The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
said, that these Bills, which were Bills to continue existing enactments, were so intimately connected in their subject and scope that any remarks he might apply to the one applied equally to the other. With regard to the first, it had long been found to work satisfactorily, and the only alteration which he proposed to introduce into it was the extension of the jurisdiction of a single magistrate. The only other important point of alteration in the first Bill which he proposed to make, was to extend the right of appeal. He thought it was highly desirable that it should be extended to cases which were dismissed. The second Bill which he proposed to re-enact was the Summary Jurisdiction Bill. This Bill had been found to work most usefully and conveniently for the magistrates of Ireland. The main principle it contained was, that of giving to the magistrates the power of dealing summarily with larceny, and preventing thereby the expense of drawing an indictment in petty cases in which the value of the theft was less than the costs would amount to. A power of this kind was most advisable. The other important feature of the Bill enabled magistrates to dispose summarily of rent cases, and of 269 ejecting defaulters without any other process. This he regarded, indeed, as the most important point in the Bill, for he believed that it would prove of incalculable advantage in stimulating the landlords to provide better habitations for the labouring classes in Ireland. The noble Marquess concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
expressed his approval of the course pursued by the noble Marquess in moving the Bills, in the principles of which he entirely concurred. He was, however, slightly afraid of the great powers which would be given by the first Bill to one magistrate. Petty Sessions, in the usual acceptation of the term, meant more than one magistrate; but by the Bill a single magistrate would be placed in possession of the most extensive powers. It was true that there were some parts of Ireland in which there was a difficulty in procuring the attendance of more than one magistrate; but for these, the exceptions, he contended that it would be better to give the Lord Chancellor of Ireland the power of authorising the conduct of the petty sessions by one magistrate, rather than extend the principle to the whole of Ireland. The Summary Jurisdiction Bill he considered a most important measure, and he highly approved of the power given by it to magistrates to take possession of smaller tenements without the ordinary process of ejectment. Singular as it might seem, he believed that that power would prove most advantageous to the small tenantry and to the labouring population of Ireland by improving their dwellings. The law at present was most absurd and anomalous when compared with that of England. There was one set of laws for the market towns of Ireland, and another for the rest of the country. The noble Marquess had the credit of the proposition for consolidating, and assimilating these laws, and he should support him in his attempt, though he might feel called upon to propose several amendments when the Bills should be in Committee.
§ The DUKE of NEWCASTLE
agreed with the objects and the terms of both Bills, and believed them worthy of the support of their Lordships. For the benefit of the justices in remote parts of the country it was highly desirable that the law should be simplified and consolidated. These Bills introduced most important alterations in the law. The Petty Sessions Bill provided that cases which had hereto- 270 fore been tried before a bench of magistrates, might in future be decided by a single magistrate. The Summary Jurisdiction Bill contained an important provision, extending the summary jurisdiction of magistrates to the collection of the rents of small holdings. With regard to the first, he was very much inclined to think that it would be necessary to provide some additional safeguards to prevent its misuse; and with regard to the 15th clause of the Summary Jurisdiction Bill, he was most anxious that it should be submitted to the Irish Government, for the purpose of ascertaining the exact working of the law in the different parts of Ireland. Nothing could be more desirable than the object which his noble Friend had in view. Anything which would tend to improve the dwellings of the lower orders in Ireland, was most deserving of attention. He entirely concurred in the views of his noble Friend, but begged that he would postpone the Committee on both Bills until Thursday next, in order that they might be considered by the law advisers of the Crown in Ireland.
§ The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE having acquiesced,
§ Bills read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Friday next.
§ House adjourned to Monday next.