§ 100. Sir W. BYLES
asked the Home Secretary whether the number of imprisonments for debt through the Birmingham County Court has fallen from 709 in the year 1907 to forty in the year 1912; whether this decline is coincident with the tenure of a new judge; whether other County Court judges are pursuing a similar policy; and whether there is any attempt on the part of the Home Office or the Lord Chancellor to check the punishment of debtors by imprisonment, or to secure a measure of equality in their treatment as between one County Court and another?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I have not yet received the returns of committals from Birmingham for 1912, but between 1907 and 1911 the number fell from 709 to 136, and I have no doubt the figure given by my hon. Friend for 1912 is correct. During the same years the total for all County Courts fell from 9,235 to 7,692. There thus appears to be a general tendency among County Court judges to have less frequent resort than was formerly the case to this mode of enforcing the payment of judgment debts, 1382 and the evidence given before the Select Committee in 1909, particularly that of Judge O'Connor, shows how much can be done in the matter by the action of the judge. Neither the Lord Chancellor nor I have any authority to interfere with the discretion of the Courts in this matter; but, as I have already stated, I am anxious to propose legislation to amend the law of imprisonment for debt at he earliest opportunity.