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fices would have been content, if not fully satisfied, with half the sums conceded by the Legislature ; and they would have gladly preferred a fixed capital sum on better terms to the public.
On the scale adopted the principal purchase of their rights would have saved half the ultimate cost of the present Compensations. Parliament might have made provision for the purchase of the claims on far better terms than the annuities awarded, and for re-employment of the compensated ex-officers.
The 14th section of the Act untruly represents the office of a Sworn Clerk as subject to sale, (which it was not legally) as follows :
“ And inasmuch as the business of a Sworn Clerk and of a Waiting Clerk has been treated as a subject of Sale and succession, and has commonly been sold for half the profits during the seven years next after a sale, be it therefore enacted that a yearly sum equal to half the annual sum to be awarded as compensation to any Sworn Clerk or Waiting Clerk, or which, in the case of any Sworn Clerk or Waiting Clerk who shall die before the said 28th day of October next after the passing of this Act, or after the said 28th day of October and before compensation shall be awarded him, if he had survived the said 28th day of October and the award of compensation, shall for seven years, to be computed from the said 28th day of October next after the passing of this Act, or the day of the decease of such Sworn Clerk or Waiting Clerk (whichever shall last happen) be paid to the executors, administrators, or assigns of such Sworn Clerk or Waiting Clerk as part of his personal Estate.”
If a Select Committee of the House of Commons
be appointed to inquire into the matter, it will be discovered that the above recital of “sale and succession,” as universally applied, is untrue. If true, the allowance of compensation, on the grounds recited in the Act, was a violation of the existing law against such scandalous traffic.
The compensated gentlemen either did or did not hold offices or employments. If they did not, they were disentitled to compensation. If they did hold office or employment, the allowance of compensation, on the plea of sale of office and succession, is a public wrong, in contravention of the statutes of 5 & 6 Edw. VI. chap. 16, and 49 Geo. III. chap. 126.
Section 1 to 3 of the first of those statutes, entituled, “ An Act against buying and selling of Offices,” provides as follows :
“For the avoiding of Corruption which may hereafter happen to be in the officers and ministers in those courts, places, or rooms wherein there is requisite to be had the true administration of Justice or services of trust, and to the intent that persons worthy and meet to be advanced to the place where justice is to be ministered, or any service of trust executed, should hereafter be preferred to the same, and no other.
“ }e it therefore enacted, by the King our Sovereign Lord, the Lords spiritual and temporal, and the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That if any person or persons at any time hereafter bargain or sell any Office or Offices or deputation of any Office or Offices, or any part or parcel of any of them, or receive, have, or take any money, fec, reward, or any other profit, directly or indirectly, or take any promise, agreement, covenant, bond, or any assurance to receive or have any money, fee, reward, or other profit directly or indirectly for any Office or Offices or for the deputation of any Office or Offices, or any part of any of them, or to the intent that any person should have, exercise, or enjoy any Office or Offices or the deputation of any Office or Offices or any part of them, which Office or Offices or any part or parcel of them shall in anywise touch or concern the administration or execution of justice, or the receipt, controlment, or payment of any of the King's Highness treasure, money, rent, revenue, account, aulnage, creditorship, or surveying of any of the King's Majesty's honour's castles, manors, lands, tenements, woods, or hereditaments, or any of the King's Majesty's customs or any other administration or any necessary attendance to be had, done, or executed in any of the King's Majesty's customhouse or houses ; or the keeping of any of the King's Majesty's towns, castles, or fortresses, being used, occupied, or appointed for a place of strength and defence; or which shall concern or touch any Clerkship to be occupied in any manner of Court of Record wherein justice is to be ministered.
“That then all and every such person and persons that shall so bargain or sell any of the said Office or Offices, deputation or deputations, or that shall take any money, fee, reward, or profit, for any of the said Office or Offices, deputation or deputations of any of the said Offices, or any part of any of them; or that shall take any promise, covenant, bond, or assurance for any money, reward, or profit to be given for any of the said Office or Offices, deputatation or deputations, or any of the said Office or Offices, or any part of any of them, shall not only lose and forfeit all his and their right, interest, and estate, which such person or persons shall then have of, in, or to any of the said Office or Offices, deputation or deputations, or any part of any of them, or of, in, or to the gift or nomination of any of the said Office or Offices, deputation or deputations, for the which Office or Offices, or for the deputation or deputations of which Office or Offices, or for any part of any of them, any such person or persons shall so make any bargain or sale, or take or receive any sum of money, fee, reward, or profit, or any promise, covenant or assurance to have or receive any fee, reward, money or profit : But also that all and every such person or persons that shall give or pay any sum of money, reward or fee, or shall make any promise, agreement, bond or assurance for any of the said Office or Offices, or for the deputation or deputations of any of the said Office or Offices, or any part of any of them, shall immediately by and upon the same fee, money or reward given or paid, or upon any such promise, covenant, bond or agreement, had or made for any fee, sum of money or reward, to be paid as is aforesaid, be adjudged a disabled person to all intents and purposes to have, occupy or enjoy the said Office or Offices, deputation or deputations, or any part of any of them, for the which such person or persons shall so give or pay any sum of money, fee or reward, or make any promise, covenant, bond or other assurance, to give or pay any sum of money, fee or reward.
6 III. And be it also enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and every such bargains, sales, promises, bonds, agreements, covenants and assurances as be before specified, shall be void to and against him and them by whom any such bargain, sale, bond, promise, covenant, or assurance shall be had or made."
The above provisions are extended by the 49th Geo. III. chapter 126, and the offence of buying or selling Offices is made a misdemeanor, offending parties being rendered amenable to punishment for misdemeanor. Hucksters of offices were therefore, on conviction, disqualified from holding office
- forfeited purchase money—and might have been transported !
If, therefore, compensation was given on the supposition of the Offices of the Six and Sixty Clerks being saleable, as recited in the modern Chancery Act of Lord LynDHURST, it is in effect the reward of crime, and a prémium on breach of the law by public functionaries. Lord Bacon, when Lord Chancellor, was convicted of misdemeanors less venal than the sale of offices, which, even in those corrupt times, brought down signal disgrace on his illustrious name. But in the nineteenth century, it seems to be considered sufficiently meritorious to entitle offenders to princely fortunes !
A Parliamentary Inquiry will, no doubt, prove, that offenders as the gentlemen of the Six Clerks' Office were, in other respects, yet that the commission of so serious an offence as that imputed by the recital of the Act cannot be charged against all of them, and such recital must be an error.
Lord LYNDHURST took credit in the House of Lords, on the 19th of February, 1844, for a subsequent reduction of the gross Fee receipts of the Equity Courts ; as follows:
“The Lord Chancellor said he had received an account of the fees received in the Court of Chancery last year, and he was happy to inform their Lordships that in consequence of the alteration which had taken place, the fees received last year had fallen short of the amount of fees which had been received in the preceding year, with the addition of the compensation now paid, the effect of which would be, from the compensation continually falling in, that the fees would fall
the Court Iships theme fees te