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Civil Bills, &C (Ireland) Bill

Volume 117: debated on Monday 23 June 1851

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Order for Committee read.

said, that as this Bill had passed through the ordeal of a Select Committee, he should not oppose it. But he wished to call attention to the fact that notice of three Amendments had been given by the hon. Member for the county of Dublin (Captain Taylor), for Rochdale (Mr. S. Crawford), and for Dundalk (Mr. M'Cullagh), and to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, whether he would postpone the clauses to which those Amendments referred (the 73rd and 82nd) together with the schedules of professional fees, which required amendment and correction, to a sufficiently distant day to give parties interested in them an opportunity of considering them, and representing their views to the House.

said, that he must protest against certain clauses in the Bill which had the effect of taking from tenants at will in Ireland some of the advantages which they at present possessed. As, however, the Attorney General had promised to postpone these clauses, he would not oppose the Speaker leaving the Chair.

said, that there were no clauses which would at all affect the position of tenants at will. The clause to which the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. S. Crawford) seemed to refer, would do no more than make clear what one of the Judges had already decided to be the effect of the original Civil Bills Act.

said, that the 73rd clause would give the landlord increased powers, for it gave him power to eject his tenant by process in the Civil Bills Court, provided he did not owe more than one year's rent, amounting to 50l. He objected to piecemeal legislation on this subject, which was most injurious to the country, especially as while Bills were brought forward which gave additional powers to the landlord, no measures were adopted to give additional security to the tenants, such as compensation for permanent improvements. He thought that if the Irish landlords would give up the right of distraining for rent altogether, it would be the best way of settling this question. This Bill, in its present form, would operate unjustly, because it gave the landlord new powers of ejectment without giving the tenant any means of obtaining compensation for the permanent improvements he might make upon the land.

House in Committee; Mr. Bernal in the Chair.

said, that he should oppose any progress being made in Committee, unless he received a promise from the Attorney General for Ireland that the schedules for fixing the amount of professional fees should be postponed to a sufficiently distant day.

said, that his right hon. Friend the Attorney General had already promised to postpone certain clauses, and this, by the rules of the House, would imply the postponement of the schedules, which could not be taken until all the clauses had been considered.

In answer to Mr. REYNOLDS,

said, that he proposed to take the postponed clauses and the schedules on Thursday next.

said, that he feared that that would not be a sufficiently distant day to allow time for the correction of these schedules, which were in a very imperfect state. He should persevere in opposing any progress being made in Com- mittee unless the Attorney General for Ireland would consent to postpone these schedules to Monday next.

asked if he was to understand that the 73rd and 82nd clauses were to be postponed to Thursday?

said, that he could not consent to postpone the consideration of the schedules beyond Thursday next. The measure had been several months before the House, the Session had far advanced, and it was necessary now to proceed. He thought that his right hon. Friend the Attorney General for Ireland had already promised to postpone the clauses referred to.

would withdraw his opposition to the Committee proceeding with the Bill, reserving to himself the right of subsequently opposing the consideration of the schedules on Thursday.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2.

moved as an Amendment, that the present Chairman of the county of Dublin should, so long as he remained in office, be not ineligible to sit in Parliament.

said that, considering the age of the present occupant of the office, the Government was disposed to give way and agree to the Amendment.

thought it was inconsistent that a person holding a judicial office under the Crown should be eligible to hold a seat in that House. Mr. Shaw, the recorder, had felt it necessary to retire from the House because his judicial and legislative functions clashed, and he thought it would be unwise on the part of the House to admit the principle that the one was compatible with the other.

was of opinion, that the present chairman of the county of Dublin had a right by Act of Parliament to a seat in that House, if he were elected, although no other assistant barrister had. The present holder of the office was seventy years of age, and he no doubt thought that it would be a feather in his cap if he were permitted, although it was not likely that he would avail himself of the privilege, to hold a seat in the House. Under these circumstances he hoped the Committee would agree to the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to, as were all the subsequent clauses, up to Clause 34.

Clause 35 (Jurisdiction in ordinary cases, what actions assistant barristers may hear and determine).

said, he could not see any reason why actions amounting to 50l. might not be tried in those courts, as they were in England in the County Courts, and he therefore proposed as an Amendment that 50l. should be substituted for 40l.

Amendment proposed, "In line 37, to leave out the word 'forty' in order to insert the word 'fifty' instead thereof."

stated that, although he was himself in favour of extending the jurisdiction of the Assistant Barrister's Court, to 50l., still, as an understanding had been come to in the Committee upstairs that the amount should be limited to 40l., and that the Bill should pass in its present form, he would oppose the Amendment.

thought the Committee was not bound by any understanding which had been come to upstairs.

said, it had been proposed to limit the jurisdiction of the Assistant Barrister's Court to 30l., but it having been also proposed that it should be extended to 50l., the Committee upstairs had, for the sake of unanimity, fixed upon 40l.

said, the clause had been very carefully considered upstairs, and although he was himself in favour of a limitation of 30l., under all the circumstances he had consented to the sum of 40l.

Question put, "That the word 'forty' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 82; Noes 39: Majority 43.

Clause agreed to: as were Clauses 36 to 72. Clause 73 postponed. Clauses 74 to 81 agreed to. Clauses 82, 157, and 158 postponed. Remaining clauses agreed to.

said, there was a clause in the Bill as originally introduced by Government, which he wished to see in the present Bill, and which was thrown out by a small portion of the Committee. That clause was, that if an action should be brought in the Superior Courts, when the proceedings might have been by civil bill, the person bringing that action should not get costs larger than those which he would have been entitled to, had he proceeded in the inferior court, unless the Judge who tried it gave a certificate that it was right to bring the action in a Superior Court.

Clause ("If in any action brought after the commencement of this Act in any of Her Majesty's Superior Courts of Record in Dublin, in debt, covenant, detinue, or assumpsit (save for breach of promise of marriage), the plaintiff shall recover, for debt or damages, exclusive of costs, a sum not exceeding twenty pounds, or if in any action (brought as last aforesaid) of trespass, trover, or trespass on the case (not being in replevin, or for slander, libel, malicious prosecution, breach of promise of marriage, seduction, or criminal conversation with a man's wife), the plaintiff shall recover for damages, exclusive of costs, a sum not exceeding five pounds, the plaintiff in any such action shall not be entitled to any costs, unless at the trial of such cause the Judge shall certify on the back of the record, either that the case was one which could not have been tried in the Civil Bill Court, or that, although within the jurisdiction of the Civil Bill Court, it nevertheless was a fit case to be tried in one of such Superior Courts, or (in case there shall be no trial) unless the Court or a Judge shall, on Motion, make an Order to the like effect; and in case there shall be no such Certificate or Order, it shall not be necessary to enter any suggestion on the Record to deprive such plantiff of costs, nor shall any such plaintiff be entitled to costs by reason of any privilege in consequence of either the plaintiff or defendant being an attorney or officer of such Court or otherwise.")

Brought up, and read 1°.

said, that in consequence of the inconvenience which it was feared would attend such a clause, the opinion of the Committee was that it should not be admitted; and therefore, after much discussion, it was rejected, as it would entail great hardships on plaintiffs who had to come from a distance, and who were entitled to higher costs than others.

approved of the clause as being in conformity with the general object of the Bill, which was to cheapen the administration of the law for the benefit of the poor.

After a few words from Mr. O'FLAHERTY, Mr. NAPIER, and Mr. KEOGH,

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second Time."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 63; Noes 92: Majority 29.

House resumed; Committee report progress.