HC Deb 19 July 1839 vol 49 cc519-21
Mr. Gisborne

brought up the report on the Warrington Small Debts Bill, and moved some amendments.

Mr. Hume,

as he observed the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department in his place, wished to ask what were the intentions of Government, in regard to the general bill. Every one who had had an opportunity of witnessing the benefits which the people of Scotland had derived from their system of county courts; must be desirous to see the advantages resulting from that system enjoyed by the people of England. The only way to obtain a general bill, in his opinion, was to refuse their assent to these separate bills. Early in the Session they had been put off from time to time on the assurance, that it was the intention of the Government to go on with the general bill. In justice to the country the Government ought to be urged to proceed with the general bill this Session. He, therefore, wished to know what were the intentions of Government, and hoped, that the proper information would be afforded to the House.

Mr. Brotherton

hoped, that whatever might be the fate of the general measure, the House would now allow these bills to be proceeded with.

Mr. Hume

must persist in his objections, and take the sense of the House on the amendment.

The House divided:—Ayes 79; Noes 9: Majority in favour of the amendments 70.

Lord John Russell,

in answer to Mr. Hume, said he thought he should have been able to proceed with the County Courts Bill, but he must say; that he entertained considerable doubts, that he should not be supported by the House with sufficient energy to enable him to do so, although he certainly wished to proceed with it this Session.

Mr. Warburton

The longer the noble Lord delayed the general bill, the greater the opposition which it would encounter. There was nothing like trying. If the noble Lord did not try, how could they know whether the Opposition would prevent the measure from being passed this Session or not. "Fortune favoured the brave."

Mr. Harvey

thought there was something very inconsistent in the course which the House was pursuing in regard to these bills, whose chief recommendations to their support seemed to be, that the promoters of them had incurred a very considerable expense, and that bad legislation should therefore be sanctioned. Why were those bills postponed? Because the consideration of the whole matter was referred to a select committee. That committee, which consisted of Gentlemen of all parties without regard to party feeling, sat a great many days, and came, after mature investigation, to an unanimous determination, with one exception. That exception related to one point—the patronage of appointing judges. The question on which the committee differed in that respect was, whether the patronage should be given to the Lord Chancellor, or to the magistrates of counties. The cause of that difference, and of the opposition which the minority of the committee encountered, originated in a doctrine, that there was a sort of hereditary right in some great families to dabble in the administration of public justice, and to set up a species of pecuniary standard which they raised in that respect. But, apart from that point, the committee were unanimous in the recognition of the great general principles of cheap justice to the people. He could not see on what grounds the noble Lord could suppose, that a general bill would encounter greater opposition in that House or elsewhere than a mass of these little bills. Why, then, should they hesitate to proceed with a general bill of a nature of this kind, which excited such interest throughout the country? Why should they allow it to be arrested in the way proposed, and permit the statute-book to be encumbered with a number of little measures tending to produce a great deal of public mischief? He trusted that his hon. Friend, as these bills proceeded, would not fail to reiterate his opposition to them.

Bill to be engrossed.

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