HC Deb 03 March 1859 vol 152 cc1239-41

Order for consideration, as amended, read.

Bill re-committed.

House in Committee.


said, he must object to the House going on with this Bill at so late an hour. It was understood that no important matters should be considered after twelve o'clock, and it was now a quarter past that hour. His objection was one that went to the whole Bill, and he should move that the hon. Chairman report progress.

Motion made and Question put, "That the Chairman do now leave the chair."


said, that though it was past twelve o'clock they had seen most important business transacted after that hour. The hon Member had put forward a Motion which originally was the Motion of another hon. Member, and the matter had been fully discussed on a former occasion.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 6; Noes 95: Majority 89.


said, he would then propose to expunge certain words in Clause 1. The Bill, he said, proposed to give to an unlimited number of persons an unlimited amount of compensation. That was a most objectionable provision; but if the Attorney General for Ireland was prepared to state the number of courts which he intended to abolish, and the sum which would be required to compensate the Judges, he would not further oppose the progress of the Bill.

Clause 1, line 9:—Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'Act' to 'Courts,' in line 12, in order to insert the words 'no seneschal or judge shall hereafter be appointed to any Manor Court in Ireland, and upon the death of any person at present holding the office of seneschal or judge of any Manor Court, or on his ceasing to hold such office by resignation, removal, or otherwise, the Manor Court of which such person was judge or seneschal shall be abolished, and no action or suit shall be commenced or prosecuted therein.'


said, that every Judge on the Bench of Ireland for the last thirty years had declared against these courts, which encouraged perjury and small litigation. Many of the courts sat in publichouses, and the men who gave most money for drink got the most verdicts. It was only proposed to give compensation according to the business done in the last year, and he believed that with respect to nine out of ten of the courts there would be no title to compensation. He did not see the advantage of maintaining bad courts when there existed good courts where the causes could be tried. He had not set out a schedule, because a great many of the judges of these courts would not receive compensation, which the fact of putting them into a schedule would have admitted, and the provision that those which had had real business during a year would receive compensation would have been abused by the getting up of business for the purpose of getting into the schedule.


observed, that on a former occasion he had suggested that in place of abolishing the courts and giving compensation no new judges should be appointed. It was matter of complaint that the extent to which the public finances would be charged under the Bill was not stated. In a great many of the courts the emoluments were considerable, and compensation, if given at all, must be in proportion. If the hon. Member for Finsbury went to a division, he should feel bound to support his Amendment, the effect of which would be that these courts would expire gradually, without one farthing of expense to the country. Having been unable to obtain any information from the Government as to the number of courts, he had made inquiry himself, and found that there were numerous officers of these courts claiming to be in the receipt of £50 to £350 a year. The courts were not so wholly inefficient as Mr. Whiteside represented. The judge of the Antrim court stated that he had issued 10,000 processes in one year without having any appeal from his decisions.


said, he would not share the responsibility which would be incurred by perpetuating these courts. In giving evidence as to the working of these courts, one gentleman said that the jury did not always deliberate, but sent to the plaintiff for a quantity of punch, refusing to give their verdict until they got their drink. In another instance a gentleman went into one of these courts and found the judge, jury, and witnesses speaking Irish, and on inquiry discovered that the judge did not understand English.


observed that he had no doubt but that the courts in question were quite as abominable as they had been represented. Why, he asked, had not the right hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced the Bill inserted a schedule identifying the number of courts to be dealt with?


contended that the whole details of manor courts in Ireland were well known from the inquiry which had already taken place before a Committee of that House, and as he believed they were a nuisance, the sooner they were abolished the better.


said, he thought the assistant barristers in Ireland ought to be made permanent, but deprived of any practice at the bar. They ought to be put on a similar footing to County Court Judges in Ireland.


said, he was persuaded this Bill would he of the greatest value to Ireland, provided liberty of appeal was added to it.


said, he thought the absence of any recommendation by the Committee which sat on this subject for the abolition of these courts showed that there was no great urgency for getting rid of them in the precipitate manner proposed by the Government, and at so large an expense.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 70; Noes 14; Majority 56.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

The remainder of the clauses agreed to, with some Amendments.


said, he would move a clause saving the jurisdiction of the Recorder's Court, the Lord Mayor's Court, and the Court of Conscience of the borough of Dublin.


opposed the clause, and it was negatived.

House resumed.

Bill reported, as amended.

House adjourned at Two o'clock.