§ MR. GEORGE CLARK (Belfast, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that between the mouth of July and the month of March there is no Court available for hearing civil bill appeals for the city of Belfast; that during such interval decrees of the Recorder appealed against are rendered inoperative; that, with the object of remedying this grievance, it was arranged four years ago that civil business and civil bill appeals should be heard at the winter assize, which is held in Belfast in December in each year; that, at the first sitting of such Court in December, 1903, Chief Baron Palles decided that there was no power under the existing Acts of Parliament to hear civil bill appeals at such Court, and that an Act of Parliament was necessary to confer jurisdiction for such purpose; that no step has since been taken for the purpose of conferring on such winter Assize 341 Court the necessary jurisdiction to. hear civil bill appeals; and whether he will take into consideration the question of introducing.at an early date a Bill conferring the necessary jurisdiction on the Judges of such. Court of Assize.
§ MR. BIRRELL
I understand that the facts are substantially as stated in the Question, but the hon. Member is mistaken in supposing that no step has been taken with the object of providing that civil business may be heard at winter assizes at Belfast. The Supreme Court of Judicature (Ireland) Bill, which was introduced last session by my right hon. friend the Attorney-General for Ireland, contained a provision to that effect, but the Bill failed to become law. It is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill containing a like provision when opportunity offers, but in the present state of public business it does not seem probable that the Bill can he brought in during the present session.