HC Deb 01 May 1851 vol 116 cc409-15

Order for Second Reading read.


said, that he appealed to his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland not to proceed with the Second Reading of this Bill in the absence of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland—as it was one of strictly legal character. If, however, his right hon. Friend persisted, he would proceed to state his objections to the measure. He had no objection to that portion of the measure which consolidated the statutes regulating the jurisdiction of assistant barristers. As regarded that part which was intended to alter the laws of landlord and tenant, he thought the time for that alteration was very unfortunately chosen. Throughout the 160 clauses of the Bill there was not a line to secure to the improving tenant any compensation for his outlay. He objected to this alteration in the law of landlord and tenant. With regard to the extension of the jurisdiction of the local courts, he hoped that the Government would also deal with the abuses that still existed in the procedure of the superior courts of equity and law in Dublin. He complained of the modes of procedure in those courts, and not in any manner of the learning or ability of the eminent Judges who presided over them. The extension of the jurisdiction of the local courts would give to Ireland the same advantages as England already possessed. He hoped that in Committee some clauses would be introduced improving the manner of executing the decrees of the assistant barristers' courts, which was at present very objectionable. The Irish people were exposed to great evils by the practices in the diocesan courts; and he hoped the Government would transfer to the assistant barristers much of the jurisdiction of these courts. The only qualification at present for a diocesan judgeship was the being able to show that you were not a Papist. He was anxious that the judges of the local courts should be well worked, well paid, and liberally pensioned, and it would be a great advantage if they could hold monthly sittings. A new and unexpected feature in the Bill was, that it proposed to return, in the case of ejectments, to the old system of exacting heavy stamp duties. He believed the returns moved for would show that this was quite unnecessary, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see it right to revise the scale. He also strongly advised the Government to keep up the scale of professional fees, so as to secure the aid of a class of respectable and able practitioners in the county courts, otherwise the attempt, like others made before in the same direction, might fail again for similar reasons.


considered there was scarcely a necessity for any remarks on the proposed measure, as the speech of the hon. Member for Carlow, though purporting to be against it, was in reality in favour of almost every principle put forward in it. His hon. Friend had stated the necessity that existed for a reform of the law in relation to the Civil Bill Courts. He approved of the consolidation, and codification of that law, as prepared in this Bill—its simplicity, efficiency, and economy. He approved of the payment of the assistant barristers by salary instead of fees; and the expediency of allowing barristers to practise in the Civil Bill Courts. He admitted that the Bill had no tendency to centralisation. In fact, the only objection he shadowed out to the Bill was with reference to the 50l. clause, which was merely an assimilation to the English law that had been passed in that House, notwithstanding the opposition given to it by the Gentlemen of the long robe on both sides. His hon. Friend went even farther, for he not only admitted the necessity of passing such a measure as that now before the House, but required something more. So far as to the merits of the question. Now, as to the fairness of throwing any impediment in the way of the Government, with reference to this Bill, he (Mr. French) asked the House to carry in mind that the necessity of a measure of this nature was so strongly felt, that so far back as the Session before last, a private Member of this House brought forward a Bill to carry into effect the same objects that are now embodied in the proposed measure. He withdrew that Bill on a pledge having been given by Government to introduce a complete measure on the subject. Last Session a deputation most numerous and influential, and composed of all shades of politics, waited on his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department, calling on him to introduce a measure similar to this. In accordance to the pledge given by his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland, and in compliance with the wishes of the deputation, consisting of thirty-five Members of that House, the Government have introduced this Bill, prepared with the greatest care and ability, and which he (Mr. French) had no hesitation in saying was one of the most important and valuable Bills, both as to the administration of justice and improvement of the law, that had been introduced within his memory. Hitherto the sole objection to the progress of the Bill, while approving of its principles and details, was for the purpose of having it referred to a Select Committee. This point having been pressed on a former occasion on the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, was acceded to by him on a distinct understanding that the second reading was to take place without any discussion; and he (Mr. French) would leave to the House to judge with what fairness that pledge had been redeemed in the opposition now made. If there were any Amendments necessary to the details of the measure, there would be ample opportunity in the Committee for a full and fair consideration of them; and he (Mr. French) trusted his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland would not consent to any further postponement of the second reading of the Bill.


said, he would refrain at that hour from adverting to what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sadleir) in reference to the Bill; but as it went to a Select Committee, both there and after it came back to the House, there would be ample opportunity to consider its provisions. The Bill was one that he had already pledged himself to introduce, and he had now the honour to propose the second reading. It consisted of 160 clauses, and repealed, in part or in whole, thirty Acts of Parliament. Out of doors, it was the most popular Bill which he ever had the honour of introducing to that House. It was an understanding before Easter, that if it were postponed till after the holidays, the second reading would be taken without discussion, in order to its being sent to a Select Committee, and he now hoped the House would adhere to that understanding.


wished, before they proceeded, to protest against that way of dealing—bringing in Bills, no matter how important soever the subject, at any hour of the night.


hoped, if it was referred to a Select Committee, that they would be allowed to examine witnesses, and so to consider the subject with the fullest information before them.

Bill read 2a, and committed to a Select Committee.

The House adjourned at a quarter after Twelve o'clock.