HL Deb 22 May 1834 vol 23 cc1180-1
Lord Sondes

, in presenting a petition from a parish in Kent on the subject of tithes, took occasion to inquire whether it was intended to introduce any measure for the purpose of restricting protracted litigation with reference to the recovery of tithes and moduses.

The Lord Chancellor

said, that a Bill of that nature had been brought into Parliament last Session, but it had not been adopted. The difficulties which attended legislation on this subject were very great, as respected tithe-owners, lay-impropriators, and those on whom they might have claims. Unquestionably, liberty had been given to the former to commence suits for their claims, and, if they pleased, they had a right to do so. Now, if a measure had been passed, allowing them to prosecute suits, it would be very hard to turn round on them with a Bill, and to say, "You shall not proceed." The difficulty on every side was very great, and he believed that much evil had been caused by the Bill that had formerly passed, restricting individuals from instituting suits after a certain time. In all such cases, whenever they legislated prospectively, and gave time for adopting certain proceedings, which time having expired, no such proceedings could be adopted, the consequence was, that all who were concerned rushed into court, and actions were instituted which, but for this circumstance, would perhaps never have been brought. The remote and prospective operation of such an act would be to put an end ultimately to actions; but, in the intermediate period before the time of restriction arrived, ac- tions would be multiplied. Lord Tenterden's Bill originally provided for the bringing of actions within three years, but that term was reduced to one year. This had the effect of bringing a vast number of tithe holders into the field who otherwise would not have appeared there, and this he considered to be a very great misfortune. He had had occasion, however, to make inquiry since the matter was last brought before him, and he was led to believe, from the information which he had received, that a great number of those suits had not been proceeded in, although there certainly were some exceptions. The great disapprobation which had been expressed throughout the country would perhaps prevent even these from going on.

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