§ Mr. Wallace moved for leave to bring in four Bills to improve the present practice in certain Law Courts in Scotland: the first, that of the Courts of Session, Teinds, and Justiciary; also to regulate and define the duties of the Judges, and of the clerks and their officers, and to abolish the fee-fund and other dues of those courts. Second: To regulate the forms, shorten the delays, and diminish the expense of the above Courts, and in appeals to the House of Lords. Third: To explain, regulate, and improve the practice and jurisdiction of the Sheriff and Burgh Courts. And the fourth was: To amend the Small Debt Act, and enforce the holding of Small Debt Circuit Courts by Sheriffs; also to extend the provisions of that Act to the amount of 10l., and to abolish the arrestment of workmen's wages, and imprisonment for debt for sums under 10l. He did not feel himself called upon to enter into explanations relative to those Bills, but should reserve what he had to say for another occasion. He need hardly observe, that the Sheriffs' Court in Scotland was one of the most efficient for the administration of justice that existed in any country, and regretted that England had not the advantage of such Courts. He trusted, however, that in a very short time such a Bill as had been introduced in the House of Lords two years ago by the then Lord Chancellor, for the establishment of Local Courts, would soon receive the sanction of the Legislature. The Sheriffs' Small Debt Circuit Courts had also been found to be most beneficial—indeed the number of causes tried in those Courts was a sufficient proof of their excellence. He denied that, in bringing forward these measures, he had the slightest desire to interfere with the duties of the Lord Advocate.
§ Sir William Rae
was fully aware that any hon. Gentleman possessed the undoubted right to introduce any measures for the improvement of the constitution of the Courts of Justice in Scotland; at the same time he begged the House to recollect, before they sanctioned any measure of the kind, that within the last few years a Commission had been appointed to inquire into the subject, and the Commissioners had made a Report thereon. He had brought in a Bill embracing the important points, and it had been referred to a Committee up stairs. He thought the hon. Gentleman therefore 1243 had much better have laid his details before that Committee, when they might have been introduced into the Bill already before the House. Under the existing circumstances, to introduce new bills appeared to him a very inconvenient course.
The Lord Advocate
thought the House would be disposed to allow his hon. Friend who had collected a vast deal of important information on this subject, to bring in his Bills. It did not appear to him that it would be any impediment for his hon. Friend to bring in Bills more extensive in their nature than the measure before contemplated, and the result might be, that great advantage would accrue. Believing that his hon. Friend did not mean his Bills to be an obstacle to any other proposition that might arise from the suggestions of the Select Committee, he should support the Motion.
§ Mr. Sinclair
considered the Motion of the hon. Gentleman unnecessary and premature. It was unnecessary, because the subject was already in the hands of the officers of the Crown; and it was premature, because no final Report had been made by the Committee.
§ Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
saw no objection to the introduction of these Bills. He did not agree with his hon. Friend as to all the great changes he would effect, but believed that many most valuable hints might be obtained from the information he had received; and it was better that it should be embodied in the shape of a Bill than that it should be laid before the Committee in a desultory manner. He saw no more convenient mode of putting the House in possession of the information than the one now proposed.
§ Leave given to bring the Bills in.