HC Deb 09 February 1841 vol 56 cc471-2
Captain Pechell

asked for leave to introduce a bill to amend the Tithe Recovery Act, 5 and 6 Will. 4th. He said that the House was no doubt aware that it was provided, by the 7 and 8 Will. 3rd., that all suits for tithes under the amount of 10l. should be instituted before the justices; the House would also recollect that in the year 1835 he had the honour to introduce a bill, which afterwards became law, and the 5 and 6 William 4th., by which it was provided that all such suits should be heard only before the justices of the peace, to the exclusion of the other courts of her Majesty. It was now asserted that the Ecclesiastical Courts did not come within the scope of the act, but it undoubtedly was the intention of that act to prevent all suits for tithes under a certain amount from being carried to the superior courts. There was now a petition on the Table of the House from a poor woman of the name of Sarah Young, which stated that she had been cited to the Bishop's Court at Llandaff by a reverend divine for an alleged arrear of tithe amounting to only seven shillings, and at a time when that unfortunate person was confined to the House from sickness, and consequently unable to attend. She was held in contempt for not attending at a distance of forty-five miles, and she was committed to the county gaol of Mon-mouth, where she remained for a term of seven months. Another case had occurred in the diocese of Exeter. A gentleman of the name of Hill had been cited to the Bishop's Court for an arrear of tithe. Having greater means than Sarah Young, he employed a proctor, who appeared in court and produced the Act 5 and 6 William 4th, as a defence to the action. To the astonishment of Mr. Hill and his proctor the case was dismissed, but without costs. It appeared, then, that notwithstanding the 5 and 6 William 4th, persons were liable to be cited before the Bishop's Court for tithes. He thought the House ought to remove all doubt on the subject, and place the Ecclesiastical Courts on the same footing as the rest of her Majesty's courts in regard to this question. He would be glad if the noble Lord would bring in a general measure to remove the general jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts altogether, but as it became his (Captain Pechell's) duty to amend the act which be had been instrumental in getting passed, he would therefore move for leave to bring in a bill to amend the Tithe Recovery Act (5 and 6 William 4th), and to takeaway the jurisdiction from the Ecclesiastical Courts in all matters relating to tithes of a certain amount.

Dr. Nichol

had no objection to allow the hon. and gallant Member to amend his own clumsy and bungling legislation. The difficulty arose entirely from the hon. and gallant Member's taking up a subject with which he was not very familiar.

Mr. Fox Maule

thought the learned Gentleman who had just sat down had no right to accuse the hon. and gallant Member in this instance, for he was equally responsible for the measure—indeed more so. It became him to watch over a measure which he says was bunglingly gone about, and prevent its passing into a law.

Mr. Hume

was of the same opinion. He thought it was the duty of the learned Gentleman opposite to have interfered; but though he knew better, he would not come to the relief of the hon. and gallant Member. The House was much obliged to the hon. and gallant Member, he had done something, but the learned Gentleman opposite had done nothing.

Leave given.