HC Deb 13 May 1822 vol 7 cc518-20

On the order of the day for the third reading of this bill,

The Attorney General,

upon general principle, objected to the bill. He thought it highly improper, that the lord who had the whole patronage of the court should be allowed to participate in the fees taken by the officers whom he appointed. If the fees were more than sufficient to meet the necessary expenses, their amount ought to be abated. He complained that a measure so important to the public should have been attempted in the shape of a private bill and moved, "that the bill be rend a third time this day six months."

Lord Althorp

said, that petitions in favour of the bill, had been presented from Manchester, Bolton, Bury, and Rochdale; and that, in fact, the whole population of that immense district expected advantage from it. With respect to the fees, the question was, not as to their disposal, but whether they were such fees as ought to be taken. Upon the principle that the bill tended to give the people of Lancashire that invaluable blessing, a cheap administration of justice, he should vote in its favour.

Mr. B. Wilbraham

could not help setting his face very strongly against the measure. He, objected, to it upon public grounds, and upon the ground of its being obnoxious to some parts of the county. The bill, if passed, would be followed by others, of the same description; and there was one clause to which he particularly objected, as trenching upon the jurisdiction of the Insolvent Debtors' Court, providing, that persons found guilty of having improvidently, contracted debts might be imprisoned, for a limited period, by order of the court. It was a strong measure to give such powers to a tribunal which had served only originally for the recovery of debts under 40s. The county preferred the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's court. He trusted, therefore, that the bill would at all events be postponed to next year.

Mr. Brougham

said, that the object of the bill was, to enable persons to obtain legal redress upon reasonable terms—to enable a creditor to recover 50s. without the expense of 100l. The principle of the bill was a good one, and could not be carried too far. He would ask, what opposition was there to the bill? The attorneys of the district, of course, were against it, because it would lessen the cause list at every assizes. The loss of the measure could be owing only to one of two causes—the general indisposition of the House to all projects of reform, or the influence of the solicitors who were interested in its miscarriage.

General Gascoyne

was convinced that the principle of the bill was good, and that if it was adopted with regard to Manchester, its advantages would soon be extended to other parts of the country.

Mr. Scarlett

said, that the chief objection to the measure was, that it placed the administration of public justice too much in the hands of private individuals.

Mr. Philips

said that the whole hundred of Salford was in favour of the bill, and that the people of Manchester were particularly friendly to it.

Mr. P. Moore

said, that only one individual had petitioned against the bill, and that was the under sheriff, who was apprehensive he should not receive as much in the nature of fees as he used to do.

Mr. C. Wilson

said, that the primary object of the bill was to aggrandize an individual, (lord Sefton), and throw a considerable sum of money yearly into that nobleman's hands. The question in fact was, whether the Houses would sanction the transfer of from 4,000l. to 8,000l. a year from the sheriff's court to this newly created court of record? The funds intended for the maintenance and dignity of the shrievalty of the county. would thus be transferred to erect a new court of record. If the advantages of the bill were such as had been represented, it ought not to be confined to one hundred, but to be extended over the whole country.

The House divided: For the third reading, 70. Against it, 96. Majority against the third reading of the Bill, 26. The third reading was accordingly put off for six months.