HL Deb 03 August 1882 vol 273 cc566-7

(The Earl of Rosebery.)


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, the introduction of this measure was due to the public spirit of Dr. Cameron, one of the Members for the City of Glasgow. It had been referred to a Select Committee of Scotch Members, presided over by the Lord Advocate, from whom it had come up in its present form. He would not trouble their Lordships by going into the details of the Bill; but would simply state that it made important changes in the law of imprisonment in the case of husbands who neglected to aliment their wives or parent their children, whether legitimate or illegitimate. The law of Scotland at present enabled a creditor to imprison a debtor under the Law of Aliment, and if that debtor had no means or friends his imprisonment was practically only limited by the discretion or vindictiveness of the creditor. He had seen persons in prison for 13 months under an alimentary order. Under the Bill it was proposed that, instead of, as at present, the debtor being imprisoned at the suit and at the expense of the creditor, in future it should be at the expense of the public and at the discretion of the Judge. The second form of imprisonment with which the Bill dealt was a Scottish process known by the name of "law burrows," by which, if one used words or threats of bodily harm, they might, on sworn information, be imprisoned for an indefinite period. This Bill practically assimilated the law of Scotland to the law of England, which gave the alternative of binding an accused party over to keep the peace. The third form was imprisonment for non-payment of rates, which was limited under the Bill to six weeks. Where the rates were of sufficient value to make a person willing to incur imprisonment for six weeks in order to avoid their payment, the law gave ample power to attach the property of the debtor.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Earl of Rosebery.)

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.