HC Deb 28 April 1853 vol 126 cc750-3

Order for Committee read.


moved that this Bill be referred to a Select Committee.


said, he had the following Motion on the paper: On the question being put, that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair to go into Committee on the Bill, to move, "That, in the opinion of this House, no measure of Sheriff Court reform will be satisfactory to the country which does not proceed on the principle of abolishing the present system of double Sheriffs." He must therefore complain of the course now taken by the Government.


said, the Bill would be referred to a Select Committee, for the purpose of making some improvements, and moulding it into a proper shape. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would reserve his objections for a future stage.


said, he thought the best course was to refer the Bill to a Committee upstairs, where fresh evidence might be received. The people of Scotland took a deep interest in this measure.


said, he could confirm the statement of his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose as to the deep interest which the people of Scotland took in this question. He would also venture to protest against the manner in which Scotch business was generally treated in that House. It was very unfair, whilst the other business of the Empire was so fully discussed, that Scotch business should be thrown over until one o'clock in the morning. He hoped the Government would consent to give a morning sitting for the consideration of this very important measure.


said, he regarded the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate's as an excellent Bill, and he would give it all the support in his power; but he would recommend him not to send it to a Select Committee, who would take evidence upon it. He was sitting in a Select Committee upstairs upon two Bills of different principles, and the experience he had gained there certainly would not lead him to recommend the Lord Advocate to take a similar course with the present Bill. He objected to the course suggested by the hon. Member for Montrose, which, if adopted, would probably end in their losing the Bill altogether.


said, that ample time had been given for the discussion of this Bill, and that the course which he now proposed with reference to it was that which he had all along led the House to expect he would take. He did not think that injury would result to any party by referring the Bill to a Select Committee, and he hoped the House would sanction that course.


said, if he might judge from the communications with which he was deluged every morning on the subject of the Bill, he was inclined to think that nothing since the Free Church question had agitated the people of Scotland so much as the reform of the Sheriff Courts. He believed that they would never be content until they had abolished the office of Sheriff principal. Any Bill which did not effect that object would fail to give satisfaction to the Scottish people.


said, he believed that the Bill, now that it had been amended and remodelled, was viewed with great favour in Scotland, and he hoped that it would become law in the course of the present Session. He thought that the Lord Advocate had conciliated public opinion in Scotland to a great extent in favour of his measure. He deprecated, however, sending the Bill to a Select Committee, with permission for them to send for evidence, which would delay the measure until a period of the Session when it would have little chance of passing.


said, he willingly admitted that the Bill had been greatly improved since its first appearance in that House; but unless a clause were introduced for the abolition of the double shrievalty, he believed that it would be inoperative of good, and even productive of mischief. Such also was the opinion of the magistrates and town council of Dundee.


begged to express a wish that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee; in a few days meetings would be held in various parts of Scotland, at which an opportunity would be afforded to the people of that country of expressing their opinion on the subject.


said, he thought there could be no possible objection to the course proposed by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate—that of referring the Bill to a Select Committee. The measure was, no doubt, one of considerable interest to the people of Scotland, and it was desirable that their feelings with respect to it should be clearly elicited; but he did not think that the progress of the measure need be retarded on that account, inasmuch as in two days from the present time meetings would be held in all part of Scotland, at which the provisions of the Bill would be accurately canvassed, and the opinions of the country at large distinctly ascertained.


said, he was also of opinion that there should be no further delay in referring the Bill to a Select Committee. The Committee once appointed, it would be competent for any Member to move that they be empowered to take evidence, and send for papers if necessary.


said, he was disposed to view the Bill with favour, but hoped that during its progress an opportunity would be afforded of settling that question, which had excited a greater interest than almost any other modern one in Scotland, namely, whether there were to be double Sheriffs.


said, that when the Bill was under the consideration of a Select Committee, there would be ample opportunity for the consideration and settlement of that question.


said, that he would therefore give notice that, when the Committee was appointed, he should move that they be empowered to take evidence, and send for papers if necessary.

Order discharged.

Bill committed to a Select Committee.

The House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.