HC Deb 07 May 1833 vol 17 cc1032-4

Mr. Fysche Palmer moved that the Sheriffs' Bill be read a second time.

The Solicitor General

said, that, he was decidedly opposed to the plan of throwing the expenses of the office of Sheriff upon the county rates. There was now an understanding between the Sheriffs and Under-sheriffs, the latter of whom agreed to bear the expense; and there were fees of office which enabled them to do so. The expense might always be limited, at the pleasure of the person who held the office, and it would be hard to make the farmer and the occupier pay expenses incurred at the discretion of an individual.

Sir Edward Knatchbull

perfectly agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman, and hoped that the Bill would be withdrawn.

Mr. Cobbett

said, that if the expense amounted to 600l. now, it would amount to 6,000l. if the charges were paid out of the county rate. It was an office of honour, and should continue to be so.

Mr. Richard Potter

trusted, that no expense would be thrown upon the counties connected with the office of Sheriff and if Gentlemen of suitable fortune were appointed, there could be no necessity whatever for so doing. He agreed with several hon. Members that respectable attorneys in some counties were anxious to undertake the office of Deputy, and free the High Sheriff from all charge. In the county he was connected with (Lancashire), it was well known that, on a gentleman being appointed to the honourable and ancient office of Sheriff, there were always numbers of most respectable solicitors eager to become the Sheriff's Deputy, and free him from all expense whatever. In ordinary times the gain to the Under Sheriff was generally about 1,000l. He entirely agreed with the hon. member for Oldham, that if the expense was to be paid by the counties, instead of its costing 600l. or 700l., the charge in time upon the counties would be as many thousands.

Mr. Strickland

said, in the county which he represented, the expenses of the Sheriff were never less than 1,500l., and very frequently amounted to 2,000l., which was a very serious expense to fall suddenly upon any gentleman. He did not say, that these expenses were necessary, but they were customary, and had so long been customary that it was impossible to avoid them. The javelin-men, who had been so frequently mentioned, were in ancient times a sort of military body absolutely necessary to escort the Judges through every county: because, in early periods, the entrance of the Judges into a county town was often attended with considerable danger. That danger, by the progress of civilization, had passed away; but the custom and the expense bad continued. Parliament might, now that the necessity for their existence had ceased, very properly interfere to abolish them. Though he did not exactly approve of the Bill itself, as it was now framed, he thought, that the hon. Member who had introduced it deserved great credit for having brought before the House a subject of much abuse.

Mr. Fysche Palmer

had not brought in the Bill upon his own responsibility, but at the recommendation of a Committee previously appointed to examine into the subject. Many of the abuses now relating to the nomination of Sheriffs would be done away by the bill, and on the whole he thought it would be a benefit to country gentlemen.

Bill read a second time.