HC Deb 15 July 1836 vol 35 cc232-4
Mr. Warburton

rose for the purpose of bringing forward the petition, which he had given notice of presenting, and for the discussion of which an early sitting of the House had been determined upon. It was unnecessary for him to enter at great length into the facts detailed in the petition, as it was already printed and in the hands of hon. Members. He must observe, however, that the petition was one of vast importance to the parties, who were in humble and indigent circumstances, and who had, on this occasion, to contend against the powerful influence of the Crown, with which they had been engaged in litigation for twelve long years, during which, in the opinion of persons of great weight and authority, justice had been refused to them. Under those circumstances, he did not think he need say more to the House of Commons—who were the representatives of the humble, as well as the affluent—in order to secure for the petitioners a grave and serious consideration of the subject. The hon. Member entered into a long genealogical history of the claimants on the property of Mr. Troutbeck, who died intestate in 1785, at Madras, leaving a considerable property, of which the Crown had taken possession for want of heirs. The hon. Gentleman concluded by saying, that he asked, on the part of the claimants, for an inquiry into the case, and if the Committee were convinced there was ground on which to found a new trial, he would ask them to recommend that a new trial should be granted to the parties, and that all legal and technical objections be waved, so that the whole merits of the case might go before a jury. He was sorry to have detained the House so long, although he felt there was a great deal more he ought to have stated. The hon. Gentleman moved, that a Select Committee be appointed to consider the case of Catherine Robson and Isabella Ainsley, claimants of the property of the late Samuel Troutbeck, of Madras.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

vindicated the Government. He admitted that the hon. Member had done no more than his duty in bringing forward the case, and he praised the exertions of his hon. Friend in bringing forward similar cases. He contended, that the Treasury had acted with justice, and that they would have been guilty of a dereliction of duty, if they had acted otherwise. The moment the petition was received, they did not shut the doors of justice against the petitioners, but gave them the benefit of going into the highest court in the land. It was referred to the Court of Chancery, which had adjudicated upon the case. It had been said that the Solicitors of the Treasury had rigidly opposed the prosecution of the claim, and held the petitioners to strict legal proof of their pedigree. Was not that, he would ask, the duty of the Treasury, when there were several other claimants. The Crown, in such a case, held the property in deposit for the rights of other persons, and it was therefore its duty to watch rigidly proceedings on the part of the claimants. He objected to any interference with the decision of a jury and a competent court of law. If the Treasury had endeavoured to controvert the law of the land, then there would be a real ground for complaint. Now, there was none. As long as the laws of evidence continued, they should be applied equally, and not relaxed because the parties could make out a case in the House of Commons, and could find a Member of such ability, industry, and perseverance to bring it forward.

Sir Frederick Pollock

had been counsel in the case, and would take leave to state a few facts. In his opinion, nothing would be more fatal to the general and efficient administration of justice than to consider that House was to be made a court of appeal for the administration of justice between party and party; but he thought that an appeal might be made with perfect propriety and consistency (and he hoped it would never be made in vain to the House of Commons) in a case where the Crown was concerned on the one hand, and the subject on the other. It was his honest, and firm, and sincere conviction, that if the case was fit to be tried at all, it ought to be tried again; and a more entire miscarriage—a more complete failure of justice—he never witnessed in the whole course of his life. This was a case between the subject and the Crown, and the honour of the Crown was implicated in giving every possible facility to the proof of claims to such property.

Debate adjourned.

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