HC Deb 23 February 1859 vol 152 cc741-3

Order for Committee read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, he must complain of the revenue of this country being saddled with an annual sum by way of compensation to certain gentlemen whose offices were to be abolished by this Bill.


said, there was another important branch of the question involved by this Bill, which would no doubt interest the hon. Member for Lambeth—namely the proper administration of jus- tice. He (the Attorney General) had often heard the hon. Gentleman urge the propriety of granting au equal measure of justice to both countries. He should be able to direct the hon. Gentleman's attention to measures of a precisely similar character which had been passed for England. Now the reasons for the Bill were these: in feudal times there were things in Ireland called manors. The grantee of a manor had power to constitute a court, the Judge of which was supposed to be the seneschal of the manor or the steward. Such a system might have been necessary in feudal times, but was decidedly most inapplicable to the present. Occasionally there was found presiding in those courts some men of sense, for whom the people felt much respect; but the system of those courts became very bad from the fact of the sittings being held in publichouses. The whole subject had been investigated by a Select Committee, which had sat for three or four Sessions. That Committee made recommendations for the improvement of those courts which had never been carried out. Those courts had sometimes a very large jurisdiction and at other times a very small jurisdiction. The decisions of the manor courts were constantly reversed. The assistant barrister's court had proved most efficient in working; meanwhile the manor courts fell into disuse, but were not abolished. It was absurd to have two sets of courts existing side by side, and there was but one opinion in Ireland upon this question.


said, that the seneschal of the manor court acted also as returning officer, and if the manor courts were to be abolished there ought to be a provision for making the sheriff of the county the returning officer. The term "emolument" was one of rather wide signification, and some precise definition of it ought to be given, or otherwise it would give the seneschals a title to a larger amount of compensation than they ought to receive.


said, no greater boon than the abolition of the manor courts could be conferred upon Ireland. He knew something of their administration, and in one court the seneschal was in the habit of charging the successful party, whether plaintiff or defendant, a shilling to be spent in drink by the jury. A poor man who had got his case was once going away without paying the shilling, which in fact he was unable to raise, and the seneschal called after him "Oh, very well—wait till you bring another case into this court, and you shall see what happens then."


urged, that the House ought to have more information supplied as to what would be the financial effect of the measure.


said, he must demand that the question of compensation should take precedence of the other portions of the Bill, which might be discussed after the cost of abolishing these courts should be determined.


observed, that according to the rules of the House, they could not proceed with the compensation clauses of the Bill until after a Resolution, authorising compensation to be granted, had been passed in Committee of Supply; it was therefore proposed to take the other clauses of the Bill now.


said, he also must express his opinion that the Bill should not be proceeded with until the compensation question had been discussed.


said, he wished to intimate his intention of dividing the House upon the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair.


said, in that case he would agree to postpone the Bill until after the other orders of the day, with the view to let the Resolution on compensation be proposed in the preliminary Committee and then proceed with the Bill.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred till after the other Orders of the Day.