HL Deb 10 July 1851 vol 118 cc421-3

observed, that about ten days ago he had told their Lordships that he would inform them of the course which he intended to pursue with regard to two very important Bills, one of which had come to a second, and the other to a third reading. Those Bills had excited great attention in the country, and much interest had been exhibited regarding them both in and out of the profession. He would now mention the course he intended to pursue respecting both Bills, and the reasons which had induced him to pursue it. The Extension of the County Courts Bill (No. 2) was a Bill to transfer the country jurisdiction in bankruptcy to the County Court Judges, thus saving the expense of the existing Courts of Bankruptcy. Considerable objections had been urged against this Bill both by the Bankruptcy Commissioners and the Judges of the County Courts, on account of its retrospective operation. It had been said, that if a hamster had left his profession, to take upon himself the office of a Judge in the County Courts, without any stipulation that he should reside in his district, he ought not to be compelled to reside permanently in that district. He so far agreed with those who advanced this objection as to think that the Act should be made prospective, and should not affect the Judges already appointed. It was not his intention, however, to proceed any further with that Bill, nor with any portion of it, during the present Session. It was a measure which ought to be taken up by his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack, and ought to he carried through Parliament as a Government measure. He should only continue to take charge of it if they declined. The other was a Bill, in favour of which he had presented many petitions, and which, he verily believed, would confer great benefit on the country. It was a Bill to confer upon the County Courts in certain cases an equitable jurisdiction. He would not at present say anything further on the subject, than that, in his apprehension, no single measure would tend more to facilitate the working of the great plans which occupied all men's minds at present for amending the proceedings in the Court of Chancery. To make that Court tolerable to the country, it would be found necessary, in addition to the new arrangements of the proceedings which were now under consideration in the other House, to make a fundamental improvement in the proceedings themselves. Increase its judicial force as you would, still you would not give a real and substantial relief to that Court and to the country, if you did not make a very great—he would not say a radical—alteration in its proceedings. In his belief, the addition of an equitable jurisdiction to the County Courts would be a relief useful and salutary to the Court of Chancery, but yet not enough to satisfy the country. He was sorry that he was not in a position to proceed further with that measure at present—they'were now at the 10th of July—and he should not have the least chance of getting such a measure as this passed into a law during the present Session. He therefore, however reluctantly, proposed to postpone that Bill till next Session.

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