believed was true; but it was not so, for this reason that, as regarded the great majority of landed estates in England the principle of the Act had already been adopted, the equitable provisions of the Act already existing in the agreements which subsisted between the landlords and their tenants. In those cases it was not to be expected, when the particular character of the holding was considered, that special provision to meet the requirements of the Act would be made, and that the parties interested would not contract themselves out of its operation. In respect of other estates where no such agreements had been entered into, or where the existing agreements did not provide security for the tenant, the principle laid down by the Act had, he believed, been very generally adopted—that principle being incorporated in new and substituted agreements. He therefore ventured to think that the Act had been and was a great advantage to the tenant and to the country at large, and that the indictment which had been preferred against the Bill and its authors could not be sustained. The more the provisions of the Act became known the more widely, he believed, would they be made available, and although, in the first instance, a great many proprietors and tenants had been a little shy in coming under the special provisions of the Act, yet he could not but think that in a few years the Act would be adopted in extenso, and that many capitalists would in consequence be induced to embark their money in the cultivation of land to the great and material benefit of the country.
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
The House divided:—Ayes 226; Noes 53: Majority 173.
India—The Malay Peninsula—Murder Of Mr Birch
in rising to call attention to the circumstances connected with the murder of Mr. Birch, late British Resident at Perak, and to the intervention by the authorities of the Straits Settlements in the affairs of the Malay Peninsula, said, he thought that the importance of the subject warranted the House in asking the Govern- ment to inform the country and the House what their policy with regard to the Malay Peninsula was. It was not only that an official of the British Government had been cruelly murdered, because that might be a mere accident, and he thought he should be able to show that that was not a preconceived plan. But what he thought demanded some official explanation was the policy the Government were pursuing with regard to the Malay Peninsula. He would commence by premising that when the Malay Peninsula was under the control of the East India Company, and subsequently of the India Office, the action of both those authorities was guided by the principle of non-intervention in the Malay States. Owing, however, to the growth of our commerce and other causes, Lord Kimberley was subsequently induced to invite our Governor at Singapore—the Governor of the Straits Settlements—to inform him whether it would be possible to station a Resident at the different Malay ports; and Sir Andrew Clarke, following up that invitation, decided that it would be the best policy to adopt considering the state of anarchy which prevailed in the Peninsula. At that time there were two disturbing elements at work producing that anarchy and confusion. In one of the provinces, there being rich tin mines, a large number of Chinese, as many as 40,000, were working. Their migrations were governed by secret societies, and it happened that a great subject of contention had arisen, which divided them into two equal parties, between whom constant quarrels occurred, which had developed themselves into something like war. To such an extent did these quarrels spread that, on one occasion, no less than 3,000 Chinese were killed, and it was brought to the notice of the Governor that if these riots were to continue much longer, and if the Malays were allowed to remain in the state of anarchy in which they were, at least one-half of those quarrels would have to be fought out on British soil. That anarchy, he might add, was increased by the disputes as to who should be Sultan. The Sultan of the Malays had died just before, and the next heir, the Rajah Abdullah, long refused to attend to the Royal obsequies, and, the presence of the new Sultan being indispensable, the chiefs elected another in his stead—the Rajah Ismail. But this did not receive the acquiescence of Abdullah, who, being naturally incensed, publicly announced his intention to fight for his rights, so that the quarrel became something like those between the Highland Chiefs in times gone by, there being in the Province of Perak only about 25,000 Malays, with several Rajahs at their head. That being the state of affairs, Sir Andrew Clarke called the Chiefs together with the view of putting an end, as far as possible, to the anarchy which existed. The Sultan Ismail would not attend the conference, but a large number of other Chiefs were present, and a Treaty or engagement was entered into, at Pangore, by which Ismail was dethroned and Abdullah chosen in his place; and also, with the consent of the greater number of Chiefs, it was agreed that Residents should be appointed. By the 6th section of this Treaty it was provided that the Sultan should receive and provide a suitable residence for a British officer, who was to be called a Resident; who should be duly accredited to the Court of the Sultan, and—
By its 7th section the Treaty further provided that the collection, control, and general regulation of the revenues and the general administration of the country was to be regulated under the advice of the Residents. This engagement was sent home to England, passed under the eye of the Colonial Minister, and was approved by him generally in a despatch, upon which a Proclamation was issued in the name of "Victoria, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen and Empress of India." Singularly enough, this much debated title was used in a public Proclamation in the Malay Peninsula in 1874! This document stated that Her Majesty would look for "the exact fulfilment of all the pledges now voluntarily given," and that she "would hold responsible those who broke engagements thus solemnly agreed upon," which, of course, if it meant anything, meant that if necessary, force would be used in carrying out the terms of the Treaty, and it was under those circumstances that Mr. Birch proceeded to Perak, and he was altogether unable to understand how it could have been supposed by any person that his position was to be merely that of adviser. Very soon, however, Mr. Birch did undertake the duties of a Ruler, and assumed those functions. It was found that Sultan Abdullah was a man of an indolent character and profligate habits, who spent his time in opium-smoking, and was not to be trusted; and the Resident, after giving him the best advice he could, took the real rule of the country into his own hands. The inhabitants of the country, as he had said, were divided in their allegiance. A large section of the people stood by Sultan Abdullah, but a large number supported the pretensions of Ismail, and thus a considerable division had occurred. This state of anarchy continued, and some of the principal Chiefs applied to the Governor, Sir William Jervois, to take some step in advance, upon which he appointed two Commissioners to govern the country in the Queen's name—so that they were no longer Residents to advise, but Commissioners to govern. With regard to the actual circumstances attending the murder of Mr. Birch, it was a mistake to suppose that it arose from the Proclamation issued from the Colonial Office after the execution of the Treaty to which he had referred. At the time when the Proclamation relating to the appointment of the Commissioner arrived, a feeling of great irritation existed among the population, and it was heightened by the religious excitement attendant on a Mahomedan festival held at that season of the year. In pursuance of Mr. Birch's orders, his Malay servant proceeded to post up outside the Residency the Proclamation, which a native, on being told that it was the form in which the British Government took possession of the country, immediately tore down. A scuffle ensuing, Mr. Birch's servant stabbed his opponent to the heart, whereupon a cry was raised and an attack was made upon Mr. Birch, who was at once killed in his bath. He was satisfied from a careful perusal of the documents that had been laid before Parliament that the crime had been committed in the heat of the moment without the slightest premeditation. In his estimation the real question was how far the Colonial Office was justified in allowing a British officer to occupy a responsible position in the Peninsula without giving to him the adequate material support necessary for the carrying out of his duties. Owing to the position in which Mr. Birch had been left, he had been brought into collision with many of the petty Chiefs, and at the same time he had not been granted the means of carrying out the policy which he had been urged to initiate. Either he ought to have been a simple adviser, or he ought to have been surrounded with such a force as would have rendered an attack on the Representative of the Sovereign of England impossible. The Papers showed distinctly that Her Majesty's Government ought to have known that it was impossible that Residents could have held their position properly without some such help, and the Governor would have been justified in asking for such a force. As to the subsequent events, he feared that in the course which we had taken to punish the murder of Mr. Birch we had been actuated too much by a feeling of revenge, or at least that the chastisement inflicted was more severe than it ought to have been. He denied that the principle of Residents had proved successful, and he wished now to ask Her Majesty's Government what policy they intended to pursue in the future with regard to these semi-civilized States? They ought clearly to state that policy in the interests of all concerned, whether Malays, Chinese, or Englishmen. In his opinion, there were only four courses that could be adopted. The first was absolute non-intervention, which he did not think could now be adopted. The second was to have a Resident whose functions should be strictly limited to giving advice. Experience had proved that that was not likely to be most conducive to the honour of this country. The third alternative was to have Residents who would be backed up by the Imperial power, and he should be glad if such a policy could be found possible. The fourth was that of annexation, which he believed an unfortunate solution of the difficulty. But, under the circumstances, opposed as he was to that policy, he was afraid that we had drifted into a position in which it had become an absolute necessity in order to protect our commercial interests, and to develop one of the most beautiful and richest countries in the world. As far as the Chiefs were concerned, they were willing to receive pensions at our hands, and as regarded the Malay people, he thought there were few who knew anything of them who would not say that they would be far happier under British rule than they were under that of their own Sultans. In the present state of things, therefore, it seemed to him that we had nothing but a bold policy to pursue—namely, that of annexation."Whose advice must be asked and acted upon on all questions other than those touching the Malay religion and custom."
said, from experience gained on the spot, he agreed generally with the views of his hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Noel); but he did not go quite so far in believing that annexation was the only possible solution of this matter, although he confessed a great deal could be said in its favour. A solution short of annexation might possibly be found in the re-transfer of our interestin the Malayan Peninsula to the India Office from the Colonial Office. In his opinion, that Department was much better qualified to deal with the difficulties which had arisen than the Colonial Office, or any administration in the country. He had to complain that the official Papers on the subject which had been printed for the use of Members of the House had been so long delayed in their distribution, and that they were in such a jumbled and confused state. They did not contain the conclusion of the Correspondence, nor did they state the views of the Government ona most important point—namely, the policy which was to be pursued in future. So far as he had been able to master them, it seemed that Lord Carnarvon had very strongly censured Sir William Jervois. Lord Carnarvon, in fact, seemed to lay on Sir William Jervois the responsibility for the death of Mr. Birch. He (Sir Charles Dilke) could hardly think that such censure was merited, but he did not wish to go too far in defending Sir William Jervois from the censure of the Government, because no doubt there was some indiscretion in the conduct of that officer in that he had been guilty of publicly advocating a policy of annexation without the authority or support of Her Majesty's Government. We were involved in the Malay Peninsula in many of the difficulties we had experienced on the Gold Coast, where, in the protected States, we gave something like countenance to slavery. From Captain Speedy's Re- port and a communication forwarded to the Colonial Office by Lord Stanley of Alderley, we could see that there was a large amount of slavery in the Malay territories. Captain Speedy said three-fourths of the population were what he called "debt slaves," but slaves they were in every sense of the word. The course which we had pursued with reference to the coinage and other matters had produced very great discontent among the population, and had no doubt a good deal to do with the circumstances which led to the death of Mr. Birch. All must regret the loss of so able a public servant and a gentleman of such high personal character as he was allowed to be, but nevertheless Mr. Birch was not the right man for the post, and it could not be doubted that his own conduct had contributed in a great measure to that unfortunate event, for he did undoubtedly involve himself in personal action towards the Malayans, which led not only his Malayan, but his white friends to warn him.
said, that the Government had treated the House shabbily in staving off discussion on this question until it had become stale, on the plea that they should wait for Papers, and then that morning throwing at the head of hon. Members three Blue Books, in which everything was to be found except what hon. Members wanted to know. The consequence was that the debate was being carried on before empty Benches. He was inclined to fear that the Government had permitted this matter to drift too much. The one point upon which the House desired information was as to the policy which the Government meant to pursue in regard to the Malay Peninsula, but none had been vouchsafed. The simple question was whether, in one form or another, this country should assume the control of the Peninsula. The Malays were not pirates in the sense of committing piracies outside their own territory, but the state of anarchy in the country was so great that this country would be fully justified in interfering if it were expedient that they should do so. The great defect of that country was the want of population. There were pros and cons upon that question of expediency. An hon. Member had said that if the Government adopted a policy of annexation, it could be done without much expense. From that opinion of his hon. Friend he differed. Some persons compared the Malay Peninsula with Java and Ceylon; but there was this great difference—that by far the greater part of the Malayan Peninsula was an absolutely unknown jungle, and in addition to controlling first the Malays and afterwards the Chinese, it would be necessary to introduce a large population to render the country productive, a thing which could not be done without expense. He could therefore quite understand that the Government would hesitate before they decided upon a policy of annexation, and he would express a hope that that would not happen which had happened in other cases, when there was a long bill to pay, handing it over to India for the ryots to pay, instead of paying it ourselves. The result of the transfer about nine years ago from the India Office to the Colonial Office had not been good, and he found fault with that office for not exercising a sufficient control over the policy of the Governors of Crown colonies. When the Settlements were subject to the Government of India, the local authorities were not allowed to have their own way too much; but now these people had been suffered to follow out their own ideas by the Colonial Office. To allow a small knot of local mercantile men, without responsibility, to direct our proceedings and to drag in the British Army and Treasury to back them up, should not be permitted. The Residents in the Straits Settlements were quite right in calling this the Clarke policy. Sir Andrew Clarke established a system of Residents, which amounted to annexation in the Dutch form, as practised in Java, rather than the English form. He found two Chiefs fighting against each other, and said to one of them—"I will back you up and make you Sultan, if you will accept a Resident." That policy might be in some cases, to a certain extent, successful; but it was somewhat dangerous that the Governor should throw himself into the hands of a small knot of people around him, and allow them to guide him in the affairs of the whole Peninsula. It was clear from his addresses to the Legislative Council that Sir Andrew Clarke appealed to the cupidity of the British merchants who were settled there. He called upon the non-official members of the Council, in rather tall talk, to help him in founding a great colony upon the ruins of ancient Empires; but surely people who wished to do so should do so with their own means and money. The policy of Sir Andrew Clarke, practically amounting, as it did, to annexation, ought not to be adopted without the deliberate assent of the Colonial Office; but he feared that the Government at home had, instead, allowed themselves to drift into that policy. A considerable amount of patronage was afforded to the Europeans in the Straits Settlements by Sir Andrew Clarke's policy of annexation, and he strongly objected to some of the appointments of Residents, taken from this limited community. One of the persons so appointed was Mr. Davidson, who had had money dealings with the Native Prince with whom he had been made Resident. It was true that Mr. Davidson had made a formal transfer of the claim; but it was clearly a nominal transfer only; he was still, in fact, the Prince's creditor, and as such was appointed to administer his revenue. The first use which Mr. Davidson made of his position was to prosecute a grand mining company, in which he was the principal partner. Such an appointment was a most improper one, and ought never to have been made. Another appointment was that of Captain Speedy, who might be a fine fellow, but was a sort of free lance such as used to go about in the Middle Ages, placing himself at the disposal of different Princes. Some time ago he had come into contact with this Captain Speedy, who was then enlisting soldiers in the Punjab and was about to proceed with them in a steamer from Calcutta to the Straits. The Indian Government stopped him on that occasion. Captain Speedy had got permission from some Malay Chief to recruit soldiers, and a little later on he did get some together for this service. Next he came to Sir William Jervois, who, he thought, had been rather hardly treated in this matter. Sir Andrew Clarke having practically assumed the administration of these territories, Sir William Jervois went a step further, but it happened that disaster ensued, and instead of meeting with approval he met with a good deal of censure. He sincerely hoped Her Majesty's Government would not let the question of policy be determined by the Governors of Colonies whose speeches he quoted. They were in the habit of delivering very long speeches on the subject. He trusted the Government would tell the House what they proposed to do in regard to the cost already incurred in consequence of the events in the Malayan Peninsula. It was stated that something like £100,000 had been spent in transporting troops backwards and forwards, and he should like to know by whom this expense was to be borne? If not by the Colony then he objected to the large expense of carrying backwards and forwards troops to and from Calcutta. Practically it placed the Army and Navy of Britain at the beck of the Government of a small Settlement. If that was to continue, he wanted to know whether the cost was to be paid out of the revenues of the Settlement or by the Colonial Office, or, in other words, by the British taxpayers? He was strongly of opinion that it ought not to be imposed on the Indian Government.
agreed that great injustice would be perpetrated if any portion of the expense of this Malayan enterprize were thrown on the Indian Exchequer. At the same time annexation to India might have such a value in many respects, as to make it desirable to keep the question open. It might be necessary to carry out a policy of annexation, and in that case it would be well for the English to have the power of transferring what would then be an English colony to the Government of India. At the time when the finances of India were in such distress after the Mutiny, among the measures of retrenchment that were considered was one as to the expense of maintaining the Singapore Settlement. It was then established that India was paying for the support of a dependency with which she had no special connection. If any idea were entertained of handing over to India the whole of the Malay Peninsula, a proceeding which, in his opinion, on a review of the whole of the circumstances, it was expedient to take, an allowance ought to be made to India in respect of the cost of the transfer. If that were not done, at any rate security should be taken that none of the expenses of that transfer should fall on that country. There was only one way in which the Peninsula could be rendered like what the Governors represented—namely, by Chinese immigration. If that were encouraged, it would be of great advantage both to the English and to the Indian Governments. If things were left in their present state we must drift gradually into a policy of annexation.
remarked that annexation had been practically going on ever since the time when he first served in the Straits of Malacca—indeed ever since the free trade port of Singapore was established in 1819 under the wise selection of Sir Stamford Raffles and Mr. Crawford—in so far that the influence of our power had been gradually year by year extending and our authority recognized and accepted by the various petty Rajahs and Chiefs ruling in the numerous territories into which Malay Land was divided. It was impossible for the British power to continue to hold these free trade settlements in the Straits of Malacca without that supremacy which was the natural result of a great nation acting with fairness and honesty, as our Government had done, over a vast area occupied by Chinese and Malays anxious to live in peace, fully alive to the comparative excellence of our rule, and, above all, appreciating the benefits which our free trade policy gave them. Then, as regarded wars and disturbances in that vast area, they had been repeatedly threatened from the time we bought Penang in the last century, and especially since we had occupied Singapore and Malacca; and they were unavoidable so long as we enforced order, put down piracies, and prevented aggressions against our rule or our people. In his youth he was several times under orders to take the field against the Malays, but he could bear testimony to the anxious desire of the British authorities to abstain from encroaching on the nominally independent rights of the petty Chiefs who unfortunately misgoverned that tract which was beyond our boundaries. There was, however, a great temptation to annex by force, instead of waiting for the natural and unavoidable amalgamation which year by year, as our Settlements prospered, must be effected by the desire of the people in the neighbouring States to fall under the control of a good and peaceable Government. There was, indeed, a great temptation to expedite that union, for the land was full of natural resources, and all who had been there would loudly praise the loveliness of the scenery and the productiveness of the country. The commencement of the system of having British officers located as Residents with the Chiefs, which had led to the late war, was not a novel thing, but it had existed even in the time of the East India Company's Government. There was no necessity for abandoning that practice; but he urged on the Government that they should not let the authority in the Straits Settlements run too fast; but if they allowed British influence to be slowly but wisely established in the Malay Peninsula as necessity arose they would avoid those unhappy complications which they had lately seen in that country. The Malays at present under our control at Singapore, Malacca, and Penang were more numerous than all in the Malayan Peninsula. They were attached to British connection, having seen the advantages which they derived from it; and he believed that the same results could be brought about in the territories surrounding our Straits Settlements by a judicious policy, the foremost consideration being the protection of the people from the oppression of their Chiefs, and by encouraging them to develop the resources of their beautiful and fertile country. With regard to the financial effect of the transfer of Singapore, Malacca, and Penang from the Indian Government to the Colonial Office, so far from that transfer being a burden to England, there was a sufficient revenue to pay for the whole military as well as civil expenditure of all the Settlements, and to leave a surplus. Therefore, if India were again to have those States placed under its care, the revenues of Singapore would be adequate to meet all charges. Then as regarded the annexations, these could only have been made mainly in the interest of Singapore and of our very considerable trade, in which England shared largely. It was only fair and just that the revenues of the Settlements in the Straits of Singapore should bear the burden of the expense, and neither the Revenues of India nor of England should be burdened with charges arising out of operations incited and encouraged by the influential class at Singapore. On this condition it was right that the people so contributing should have a voice in the policy which they were obliged to meet financially. It was unfortunate that Mr. Birch had not been acquainted with the Malay language. There was no necessity for appointing an officer who could not speak to the people amongst whom he was placed, and who had not had the advantage in his youth of intercourse with Malays, instead of Cingalese in Ceylon, where he had so long served with honour. It was said that Malays were treacherous and faithless, but he had himself known cases in which that was not so. The Malays were a high-spirited people, and it was most desirable that the officers whom we sent to them should be able to speak their language and know something of their ways and feelings. The selection of those officers was a most important point, as on it depended the justification of the policy they intended, to carry out of having Residents in those States. The proper course would be to allow annexation gradually to go on in accordance with the wishes of the people, and the best and most peaceable mode of effecting that end, was with the consent and at the desire of the people, pensioning off the Chiefs and governing men, who often usurped the power, and too generally exercised their authority in a way far from being beneficial to the interests of the country or good of the people. Should it be decided to take the control of the whole of the Settlements from the Colonial Office and transfer them to the Indian Government, it would still be necessary for the Imperial Government to exercise some supervision over the affairs of that part of the globe, for the Settlements were established for trading purposes, and now that the Dutch were extending their rule over Sumatra we were face to face with a new and an aggressive Power, whose policy of annexation could not fail to have an influence on our policy. In fact, what we needed was good government for the Malays in our part of Malay Land. We were far more likely to secure the willing obedience of our Malay neighbours than the Dutch ever were in Sumatra. We should continue our very successful system of free trade, which all in the East so highly appreciated, in contrast with that of the Dutch—of monopolies, duties, and restrictions; at the same time encouraging, as the hon. Member for Orkney (Mr. Laing) had recommended, a large and steady immigration of Chinese, for nothing could be wiser than to encourage the settlement in the Peninsula of that industrious people, who could very easily be brought there. No country was better adapted for being opened out to commerce than the Malay country, but to promote that end it was necessary to prevent the Malay Chiefs, who in general were a cock-fighting and opium-eating set of men, from carrying on their devastating wars and their piratical expeditions.
confessed that he could sympathize with the feeling of hon. Members who complained that the voluminous Papers relating to that subject had been delivered to them only that morning. But it could hardly be otherwise, seeing that he had occasion some weeks ago to state that the production of all those Papers was of necessity delayed until the Colonial Office had received from Sir William Jervois an important despatch, which was to contain an explanation of the conduct he had pursued as to the deplorable events in the Straits Settlements. Sir William Jervois had wished, not very unreasonably, that not only should his despatch when received be included among the Papers laid before Parliament, but that the publication of all the other Papers should be delayed until his defence could appear along with them. The Secretary of State could not fairly have returned any other answer than the one he gave—namely, that the publication of further Papers on the subject should be delayed until Sir William Jervois's defence could be included among them. Then, of course, the Secretary of State would not have been justified in allowing Sir William Jervois's despatch to appear without his own reply, and thus the delay in the publication of the Papers was brought down to a very recent period. He regretted that hon. Members had had so short a time in which to master the particulars contained in these voluminous Papers; but they were pressed on at the last moment, so that they might be in the hands of hon. Members when this question was brought forward. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Noel) had recited very plainly the facts of the case, and as he had pointed out, there was considerable property in mines and an extensive commerce in which a considerable amount of British capital was employed in the Straits Settlements and neighbouring territories, and this country was therefore concerned in the maintenance of order and good government there. That caused the British Government to have a practical interest in the administration of the surrounding States. Of course, the question remained to what extent that interest should be carried, and what shape it should assume. It had been already said that our relations with these States had been brought into unfortunate prominence by some riots that had occurred in connection with some emigrant Chinese, who, though a most useful and industrious race, were apt to cause local dissatisfaction where they settled. The disturbance began among the Chinese themselves; but the Malays sided with one or other of the combatants, and necessitated the intervention of some stronger power. In that state of things Sir Andrew Clarke found himself called upon to deal with the disputed succession to the Sultanship. The choice of the Chiefs fell upon Ismail, but Sir Andrew Clarke thought the interests of this country could be better served by a different choice, and at his instance Abdullah was appointed. Of that personage all he (Mr. Lowther) would say was, that if he was the best that could be chosen, his selection did not reflect great credit on his rivals, and he would at once admit that he did not seem particularly fitted for government. His addiction to the practice of opium-eating now calculated to raise doubts as to his being likely to prove a very energetic ruler. Then followed the Treaty of Panghore—which might be considered the starting point of our difficulties—in which it was clearly laid down that the Residents at the various Courts were to act as advisers. From the fact that the advice of the Residents was to be asked and acted upon, the hon. Member who introduced the discussion concluded that the British Government intended actively to intervene in the affairs of the States in question; but a careful perusal of the language of the Treaty, together with the despatches relating to it, would show that no such understanding existed. The subsequent Proclamation, to which reference had been made, however, upon the face of it involved a serious departure from the terms of the Treaty. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) and others had contended that the present Secretary of State ought to have known that affairs were drifting into an unsatisfactory or dangerous position; but he (Mr. Lowther) was certain that when hon. Members had more thoroughly perused these Papers and glanced at the despatch of Lord Carnarvon of May 20, they would arrive at the conclusion that until the news was received of the deplorable events which had occurred in that country the Colonial Secretary was not at all aware that there had been any departure from the terms of the Treaty which he had himself sanctioned. But the policy which had been inaugurated by Sir William Jervois and carried into effect by Mr. Birch was a serious departure from the existing state of affairs. He (Mr. Lowther) entertained a very strong opinion that any unnecessary interference by the Home Government with the ordinary routine of the Government of distant Settlements was undesirable, and likely in most cases to be mischievous. Such an interference was calculated to diminish the responsibility of the local Government, and was not likely to promote the interests of the public service. He might add to this far more important question, the energetic action on the spur of the moment necessitated by any sudden outbreak, or matters which could not be contemplated by the Home Government—in all these cases he considered that the action of the Home Government would be most mischievous if it tended in any way to diminish the responsibility of the local administrative Government or any possible interference with its action. But when the question was not one of minor details or sudden emergency necessitating immediate action, and when the position of affairs was an important change of policy extending to an indefinite future, he considered that the conditions he had indicated in no shape or form applied. Under such circumstances as these it was the duty of a Governor to communicate with the Secretary of State before adopting so serious an innovation upon the state of affairs. Sir William Jervois, however, apparently satisfied himself that the status quo should be changed, and he did not communicate with the Home Government before he adopted the idea which was in his own mind. That was a course of proceeding much to be deplored, for in the selection of the new policy conferring the virtual direction of Governments that were nominally independent upon the Residents, a step was taken that was a very serious innovation, and one which had not led to very satisfactory results. Reference had been made to that unfortunate occurrence—the death of Mr. Birch, and with regard to the details of that untoward event, it had been mentioned in the course of the debate that the Secretary of State had called the attention of Sir William Jervois to the fact that the outbreak could not be disassociated from the introduction of the new policy, and this expression of opinion was disapproved by one hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Lowther), however, contended that his noble Friend would not have fulfilled his duty if he had failed to point out that this unfortunate outbreak had followed close upon the introduction of the new policy, but he did not for a moment place upon Sir William Jervois the responsibility for the actual death of Mr. Birch. His noble Friend did not desire to censure, he only stated his views of the conduct of Sir William Jervois, and he concluded by expressing confidence that there would be no difficulty in his adapting himself to the policy that was placed before him. The Colonial Office was not responsible for the transactions that had taken place; in fact, it was a departure from the policy of the Colonial Office that led to these deplorable events. The outbreak was followed up by more serious disturbances, which showed that the condition of the Native population was such as gave reason for considerable alarm. A good many suggestions had been made as to the future policy which should be followed out with regard to these Settlements. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Noel) spoke of the chastisement—that was his expression—inflicted upon the disturbers of the peace, and spoke of it as being excessive. Now, he (Mr. Lowther) thought it would hardly be contended that there had been any great excesses. Of course when war came among any people events unfortunately occured which those who calmly viewed the circumstances at a distance were unable to do otherwise than regret. But so far as he had been able to make himself master of what really occurred, he could not say that any undue chastisement was inflicted upon those parties who not only murdered a British officer, but inflicted outrages upon other people besides. It was necessary to follow up those fugitive Chiefs into the recesses of the country, a feat which required great gallantry, and in carrying it out as little excess as possible, under the circumstances of the case had been committed, and he thought that few wars, great or small, had been carried on more humanely. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy introduced an important question—who was to pay the bill for the expenses of the war? He was afraid it would fall on the unfortunate British taxpayer. The population, or the want of population, had been referred to, and no doubt there was an absence of an adequate population; and it was said, and he perfectly agreed with it, that this evil could be removed by the introduction of Chinese and East Indians. No doubt the present population was unruly; the Malays had never been remarkable as a very peaceful race; anarchy was their characteristic condition and piracy their favourite pursuit, and the practice of levying blackmail upon unfortunate persons who entered a territory which was more or less governed by these Chieftains, as far as it could be said to be governed by anybody at all, would no doubt have to be guarded against. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy said he thought the Governor deferred too much to his Council, which the hon. Member said was composed mainly of merchants who were connected with the trade of the district. The Council consisted of 16 persons; 11 were official members, who could not be in a position to exercise much pressure on the Governor, and five were non-official members, who were nominated by the Governor himself. He should have thought that those who advocated the representation of the people in its most extensive form would hardly have made the complaint which had been made. The Governor of a colony would be placed in a most unenviable position if he could not recur to the advice of any person. A Council composed to some extent of merchants, but mainly of officials who were conversant with the locality, was a Council of which most Governors would very much regret to be deprived. He was not prepared to say how far the Governor might have been misinformed as to their capabilities; but so far as he understood the matter, he believed they had discharged their duties most efficiently. Several suggestions had been made as to the new policy which ought to be pursued. The hon. Member for Dumfries first of all said there was the policy of non-intervention; but the hon. Member, and he (Mr. J.Lowther), thought the House generally were of opinion that that policy, however desirable, was impossible. The British capital invested in these territories, and the unfortunate tendency of the population to marauding and piratical habits, rendered such a policy impossible. The second was the policy of Sir Andrew Clarke—Residents pure and simple, without further duties being entrusted to them. The third was Residents backed by bayonets, with a large military force at their disposal. Finally, the hon. Member indicated the policy of direct annexation. The hon. Member said he was originally opposed to any such policy, but that, after a fuller consideration of the case, he had reluctantly arrived at the conclusion that that was a sound policy. Another course had been suggested by the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke)—the re-transfer of the Government of the Straits from the Colonial to the India Office. Now, after the events which had recently occurred, it could not be supposed that the Colonial Office would be displeased at any suggestion which might relieve them from a difficult duty. But he could not for a moment encourage the House with the idea that that would be the alternative that would be selected by Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government, on account of the events which had recently occurred, would devote their anxious consideration to the question of the future government of these territories. His noble Friend had given his most serious attention to the subject. He (Mr. J. Lowther) was not able to make an announcement to the House of any new policy that was to be adopted. He could only assure them that this most important subject would be fully considered, and that at the earliest possible moment an announcement would be made to Parliament of the course which Her Majesty's Government were prepared to adopt.
Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
Supply—Civil Service Estimates—Class Iii, Vote 3
Supply— considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
The Official Referees
in proposing a Vote of £144,025, for the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, said: I shall, perhaps, consult the convenience of the Committee if I say a few words on this Vote. When it was last before the Committee an objection was taken to the appointment of one of the Official Referees, and as that objection was taken at the moment when we had very little information on the subject, I thought it would be respectful to the Committee that the Vote should be withdrawn in order that we might communicate with the Lord Chancellor on the appointment. The Lord Chancellor thought the proper course would be to write me a letter which he has requested me to read to the Committee. I ought to explain that the letter was some few days in reaching me because the Lord Chancellor thought it right to show it to the three Chiefs of the Common Law Division, whose names were referred to in it, in order that they might point out any inaccuracy. The Lord Chancellor's letter is as follows:—
"March 14, 1876.
"My Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,—As some question has been raised as to the Official Referees under the Judicature Act, I think it better to inform you of the circumstances connected with their appointment.
"According to the statute, the number, qualifications, and tenure of offices of the Referees is to be determined by the Presidents of the Divisions of the High Court of Justice with the sanction of the Treasury. The appointments of Referees are to be made by the Lord Chancellor.
"Acting under the Statute, the Presidents of Divisions, with the assent of the Treasury, determined that there should be four Referees; that they should be Barristers or Solicitors of ten years' standing; and that they should hold their offices during good behaviour, subject to removal by the Lord Chancellor, with the concurrence of the other Presidents of Divisions, or any two of them, for inability or misbehaviour.
"The first of the four Referees appointed by me was Mr. Anderson, Q.C., a gentleman of long standing, high reputation, and considerable prac- tice at the Bar. I found that he had, before I came into office, accepted the post of examiner of the Court of Chancery, on an expectation held out to him that he would be appointed an Official Referee. By this arrangement I was in no way bound, but I considered it so advantageous to the public service that I had no hesitation in confirming it.
"With regard to the other three Referees, I requested the Chiefs of the three Common Law Divisions (inasmuch as I was myself less acquainted than they must be with the qualifications of gentlemen practising at the Common Law Bar) to favour me each with the names of three gentlemen whom they would consider well qualified to fill, and who would be likely to accept, these offices. I have their permission to state what was the result. I did not receive from the Lord Chief Justice of England any recommendation. Lord Coleridge and the Lord Chief Baron were so good as to furnish me each with three names. I selected the first two names upon Lord Coleridge's list. One of them was Mr. Dowdeswell, Q.C., a gentleman whom I did not know personally, but who had been so highly recommended to meon former occasions that about a year since I offered him a County Court Judgeship, which he then refused. The other was Mr. Roupell, who was well known to me at the Bar, and whom I believe to be in every way fit for the office. The fourth Referee whom I appointed, Mr. Verey, stood first on the list of the Lord Chief Baron. He was not known to me personally, but I had in addition to the strong opinion of the Lord Chief Baron very marked concurrent testimony in his favour, and I believe him to be perfectly well qualified for the office.
"I should have been glad if the official Referees could have entered upon their new duties without a public discussion as to their qualifications, which cannot, I fear, have otherwise than a prejudicial effect.
"I have not referred to the details which I have given with any intention of placing the responsibility for the appointments elsewhere than on myself. The responsibility is mine alone, and I am perfectly satisfied that all the gentlemen appointed are fully qualified to discharge the duties of their offices.
"I am, yours faithfully, Cairns.
"The Right Hon. Sir Stafford H.
The communication I have read shows two things—first, that the gentleman to whose appointment objection was taken was appointed by the Lord Chancellor, not from personal favour, because he had no personal knowledge of him, but upon his being recommended to him by the Lord Chief Baron. The other point was that, although the recommendation was made by the Chief of one of the Common Law Courts, the appointment was made by the Lord Chancellor upon his own responsibility. The Lord Chancellor took occasion to make inquiries as to the fitness of this gentlemen for the office, and when he was satisfied as to his fitness he made the appointment on his own entire responsibility. The Lord Chancellor feels strongly on this matter as one affecting his personal character. It was his duty to find persons who were both qualified and who were willing to accept the appointment; and, in addition to the recommendation of the Lord Chief Baron, he thought it right to seek out other testimony which satisfied him as to the fitness of Mr. Verey. These are the circumstances, and I do not know that I can add anything more to the matter except to repeat that this appointment was not lightly made, and that it was made with a due sense of responsibility by the distinguished person to whom I have referred. I trust the Committee will now agree to the Vote, and will therefore move it."Northcote, Bart., and M.P."
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £144,025, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1877, for such of the Salaries and Expenses of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, of the Court of Appeal, and of the Supreme Court of Judicature, as are not charged on the Consolidated Fund."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
in moving the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,700, said, the Government had no right to be unprepared when the Vote was last before the Committee, and the inquiries which had been made since ought to have been made, and the information gained in answer given on that occasion. On the 15th of February he put a Question to the Home Secretary as to the appointment of Mr. Verey. It was answered in very much the same spirit as the Lord Chancellor's letter, and, instead of giving the House the information he wanted as to Mr. Verey, the other Official Referees were classed together, as if the Question had been asked as to them. He declined to accept that answer, and he gave Notice on the 15th of February that, on the earliest occasion, he should move a Resolution as to this particular appointment. On the 19th of February he wrote to Mr. Verey giving him clear and distinct warning of the complaint which he intended to make respecting his appointment, and intimating that he would move a Resolution on the subject. On the 22nd of February he received from Mr. Verey a simple acknowledgment of the receipt of the letter. On the 10th of March the Question came before the House, so that the Government was fully warned as to the intended line of opposition to the appointment. He could not help saying that when the Vote came on a little more haste was made in the matter than was necessary. He objected to the Vote when it was brought on, and his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General supported it, without answering his (Mr. Waddy's) objections; and the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument was that the party might prove a very good man. That was a rather weak kind of argument. Had the House gone to a vote on the question, he believed that he and those with whom he was acting would have rejected the Vote, for in numbers, at the time, they had a decided majority. There was no disposition to act in any hostile spirit; he (Mr. Waddy) had objected to the appointment solely on public grounds, and because it was considered to be a scandal in the Profession; and he was not misrepresenting the facts when he said he did not think there was a single Member in the House at that time who did not understand that when at the request of the Government he withdrew his Motion that they might withdraw the Vote it was for a purpose which had not been carried out. From that time what had happened? The appointment was distinctly challenged. It was disapproved. Yet, as he was informed, this gentleman had endeavoured to enter on the duties of this office—his right to which was being questioned in that House; and he found, by reference to The Law List, that he had not only entered himself as one of the Official Referees of the Supreme Court, but held himself out for private practice as a member of the South-East Circuit and East and West Kent Sessions. The objection he had stated to the appointment of this gentleman had not been answered, and he believed would not be answered, that evening. He did not say he was not a very amiable person and perhaps a clever young man; but what he said was this—he had been appointed to an office which required, among other things, great practical experience as well as knowledge of the law. He was called upon to exercise the office of a Judge in circumstances of great difficulty, Mat- ters were referred to him on account of their complexity. He had to discharge the functions both of Judge and jury—having to judge both of law and fact, not only in London, but in all parts of the country wherever a local inquiry might be pending—as a private arbitrator, yet with official power. Cases were referred to him compulsorily, and those cases were to be decided not where the decisions would be open to public criticism, but in comparative privacy. Therefore, it was of the greatest possible importance—firstly, that he should have a thorough knowledge of the law; secondly, that he should have great practice in applying it; and, thirdly, it was desirable that the world should know that he had had such experience. Yet, this gentleman had not the slightest experience. He professed to be a member of the Home Circuit and the East and West Kent Sessions. Well, it so happened that the Chairmen of both Sessions were Members of that House, and neither of them rose to say that they knew anything of him. He altogether failed to collect what the Lord Chancellor called "the marked concurrent testimony in his favour." He believed that some hon. Members of the House had been requested to say what they could on his behalf; but he must repeat the charge he had made before. He challenged the testimony of any hon. Member or of anybody else that this gentleman had ever practically been doing work to any extent in Westminster Hall. The country and the Profession wished to know why a gentleman so unknown in it had been selected for an office of the greatest difficulty and delicacy when there were plenty of other gentlemen ready to accept it; and he was informed that there were men of standing, Queen's Counsel and others, who had applied for the position—men who had been devoting themselves to the kind of work which had to be performed. Nobody had every suggested that the Lord Chancellor had simply conferred a personal favour, but it was a fact that the appointment was conferred by him upon the nomination of the same eminent Judge who previously, to the surprise of the Circuit, gave this gentleman a Revising Barristership. If certain letters which had been gathered with immense care were read, he should feel bound to answer the statements made in them, especially with regard to the people who had written them. In conclusion, he would say that it was a very unpleasant task to have to descant upon an appointment of the kind; but, having done so, he felt it his duty to propose the reduction of the Vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £142,325, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1877, for such of the Salaries and Expenses of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, of the Court of Appeal, and of the Supreme Court of Judicature, as are not charged on the Consolidated Fund."—(Mr. Waddy.)
said, he need not bespeak the indulgence of the Committee while he made a statement on behalf of the gentleman whose name had been so freely brought forward and who could not be present to speak for himself. He rejoiced that the hon. and learned Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Waddy) had not used quite such strong language as he did on a former occasion, nor spoken in the same spirit. The question was one of considerable importance from two points of view—first, with regard to the qualifications and character of Mr. Verey; and, secondly, with regard to the circumstances under which the appointment was made, and also with respect to the power of the House to interfere with an appointment made on the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor. By the 83rd section of the Act the appointment was absolutely in the hands of the Lord Chancellor, and he, with the assistance of one of the Judges of the Supreme Court, had to judge of the qualifications of the persons nominated. Therefore, one of the questions involved was whether the Lord Chancellor had exercised his patronage discreetly. The question which the Committee had to consider was not whether the appointment of Mr. Verey was the best that could have been made—and for his own part he frankly admitted that there were other gentlemen whose appointment might have been more acceptable to the Profession and the public. It was whether the qualifications and antecedents of Mr. Verey were such as entitled him to hold the office, the responsibility of which had not been exaggerated. The hon. and learned Gentleman had talked of Mr. Verey as a young man, so that the House might think he was a briefless barrister of 24 or 25 years of age, who had not had any practice at all. But Mr. Verey was really on the verge of 40, and during the whole of his life since he left Cambridge had been engaged in the law. He did not know what his hon. and learned Friend considered a proper age for an official appointment; but if the ages of all the four Referees were taken they would make a pretty good average, and the hon. and learned Member for the Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Watkin Williams), who went the same circuit, and who of all men was the most competent judge, said that of all the four appointments he considered that of Mr. Vereythe best. If the appointment were unjustifiable, there had been an abuse of patronage; but he should like to know on what evidence or statement of facts the Committee was to determine whether it was an improper appointment. The hon. and learned Member forTaunton (Sir Henry James) the other night used a figure of speech when he represented Mr. Verey as a gentleman who had never held a brief, and never but once appeared on the circuit. [Sir Henry James: Before getting this appointment.] Not having gone circuit himself recently, his acquaintance with Mr. Verey had been very slight; but he had made inquiries and had become master of the facts. The result was that he had been informed by gentlemen of standing—Queen's Counsel and leaders on the circuit—that Mr. Verey was a gentleman of considerable attainments, although he had not enjoyed the smiles of the attorneys. It did not follow that a man's practice was the only test of his ability, for it often happened that men who had the reputation of being good lawyers and clever men failed to win the smiles of fortune and the patronage of solicitors; and yet they might be and often were good arbitrators, for arbitrations were not usually taken by men who had good practice. And for this very substantial reason—that men in practice had not time to undertake such duties, and they were looked upon as the perquisites of men who, being competent, had not practice. Mr. Verey was a member of Trinity College, Cambridge, and took his degree there with honours, which, though not high, were sufficient to show that he had in- dustrious habits early in life and that he did not go to the College as an idler. Afterwards—and what was of some importance as bearing on this debate—instead of going at once into a pleader's chambers he went for three years into the office of one of the most eminent firms of solicitors in the metropolis—Messrs. Crowder and Maynard—and so had early training as to the very class of cases with which he would have in future to deal. He then went through the ordinary curriculum of a student for the bar, and assisted a gentleman who was now one of the most eminent of the County Court Judges, in preparing a well-known volume of Chitty's Reports. From the age of 18 to that of 40 he had devoted himself industriously to the study of the law. True he had not made patrons of the other branch of the Profession; but it was not suggested that if he had he was not competent to have discharged any duties that might have been entrusted to him. Having been appealed to by Mr. Verey, he could not refrain from making this statement on his behalf. He trusted he had said enough to dispose of the question of want of qualification, and enough to induce the Committee to come to the conclusion that they ought not to interfere with the discretion of the Lord Chancellor, in whose hands the appointment lay. He had been long enough in the House to know that if this question went to a division, it would be decided by a Party vote, and that would not be a proper way to deal with a subject of this sort. If there had been any impropriety in the appointment, it should be challenged elsewhere. The tenure of office was in the hands of him who gave it, and who had justified the appointment by the letter read by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Under the circumstances, the Committee would probably think that his hon. and learned Friend had discharged his duty in having called attention to this matter, which might have an effect on other appointments. It was somewhat invidious, however, to single out Mr. Verey for attack, when the hon. and learned Member for the Denbigh Boroughs had stated that Mr. Verey's appointment was the best. He could not see why his hon. and learned Friend should not have challenged the appointment of the four, instead of limiting his attack to one.
said, he could not sympathize with the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken, because if a man placed himself in a position to have his appointment challenged, he could have no good grounds of complaint if it were done. He denied that this was entirely an affair for the Lord Chancellor's discretion. The House of Commons was the place in which appointments which were public trusts should be judged. It was the function of the House of Commons to watch over the public purse, and to see that salaries were not paid to persons not qualified to discharge the duties of their position. His hon. and learned Friend had referred to this gentleman's University career. But every one knew that "Wooden Spoons" had obtained the highest position at the Bar, and so distinguished a man as Sir William Follett had gone through his University without taking honours at all. When his hon. and learned Friend talked of this gentleman having spent three years in a solicitor's office, he could not have used a more damaging argument, because then Mr. Verey must have got that very introduction for which so many able men sighed, and yet he had lived to the age of 40 and was utterly unknown on the circuit to which he belonged. He did not think that anything had been said in favour of Mr. Verey's qualifications which justified the appointment, although he was willing to admit that the Lord Chancellor had, in making it, done what he thought was right, and that he was appointing a proper person.
confessed that if he had been in the House the other night, when this appointment was challenged and no explanation given, he would have voted with the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Waddy). But now he had made himself master of facts which he did not know then, and he felt bound to say there was great misapprehension on the matter, and he thought that the appointment was justified. The hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James) had stated that Mr. Verey had made only one appearance on the Home Circuit, and that the Lord Chief Baron had dispossessed a Revising Barrister for the purpose of putting in a favourite of his own. But the facts were that the gentleman who held the office of Revising Barrister was advanced in years, a rich man, and had not attended the Courts for some time, and he had heard Baron Bramwell say that he advised the Lord Chief Baron not to appoint him again. The Lord Chief Baron did not know Mr. Verey at the time, and it was owing to the recommendation of one of the leaders of the circuit and other barristers that Mr. Verey was appointed. It would appear from what had been stated on the other side, as though the Lord Chancellor had appointed this gentleman solely upon the nomination of the Lord Chief Baron. This was not so. It was true that the Lord Chief Baron sent in a list of three names, including that of Mr. Verey; but the Lord Chancellor had additional reasons for appointing him in the strong recommendations of other persons. Mr. Verey had had some practice, though not a large practice. He was strongly recommended by those who knew him, and it was not right or fair to throw discredit upon the Lord Chancellor for making the appointment under these circumstances, or to fix upon Mr. Verey a stigma which he did not deserve.
thought the discussion more appropriate to a Bar mess than the House of Commons. He did not blame his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Waddy) for taking exception to this appointment in the first instance, and for expressing the doubts existing among the Profession respecting it. But after the explanations given, that evening the matter stood on a different footing. It now stood in this position—on the one hand, the hon. and learned Member for Barnstaple, who said he knew this gentleman neither by reputation nor by sight, assured the House that he was an unfit person to hold this place; and on the other, the Lord Chancellor, who was responsible to the law and the country for the appointment, had written to the Minister of State that, in his judgment, this gentleman was a most fit and proper person to hold the office. Many of the most distinguished holders of judicial office had been unable to satisfy the usual public test of fitness—the existence of a large practice—and yet had fully justified their appointments. That had been the case with one of the most distinguished Judges who now occupied the Bench; and after the discussion that evening he hoped the Committee would accept the personal assurance of the Lord Chancellor that, in his judgment, this was a proper appointment. It was most undesirable that this should drift into a Party question, or that the Committee should be forced to a division.
quite agreed with the moderate view of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken, and remarked that the real question they were asked to decide was, whether the Lord Chancellor was a fit and proper person to dispense the patronage entrusted to him. Many hon. Gentlemen who were not members of the legal Profession had often been surprised at the bestowal of the patronage of the Government, and had thought that better Attorneys General and Solicitors General might have been found than the excessively dull men taken from both Parties who had sometimes inflicted their legal attainments upon the House. While that was the case, such appointments were never openly challenged in that House, the presumption being that, as the recognized authority was responsible for the appointments, the men were the best fitted in the public interest to fill those high posts. In the same way the Committee might rest content with the explanations afforded as to this appointment. Sometimes men's qualifications were not found out till they were tried; and they might wisely leave the responsibility to rest upon the Lord Chancellor, after his statement that this gentleman possessed the requisite qualifications. He was quite sure that the present Lord Chancellor and those who might succeed him would be warned by this discussion to scan most carefully the acquirements of persons to whom they gave appointments in future. It would be most unwise to divide the House upon the question.
said, he was not quite satisfied with the grounds of the opposition to the appointment. He felt very strongly that the House of Commons departed from its proper functions, and weakened its true rights and privileges, by constituting itself a Court of Review upon official appointments made by the proper authority. He had no means of knowing Mr. Verey's qualifications; but he brought to the consideration of the subject Irish impartiality, and he objected to give his vote upon a question of the kind in accordance with the opinions of any Circuit Bar or Circuit mess, or as the result of any statement here how many briefs this gentleman had held. It was impossible that the Committee could enter into discussions of that kind, and he warned them that, if they introduced the system of canvassing judicial appointments in that House, they would approach the fatal American principle of selecting Judges by the popular vote. No evidence had been given of anything discreditable in the character or conduct of the gentleman which would disqualify him for the office to which he had been appointed, and he could not therefore justify the attempt which had been made to constitute that House a Court of Appeal from the selection of the Lord Chancellor in the exercise of his patronage. He should support the Government if the Motion was pressed to a division, although he hoped it would not be proceeded with further.
disclaimed all Party feeling in the matter. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick seemed to recognize no right in the House of Commons to discuss such a matter as this; but he (Mr. Hopwood) contended it was the only tribunal that had the right to criticize such an appointment as the one under consideration. He could not help thinking there had been too frequent reference to the eminent character and position of the Lord Chancellor in order to influence the judgment of that House in the matter of this appointment. He felt he should be wanting in his duty if he did not protest against the judgment of any one man, however eminent, being brought forward to control their judgment and influence their reasoning. The Lord Chancellor, in his own letter, told them that before making the appointment in question he appealed to three Chief Judges to supply him with a list of eminent men. Two of them complied with the request, each supplying three names. From the list supplied by Lord Coleridge he selected two gentlemen, and took the gentleman whose name stood first on the list supplied by the Lord Chief Baron, and added that he found "marked concurrent testimony" in that gentleman's favour, but if that were so why did he not supply that concurrent testimony to Parliament? What was the meaning of the term? It amounted to this—according to the state- ment of the hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell), that "he had not a large practice." In other words, he had not yet proved his qualifications; while others eminently qualified for the office had been overlooked. He thought they were only doing their duty in challenging the appointment, and he could not help admiring the implied sarcasm of the hon. and gallant Baronet opposite (Sir Walter Barttelot), when he expressed a hope that it would be a warning for the future. He was sorry the hon. and learned Member for Coventry (Sir Henry Jackson) had dealt with the question as if it were a mere circuit squabble. What he felt was, that they ought to be moved by great public considerations to challenge such an appointment.
said, he was in hopes that the debate was about to terminate; but if it was to be continued, he trusted they would confine themselves to the real question before them. The question was not whether Mr. Verey was not well qualified for his office, but whether the appointment was to be made by the Lord Chancellor; and whether he, or the House of Commons, was to judge of his qualifications, or whether the appointment was to be made by the hon. and learned Member for Barnstaple and a few other of his hon. and learned Friends. Upon that point he entirely agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Limerick. He altogether disapproved of the sort of professional jealousy which had been exhibited to-night by certain hon. and learned Members. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down said the Lord Chancellor should have placed before the House the confirmatory evidence of which he spoke in his letter, but it must be clear to the House that such a course as that would be inconsistent with the high dignity of his Lordship's office, and would form a dangerous and pernicious precedent. If it could be shown that the appointment was an improper one, and that the gentleman was disqualified for the post, it would be a fair ground for the interference of the House; but as it was a question of confidence or non-confidence in the Lord Chancellor, he should support the Vote.
deprecated the idea that the criticism of Mr. Verey's appointment was actuated by professional jealousy. No hon. Member, he believed, was influenced by such a motive. He certainly could not be, for he had never seen the gentleman in question, nor had he ever heard of him. Beyond that, he would not change positions with the gentleman appointed if he had the chance. He felt the force of what had been stated by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick, that the House of Commons ought not to consitute itself a Court of Appeal in the case of legal appointments. He, for one, had no desire to Americanize our institutions, or to render appointments made to judicial offices subjects of popular control. It would, however, in his opinion, be dangerous to press that principle too far. That which was most important in the making of an appointment like the present was to keep in view the getting not only of a good man, but of the best man—not only of a fit man, but of the fittest man; and the House of Commons would abnegate one of its functions if when criticism was considered necessary criticism was withheld. It was by discussion in that House that they could best keep those to whom was entrusted official patronage alive to a sense of their responsibility. Every hon. Member of the House who was a professional man, and many lay Members, knew that from time to time men were appointed County Court Judges who not only had no reputation as lawyers, but, worse still, had the reputation of being no lawyers. That had gone on, and it might go on still, unless they stated distinctly what was the true principle on which judicial patronage should be exercised. So long as a feeling of friendship or regard, or a desire to put a particular man forward entered into the matter, instead of the sole object being to secure the best and fittest man, they should not cease to see scandals arising and to hear them commented upon. He quite admitted that of the question of fitness they had not the means of judging, and as far as he was personally concerned he knew nothing of the qualifications of Mr. Verey for the office to which he was appointed; but the question was, whether in the present appointment the proper principles had been kept in view. When he was told that it was a matter of Circuit jealousy and gossip, he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to say whether when Westmin- ster Hall raised a universal voice against an appointment it did not afford evidence that it was a bad one? It might be that a man was barely fit for a particular office, but the question was whether he had shown himself to be the fittest man for it? The character, reputation, and fortune of persons depended on the proper discharge of the duties of such an office, and it could not be said that this appointment had been improperly brought before the House and canvassed. He did not rest his objection in the present case upon the point as to want of practice. He was conscious that some of the fittest men in Westminster Hall were men with little or no practice, but then their professional fitness was known—if not to clients, to their brethren at the Bar, who took care to have them appointed to conduct arbitrations; in fact, to discharge the same kind of business as would devolve on this gentleman. Neither did he desire at all to reflect upon the noble and learned Lord who had made the appointment, or upon those who had recommended or suggested it; but he regretted that the Lord Chancellor had not seen his way to saying that he had made it on his own responsibility, without going into explanations. He hoped the result of the discussion would be the selection of the best men for similar appointments in future, and though he admitted the power of the House to take up questions of the kind, he thought it should be very sparingly used. On the whole, he hoped that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Barnstaple would not think it necessary to divide the Committee on the Motion which he had brought forward, but would be content with the discussion that had ensued. Unless he could succeed in carrying a majority with him, the appointment must stand, and Mr. Verey would enter upon the discharge of his duties with an imputation of unfitness for his position resting upon him. This was to be deprecated on many grounds, and he therefore hoped it would not be thought necessary to proceed on the present occasion beyond a simple discussion of the question involved. Feeling as he did, however, if his hon. and learned Friend pressed the matter, he should have no alternative but to divide with him.
repudiated in the most emphatic manner that if the Com- mittee went to a division, it would be a Party decision, especially as it had been stated that many of the supporters of the Government were opposed to this appointment. He hoped that the hon. and learned Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Waddy) would have the courage of his opinions, and not be afraid of dividing the House upon the question, if he thought his view was a right one. Not a single reason against the appointment had been brought forward. The hon. and learned Member for Durham had delivered a very interesting speech on the general question of the principle on which judicial appointments ought to be made, but he seemed to ignore the fact that if on every occasion those men only had been chosen who enjoyed the most extensive practice at the Bar, some of the best men who had ever sat on the Judicial Bench would have been lost to the highest grades in the legal Profession. Had not the appointments of the best Judges of the land been canvassed, and had not their subsequent careers falsified the impressions created at the time of their unfitness? One of the most eminent of our Judges, whose name would go down to posterity as one of the most distinguished, and as the Littleton of our day had been appointed by the then Lord Chancellor, although he was little known in the Profession, and there was then raised a similar outcry. The House undoubtedly had the power to question all such appointments, but what were its means of forming a correct judgment as to the capabilities and fitness of any particular person. A great deal too much stress had been laid upon the question of men having large practice on the Circuits before their appointment to the exercise of judicial functions. It was true that some of the Circuits, such as the Northern and the Midland, were the best of possible legal schools, but the rule was by no means universal. Many members of the Home Circuit found in Chambers and in private practice that experience and judicial calmness which fitted them for such offices, whereas on Circuit their names were unknown because there was so little work to be done. The question of Mr. Verey's appointment must be discussed and decided on higher grounds than the mere opinions of individual members of the legal Profession or of the public, and it was idle to say because Mr. Verey was unknown on Circuit that he could not be a man of professional competence. He admitted that the majority of the Profession thought there were many other gentlemen more competent for the post; but it was the judgment of the Lord Chancellor upon which the Committee had to act, and as a Member of that House, he thought he had no right to set up his own particular view as a member of the Bar in opposition to that of the Lord Chancellor. It had been stated that the appointment had been made by the Lord Chief Baron, but it was afterwards ratified by the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor had, in his letter which had been read to the House, explained the grounds upon which he had appointed Mr. Verey to the office of Official Referee, that his name had stood first on the list of the Lord Chief Baron; that, although he was not known to him personally, he had, in addition to the strong opinion of the Lord Chief Baron, very marked and concurrent testimony in Mr. Verey's favour, and that he believed him to be perfectly qualified for the office. The hon. and learned Member for Stockport had contended for the right of that House to criticize the acts of the Lord Chancellor; but, in his (Mr. Grantham's) opinion, as it was unlikely that gentlemen in the Profession would ever agree as to the proper persons to be appointed to vacant legal offices, it was better to leave the power of appointment unreservedly in the hands of the highest legal authority in the country. One thing was quite clear, and that was that no hon. Member who had spoken knew anything against Mr.Verey, and they could give no reason for believing that he was not properly qualified for the post. For his own part he should decline to come down to that House and vote against the appointment merely because he thought he knew of other gentlemen who might be better fitted for the position. He preferred the responsibility of the highest legal authority to any other, and should, therefore, vote against the Motion.
claimed to come to the subject with an unprejudiced mind, because until he knew of this appointment he had never heard Mr. Verey's name. The hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell) had justified that gentleman's appointment on three grounds—firstly, that he had taken a degree at Cambridge; secondly, that he was 40 years old; and, thirdly, that he had never had a large practice. Now, he was far from insisting upon a large practice as a necessary qualification for the post. Men of small practice had been promoted to high office before, but they had always been men of great reputation; but, still, it was rather a dangerous thing to select even a good man if he had not had much practice, because that was invaluable to him in the discharge of his judicial duties, and also because the public, as a general rule, did not trust untried men. The House of Commons had the undoubted right to criticize these appointments; and if his hon. and learned Friend went to a division, though he deprecated that course of action, he should support him. He thought, however, hon. Members would be satisfied with the discussion that had occurred in reference to this unfortunate appointment.
said, that the legal Gentlemen who had spoken placed the laymen in a most pitiable position. They had alleged that these four gentlemen, in general, were not fit for their post, and one in particular, but the hon. and learned Member for Durham (Mr. Herschell) had told the House that this was usually the case. [Mr. Herschell begged the hon. Member's pardon. He had not said it was usually the case.] The hon. and learned Gentleman had said it was done over and over again—that faults had been found with appointments in the legal Profession. It was with great grief that he (Mr. Neville-Grenville) heard these statements on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman; but, for his part, he had perfect confidence in the Lord Chancellor who, he trusted, would make a proper selection of gentlemen to fill vacant legal offices.
said, that when the matter was before the Committee in March last he had spoken rather strongly in reference to it, and he had then stated certain facts which had been brought under his notice by certain members of his Profession. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had then asked for time to inquire into the matter, and the Committee had cheerfully acceded to that request, and the result of that inquiry had been stated to the Committee that evening. It would be for the Committee to say how far the statement he had made had been altered by the results of that inquiry. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had insisted upon regarding the Motion in the light of a Vote of Want of Confidence in the Lord Chancellor. He could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that if he looked upon the Motion in that light, he should be the first to vote against it. The Lord Chancellor, however, had stated the grounds and the information upon which he had acted, and it was open to the Committee to form an opinion for themselves upon the materials so furnished to them. He was sorry to hear the hon. and learned Member for Chatham say that it was a question of professional jealousy.
disclaimed any such statement. What he had said was that there had been an exhibition of professional jealousy in that House.
appealed to every Member of the House whether it could be supposed that those who had spoken in what they believed to be the performance of their public duty could have had any jealousy towards such a comparatively young and unknown member of the Profession as Mr. Verey was. He believed the appointment had proceeded upon the grounds of private testimonials. He had had them sent to him since the discussion arose, and found that they were very much in Mr. Verey's favour. Persons in whose judgment he could place confidence had spoken highly of Mr. Verey's attainments and general ability, and if the House was willing to put appointments to judicial offices upon private testimonials there was a strong case made out in Mr. Verey's favour. Was the Committee willing, when appointments to judicial offices the performance of the duties of which would affect property to the extreme extent, to justify such appointments upon the ground of private testimonials? If so, there was an end of the matter. The Lord Chancellor acted upon private testimonials in concurrence with the Lord Chief Baron's recommendation, and the Lord Chief Baron's recommendation was based upon the private recommendation of others. He (Sir Henry James)stated in the last debate that Mr. Verey had never held a brief or actively followed his Profession, and these facts were not denied by the hon. and learned Attorney General at the time. It had been substantially admitted in the progress of this debate that he had not had any practice at the Bar, and therefore the appointment must have been made on the private judgment of personal friends who had not met him at the arena of their Courts but in private conversation. He was willing to admit that it was a difficult thing to question the power and the discretion vested in the head of the legal Profession; but, looking at the practice in these cases, he thought such appointments should not depend upon private testimonials, but upon a well-known and high reputation and a large practice at the Bar. Mr. Verey was written to by a member of the Bar, who stated in his letter what was currently reported concerning him—that he had received an appointment as a Revising Barrister after he had only gone circuit once or twice, and that he was not known to have ever held a brief. To that letter Mr. Verey made no reply; he would not say because he could not represent the facts differently; but if he had refused to hold any communication with the writer of such a letter, he thought he was well justified in so doing. The truth was, however, that they ought not to criticize too minutely whether this gentleman had held a number of briefs or not; what the Committee had to determine was whether it was wise to make these appointments on the strength of private testimonials. The Committee had to determine how far they would like that rule to apply to other Professions. If our Fleets had to be commanded, would they give the command of them to a mere student in navigation, however clever, or would they give the command of our Army to a man on account of the testimonials he produced? Certainly not. If they did not apply that rule to other Professions, was there any reason why they should apply it to the legal Profession? It was said the objectors to this appointment had not proved that Mr. Verey was unfit. How could they prove that he was unfit? Was it any answer to the objection to this appointment to say—"We appointed Mr. Verey as no proof of his unfitness was given; we thought we were justified in appointing any person who was not proved to be unfit?" What they asked for was that they might have some security that the judgment given by these Referees should be right judgments. It had been said that a member of the Bar had been appointed Judge who might be said to have had no practice at the Bar, and that upon the Bench he displayed great ability. That remark referred to that distinguished Judge Mr. Justice Blackburn. But it was a mistake to suppose that he had no practice at the Bar. The Lord Chancellor, who appointed him, had constant experience of his great ability. For years he was counsel to Lloyd's, and for years he was reporter of the Queen's Bench and had had an immense experience. In short, there was no comparison between his case and the one before the Committee. The Lord Chancellor knew that in making him a Judge he was appointing one of the greatest lawyers in Westminster Hall. He (Sir Henry James) hoped the Committee had discussed this question with feelings of consideration towards the gentleman who had received this appointment. The Lord Chancellor had, without doubt, exercised his discretion, and the Committee might consider whether they should not rely on the hope that Mr. Verey might prove fit for this appointment. He could only ask his hon. and learned Friend to consider whether, after what had occurred after the utterance of those words—"This is to be a warning in future against such an appointment," it would not be better to refrain from pressing for a division. If, however, the hon. and learned Member for Barnstaple's Motion were pressed to a division, as he hoped it would not be, he should feel bound to vote for it.
said, the hon. and learned Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Waddy) had told them that when that matter came before the Committee some time ago, a very feeble defence was made on behalf of Mr. Verey. But then the allegations made by that hon. and learned Member, and also by the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James), were such as took those who sat on the Ministerial bench very much by surprise, because they then heard for the first time that that appointment was an act of the grossest nepotism, and one which was practically made by the Lord Chief Baronthrough feelings of favouritism alone. It was also alleged that the Lord Chief Baron had such friendship for Mr. Verey that on a previous occasion he removed a gentleman who had held the post of Revising Barrister for a long time, and who deserved to hold it still, for the purpose of substituting Mr. Verey. It had been said, if not in that House, at least outside of it, that the Lord Chief Baron had been actuated by even more unworthy motives—that he had favoured Mr. Verey because that gentleman's father had been his friend and political agent. Now, was it the fact that the Lord Chief Baron did remove from the office of Revising Barrister a gentleman who had long held it for the purpose of bestowing it on Mr. Verey? The hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. Forsyth) had commented on that matter; but he (the Attorney General) felt himself at liberty to read a letter which the Lord Chief Baron received from a brother Judge, more intimately acquainted with the particular Revising Barrister in question, and also with the particular Circuit concerned, than the Lord Chief Baron was, before he ventured to remove that gentleman from the post of Revising Barrister. Before the fresh appointment was made, the Lord Chief Baron received that letter from a learned Gentleman who, before he was elevated to the Bench, was the leader, or one of the leaders, of that Circuit. The letter in question was to the effect that the gentleman referred to ought never to have been appointed, as he had never been a member of the Circuit; that he ought to have given up the appointment, as he was a rich man and did not want it; that he had been twice asked to give it up, but had declined to do so, though he had no good reason for keeping it; and that it was not desirable that he should be continued in it. In fact, it concluded by saying that a good deed would be done by refusing him the re-appointment. Yet the Lord Chief Baron had been accused of the grossest nepotism, because after receiving such a letter he had refused to continue that gentleman in his office as Revising Barrister, and had bestowed it on Mr. Verey, who was highly recommended for it. But the question now before the Committee was whether that appointment was a proper one. Now, whether it was a proper appointment or not depended not on whether Mr. Verey had had this or that amount of practice, but on whether he was a fit man for the post; whether he had the requisite qualification. They had had an interesting lecture from the hon. and learned Member for Durham (Mr. Herschell) on the principle of appointment to all the judicial offices in the State. The hon. and learned Gentleman said they must act on a particular principle—namely, that they were not to bestow an appointment of that character on a man unless he had had a very large practice—["No"]—or, at all events, a considerable practice, obtained either from attorneys, who, of course, gave briefs to those members of the Bar of whom they approved, or from their fellow-barristers who approved of them as arbitrators. It was not every man who, however able, succeeded in enlisting the friendship or patronage of attorneys, or in obtaining the patronage of his fellows at the Bar. There were many men who had not obtained practice either from attorneys or from barristers who were yet admirably fitted for such a post as that in question. It was said that when he spoke on this subject before he had no information on the subject. He had, however, received a letter from one of the most eminent firms of solicitors in the metropolis, and its statements had been confirmed by others to whom he had spoken. It was from Messrs. Clabon and Fear on. They said—
Perhaps being quiet and clear-minded was the reason he had not had a large practice at the Bar."My Dear Attorney General,—We venture in reference to the threatened attack on Mr. H. W. Verey as Official Referee to make the following statement. We write as an act of justice to Mr. Verey, and without his knowledge. We have known Mr. Verey throughout his professional career. He graduated at Trinity College, Cambridge, in Honours. He was articled to Messrs. Crowder and Maynard for three years, and served with them for that period, seeing much of their practice. You are aware that they stand in the first class of City solicitors. Hs afterwards went to the Bar, and we have constantly had the benefit of his services, and have found him to do his work with great ability. He is able and energetic, as well as quiet and clear-minded."
That letter came from an eminent firm of solicitors who had constantly employed Mr. Verey, perhaps not in Court work, but in work which sufficiently tested his ability and proved how fit he was for the office he now held. Since the receipt of that letter he (the Attorney General) had satisfied himself not only that what had been said of the Chief Baron was without foundation, but that no well-founded objection could be urged against the appointment which the Chief Baron had recommended. The Committee ought to have confidence in the opinion of the Lord Chief Baron, especially when coupled with the judgment of the Lord Chancellor, who took upon himself the responsibility of the appointment."It is impossible to meet him without being impressed with his cleverness and good sense."
in replying, said, that nobody had ventured to take up the challenge which he had thrown out at the beginning of the debate. It was a sign of weakness, and an attempt to draw them from the real issue, to allege that the Lord Chancellor wason his trial. Such was not the case, for that noble and learned Lord was unassailable. It appeared that the Lord Chief Baron appointed this gentleman a Revising Barrister when he knew nothing at all about him; and all the House knew now was that some gentleman or some lady had recommended this person to the Lord Chief Baron, and on that recommendation this appointment was given. It was said that some one on Mr. Verey's circuit, whose name was not given, had recommended him; but he had the authority of the leaders of that circuit, gentlemen of both sides of politics, and of the junior Bar, to say that until Mr. Verey was appointed he was unknown to them, except socially to one or two. Under the circumstances, as the hon. and learned Member for Chatham had said there had been an exhibition of professional jealousy on the part of those who brought forward this Motion, it would be impossible for him to withdraw it.
said, he would not say anything more with regard to Mr. Verey, but he felt it necessary after the statement which had just been made to explain correctly the action of the Lord Chancellor. Having three appointments to make, the Lord Chancellor wrote to the Chiefs of the Common Law Courts requesting each of them to send him a list of three names. The Lord Chief Justice sent no names, but Lord Coleridge and the Lord Chief Baron sent three names each. Accordingly, the Lord Chancellor selected two names from Lord Coleridge's list and one from that of the Lord Chief Baron. The Lord Chancellor stated in his letter that he appointed Mr. Verey, not merely on the recommendation of the Lord Chief Baron, but in consequence of inquiries which he himself instituted, and which satisfied him that the appointment was a proper one.
Question put, and negatived.
asked for information respecting the fees which, under a Treasury Minute of the 1st of February, 1876, were payable by the suitors to the Referees. They amounted to a guinea an hour for attendance, irrespective of travelling expenses, a payment which he took exception to, and thought ought not to come out of the suitor's pocket. The Act expressly provided for the payment of the Referees by salary, and never contemplated such a tax as it was here proposed to throw upon the parties.
understood that the Referees would be paid by salaries, but that the suitors would have to pay something analogous to a Court fee. During the time a Referee sat, a guinea an hour would be payable, which, however, would go, not to the Referee, but to the Consolidated Fund. As attention had been called to the matter, it should be looked to, with the view of remedying anything that might be unjust.
with reference to the Commissioners in Lunacy, asked what was the amount of charges for, and the number of visits paid to lunatics; and, whether the charges were or were not paid out of the estates of the unfortunate victims?
undertook to supply the information, if possible, on the Report of Supply on Monday.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
Resolution to be reported upon Monday next;
Committee to sit again upon Monday next.
Merchant Shipping Bill—Bill 144
( Sir Charles Adderley, Mr. Edward Stanhope.)
Order for Third Reading read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—( Sir Charles Adderley.)
said, that before the Bill was read a third time it would be well if some Member of the Government would state whether there was any foundation for the suggestion which recently was made by the leading journal—namely, that since the passing of the Dominion Act ships registered in Canada were no longer "British" ship, but only "Colonial" ships, and could not be dealt with by Imperial legislation. He was under the impression that the Dominion Act made no difference in the relations between this country and the North American Provinces, to which responsible government had been given many years before, but only regulated the new relations inter se. A "British ship" was the creation of the British Parliament, and whatever might be the powers respecting them of colonial Parliaments while those ships were in colonial waters, he conceived that nothing had been done by implication to repeal the Act of 1854, which regulated the registry of, and property in British ships. The port of registry was immaterial, as registry might be transferred from one to another British dominion at any time.
said, it was extraordinary that any one pretending to criticize this Bill should suppose that the Dominion Act of 1867 excluded Canada from the operation of Imperial Acts or made Canadian ships any other than British ships. The Act of 1867 had two Schedules of subjects of legislation. The first enumerated the subjects with which the Dominion Parliament might deal exclusively of the provincial Legislatures; while the second enumerated the subjects with which the provincial Legislatures might deal, exclusively of the Dominion Parliament. But neither excluded Imperial legislation. The Queen in Council could allow Colonial Acts to repeal Imperial, but Colonial laws inconsistent with Imperial were invalid. These were questions of policies, not of legislation right. Imperial Acts bound Canadian subjects as much as all other British subjects. It was a total mistake to suppose that the Act of 1867 or 1869 in any way altered the relation of Canadian subjects to the Imperial Parliament. A Canadian ship was a British ship registered in Canada, and there was no distinction between the British character of both. He was very glad his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) had drawn attention to the mistake that had been made in the criticism to which he had referred. The Bill which the House was now asked to read a third time had distinctly and rightly borne in view the existing state of the law and the relations between Canadian and all other British subjects.
hoped that when the Bill got into the House of Lords, provision would be made for allowing ships trading from British ports to the Baltic to carry deck-loads of agricultural machinery during the summer months—say from April to October.
defended the provision of the Bill referred to as it stood.
thought the case of Canada had been amply considered, and thanked the Government for a good, sound, common-sense measure, which he hoped would pass unanimously.
also thanked the Government for the measure, and said that on the whole the Government had succeeded in holding the balance between conflicting interests very fairly. The Government had also succeeded in carrying through the House a measure which would be a great benefit to the shipping interest and to those who wished to carry on their business in an honest, legitimate, safe, and secure manner; and at the same time it would afford to the sailors all the protection which both the House and the public required for them, and which they had a right to expect.
also offered his congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman at the conclusion of his labours. The Bill as it stood carried out the principle of the responsibility of the shipowners as far as it was practicable to do so. He hoped it would be effective in preventing the evils hitherto complained of in regard to unseaworthy vessels. It must not, however, be expected that all losses at sea would be put an end to. By far the greatest number of losses arose from causes on which neither this Bill nor any other that could be devised would have any effect, from perils of the sea and from the negligence of officers and seamen navigating them. He was not so completely wedded to the principle of this Bill that if it failed to produce a good result, he would not be prepared to go further in the direction aimed at by the hon. Member for Derby; but he, at least, hoped that a fair trial would be given to the measure, and that for a time agitation on the subject would cease. The shipping trade had now for some years been the subject of this agitation, and it was only fair that it should now be left at rest for a time, and that every effort should be made fairly to put the Bill in operation. He believed that if fairly worked, the Bill would prevent the sailing of vessels in an unseaworthy state. He must enter his protest against that part of the Bill which extended the powers of the Board of Trade to foreign vessels, he considered that a dangerous precedent was made thereby. The clause which imposed a penalty on vessels entering our ports and which had loaded according to the laws of their own country appeared to him indefensible, and was equally opposed to International Law and to our treaty engagements. He hoped that the great lawyers in the Upper House would direct their attention to this point. He took this opportunity of saying that he had on this account mainly voted with the Government, and against the Party with whom he acted upon the last Amendment on Report—namely, that which omitted the exception in favour of three feet of deals and battens from the prohibition against deck cargoes. He agreed in principle with what had been said by his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract as to the right of our Legislature to legislate for Canadian vessels; but he considered it was very inexpedient to bring our legislation into conflict with the Canadian legislation. He also recollected that the timber trade was mainly carried on by foreign and Canadian vessels; in attempting, therefore, to impose regulations upon them, it was expedient to be very careful, however desirable it might appear to make such regulations as regards our own vessels, he thought it was unwise to do so as against foreign and colonial ships without the consent of their Governments. He could not but fear that what we had done would bring us into difficulty both with foreign Governments and with the Canadian Legislature. He hoped, therefore, that this question would be reviewed in the Upper House, and would be discussed with reference to the important international points which it raised.
said, his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade was prevented from speaking again, and perhaps it was fortunate for him that he had been spared his blushes. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) therefore begged in the name of his right hon. Friend and the Government, to say how sensible they were of the kindness expressed on the occasion, and of the general kindness with which the Bill had been treated during the long and often animated discussions in Committee. He was sure his right hon. Friend would have reason to congratulate himself in having steered the Bill at last to this point. All he could say was that the Government had done their best honestly to make the Bill a good one, and, if they had been ready to accept suggestions from other quarters, it should be borne in mind that they had done so on their own responsibility; and the responsibility for the measure as it was now about to pass rested with the Government. They hoped there would be a general disposition to give a fair trial to the measure, and to the Board of Trade in working it; and he could assure the House that there would be no want of honesty and zeal in endeavouring to give effect to the Bill in accordance with the views of those who had passed it.
Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read the third time; Verbal Amendment made:—Bill passed.
Clerk Of The Peace And Of The Crown (Ireland) Bill—Bill 119
( Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.)
Order for Second Reading read.
in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, it was proposed, in accordance with the recommendations of different Select Committees who had considered the subject, that the two offices of the Clerk of the Peace and of the Crown should be amalgamated. Accordingly the main provision of the Bill was that upon either of the two offices becoming vacant, the Lord Lieutenant should have power to order the amalgamation of the two offices. If the House would read the Bill a second time he should, in due time propose to commit it pro formâ, in order to introduce certain Amendments which might be found necessary. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving the second reading.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—( Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland.)
in moving, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said that although he assented to the general principle of amalgamating the two offices, he objected that the officer to be appointed to the joint post would be practically a mere Clerk of the Treasury. Unless that and other objectionable provisions were omitted, he should oppose the measure in all its future stages. He would conclude by moving its rejection.
seconded the Amendment.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—( Sir Colman O'Loghlen.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
in moving the adjournment of the debate, said, he was of opinion that the Bill ought not to be proceeded with at present, and that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland had "put the cart before the horse." There was another Bill which ought to come first.
seconded the Motion.
Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—( Mr. Meldon.)
in assenting to the Motion for Adjournment, said there was no desire to press the Bill at a late hour against the feeling of the House. He must however remark that the measure was an honest attempt to save money to the ratepayers of Ireland by abolishing a useless office.
Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and agreed to.
Debate adjourned till Monday, 12th June.
Burghs (Division Into Wards) (Scotland) Amendment Bill
( The Lord Advocate, Mr. Secretary Cross.)
Bill 166 Second Reading
Order for Second Reading read.
in moving, that the Bill be now read a second time, said: By 31 and 32 Vic., cap. 108, and cap. 102, it is lawful to divide burghs in Scotland having a population of 10,000 into wards for voting purposes. It has been for some time represented by the burgh of Wick that the limit of 10,000 is too high, and that it should be reduced to 7,000. I have caused inquiry to be made in all the Scotch burghs having a population above 7,000 and under 10,000, and the replies have been generally in favour of the change proposed by the burgh of Wick. The Acts above mentioned were passed in 1868, the year in which the franchise was lowered, and before the effect on the numbers of the constituency could be ascertained. The increase has now proved to be so considerable as, apart from other considerations, to render it expedient that separate voting places should be established within each burgh. Irrespective of the mere question of convenience of voting, it frequently happens that even in small burghs there exist different districts the owners and occupiers in which have somewhat conflicting interests to those in other districts, and the most effectual way of protecting the interests of all sections is by making it competent to divide the burgh into two or more wards. The right hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving the second reading.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday, 8th June.
Local Light Dues (Reduction) Bill
On Motion of Mr. Sykes, Bill to authorise the reduction of Local Light Dues, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Sykes, Mr. Norwood, and Mr. Wilson.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 173.]
Gun Licence Act (1870) Amendment Bill
On Motion of Sir Alexander Gordon, Bill to amend "The Gun Licence Act, 1870," ordered to be brought in by Sir Alexander Gordon, Mr. M'Lagan, and Mr. Mark Stewart.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 174.]
House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock till Monday next.