§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
My Lords, the object of this Bill is to amend the Salford Hundred Court of Record Act, 1868, which amalgamated into one Court two previously existing Courts—namely, that for the Hundred of Salford and that for the borough of Manchester. This Act also extended the jurisdiction of the Salford Hundred Court into a number of places outside the limits of those two which I have mentioned. The Court has always worked well and been popular in Manchester, but its jurisdiction was resented by certain places outside. Bury and Oldham, for example, obtained exemption from it in private Acts, and certain other places obtained exemption, in small cases where the County Court had jurisdiction, under Orders in Council, and these exemptions are made statutory in the Bill. There have been certain complaints made for some time past against this Court, the principal of which regarded the scale of 222 costs, which was considered to be a great deal too high, and also the great inconvenience which was caused to various persons owing to the transference of default judgments to distant County Courts.
On the last day of October, 1910, therefore, it was decided to appoint a Departmental Committee to inquire into the whole matter, and this Committee, which consisted of Lord Mersey, Mr. McCall (the Attorney-General of the Duchy of Lancaster), and Mr. F. Maddison, held eight sittings, examined a number of witnesses, and considered a considerable mass of documents, with the result that they made a Report on December 22 containing ten recommendations, among which the most important were as follow. First, they recommended that the territorial jurisdiction of the Court should be limited to the areas of the County Courts of Manchester and of Salford, but that jurisdiction should attach wherever a material part of the cause of action arose within those areas, and where the Court was satisfied that the case could be more conveniently tried there than elsewhere. Secondly, they recommended that in so far as it was possible the scale of costs should be assimilated to that which exists in the County Court. Thirdly, they recommended that the High Court system of applying for speedy and summary judgment should be recognised. I should, perhaps, say that a reservation was made by one member of the Committee, although he signed the Report, to the effect that in his opinion the whole business of the Court might with advantage be transferred to the County Courts. Whatever may be said for or against this proposition, it could not, very well have been dealt with on the present occasion, for the simple reason that this Court does not stand by itself. It is on a similar footing with various other Courts throughout the country, amongst which I might mention the Liverpool Court of Passage, the Derby Court of Record, and the Lord Mayor's Court. Therefore, before considering the question of the abolition of the Salford Hundred Court, it should be considered whether all these other Courts should be abolished or whether they should all be retained. Consequently, it was thought that the best course to pursue was, pending any consideration which there might be with regard to this point, to amend the law with regard to this 223 particular Court, in so far as it was possible, with a view to meeting the grievances which had been found in the working of the Court.
This Bill was therefore founded upon the Report of the Departmental Committee. It passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons on July 23, and was then referred to a Select Committee of five, including the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Sir Frederick Low, K.C., Mr. Gill, and one of the Members for Bolton. Some objections, it is true, were threatened with regard to its further progress, but the Chancellor of the Duchy met the various representations and made several concessions. Amendments were introduced into the Bill in order to meet these objections, and finally the only petition which was actually presented against the Bill was withdrawn. The Bill then passed its Third Reading in another place, and I hope that in view of the fact that it can be said of this Bill that it is entirely a non-contentious measure your Lordships will be disposed to give it a Second Reading this evening.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Herschell.)
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
The noble Lord has made an extremely clear and lucid statement, and I am sure he has put your Lordships in full possession of all the facts of the case. He stated, however, that there was a provision inserted in Committee that the substantial part of the cause of action should arise in the Hundred. That is not found in Clause 2. It is "wholly or in part"—it may be any part, however petty. If the members of the Committee consider that their views are met by Clause 2, I am quite satisfied to leave it there, but perhaps the noble Lord in charge of the Bill will consider the point between now and the next stage.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed for Tuesday next.