HC Deb 23 March 1891 vol 351 cc1650-1
MR. STOREY (Sunderland)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that, on Saturday, 6th March, the County Magistrates at Sunderland refused the application by Mr. Dix, on behalf of the miners of Silks worth, to enter into a bond with two sureties to try the point of law in the Superior Court, and also refused to delay the execution of the warrants of eviction; and whether, having regard to the provisions of 1 & 2 Vic, c. 74, s. 3, the Magistrates, if satisfied of the sufficiency of such sureties, had "any legal power to refuse the said application; whether he is aware that, on Saturday, 13th March, after notice of mandamus, the said County Magistrates agreed to bind the said miners, but required a bond of £6150 in each case, or, there being in all nearly 500 cases, a total security for costs of £75,000 sterling; whether, the point of law in all these cases being one and the same, the practice of the Superior Court is, under such circumstances, to consolidate the actions into one; whether Clause 3 of the Act requires the Magistrates to approve two sureties in such sum as to them shall seem reasonable, regard being had to the value of the premises and the probable costs of an action; and whether a demand for sureties for £75,000 was in accordance with the Act?


I am informed by the Clerk to the Justices that on the 7th March the Magistrates refused the application of Mr. Dix, because in their opinion, which had been twice expressed in previous cases and acquiesced in by the tenants, the point of law which Mr. Dix raised, namely, that a new tenancy had been created in the miners by holding over, and that there was no lawful right to possession in the landlord, was not well founded. On the 14th March the application of Mr. Dix was renewed as to another batch of warrants, and counsel for the landlord on this occasion joined in the application in order to get the legal question definitely settled. For this reason, and not because Mr. Dix on the 14th March intimated his intention of applying for a mandamus, the Magistrates agreed to accept sureties. The amount of the sureties was settled between Mr. Dix and the counsel for the landlord at £100 for the value of the premises and £50 for the probable costs of the action in each case. There were 173 cases included in the application of the 7th March. Ultimately bonds were completed in two cases only, the sureties in those cases refusing to execute any further bond, no other sureties being offered. The Magistrates made various offers to facilitate the finding of sureties by the defendants; and ultimately made an offer, with the landlord's consent, to reduce the amount in all cases, but the two above mentioned to the nominal sum of £5; but this offer was refused. The Magistrates held that under Section 3 of the Statute they were bound to require separate bonds in each case; that they had no power to delay the remedy under one warrant because security had been given with respect to another; and that they had not power to consolidate the cases, as the Superior Court might and probably would do. I have no authority to interpret the Statute, and must decline to express an opinion on the subject.