§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE EARL OF MORLEY
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, he regretted that it had come up so late. Amendments had been made in Clauses 4 and 7 relating to imprisonment, fraudulent enlistment, and desertion; but they were neither numerous nor of great importance.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Earl of Morley.)
THE EARL OF LONGFORD
wished to call attention to a matter upon which he had more than once spoken ineffectually—namely, the necessity for improved arrangements for the distribution of Army booty on the system in force for Navy Prize. In the Navy there were many prizes and few disputes. In the Army there were few prizes and many disputes; the Admiralty Court having imperative jurisdiction in one case, but only permissive jurisdiction in the other. The notorious Banda and Kirwee case might have been disposed of by one decision in one Court 15 years ago; whereas it had been the subject of frequent mention in Parliament, several suits in different Courts, including a Petition of Right heard in the House of Lords, and the claimants were not now satisfied that the decision against them had been on merit. A slight alteration of the Act to give the Admiralty Court the same jurisdiction in both cases appeared to be the remedy.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, the noble Earl appeared to be misinformed upon this subject. With respect to Maritime Prize, it had been the practice for the Crown, at the commencement of any war, to make a general 258 grant of all prizes which might be captured at sea during that war to the captors, and to establish Special Prize Courts, having a jurisdiction distinct from the general jurisdiction of the Court of Admiralty, for the determination of all questions arising out of any such captures; and Acts of Parliament had been passed to regulate the jurisdiction and the proceedings of those Prize Courts. Those Courts decided, not only questions as to the rights of participation in prize, but also questions as to the validity of the title acquired by capture, as against the former owners of the ships or cargoes taken. The Court of Admiralty, as such, had no jurisdiction in those cases; though Admiralty Judges had usually been made Judges in the Prize Courts. The case was altogether different as to booty of war resulting from military operations by land. The nature of such booty was different from that of Naval Prize. It vested in the Crown, without condemnation or sentence of any Court. It had never been the practice to make any general prospective grants of booty to the Army Forces which might be employed in the course of a war. Every case was dealt with as it arose, after booty had been actually taken, according to the sole discretion of the Crown; the troops had no right to anything more than the Crown, in each particular case, might please to grant to them; and no Courts were established with any jurisdiction as to such booty, though the Crown might, if it thought fit, refer questions relating to it to the Court of Admiralty.
THE EARL OF MORLEY
said, the Government, after full consideration, did not think any advantage would be gained by making imperative the option given to the Admiralty Court to deal with such cases. This question, however, had nothing whatever to do with the Bill before the House.
§ VISCOUNT BURY
said, it was, in his view, inconvenient that a Bill of this importance should be introduced at so short a notice. It only left the House of Commons yesterday, and appeared on the Paper in their Lordships' House as the first Order of the Day to-day.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly; Committee negatived; and Bill to be read 3a on Thursday next.