HC Deb 15 March 1878 vol 238 cc1478-80

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [27th February], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Question again proposed. Debate resumed.


said, that although he was opposed to the measure on the ground that it would, in effect, re-establish the system of small Courts, which had been condemned after the experience of some centuries, he should be glad to withdraw his opposition, provided it was agreed that after it was read a second time the whole question of the extension of the jurisdiction of County Courts should be referred to the consideration of a Select Committee.


moved the adjournment of the debate on the ground that the preceding measure, the Libel Law Amendment Bill, had not received fair play from hon. Members opposite, the hon. and learned Baronet the Member for South Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot), the promoter of the Bill now before the House, having seconded the Motion for the adjournment of the former debate.


seconded the Amendment, and said the measure in question was opposed merely because it came from that—the Opposition—side of the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Mr. Herschell.)


said, that his only reason for seconding the Motion for the adjournment of the debate on the Bill which had been referred to was because he did not believe so important a measure could receive proper consideration at that time. He denied altogether that he had acted from the motives imputed by the hon. Member for Newcastle to hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Ministerial side; for, as regarded the County Courts Bill, it had been fully understood that, with the consent of the Government, the other two Bills, proposing to extend the jurisdiction of the County Courts, together with his own, should be read a second time, without discussion, and referred to a Select Committee: so that he had had no personal interest whatever, as was suggested, in preventing the discussion on the Libel Law Amendment Bill.


said, that if the reason assigned by the hon. and learned Baronet opposite (Sir Eardley Wilmot) were correct, it would seem that no private Member could possibly have a chance of passing a Bill through the House, if it were opposed when brought on at half-past 11, on the ground that it was too important to receive adequate consideration at that hour.


denied that the former Bill had been opposed because it came from the Opposition side of the House. Some hon. Members on the Ministerial side voted in favour of the Bill.


wished to repeat that he moved the adjournment of the debate on the Bill in question from no wish to oppose it, but in order that it might obtain adequate discussion—a contingency which did not to him seem likely at the time.


observed, that a very unfortunate misunderstanding had arisen, which was not conducive to the satisfactory conduct of Public Business. Hon. Members were very glad to be able to get their Bills on by half-past 11 o'clock, and it was not often they could be so fortunate. If they were then to be told that the hour was too late to entertain their proposals, what chance could they have of ensuring attention for them? If it was too late then to consider the Libel Law Amendment Bill, it was too late to consider the present Bill now; for if the one Bill affected the state of an important portion of the law of the country, the Bill before the House affected directly a very large class of suitors. In the actual state of circumstances, he thought he could best make peace by urging the acceptance of the Motion for adjournment.


said, he was anxious to disclaim any opposition to the former Bill from political motives. He voted in the division, in fact, without any consideration from which side of the House the Bill proceeded. It was often difficult to know on which side to vote, when suddenly summoned to do so; and one was obliged to take the advice of one's Friends. He wished the Bill to be properly considered. He trusted that opposition to this Bill would not be persevered with, as it was understood that this and others on the same subject were to be referred to the same Committee.


said, he was quite satisfied with the explanations given by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and was ready to withdraw his Amendment.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.

House adjourned at a quarter after Twelve o'clock, till Monday next.