Skip to main content

Dissolution of Parliament

The dissolution of Parliament took place on Thursday 30 May 2024. All business in the House of Commons and House of Lords has come to an end. There are currently no MPs and every seat in the Commons is vacant until after the general election on 4 July 2024.

Find out more about:

Debtors' Relief Acts

From 1670 onwards, Parliament passed Acts every few years for the relief of imprisoned debtors.  In the late 18th century, for instance, Acts were passed in 1778,1781,1794,1795 and 1797.

The terms of the Acts required Justices of the Peace (JPs) in each county to form a special commission on a named date and to invite applications from imprisoned debtors, both pre-trial and post-trial, to submit schedules of their assets upon another named date.  Debtors also published notices in the London Gazette and local newspapers in order to alert their creditors.  If the JPs were satisfied they discharged the debtor, and the creditor was authorised to proceed against the debtor's property.  

The Acts for the relief of debtors had another purpose, being an easy way to reduce prison populations and relieve overcrowding.

It was not until the Debtors Act of 1869 that imprisonment for debt was abolished, although even then it was permitted in some exceptional cases.

Related information

Find connections, past and present, between Parliament and your town

Parliamentary Archives

Parliamentary Outreach

Also in this section

Find out more about the role of Parliament in the wider history of prisons, law and order.

Living Heritage: Law and order