Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

affairs in India, and of the conduct of the the remedy intended and expressly given Board of Control under there view of Par. by the law to the latter.He said, that he liament, and had then given notice of his could not flatter bimself with the hope of intention of annually calling the attention totally eradicating the abuses of wbich he of the House to the same object, by which complained. They prevailed too univermeans gentlemen would have an opportu sally for an humble individual like himself nity of inquiring into the administration to aspire to their correction ; they perof the Board, as trustees for the Company vaded the whole system and the process of and the public. In pursuance of this the courts; they were protected and plan, it was his intention to propose to patronized by the judges and all the offimake it a standing order of the House, that cers of justice, who felt an interest in their accounts of the revenues of India, and the maintenance, which doubtless would be application of the same, distinguishing exerted in their defence. It was, however, them into classes, shall annually be laid his duty, as an honest man, and as one before the House, within fourteen sitting tolerably well informed upon the subject, days of the meeting of Parliament after to attempt the overthrow of the most notothe 1st of March. These were all the rious and hurtful of these abuses, which clauses which he had to propose to the he now proposed to do, without courting committec, and he trusted they would / approbation on one hand, and without obviate every objection which had been dreading censure on the other. He did made to the Bill.

not wish to insinuate, that the evils of After a short conversation the clauses which he complained originated altogether were read a first and second time, and the from the law itself; that, in most respects, Report was ordered to be taken into fur. was good enough: it was the abuse of ther consideration on the 12th.

the law, originating from, and supported

for, the interests of the judges presiding Debale in the Commons on the Debtors in our courts, and of the various practiand Creditors Bill.] March 11. Mr. tioners in them; these persons had for ages Burges said, he rose to perform the pro- struggled to extend their jurisdiction, and mise he had made to the public, of of course to increase their profits. Every bringing forward a proposal for a modifi. effort had been used, and every art had cation of the laws relating to debtors and been employed, to bring the practice of creditors. He proposed to do this by the courts to a pitch of oppression, which moving for leave to bring in a bill; for, as individuals had long felt, of which all ranks his own ideas were distinct and settled on and conditions of mankind complained, the subject, he wished to save the House but from which lawyers derived emolu. the trouble of going into a committee, for ments superior almost to credibility. The the purpose of proving propositions self. practice of arresting the person of a evident, and unfortunately too generally debtor had been the main engine of this acknowledged, to be disputable even by extension and of these profits. Having those who profited by them. That the very thoroughly considered the subject, subject to which he wished to turn the he was satisfied that such arrests were, thoughts of the House, was of the greatest in many instances, contrary to the law of importance to a commercial and fourish- the land; though he would not go so far ing nation, he conceived would universally as to say that, in all instances, they were be admitted; it was equally true, that the illegal; there being cases, where undoubt. abuses of which he complained were a edly they had a legal sanction. It was scandal and disgrace to any country; they | however most indisputable, that the Court called aloud for the interposition of the of King's Bench had no authority for legislature, and for an immediate correc- using such a process in civil causes; that tion. Palliatives bad frequently been a positive act of Parliament had been made administered; but experience had taught in the reign of Charles 2, for the avowed us that partial remedies were insufficient. purpose of prohibiting that court from It was the duty of the House to inquire using such a process; that this Act had been, into the subject; to search the evil to the within a year after its being passed, most bottom;, to meet it in its true colours, scandalously evaded, and that a process and to eradicate those grievances which had been ever since persisted in, which bore equally hard on the debtor and had created a revenue so enormous, as creditot; which exposed the former to almost to exceed belief. He had no doubt unnecessary vexation, and which defeated of being able to prove, were such proof necessary, that the places in the Court of Court of King's-bench. One Parrott, being King's-bench, which owed their origin to desirous of getting rid of his wife, for the this usurped and illegal process, produced purpose of marrying another woman, eman annual revenue of 20,0001.; that, if ployed one Sambridge, an attorney, to they were now to be sold, (and they had arrest her in her maiden name. When she often and very recently been sold) they was in the spunging-house, Sambridge would produce, at a very moderate estima- endeavoured to prevail on her to sign a tion, at least 100,0001. He certainly did renunciation of her rights as a wife. On not attempt to engage with the whole of her refusal, she was committed to New. these abuses; but he confessed he meant, gate, where she lay eleven days. A genby his intended Bill, to restrain a part of tleman, accidentally hearing of her case, these profits within more moderate bounds. brought the matter before the Court of

He would, with the permission of the Common-pleas, where it was thoroughly House, open the grievances of which he canvassed. He held in his hand a copy of complained, and state the principles on the record. A third instance was of a which he proposed to found a reform. lieutenant Williams, who took out a writ The particular regulations which would to recover the sum of 45l. and put it into be the consequence of these would best the hands of one Laver, a sheriff's officer, appear from a perusal of the Bill itself, in Chancery-lane. A few days after, call. should he be permitted to introduce it. The ing on the bailiff to know the event of the first grievance which he would mention, business, he found himself detained as a was the unlimited permission now given to prisoner, at the suit of one Johnson, for a creditor of arresting a debtor. The upwards of 1201. On his objecting that he process was no more than a loose affidavit knew no such person, and owed no such of the debt; on which a writ was imme- sum, he was waited upon by the same Samdiately issued, by which a defendant was bridge, who offered to drop farther proarrested, and on which he might be, and ceedings, if he would withdraw the writ often was, imprisoned for a long time, he had entrusted to Laver. This Mr. without the existence of a cause of action. Williams refused to do, and was in The law originally had provided, that no consequence committed to prison; where process should issue, unless the plaintiff he lay 193 days before he could obtain found security for the due, speedy, and a "supersedeas. Sambridge is now a effectual prosecution of his demand. This practising attorney. The remedy which had degenerated into a practice no less Mr. Burges proposed for this griev. iniquitous than generally known. Two ance, was the substitution of real securi. obliging gentlemen, John Doe and Richard ties in the place of Doe and Roe; to the Roe, were now constantly employed as the amount of 1001, if the demand exceeded standing securities of all plaintiffs. These that sum; to the amount of the sum inpersons, ever ready to oppress, were more dorsed on the writ, if it was less than 1001. tardy when called upon for satisfaction. This would cover the costs; and, in a Like the god Baal, they were eating, or great degree, put a stop to so iniquitous drinking, or sleeping, or somehow so a practice, without throwing too great a much engaged, as never to be forthcoming difficulty in the way of an honest creditor. when a defendant wants them. The con- Another grievance arose from the persequence of this abuse was the most enor- mission given to a creditor of detaining his mous oppression. A defendant, not owing debtor in prison, without assigning any a shilling, was often imprisoned for months cause, on the payment of a groat a day. before he could supersede an action; and From that part of his intended Bill which as often imprisoned for more than a year related to the regulations of gaols, it would and a half, before he could take the benefit appear necessary that a creditor should, on of the Lords' Act. Of the existence of suing out a writ, agree to allow his debtor these abuses, Mr. Burges produced some fourpence a day for his subsistence, from remarkable instances. One of a Mr. the commencement of his imprisonment; Robson, who was arrested for an ima- which payments the creditor should be ginary debt of 1100. The parties con- allowed to add to his original debt, and cerned in this transaction were afterwards which the debtor should be bound to disconvicted at the Old Bailey, and sentenced charge.-By the present system, a credia to five years 'hard labour on the Thames; tor having sued out a capias ad satisfacienbut one of them, by name Roberts, was at dum, was precluded from suing out a writ this moment a practising attorney in the to affect his debtor's property; though, having sued out a writ of the latter species, of 1001., which in most cases would be he might afterwards sue out a process more than sufficient to indemnify the against his person. The reason of such a plaintiff for his expenses. A very general distinction it was not easy to discover. I practice prevailed where a man found The distinction itself was certainly a main bimself likely to fail, of summoning credi. cause of the iniquity practised by many tors, and applying to them for a letter of debtors, who lived in a gaol, defying their licence. This was a feeble remedy, and creditors, and consuming their property; in general inadequate to the purpose of in which they undoubtedly were not dis- i relieving a debtor, and indeed it most frecouraged by the gaolers, whose profits quently ended in his absolute ruin; some from such practices were enormous. Mr. angry and dissatisfied creditor arresting Barges instanced the King's-bench prison ; him, or suing out an hostile commission of where the inarshal made an annual profit bankruptcy, Very fortunately the law of of more than 3,0001. To remedy this, Scotland afforded a sufficient remedy ; that and to give creditors the full means of in- was now adapted to the circumstances of forcing payment which they ought to have, this country, and would make part of the be proposed to allow a plaintiff to sue intended Bill. The remainder of the Bill, forth a capias, and an eligit, or capias and Mr. Burges said, consisted of regulations a fieri facias, at the same time. This for the internal management of gaols, so would effect the purpose ; and the pre far as relates to debtors. These would ceding regulation of a sufficient security best appear from the Bill itself, and thereon suing out the writ, with the other regu- fore he would merely say, that they went lations he meant to propose, would, in his to an amendinent in point of sobriety, opinion, prevent it from becoming an order, and decency; to an abolition of engine of oppression.

fees, and a substitution of salaries to To the Lords' Act Mr. Burges stated gaolers. Mr. Burges concluded with two principal objections. Its operation moving, “ That leave be given to bring in was confined to debtors in execution, and a bill for the relief of debtors, for the it extended no farther than to those credi- more speedy and effectual payment of tors who actually held a defendant in exe. creditors, and for the regulation of gaols. cution. He ex patiated on the mutual so far as relates to imprisoned debtors.” hardships arising from such a system both Sir William Dolben seconded the moto debtors and creditors; he showed tion. He said, that the evils stated by the various frauds and oppressions arising his hon. friend were notorious to all men, from it; and he proposed, that the Lords' and required immediate redress. He beAct should be extended to debtors owing lieved that the Bill proposed would go a more than 2001. who at present were its great way to redress those evils, as he sole objects; that debtors in mesne process, knew his hon, friend had taken much pains as well as those in execution, should be with the Bill, and been assisted by some allowed to avail themselves of a cession of very eminent men of the law. their property; that such cession should Mr. Orde rose to ask the hon. genoperate upon all creditors, subject to such tleman whether he had received the sancregulations as would be found in the Bill; / tion of any great lawyers to his Bill. the most material of which was, that a Mr. Burges answered, that it would be release from imprisonment should not vain in him to mention the names of those operate as a discharge of the debt ; but respectable characters who had favoured that the future effects of a debtor should his Bill with their approbation. It had continue to be liable, until the whole of been honoured with the favour of several the debt should be satisfied. The present eminent men, and by one high character, practice of compelling a debtor to find whose name he did not think himself at bail, to double the amount of the demand, liberty to mention : but if he did, he was was another enormous grievance; and sure it would meet with the greatest rethough it was the general practice of the spect from the House. He had applied courts, it certainly was decidedly against to another person of high rank in the law law. As the only avowed pretence for such for the honour of his sanction; but this a practice was, the necessity of finding great luminary, so far from giving it, aba security for the costs, he proposed, that ruptly refused even to look at the paper. in future a defendant should be required Leave was given to bring in the Bill. to find bail in the amount of the sum indorsed on the writ, with the addition Debate in the Commons on the Bill to

[ocr errors]

license Sadler's Wells.) Mr. Ladbrook / tertained. Mr. Sheridan then proceeded having brought in a Bill to enable his to argue on the nature of the present apMajesty to grant letters patent for the plication. The proprietors of Sadler's licensing of the performance of certain Wells had declared in their case, that the public entertainments at Sadler's Wells, cause of their application for a bill to the same was read a first time. ,

enable his Majesty to grant them a licence Mr. Sheridan said, that he had con- to continue the entertainments of Sadler's sented to the Bill being read a first time, Wells as heretofore, was, that "the probecause it was really his wish that the prietors of the winter theatres had lately House should have an opportunity to con- | instituted suits at law not only against the sider the matter fairly, and to understand last newly erected theatre, but intended what was demanded from them. With to commence suits and prosecutions against regard to the petitioners for the Bill, and all others indiscriminately." To his own the allegations stated by them in respect personal knowledge, that inference was to the large price paid for the purchase of wholly unfounded, and the proprietors of their shares of the property of Sadler's Sadler's Wells knew it to be groundless. Wells, by Messrs. Wroughton and Ar- | There was no intention to proceed against pold, if the House could, with any sort | them, or to molest them in any way whatof consistency, do any thing to prevent soever. In another instance, also, the their sustaining a loss, no man in that case of the proprietors of Sadler's Wells House would go farther than he would; was fallaciously stated. They told the he wished them to be dealt with as liberally House that they came there only to ask and as handsomely as possible, because that they might be legally empowered to he was ready to admit, that the case of continue their performances as usual. That Sadler's Wells stood upon very different was not the fact; because what they asked grounds indeed, from that of the Royalty for was a monopoly, as appeared clearly Theatre. That was a scheme set up upon from an examination of their case. There false pretences, and supported by a con- was some degree of unfairness also in their spiracy of justices of the peace, to defeat mode of reasoning against others, who the law, which they were bound, by their stood in a similar predicament. Speaking oath to execute. The present application for themselves, they said, “that doubts came forward in a decent manner, and may arise, whether in strict construction according to the practice he had ever of law, their performances might be, *.wished to be pursued, when he knew more strictly and minutely, within the letter of of what was going on with respect to the their licence;" but when they spoke of Theatres than he did at present, having the riding schools, the circus, and the new long since entrusted his interest in them set of competitors, they stated them as to the management and care of others in performing in defiance of known laws, whom he had reason to place a confi- upon the authority of musical licences dence. Mr. Sheridan wished such an ap- only; whereas their own licence contained plication to be liberally considered, and not a letter of power more than the licences that the legal monopolists might not stand of their adversaries which they reprobated; on their rights too strictly. He had ever the only difference being, that the one been, and he trusted he ever should be was granted by the Surrey justices, and an enemy to any thing like oppression in the other by those of Middlesex. From any matter great or small; and, on the this it appeared, that their object was mopresent occasion, he confessed that the nopoly, and not licence; and the House apprehensions of other people interested in could grant them no relief according to the rights, supposed to be attacked by the their own statement, unless they put down Bill in question, went beyond his own; all similar places, and shut their doors in but it was, however, to be remembered, future against all similar applications. that those apprehensions related to a pro Their claim to the preference might or perty, upon which, taking the two winter might not be well founded; but he could theatres only, a sum little short of 200,0001. not but think that places of similar amusehad been embarked. He felt it therefore ment under the Surrey licences would his duty to endeavour to protect those afterwards come with a pretty strong case rights according to their ideas of the injury to Parliament for an equal indulgence, and they might sustain, and not according to that it would be an odd reason to give for any more indulgent way of considering the refusing their requests, that the propriesubject, which he might himself have en-tors of Sadler's Wells had the merit of transgressing the law first, and had there- | tors of Sadler's Wells to continue to perfore received a protection from the legisla- | form the same entertainments as they had ture, to which those who had only followed | been used to perform for many years past, their example were not entitled. This, struck him in a very different point of however, was a matter for Parliament to | view. Sadler's Wells contributed very consider. If they chose to grant the pre- | essentially to the amusements of the town; ference, and to establish the monopoly though, certainly, its entertainments were which the present Bill aimed at, and as a of a subordinate rank to those of the matter of regulation and police to stop / winter theatres. He contended strenuously there, the proprietors of the winter thea: against the argument, that a monopoly tres would have little to complain of; for was desired, and said, the hon. gentleman he took it for granted, that certain altera- had reasoned solely out of the case of the tions would be made in the Bill, and that proprietors of Sadler's Wells, and not from no part of the new powers would be suf. | the Bill itself. Had he reasoned from the fered to entrench in the least on the rights / Bill, his argument must have assumed a of the winter patents, either as to season different shape. With regard to the obor the species of performances. Mr. servation, that there were other places Sheridan concluded with observing, that of entertainment on the same footing as the winter theatres had a right to com- Sadler's Wells, and that therefore, if the plain a little of those who had brought in House agreed to the Bill for licensing one the Bill. The petition had been before | place, they must necessarily agree to future the House nearly two months, and yet the bills to license others, it might as well be Bill had not been brought in till just at said that, because the magistrates licensed the last moment, close upon the com- one public house, they must license a mencement of the Sadler's Wells season, great many more in the same district. in order that its near approach might be The magistrates were bound to exercise used as an argument, and in order that it their discretion, and to license just as might come into discussion at a time many public houses, and no more, in difwhen the winter proprietors could not so ferent parts of the town, as should to their well be heard against it by their counsel, judgment appear necessary for the accom if they should judge that measure neces- modation and entertainment of the inhasary. He should on that account, not- bitants of those different districts. In like withstanding the surprise that had been manner, the legislature would exercise attempted on the House, move, " That their discretion, and license Sadler's Wells, the second reading of the Bill be post- if they thought it right without making it poned to the 4th of April.”

a precedent for licensing other places of Mr. Ladbroke answered, that if the similar entertainment. Sir Herbert mensecond reading was put off till the 4th of tioned the modest nature of the petitioners April, some of the most profitable part of application, and said, as they desired a the Sadler's Wells season would have license under such restrictions, it was elapsed before the Bill could be decided scarcely possible that they could injure or upon. He therefore moved to insert the interfere with the winter theatres, and words " Tuesday next" in the motion by therefore he saw no manner of occasion way of amendment.

for the patentees to be heard by counsel Sir Herbert Mackworth expressed his against the Bill, and as the commencesurprise at the argument of the hon. gen- / ment of Sadler's Wells season was so near tleman, who had considered the present as at hand, he considered it as rather cruel an application for a monopoly. There was to delay the second reading beyond the not in the whole Bill one word that would ensuing Tuesday. support such an inference. Nor could hie Mr. For sail, it was highly indecent to see how the winter managers could be at contend in that House, that a bill was all injured by the Bill passing. If he necessary to pass with all possible dispatch, thought it in the least likely, he would be because it was essential to the interests of the last man to support the Bill, as he well those who applied for it, that it should do koew the very great expense at which so, after the parties had themselves been those theatres were kept open for the the cause of a very considerable delay, amusement of this great metropolis. He and had kept off the discussion of the Bill therefere never would give his concurrence till just on the eve that it would appear to any measure likely to prejudice their necessary to have it passed. The petition interests; but the authorizing the proprie- for the Bill, according to the forms of the (VOL. XXVII.]

[M]

« ZurückWeiter »