HC Deb 20 June 1815 vol 31 cc891-3

The COMMITTEE appointed to consider of the Slate of the Law, respecting the Writ of Habeas Corpus ad Subjiciendum, and to report their opinion thereon to the House; and who were empowered to report the Minutes of the Evidence taken before them:—Have, pursuant to the order of the House, considered the matter to them referred; and agreed upon the following Report:

Your Committee have proceeded to examine officers of the several Courts in Westminster-hall, and have called for divers returns relative to the matter referred to them; and have also examined witnesses respecting delays in paying obedience to writs of Habeas Corpus ad Subjiciendum. They find that writs of Habeas Corpus ad Subjiciendum, returnable in vacation, have been disobeyed; and that there is no power to compel obedience to them, nor to punish such disobedience in vacation; and they are of opinion, that such power is essential to the satisfactory administration of the law relative to writs of Habeas Corpus ad Subjiciendum, both, when issued at common law, and when issued under the directions of the statute 31 Car. 2, cap. 2. And your Committee beg leave to mention, that the want of such-power, has strongly appeared in two cases, of which evidence has been given before them: in one of which a man was imprisoned on board a ship belonging to or pretended to belong to a foreign state, and treated with great severity, and only escaped, from being carried out of the kingdom by the interposition of the Board of Customs, who prevented the sailing of the ship: and in the other case, a girl of sixteen years' of age being detained from her mother under circumstances of great aggravation, and the judge before whom the writ was returned, not having power to compel the production of the girl in vacation, it was necessary to commences suit in Chancery, in order to make her a ward of court, and by that mode to obtain the delivery up of her person; a remedy in itself expensive and circuitous, and which could not have been, resorted to, had not the minor been entitled to property.

Your Committee also submit their opinion, that provision should be made for the summary inquiring into the truth of the facts contained in the return to a writ of Habeas Corpus ad Subjiciendum, where the detention is admitted and justified and that power should be given to the Court or to the Judge before whom such writ is returnable, to discharge the person imprisoned or detained, on bail, during such examination or inquiry, or in cases that may appear to require it, to make such order for the care, custody, or disposition of the person so imprisoned or detained, as the Court or Judge shall think proper.

Your Committee are also of opinion; that all the judges of his Majesty's Courts at Westminster, should be empowered to issue writs of Habeas Corpus ad Subjiciendum in vacation time, in cases not within the statute 31 Car. 2, cap. 2.

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