§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee on re-commitment of the Bill read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT SANKEY)
My Lords, in moving that the Amendments proposed by the Joint Select Committee on Consolidation Bills be made, I need only detain you for a minute or two. I would explain that the object of this Bill is merely to consolidate a number of Acts that apply to County Courts. The Bill has already received a Second Reading in your Lordships' House, and has been before the Consolidation Committee, and the Consolid[...] 977 tion Committee have recommended a number of Amendments, the first of which is in Clause 37. In addition to that the Bill has received very careful scrutiny I think from Lord Bertie, who has found two printing mistakes, which will as such be put right, but it might save your Lordships' time if I simply moved that the Amendments proposed to be made by the Joint Select Committee be agreed to.
§ Moved, That the Amendments proposed by the Joint Select Committee on Consolidation Bills be made.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to: the Amendments made accordingly.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper, that Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being dispensed with, in order that this Bill, which is a purely formal Bill, may be passed through its remaining stages to-day. It will then be received in another place, and we shall be able to get this Consolidation Bill before we rise at the end of the present month. It is very important that that should be done, because at the present moment the County Court jurisdiction is contained in about twenty different Acts. It is desirable that it should all be consolidated, and the County Court jurisdiction be contained in one Act. There is no new legislation here, but we are simply taking the various clauses out of various Acts and putting them into one Act. The last County Court Act was in 1888, and since then a number of different Acts have been passed amending it in various ways, and the time has come when County Court jurisdiction ought to be put into one Act. We are anxious that this should be done at once, because it affects a very large number of our fellow-countrymen. Your Lordships may be interested to know that the number of County Court cases last year was over 33,000. It is important that the matter should be put right so that people may be able to find out what is the law.
§ Moved, That Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being dispensed with in respect of the Bill.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.978
§ Then (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended) Amendments reported.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ THIS EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, as I was unable to be present on the Second Reading I hope your Lordships will excuse a very brief intervention. We law reformers welcome very heartily this consolidation of the law in relation to County Courts, on account of the advantages which it brings to the litigants and to the lawyers, and we are in favour of the codification and tightening up of the English law. Of course we do not expect complete reform at once, but at the same time a Consolidation Bill is a milestone on the road towards legal reform, and it measures the distance that has been traversed as well as the distance that yet lies ahead of us before we reach our goal. I would like especially to congratulate the Government on two important reforms which the Bill contains—namely, the extension of the jurisdiction of the registrar from £5 to £10, and the abolition of certain appeals which will make the cost of litigation much less than it used to be. At the same time we hope that, the law having been codified on this subject, the way will now be open for a more far-reaching reform, and in particular for a gradual extension of the jurisdiction of the County Courts. We would humbly suggest that this process, if gradual, would not be one that would be either costly to the country or injurious to English law. The jurisdiction might possibly be raised to the small sum of £300 without either dislocating the other business in our County Courts or making the extra cost which the State has to bear quite exorbitant. We make this suggestion in all humility because we hope that the Government, having gone as far as it has gone, will now be able to consider the extremely important problem of raising the present limits which are attached to the jurisdiction of the County Courts.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am much obliged to my noble friend for what he has said. I think the House is indebted to him and to the 979 other members who sat on the Consolidation Committee. There is only one small point. The Bill, as I have said, does not make any change at all in the law, but it consolidates two Acts recently passed which do make a change—namely, that which raises the jurisdiction of the registrar from £5 to £10, and also the Act which deals with certain rights of appeal. This Bill does not make any change itself, but it does include those two Acts.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed, and sent to the Commons.