HC Deb 17 July 1856 vol 143 cc995-7

Order for taking the Amendments in consideration read.


said, he had understood the Bill should be recommitted, that the clauses might be considered, as they had been passed through Committee at a very late hour, and in a great hurry.


said, that also was his opinion, but he was given to understand that after the present stage the Bill would be reprinted in its amended state.


said, it would be, and that the third reading should not be taken before Tuesday at Twelve o'clock.

Clause 9.


said, he wished to draw the attention of the Government and the Chairman of Ways and Means to this clause, to which he greatly objected. He had provided, in framing the first County Court Act, 9 & 10 Vict., that the clerk should reside in their districts. That had been found ineffective, and he had pointed out the importance of more stringent provisions for the residence of the County Court clerks in their districts. He knew of one who resided 120 miles from the district. The present clause did away with the absolute prohibition of non-residence, and he hoped that it would be withdrawn, and that the absolute prohibition would be restored.


said, that the clause was only intended to meet exceptional cases, but it would be liable to abuse, and, therefore, he should not oppose its omission.

Clause struck out.

Clause 30.


said, he wished to call attention to this clause, which would materially affect proceedings in the superior Courts, and it also deprived plaintiffs of costs of suit in those Courts in cases where they recovered judgment by default for less than £20. That would operate prejudicially in many cases, and he should propose to insert the words, "except where the plaintiff dwells more than twenty miles from the defendant." The present law gave concurrent jurisdiction to the Superior Courts so that his proposition would only retain the law in its present state.


said, that the clause was in accordance with the principle of the County Courts Act, and was to prevent actions being brought in the superior Courts for sums under £20, except under certain circumstances. If it was a fit case for the superior Courts, the Judge would always certify for costs. A plaintiff residing more than twenty miles from a debtor, might by the present law sue him in the superior Courts.


said, that a judgment by default could be obtained at a less expense in the Superior Courts than in the County Courts. It would cost in the Superior Courts only £2 5s., whereas in the County Courts, where the parties resided more than twenty miles apart, the expense might be ten times that amount, for the whole case must be proved. The present clause could only have been framed by some person not practically acquainted with the subject.


said, the policy of the County Courts system was to allow the suitor an option of suing in the Superior Courts where his debtor did not reside within twenty miles of him. He should support the Amendment.


said, the difficulty was this, an action might be brought, not knowing whether it would be defended or not; and it would be absurd to force the action into the County Court, which would cause far greater expense to the defendant. If the plaint were in the Westminster County Court, and the cause of action arose at Lewes, £10 expense might be caused by the necessity of bringing the witnesses to prove the case. However, if there was power for the suitor to apply to a Judge for the costs, the difficulty would be remedied. And in that case he would support the clause.


said it was so.

Question "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 82.


said, he desired to remind hon. Members that he had called the attention of the House early in the Session to the case of Mr. Falconer, and of another Judge, who claimed the increased allowance of £1,500 a year. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Treasury had on that occasion stated that had that Motion not been made, those Judges would have received the increased allowance, as a Treasury Minute had then already passed. He proposed to omit certain words in the clause, which would enable those Judges to be placed in the receipt of that allowance from the date of the Treasury Minute.


said, that when the hon. and learned Gentleman brought forward a Motion some months since on this subject, he (Mr. Wilson) stated that as long ago as December last the Treasury had decided that the two Judges in question were entitled, by reason of the amount of business transacted in their Courts for the last three years, to be added to the list of Judges who should receive £1,500. One of those Judges was Mr. Falconer, a relative of the hon. and learned Member; the name of the other he did not know. In the month of January, Mr. Falconer addressed the Treasury claiming to be placed in the position of a Judge receiving £1,500 a year, and was informed that a Treasury Minute granting him that salary had already been passed. About the time when the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Roebuck) brought forward his Motion a communication to that effect was made to the Home Office, and the Home Secretary replied that, inasmuch as the Lord Chancellor intended to introduce before long a measure for the general regulation of the County Courts, it would be better to defer the consideration of the question until then. The Treasury Minute, however, had been long since agreed to, and he was clearly of opinion that to those two Judges the Treasury was committed. He was bound to say, from all he had seen and heard, that a more assiduous, able, or conscientious County Court Judge than Mr. Falconer did not exist.

Amendment negatived.

Bill to be read a third time on Tuesday.