« 이전계속 »
tion of the two districts would give something like 50,000 for the Sheriff-Substitute to rule.
Stirlingshire is in a somewhat different position, as the Stirling district contains 57,298, and the Falkirk district 34,628, together a little above 90,000. The two towns, however, are within less than half-an-hour by railway, and 90,000 is by no means too large a populatiou for one Sheriff-Substitute to manage. It is desirable that there should be some prizes for men willing to undertake hard work, and a salary of £900 a year would probably at all times secure a first-rate man for the office. There is another possible way of dealing with the Falkirk district of Stirlingshire, and that is to combine it with the county of Linlithgow. This combination would throw only 73,400 under one Sheriff-Substitute ; but it would be liable to the objection of the Sheriff-Substitute being under two Sheriffs--an arrangement which does indeed exist, and without inconvenience, in the case of Fort-William, about 5000 of the population of which district belongs to Argyle and 5000 to Inverness-shire. For districts, however, like those of Falkirk and Linlithgow, containing considerable mining populations, there might arise contingencies where a unity of purpose might be of consequence, which might not be attainable had the Sheriff-Substitute to consult the wishes of two principals. The same objections apply, though in a less degree, to the union of Clackmannan with Dunblane, and of Kinross with Dunfermline.*
Proceeding westwards we come to Dumbartonshire, united as to the Sheriff-Depute with Buteshire. The same process applied to the Sheriff-Substituteships would abolish that at Rothesay, and transfer its 16,000 inhabitants to the jurisdiction of the SheriffSubstitute at Dumbarton, who has at present 25,000 under his care. The facilities of steam navigation would enable one judge to perform the duties of the combined counties without any inconvenience. * It is no part of the purpose of the present paper to deal with the question of Sheriffs-Depate, but we cannot help thinking that without disadvantage Clackmannan and Kinross might be thrown under the Sheriffs of Perth and Fife respectively, and Linlithgow thrown under the Sheriff of Stirling. This would entirely obviate the diffifalties pointed out above. Of course, were Linlithgow thrown into the Edinburgh district, the proper arrangement would be to put it under the Sheriff of Edinburgh. The salary thrown vacant would afford ample means for remunerating the Sheriffs on whom the additional work would be thrown. It will be observed that the abolition of Linlithgow as a separate district, does not form part of the scheme in the text.-ED.
The case of the Highland and Island districts is in many respects so peculiar, that it is with some diffidence that we offer suggestions for the amalgamation of districts. The extent is so great, and the population so scattered, that probably there must always be retained more Sheriff-Substitutes than are warranted by the amount of business transacted. At the same time, the present number of officials appears excessive, and we think the time has come when advantage may be taken of the increase of steam navigation to reduce their number considerably. Argyleshire and Inverness have at present between them seven Sheriff-Substitutes, three for each county, and one (at Fort-William) exercising jurisdiction over portions of both. We should propose the abolition of three of these, viz., Campbeltown, Fort-William, and Lochmaddy. We cannot help thinking that Argyleshire has been peculiarly unfortunate in the selection of Inverary and Tobermory, as two seats of jurisdiction. Had Lochgilphead and Oban been fixed upon instead, no one could doubt that there was no longer any occasion for maintaining Campbeltown and Fort-William. But we fear Lochgilphead must bend to the necessity of the Duke of Argyle predominating over the circuit and county town, and to this necessity the whole county arrangements will have to accommodate themselves. Even with Inverary for head-quarters, one SheriffSubstitute could, no doubt at some personal inconvenience, to be compensated by an increase of remuneration, easily overtake the work of both the Inverary and the Kintyre districts. The former contains a population of 45,183, the latter contains only 15,397, and yields per annum in the way of business 2 litigated cases in the ordinary, and 52 in the small debt roll; of litigated actions ad facta præstanda, nil, and of criminal trials 79 summary, and 12 jury trials. Surely there is no apology in this state of business for the maintenance of a Sheriff-Substitute. But we profess profound ignorance of the qualities of the whisky-making population of Campbeltown ; it may be that nothing but the presence of the Sheriff prevents their drinking at home all the whisky they now send abroad, and running into all sorts of excesses. It may be also that the proper subdivision of the county would be to make the labours of the Sheriff-Substitute of the Southern district that mixture of Campbelton and Islay, the extreme virtue of which is so highly appreciated in the spiritual world beyond the county; in other words, to relieve the Inverary district of the Southern islands, Islay, Jura, Gigha, &c., and add them to Kintyre, abolish
ing the Tobermory substituteship, and adding that district to Inverary, transferring the ordinary Mull business to Oban, where the Sheriff of Inverary should hold an Ordinary Court once a fortnight, while Small Debt Courts might still be held in Tobermory. This arrangement would probably give the Sheriff-Substitute of Campbeltown jurisdiction over upwards of 25,000, leaving to the Inverary district about 55,000; a more equal division than would be produced by simply merging the Kintyre in the Inverary district, and the Fort-William district, with its population of 4,783, in Tobermory, with its population of 15,796, which would give a population of little over 20,000 to the Sheriff-Substitute. The particular subdivision of the county is truly an Argyleshire question, all we are concerned to show is, that two Sheriff-Substitutes could easily and effectively do the whole work of the county. In no view, however, should Oban be left as it is, with merely a few Small Debt Courts held there in the course of the year by the Tobermory Sheriff-Substitutes; from its increasing importance, soon still further to be enhanced by railway communication, it might well possess the advantages of an Ordinary Court, which either the Tobermory Sheriff-Substitute or the Inverary one, according as one division of the county or the other be adopted, could easily hold at such short intervals as might be necessary. If Campbeltown be added to Inverary, it might be deserving of consideration, whether the residence of the second Sheriff-Substitute should not be established at Oban, and his visits to Tobermory only occasional.
Let us now turn to Inverness-shire, the part of the Fort-William district belonging to which, containing a population of 6703, might quite well be undertaken by the Sheriff-Substitute of Inverness (who has at present only 46,909 under bis jurisdiction), and the Caledonian Canal and Kingussie Railway afford sufficient facilities for the occasional visits which it would be necessary for him to pay in order to dispose of the two ordinary cases (both decrees in absence), and the 56 small debt cases (13 of which only were contested), which one year produced from the Invernessshire district of Fort-William. The Small Debt Court held at Arisaig on the west coast, would naturally be thrown upon the Sheriff of Skye, who is within easy reach of it by steam.
The Lochmaddy district, with its one solicitor (the procurator-fiscal we presume), might, but for the intervention of the Minch, well be annexed to Portree, which maintains three solicitors, and a visit from the Sheriff-Substitute a few times in the course of the year would dispose of the 9 ordinary and 79 small debt litigations which appear opposite its name in the returns. If the Minch be looked upon as an insuperable obstacle, let it be annexed to the Lews District of Ross-shire, which contains 21,000 inhabitants. The people of Harris, one-third of the population of the Lochmaddy District, having no ferry to cross, lie at anyrate more conveniently to Stornoway than to Lochmaddy, and of the remainder, about 9000, the great bulk are separated from the Sheriff at anyrate by many ferries; as the division of Argyleshire is a question for that county, so it might be referred to those immediately concerned to say whether the parishes of Uist and Barra should be annexed to the Lews or to Skye. The facilities of steam and postal communication point to the latter. Can it be doubted that the Sheriff of Skye, who seems to have but 9 litigated cases in his ordinary roll, would be thankful for the additional 6 which would probably be yielded by his share of the Lochmaddy District.
In the North of Scotland, as railway communication extends, the number of Sheriff-Substitutes might be materially diminished. Already Dingwall and Tain are brought into close proximity, and the latter jurisdiction, 20,318, might be annexed to the former, which has at present only 40,000 inhabitants. Nairn (10,065), in like manner, might be annexed to Elgin with its 44,218 inhabitants, even although the business in the latter Court appears to be considerably in excess of what the extent of population would lead one to expect, as it had 217 cases (134 of which were litigated) in 1863 in its ordinary, and 1234 in its small debt court, shewing, we may observe in passing, the entire inadequacy of the present salary of £550 as remuneration for the gentleman who fills the situation of Sheriff-Substitute.*
Another small county in the North claims our attention, viz., Kincardine. It has only 34,466 inhabitants, and its actions for debt amounted in a year to 57 (of which 38 in absence) in the ordinary, and 329 (of which 115 in absence) in the small debt court, indicating an amount of business plainly insufficient fully
* This case also illustrates the utterly capricious manner in which the salaries are fixed, although they are supposed to have some relation to the amount of work done. Thus, though the Sheriff-Substitute of Elgin has but the same salary as his brother of Easter Ross—he has more than double the population to look after, and double the duty to perform. His salary is smaller that those of the Sheriff-Substitutes of Sutherland and Caithness, while he has nearly as much work as the two put together.-ED.
to occupy the time of the Sheriff-Substitute. The position of the county between the two great jurisdictions of Forfar and Aberdeen renders it difficult to annex it to either, and probably the best means of utilizing for the public service the spare time of the Sheriff-Substitute, and at the same time give a claim for increased remuneration, would be that he should relieve the already overworked Sheriff-Substitute of Aberdeen, by holding a weekly small debt court there. A similar arrangement in Lanarkshire, where the Sheriff-Substitute of Airdrie holds a weekly small debt court in Glasgow is, we believe, found to work well in practice.
We would again, before concluding, remind our readers that we do not advocate the abolition of a single court, nor even (except in remote Highland districts) the curtailment of a single day's sittings. All that we advocate is the abolition of superfluous judges. In every case, with the above exceptions, the seats of jurisdiction are so connected by railway or steam navigation, that the Sheriff-Substitute will easily accomplish visits to the annexed courts every week, or, if necessary, twice a week, leaving him ample time for his work in the jurisdiction where he resides. Criminal cases, except those of a very pressing nature, will be taken up at these periodical visits, and the whole machine of justice will go on, we are convinced, without the slightest derangement. The public will gain in the increased efficiency which comes to every man who is fully employed but not overworked ; and the Sheriff-Substitutes will gain both by being supplied with full work, which many of those who are now more than half idle we know earnestly desire, and also by a substantial addition to their income, which the increased wealth and prosperity of the country, and consequent increase of expense in living, is every day rendering more desirable for men in their position.
Let us glance at the pecuniary results of the abolition of the twelve Sheriff-Substitutes in the table we have given. Their aggregate salaries amount to £5700 which, of course, will be available for distribution among those who remain, amounting to forty-four. Nine Sheriff-Substitutes, however (two in Edinburgh, four in Glasgow, and one each in Aberdeen, Dundee, and Perth), have recently obtained augmentations of salaries, raising their income, if bankruptcy fees be included, to different points above £800. These being deducted, leave thirty-five whose salaries should be raised. Of these, fourteen will be burdened with addi