HL Deb 06 June 1836 vol 34 cc122-3

The Marquess of Londonderry, on presenting a petition against the Bishopric of Durham Bill, expressed a hope, that as the Court of Pleas in that county was to be retained, so would also the Court of Chancery, for the inhabitants of the county were favourable to the retention of that Court, deeming it highly advantageous for the suitors who had occasion to resort to it.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

moved to discharge the order of the day for receiving the Report of the Bill to which the petition bore reference, on the ground that, as the amendments consequent on the retention of the Court of Pleas required great care and attention, and as the advice of counsel respecting them was needful, he proposed to take the Report into consideration on Friday next. Their Lordships, appeared to acquiesce in the suggestion of the noble and learned Lord for the Court being preserved; and as several petitions had been presented on the subject in favour of that course, the Court in question would not be abolished.

Lord Lyndhurst

rose for the purpose of offering a few observations as to the propriety of retaining the Court of Chancery also. It was not because he himself had any professional experience respecting that Court, that he now submitted whether it ought to be retained, but he had that morning received a communication from the noble Earl (Lord Eldon) who had so long presided on the Woolsack, who assured him, that the Court of Chancery was very advantageous for the people of that part of the country; and when he, mentioned that the noble Earl had himself practised for many years as counsel there, and consequently had ample opportunity of knowing what the opinion of the people was upon the subject-he thought that their Lordships would be inclined to think the Court was beneficial. He would also beg to call the attention of the noble Mar- quess to the petitions which were now upon the table in favour of the continuation of the Court of Chancery, they being almost as numerous as those in favour of the Court of Pleas. If it were desirable that a portion of the jurisdiction formerly exercised in the county of Durham should be abolished, it was but reasonable to see what ground there was for such a course; for it was not usual for Parliament to act in the way which the Bill proposed, without there was no necessity for the Court to continue, or without showing that justice had been improperly administered. For his own part, as he had stated, he had no personal experience in the matter, but he had never heard that any complaints had been urged against the co tinuance of the Court alluded to.

The Lord Chancellor

thought it was not quite fair to represent the object of the Bill to be to abolish the Courts alluded to. Such was not properly the object of the measure, for it was to place the county of Durham, as regarded the legal jurisdiction of the Courts, on the same footing as the other parts of the kingdom. He should, however, feel it his duty, after what had now transpired, to make himself acquainted with the facts of the case, as regarded the Cour of Chancery in the county Palatine of Durham.

Lord Abinger, from the acquaintance which he possessed of the administration of justice in the Court under discussion, could bear his testimony in favour of it. Men of high legal attainments had presided over it in his day, among whom, were Lord Eldon himself, who was succeeded by Sir Samuel Romilly, and the last learned Gentleman was followed by a Gentleman of high legal attainments— Mr. Williamson. He (Lord Abinger) considered that it was the duty of the Government to listen to the petitions of the people of that part of the kingdom, to whom the existence of the Court was of great importance.

Lord Lyndhurst

observed, as he had previously stated, that he had no personal knowledge upon the subject, but he had heard no complaints against the Court; and he had that morning received a letter from the noble Earl, to whom he had before made allusion, stating that the Court as very beneficial to the people of that part of the country.

Order of the day discharged.

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