§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, he was informed that his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack had called upon the County Court Registrars to report in detail the circumstances of all cases within their knowledge, where persons unable to pay their debts had actually been subjected to imprisonment. The answers of the County Court Judges had been laid upon the table, and he wished to know whether there would be any objection to lay their Reports on the table before the further consideration of the County Courts Act Amendment Bill to-morrow week?
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, he had not given any instructions whatever that such Returns should be asked for from the Registrars; but he was not quite sure but that his Secretary might have written to some particular Registrars requesting information on the subject. However, he would make inquiry, and if he had found that Reports of the kind referred to had been made he should produce them. In his own opinion, the reduction of the limitation in the case of debts under £20 to one year was the true conclusion to which they must ultimately come, but at the same time the transition would at present be great. He was, therefore, prepared to agree to the Amendment to reduce the period in the first instance to three years. He held also that a measure of this description ought to be purely prospective, and not retrospective in its operation. It was intended that the period of limitation should be reckoned from the date of the last item supplied, or of the last part payment, or of any subsequent acknowledgment in writing of the debt after delivery.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, he thought there would now be perfect accord on the subject, for the Amendment proposed by the noble and learned Lord was, subject to trifling variations, the same as he was himself prepared to move when the Bill wag in Committee.