Hugh Macmillan, Baron Macmillan

British judge (1873-1952)

Hugh Pattison Macmillan, Baron Macmillan (20 February 18735 September 1952) was a Scottish advocate and judge

Quotes edit

A Man of Law's Tale (1952) edit

On Education edit

  • This was no doubt due in part to economic reasons, for Scotland before the era of modern industrial developments was a poor country and brains and brawn were among its few merchantable assets. Hence, on the one hand, the rewarding eminence attained by so many Scots beyond their own borders in the worlds of scholarship, commerce, and administration... and hence, on the other hand, the fame of the achievements of the Scots on the Continent as soldiers of fortune in the wars of Europe, a valorous reputation subsequently so well maintained by the Highland Regiments in the service of the British Crown.
    • p. 14
  • As a trustee of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland I have read many applications for help in the payment of University class fees on behalf of would-be students from crofts in the remotest regions of the Highlands and Islands. It was impossible to read them without emotion and admiration, for they displayed in their simple words a spirit of courage and of aspiration undaunted by hardship which went to one's heart.
    • p. 14

At the Scottish bar edit

  • "Devilling", properly so called, by which is designated in England the system whereby a young barrister assists a busy counsel by digesting and annotating his papers, looking up authorities, drafting opinions, and sometimes holding his brief for him in Court, is not know and indeed is not permitted in Scotland.
    • p. 26
  • In those days there were no Scottish Q.C.s or K.C.s, though it was customary to confer the rank of Queen's Counsel on the Lord Advocate of the day by admitting him to the English roll of silks... the Scottish roll of Queen's Counsel was instituted... in 1897.
    • p. 27
  • It seemed a wonderful thing to me to be a member of a great Faculty whose history and traditions went back to the earliest times and to be entitled to exercise a profession which I then thought and still think to require the highest gifts of mind and character for its worthy pursuit.
    • p. 33
  • But while in these first years the prospects of success are apt to seem remote and high hopes seem doomed to frustration, the worst thing to do is to eat one's heart out in idleness. There are many occupations which can be devised to improve one's fitness to profit by the chance when it does come.
    • p. 39
  • Early every morning a van calls to take his brief bag up to the Parliament House, where his papers are trustingly displayed in his box in the public corridor of the Courts and whence they are brought home again after the day's work.
    • p. 44
  • The wide experience to be gained at the Scots Bar has its advantages. It does not enable one to become such an expert in any single department as the English specialist... but it tends to a sound knowledge of the legal principles common to all branches of the law. The Scottish Judges have always been more interested in principle than in precedent and the Bar have conformed to this lead. In the House of Lords this feature of Scottish advocacy has been often remarked and admired.
    • p. 48
  • During the long interval which elapsed before the revival and reconstitution of the Secretary-ship in 1885, `the Lord Advocate of the day was really Minister for Scotland. The technical right to control Scottish affairs in their various departments no doubt belonged to the various Ministers of the Crown; but so little was known in London about Scotland and the country was in so distrubed and backward a condition that responsibility was easily devolved upon the only man who knew or cared much about the subject.'
    • p. 86
  • In a speech which he made in the House of Commons in 1804 the Lord Advocate, Charles Hope, claimed to be not only public prosecutor, coroner's jury, and grand jury, which he undoubtedly was, but also Home Secretary, Privy Council, and Lord-Lieutenant! … The anomalous combination of legal and administrative duties in the person of the Lord Advocate came to an end on the passing, in 1885, of the Secretary for Scotland Act which transferred to the Secretary, now the Secretary of State, for Scotland, most of the responsibility for the administration of Scottish affairs.
    • p. 86
  • A member of the Bar is not entitled to refuse his services to anyone who seeks to employ him. He has been said to be like a cabman on the rank: it is his duty to place himself at the disposal of the first person who hails him and he has no right to exercise any discrimination... This principle also has its origin in the conception of the special position of the advocate in the public administration of justice. It is essential that no citizen should be unable to procure the adequate presentation of his case in Court, however unpopular or even unworthy he may be.
    • p. 132
  • No question of priority arose to embarrass me in my loyalties to the railway companies until the Parliamentary session of 1924-25... In Scotland the Dean of Faculty [of Advocates] is the deciding authority... He pointed out that the L.M.S. Company which was claiming me was not the L.M.S. Company which had retained me... So I was awarded to the L.N.E.R. and duly appeared in the Committee Rooms on their behalf.
    • p. 138-9
  • In Proposals which I drew up for the formation of a Scottish Legal History Society [now the Stair Society] I said that it had long been a reproach to Scotland that no adequate history of Scots Law existed, though it would be difficult to imagine a more attractive field of study, for the legal system in Scotland was not only perhaps our most distinctive heritage, but was also of special interest because of its combination in theory and practice of the Roman Law and the Common Law.
    • p. 214
  • This was ultimately secured in a large chamber in the lower part of the Parliament House, known as the Laigh Parliament Hall, the traditional torture chamber of the Scottish Privy Council.
    • p. 230
  • Thus the facilities (of the Advocates' Library), which in England were provided at the taxpayers' expense in the British Museum, were in Scotland afforded entirely at the cost of the Scottish Bar... Much the greater part of their annual income was expended in maintaining it.
    • p. 234
  • Mr. Gladstone characteristically replied that "the subject of the establishment of a national public library in Edinburgh will have every consideration from Her Majesty's Government', which signified precisely nothing, as the Faculty experienced when a few years later a renewed approach was made.
    • p. 235

In London edit

  • I found ample scope in the work of the tribunals that were open to me, and in the House of Lords, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and the Parliamentary Committee Rooms. I enjoyed a large and varied practice, almost entirely in English cases and cases from the Dominions.
    • p. 49
  • The promoters of every private bill have to satisfy the [Parliamentary] Committee that their proposals are sufficiently beneficial to the public to justify the Committee in entrusting them with the special powers necessary to carry them out; it is only on this condition that private rights and interests can be required to give way to public necessity. The task of the Committee is to examine the proposals from this point of view and for this purpose to hear the arguments and evidence both of the promoters and of thhe opponents, being specially vigilant to see that justice is done by way of compensation and protection to those who may be called upon to make sacrifices for the public benefit. The range of the subjects which may come before Parliament by way of private bill is immensely varied, including such matters as the construction of railways, the building of harbours and bridges, the extension of city boundaries, the development of water power and electricity, the provision of water supplies, and the alteration of the constitution and objects of charitable and educational institutions.
    • p. 58
  • Some of the finest addresses by counsel I have ever heard have been delivered in the Committee Rooms at Westminster... In my judgment it would be difficult to conceive a more satisfactory and impartial tribunal for the disposal of practical questions than a Select Committee of either House. The Lords Committees especially impressed me with their business-like procedure and the ability of their chairmen.
    • p. 59
  • Nothing is more fatal to success at the Parliamentary Bar than to attempt to suppress or misrepresent any point, for if the Committees lose confidence in a counsel's fairness the Parliamentary agents will soon desert him.
    • p. 60
  • I must plead guilty to having borne a part professionally in the invasion of the Highlands by electric power schemes... An inscribed ingot of aluminium on my desk commemorates the event, but when from the window of the train as it approaches Fort William I see the attentuated stream which is all that is now left in the once glorious gorge of the Spean I confess to a twinge of conscience.
    • p. 67
  • Already in my own time the volume of business was much less than in the heyday of the Victorian age, when the developments of the industrial era stimulated the enterprise of promoters and led to the construction of our modern railways, docks, and other undertakings of public utility. That was the era which my friend Walter Elliot has so aptly called the `century of equipment'.
    • p. 72
  • Throughout my advocacy of the University's cause I had experienced the truth of Goethe's maxim that it is best, if you wish to influence people, to begin by assuming that they are already what you would have them to be.
    • p. 265
  • The erection of a great public building in any city almost always engenders controversy. The maxim that there can be no disputing about matters of taste seldom deters an eager host of critics, informed and uninformed, from rushing into print. But the new buildings of London University have had the good fortune to rise undisturbed by the clamours of contention and indeed with a degree of public approval which must be almost unprecedented... I have found, as a matter of experience, that the gravamen of complaints about any public scheme may generally be found to reside not in its intrinsic demerits but in the fact that the objectors were not consulted about it.
    • p. 268
  • We had for our guide the wish of the founder [of the Pilgrim Trust] that we should devote ourselves specially to the conservation of the heritage of Britain, and we knew that this meant not only its material heritage of institutions and buildings and places of beauty and historical association, but also the nation's spiritual and intellectual heritage in the character and well-being of the people, then passing through the ordeal of widespread unemployment and distress, with all the accompanying risks of deterioration. So we regarded ourselves, as it were, as a salvage corps, and decided to divide our assistance between these two types of objects.
    • p. 286-7
  • We found that success in each case depended largely on enlisting the services of an efficient and enthusiatic local organiser, director, or warden, and many of our grants took the form of paying the salary of such leaders. The results were seldom disappointing. The reports which we regularly received showed how responsive the people were to sympathy and practical help, and we felt amply rewarded.
    • p. 291
  • [Voluntary social work] has indeed become a new profession and quite a large number of people now make their livelihood by such work. At the same time the State has expanded its social services beyond all recognition within the space of a single generation and a large part of the produce of taxation is now devoted to every form of social amelioration... I should like to see us less concerned with palliation and more concerned with providing the means whereby our people by self-help, that demoded Victorian virtue, should be able to work out their own salvation, even if in fear and trembling.
    • p. 292-3
  • Security is a thing to be earned rather than bestowed. It should be the reward of adventure and effort.... So our education, if it is to inspire our youth to face life with courage and happiness, must concern itself with the ideals of duty and service rather than with securing an easy shelter from all risks.
    • p. 293
  • This country, having remained inviolate from invasion and plunder for so many centuries, is a rich storehouse of historical, literary, and legal records.
    • p. 297

On Politics and Propaganda edit

  • Propaganda, [the White Paper] said, "is a work which is peculiarly liable to miscellaneous criticism , since most men are apt to consider themselves born propagandists and are only too willing to point out where the official department fails."
    • p. 166
  • I quoted F.S. Oliver's words: `politics is the noblest career that any man can choose. Stout must be the hearts of those who take so great a risk and who dedicate themselves--souls as well as bodies--to the service of their country.'
    • p. 181

Speech on the dedication of the statue memorial to George V edit

  • The privilege fell to me, as chairman of the Executive Committee, to present to the King and Address which I had composed in these terms:
    • p. 205
May it please your majesty--Today on this historic spot we are gathered to take part in a ceremony commemmorative of the illustrious reign of Your Majesty's Father, King George V. The Statue which Your Majesty is about to unveil is the spontaneous tribute of the people of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth and Empire Beyond the Seas to a beloved Sovereign who for a quarter of a century reigned not only on the Throne but in the hearts of all.

While the great public services rendered by King George V stand recorded in the annals of the Nation, His memory will ever be specially and affectionately cherished for the nobility of His life and character and for the example which He set of single-minded devotion to duty.

No more fitting place could have been found for His Statue than this hallowed ground hard by the national fane so closely associated with many of the great events of His life, and looking across to the House of Parliament, the seat of the Government of the Realm of which He was the constitutional Head.

To Your Majesty and to the Queen Mother this ceremony cannot be but fraught with personal and intimate emotion, but it is also an occasion of inspiration to all of us to seek to exemplify in our daily lives those great qualities of fortitude and goodwill which animated our late revered Sovereign and which Your Majesty has so amply and so happily inherited.

I have now the honour to request Your Majesty to be graciously pleased to unveil the Statue.

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