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Lord Chancellor (Salary)

Part of Schedule 16 – in the House of Commons at 12:12 am on 10th April 1989.

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Photo of Alan Williams Alan Williams , Swansea West 12:12 am, 10th April 1989

May I say to the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) that, after 25 years of dealing with constituency cases, I do not pretend to have a statistical breakdown of the grievances against solicitors and the grievances against barristers. However—and in this respect the hon. Gentleman is right —a point of difference occurs to me immediately: most people making complaints against solicitors turn up at my surgery, whereas those making complaints against barristers normally correspond by letter, by courtesy of Her Majesty.

The first two speeches in the debate—those of the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Sir N. Fairbairn) and of the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence)—gave very different perceptions of the Bar. The hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross gave the perspective north of the border. We recognise his particular knowledge and experience there. All that I as a Welshman can say is that I am overjoyed at the thought that a fellow Celt will do a bit better out of the system than perhaps his predecessor managed to do, though both of them seem to be doing pretty well.

I know that the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Burton was intended to be dispassionate and objective. That is why he did not declare an interest. Perhaps it is well that we have a special exemption for lawyers during the next couple of months, because it would take up too much of the time of this House if every lawyer speaking had to declare his interest before getting down to what he wanted to say. There is quite a substantial built-in lobby in the House. However, I watched the departures, and, having heard the hon. and learned Gentleman make his case, and having watched that case gradually disappear, I became increasingly convinced of the irrelevance of barristers in a successful court case. I started off far more sympathetic to the cause that I think the hon. and learned Gentleman was advocating than I was by the time he had finished his advocacy. Indeed, he put forward some rather novel propositions. I had to pass a tissue to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) when the hon. and learned Gentleman was talking about all the poor barristers who will be homeless. The solicitors will have roofs over their heads, and they can have cars, but the poor barristers will be under the arches.