HC Deb 05 March 1822 vol 6 cc916-7
Mr. Denison

rose, to move for leave to bring in a bill to amend the act of the 57th of George III., for effectually preventing seditious meetings. The object of his bill was, to lessen the expenses attendant upon actions instituted to recover damages done by riotous mobs. To show how necessary it was that the present system should be amended, he would state the expenses that had been incurred upon some actions which were tried at the two last assizes for Surry. Eleven actions were brought to recover damages to the amount of 69l. 7s. 6d. the taxed costs upon which amounted to the sum of 1,106l. 9s. 10d. The costs upon four other actions for the recovery of 7l. 6s. 5d. amounted to 501l. 6s. 10d. The taxed costs upon one action for 15s. amounted to 112l. 9s. 6d. The remedy he should recommend was, that the party receiving the injury should at once render an estimate of the amount to the overseer and two neighbouring magistrates; that appeal should lie to the quarter sessions; and that the treasurer of the county should be enabled td levy a rate on the hundred for the amount.

Mr. B. Wilbraham

said, he had intended to introduce a measure having the same object as that now proposed. He fully concurred in the propriety of the bill. The evil complained of arose out of the necessity of bringing the action before the higher courts, which, as the law now stood, could not be avoided.

Mr. Scarlett

thought, there might be some mode of investigating the actual damage, so as to prevent imposition, without the verdict of a jury, which would save the unnecessary expense, and upon which the magistrates might assess a rate upon the county.

Mr. Lockhart

said, it was a great misfortune that in a well-regulated country the costs of an action of this sort should be twenty-two fold the amount of the damage done. He trusted that this measure would be a precedent for other bills, which might save the people from being law-ridden as they now were—their best blood being sucked up by this vampyre. It was the duty of parliament to devise means by which the people should have justice brought to their doors without this enormous expense.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.