HC Deb 19 November 1830 vol 1 cc595-6

On the Motion of the Attorney General, The Report of the Committee on this Bill was brought up.

Mr. O'Connell

said, he was sorry that the learned Solicitor General was not in the House, as he would have another opportunity of admiring that beautiful thing which he called the science of the law. Here, was an amendment in the law for altering the essoign day, and he should be glad if the House could be made to know what it meant. Yet the law was praised because the hon. member for Middlesex could not understand it. An excellent thing it was for the conjurors who did understand it; but those who went to have their fortunes told had not much reason to rejoice. But even the conjurors themselves were sometimes at fault; for the Attorney General framed a bill last Session, exactly three months ago, and he now wished to make an amendment in it, in the necessity of which he perfectly concurred.

The Attorney General

said, the hon. Member was a man of education, and he should have apprehended that few Gentlemen who aspired to speak in that House could be ignorant of what an essoign day was; but, since he supposed that others were, he would beg to explain the intention of the Bill. The hon. Member seemed to complain of his having removed that expression from the Bill, but in professing to criticise it, he shewed that he was not master of its meaning. He said, that the Bill had existed three months, and that already it had been found necessary to alter it; but, in fact, the part of the Bill to be altered had not yet come into operation, and would not till January next. A clause relating to the same subject as that now under discussion was introduced as a provisional clause into the Bill, the fixing the day being left to the discretion of the Judges. When, however, the Bill arrived in the House of Peers, the noble Lord who presided in the Court of King's Bench thought it better, instead of this temporary clause, leaving the matter to the Judges, that a precise day should be fixed, and so accordingly the Bill was passed; but he had since become aware that the Bill would be better as it originally stood, or that the return of the original writ should be put upon the same footing as the others, and he agreed in the opinion of that noble Lord. To carry that into effect, or restore the Bill to its original state was the object of the Bill, then before the House.

Mr. Hume

felt obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his statement, from which it appeared, that the Bill, instead of having been in operation three months, had not yet come into operation, but required another bill to enable it to move. If the hon. and learned Gentleman knew that this provision was necessary, why did he not introduce it at the time? His present measure was nothing more than a patching up of an incomplete bill. The public prints said, that it would be impossible to carry the learned Gentleman's measure into effect without amendment; and he apparently had taken the hint from the public papers. He was right in bringing these amendments forward; but he should not take credit for them. If the Attorney General and other law-officers of the new Administration should not know what they had to do better than those of the retiring Administration, one-half of the time of the House would be thrown away in amending the blunders and mistakes committed in the other half.

The Attorney General

reiterated his statement that the Amendment was not of any clause introduced into the Bill in that House, but of a clause introduced by the Chief Justice in the House of Lords.