HC Deb 22 July 1858 vol 151 cc1959-62

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clause 1.

MR. WHITESIDE moved the addition of the following proviso at the end of Clause 1:— That nothing in this Act contained shall in any manner extend or apply to any case in which any such question as aforesaid was raised before the 1st of July, 1858.


said, he must object to the proviso, as it would have the effect of prejudicing. the creditors of the Tipperary Bank by protecting a judgment for £10,000 registered by Mrs. Sadleir, the wife of the unfortunate Mr. James Sadleir, who put an end to his existence on Hampstead Heath.


expressed a hope that an exception would be made in the present case.


said, he thought that the creditors of the bank had been most shamefully plundered, but that it was unusual and unadvisable to correct a particular mischief by legislation.


said, he must complain that up to the present time the House had not had an opportunity of discussing the principles of the Bill. It was in fact a retrospective measure, and affected private interests to the extent of a million and a half, and the parties so affected had no means of defending their rights. He would therefore urge the Committee to pause before it sanctioned the principle of the Bill,


said, he would admit the Act was retrospective. But where there was a general mischief it was the habit and practice of the House to remedy the mischief with reference to particular cases. He might refer as an instance to the case of an Act passed a few years ago to amend the Wills Act. Up to that time the law had been that a will was not valid unless the signature was after the last clause. That led to much injustice, which an Act was passed to remedy, and that Act had reference to the general principle, not being framed for any individual case, but it was retrospective in its operation. However, it would not apply to any case in which the point had been already raised, and a clause to the same effect was in the present Bill. He could also refer to other examples of legislation under analogous circumstances. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that parties had acquired rights, but he denied it; they had acquired no rights.


said, it was impossible to reconcile the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) and that of the right hon. and learned Member for Ennis (Mr. FitzGerald). He therefore hoped that some protection would be given to the unfortunate sufferers by the Tipperary Bank.


said, he should support the clause, as he held that any other course would promote not the cause of justice, but would promote the cause of chicanery and fraud. A general error had been committed in Ireland. It was said there a question of a million and a half of money. No doubt that was so. A judgment had been registered in the usual form against Mr. James Sadleir, but his last residence was not mentioned. However, he was described as a Member of Parliament, and there was only one James Sadleir a Member of Parliament. Would any one say that creditors had been deceived? The fact was, as stated by the Attorney General for Ireland, that the Bill was to remedy a general evil. In all cases where common error had been committed, the Legislature were bound to intercede and set things right. It was a grievous thing if the creditors of the Tipperary Bank were to be deprived of the property of that man Sadleir, to which on every principle of right they were entitled, in consequence of a voluntary settlement. But he felt, as the Attorney General for Ireland had said, that it was very difficult for the Legislature to interfere to reverse a judicial decision. However, he felt sure that the decision would be reversed on the appeal.


said, the Act was introduced in order to remedy a certain class of wrongs, and the only case of the kind they had ever heard of was expressly excepted by the proviso. It would be very unfair to the parties concerned that a Bill affecting the case should be passed while the matter was sub judice.


asked what possible harm could arise from the omission of the proviso? If any right were acquired, he could understand that an injury would arise. But no rights had been acquired, as the matter was sub judice.


said, he would yield to the general sense of the House, and agree to withdraw the proviso.


said, he would throw the responsibility of the Bill upon the Government, and would not offer any further opposition.

Proviso withdrawn. Clause agreed to.

The other Clauses were agreed to.

Clauses added.

House resumed; Bill reported, as amended, to be considered To-morrow.