§ Mr. Crampton
moved for leave to bring in a Bill to improve the administration of the law in Ireland. The object of the Bill was, to assimilate the law of Ireland to that of England. It changed the law Terms in Ireland and the days for returning writs; it regulated the periods of nisi prius sittings; it enabled the Court of King's Bench to pronounce judgment in certain criminal cases after Term; it regulated the practice of the superior Courts and fixed the time for holding Quarter Sessions; in short it was intended to extend to Ireland the recent alterations which had been made in the law in England. Such being the object of the Bill, he anticipated no opposition to his Motion.
said, that this Bill, like the play of Hamlet with the part of Hamlet left out, omitted the most important matter. The object of the Bill was to assimilate the laws of Ireland to those of England, and yet not a word was mentioned in the Bill about the Grand or Petty-Jury laws. He understood that the last Government had seen the evil of the present Jury system in Ireland, and had prepared a bill to assimilate it to the English system. If it was the intention of the present Government to bring in a particular bill for that purpose, he would not at present say any thing on the subject.
§ Mr. Crampton
said, it was true that a bill had been prepared by the late Government on the subject of the Grand-Jury system, and he promised to give it the fullest consideration. It was very probable that it might be brought in, but he could not give any pledge on the subject.
said, that there was nothing of which the people of Ireland had so much right to complain as the gross partiality which was displayed in the selection of Juries. It appeared from a report presented to that House, that the Sheriffs in Dublin were elected for party purposes, and were obliged to give party pledges previous to their election. ["Order!" and a slight confusion in the House."] "Oh!" exclaimed the hon. and learned Member, "this is a subject of very little importance,—it is only a matter relating to Ireland,—nothing but a proposition to improve the administration of justice in Ireland, which is not worth listening to." He said that the lists of the Special Juries were all made out by the deputy of Lord Seymour Conway who always out in them 1250 members of the Corporation, mostly of little property, and as little expectations. This deputy had the selection of all Special Juries for the law courts of Dublin, including the Court of King's Bench, which was considered an evil as it was acknowledged to be unfair, by the last Administration, and they therefore prepared a bill for the purpose of putting an end to it. By a report made to that House, it appeared that any person, on giving twenty guineas to the sub-sheriff, might have whatever Jury he pleased. The Bill which the last government brought in to assimilate the Jury laws of Ireland to those of England, had been withdrawn on the understanding that it was to be re-introduced early this Session; but now the House was told that that Bill, relating as it did to a most important matter, might be brought in perhaps. He could not be content with such vague promises; he did not ask for any thing unreasonable, he asked for impartial Juries, and he called upon the present Government to bring forward a measure to promote the attainment of so desirable an object. He believed the Irish Insolvent Act would shortly expire. He therefore thought that it would be best to leave all matters connected with that out of the present Bill, and have a particular bill to regulate the Insolvent Court of Ireland. The manner in which the judges —one of them in particular—conducted the business of that Court did not give satisfaction; and it would be his duty to present to the House a petition from a large body of mercantile persons, calling upon the House to consider the state of the insolvent law. He implored the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Crampton) to leave out of the Bill any alteration of the ejectment law. There were at present facilities enough for landlords to crush their tenants. Since the Union several Statutes had been passed in favour of the landlords and against the tenantry. There was now a servile war raging in Ireland, a war of poverty against property, and he was afraid that the discontent of the lower classes would only be aggravated, if any steps were taken to increase the power of the landlords ever the tenantry.
§ Mr. Crampton
said, that with respect to the bill of the late Government on the subject of the Grand-Jury laws, he had not had as yet time fully to consider it, but he promised to give it his best attention. The disturbances in Ireland were 1251 not attributable, he believed, to the administration of justice in that country, which was as pure and impartial as in England. The proposed Bill contained one or two clauses for the purpose of giving relief to such persons as had been committed to prison for contempt of court, arising from their ignorance.
§ Sir E. Sugden
considered the statement of the hon. and learned member (Mr. Crampton) respecting the Grand-Jury hill which had been brought forward by the late Government, very fair. He was glad to see that a clause was to be inserted in the proposed Bill, to give relief to those unfortunate persons who were suffering for contempt of Court. When he introduced his bill to relieve a similar class of persons in England, he had proposed extending the provisions to Ireland; but there were certain technical difficulties, which prevented him from doing so. From what had fallen from the hon. and learned member for Waterford, it appeared that he was an advocate for cheap law, except where landlords were concerned. For his part he was disposed to give his support to any process efficacious enough to prevent litigation and expense, which must ultimately fall on the poor tenant.
thought the Ministers were not coming forward on this subject as the House had a right to expect. At an early period of the Session the Noble Lord opposite had stated, that it was the intention of his Majesty's Government to do a great deal to better the condition of Ireland; and now they had an equivocal declaration with respect to a matter of the greatest importance to that country. If the statement of his hon. and learned friend could not be denied (and it could not), of the unfair and partial constitution of juries in Ireland, how could the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite say that the present discontent had nothing to do with the administration of justice in Ireland? In England means had been adopted to procure impartial Juries; why not in Ireland? After the statement by his hon. and learned friend—that it had been established seven or eight years ago, that a sub-sheriff in Dublin had sold Juries for twenty or thirty guineas, and that the individual still kept his office—could there be any doubt of the necessity of interference? He hoped the noble Lord would give some pledge that the measure prepared by the late Administration should be completed.
§ Lord Althorp
said, he could not pledge himself to bring forward the particular bill to which the hon. member for Middlesex had alluded, but he would pledge himself that a measure should be brought forward on the part of Government, as soon as he and his colleagues could turn their attention to the subject.
§ Mr. Ruthven
said, that Ireland ought to have the benefit of the English laws, wherever they could be applied to the former country.
§ Motion agreed to.