HC Deb 24 June 1864 vol 176 cc279-81

said, he rose to ask Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, When he will lay on the table of the House the promised Bill for regulating and reforming the Irish Court of Admiralty, and what his intentions are with regard to that measure? It would be remembered that a Bill was introduced by himself last year to assimilate the jurisdiction and practice of the Irish Court of Admiralty to those of the English Court, and in that course he was sustained by memorials and petitions from some of the foremost commercial bodies in the United Kingdom, including Lloyds, the Chambers of Commerce at Liverpool, Glasgow, and Manchester. The Court of Admiralty in England had been reformed several times with great advantage, its jurisdiction having been enlarged and the procedure simplified; and it was very necessary that the Irish Court should undergo similar amendment. Some difficulty might, perhaps, be raised by the Treasury, but the sum required was insignificant compared with the great benefit which would be secured to the commerce of the country. He withdrew his Bill on the understanding that the subject should be investigated by a Commission, which was then inquiring into another branch of the legal system of Ireland. After a very careful examination of the matter, the Commissioners reported very strongly in favour of an assimilation of the Irish Court in jurisdiction and practice to the English one. The reform in England had led to such an increase of business that, although the fees had been individually reduced, they had risen in the aggregate from £2,400 to £9,500 a year. The Commissioners were against the proposal to attach the jurisdiction of the Irish Admiralty Court to a Court of Common Law, and declared that it was desirable in the interests of shipping and commerce that the Court should, in accordance with the terms of the Union, be retained as a distinct and separate tribunal, exercising jurisdiction in Ireland in the same way and to the same extent as the Court of Admiralty in England. The Commissioners also reported that there was an almost universal concurrence of opinion among the classes interested in favour of the assimilation which they recommended. The jurisdiction of the Irish Court was at present very limited in many respects as compared with that of the English one; and a ship at Cork or Dublin did not enjoy the same advantages as at Liverpool or any other English port. A most objectionable practice also prevailed in Ireland, of allowing the registrar to detain in his possession during the trial of a case any money deposited in the Court. The salary of the Judge was much too little, and ought to be increased. As to compensation to the proctors on account of a change in the system, it would not exceed £1,500 a year. He begged to ask the Attorney General for Ireland, what he intended to do in regard to this important subject?


said in reply, that, as one of the Commissioners, he could only endorse the Report, which, however, had only been issued a few days ago. He could assure the hon. Member that he took a strong interest in the matter. Not a moment should be lost without the subject being considered, although he could not pledge himself that the state of public business that Session would afford an op- portunity for legislating during the present year.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Supply considered in Committee.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again on Monday next.