HC Deb 27 June 1888 vol 327 cc1506-7

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

MR. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)

I do not wish to offer any opposition to the third reading of this Bill; but, with the permission of the House, I would offer a short personal explanation with reference to matters which occurred when the Bill was in Committee, or came before the House on the Report stage. Frequent allusion had been made to a case in which 50 or 60 actions had been brought by a solicitor practising at Salters' Hall Court, E.C., in respect of the same libel. In order to avoid giving unnecessary pain to the surviving relatives of the plaintiff in those actions, I spoke of them as having been brought by a person whom I would call "John Smith," of Salters' Hall Court, instead of, as the fact was, by a Mr. Henry Tucker. It was mentioned that he had died before any of the actions had been tried; that at the time of his having brought them he had been a bankrupt; and that the libel consisted in a statement as to his having been struck off the Rolls as a solicitor who had been guilty of fraudulent practices. By a strange coincidence, it turns out that there is a Mr. Henry John Smith practising as a solicitor at Salters' Hall Court. He feels aggrieved at the name of Smith having been introduced into the debates, and desires me to state publicly that I did not in any way intend to allude to him. I therefore wish to say that I had at the time no knowledge even of his existence, and I am anxious to express my regret that, in attempting to spare others pain, I should have occasioned him annoyance. As to the late Mr. Tucker, it is wholly untrue that he was a bankrupt at the time of his having brought the actions. He had had to contend with some pecuniary difficulties some time before; but they were passing or had already passed away at the date of the publication of the libel. Under these circumstances, an absolutely false statement to the effect that he had been guilty of fraudulent practices necessarily did him great injury—so great indeed, as his relatives state, as to have actually hastened his death. I thank the House for having allowed me to make this short personal explanation, which, I think, in justice to the parties concerned, seemed to be both right and necessary.

Question put, and agreed to.