HC Deb 07 April 1859 vol 153 cc1508-9

said, he would beg to ask Mr. Attorney General what steps (if any) have been taken to prevent the practice of imprisoning Debtors who are confined under judgments of County Courts in a Remand Ward; and if any inconvenience would arise by making the rule applicable to Fraudulent Debtors, and not to mere cases of contempt for non-payment.


said, that since a question had been asked of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on this subject inquiries had been made into the matter, and he was informed that the Law Officers of the Crown three or four years ago had expressed their opinion that the prisoners under this Act could he treated as persons guilty of misconduct, and be subjected to severe restrictions. On looking at the Act of Parliament he found that there was certainly a power, when Insolvent Debtors came before County Court Judges, and it was proved they were guilty of fraud or making away with their effects, to subject them to that rigorous imprisonment; but County Court Judges had also the power of imprisoning persons who answered the Court in what was deemed an unsatisfactory manner, and the practice of County Court Judges in some cases had been to imprison those who did not give a satisfactory answer as to the non-payment of money. He had instituted an inquiry into the administration of justice by the County Court Judges, and should consult his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary with reference to making an alteration in the rules with regard to the treatment of County Court Prisoners. He was of opinion that none but Fraudulent Debtors should be imprisoned.