HC Deb 02 February 1819 vol 39 cc211-2
Mr. W. Smith

said, he held in his hands a petition relating to a subject of the greatest importance, connected with a motion, of which notice had been given by an hon. friend of his, for an address to the Prince Regent, to institute some measures for the better administration of justice in the Northern counties. It was a petition from the inhabitants of the county and city of Norwich, containing, among other signatures, the names of the persons who served on the grand jury at the last assizes. The petitioners stated one extremely strong fact, which, he thought, would go far to induce the House to comply with the prayer of the petition, which was, for a more speedy gaol delivery for that city and county. In addition to all the other points, they stated, that a young man had been committed to gaol for an alleged crime; that when the indictment was compared with the depositions of the witnesses at the trial, there was such a disagreement between them, that it was necessary to remand him; that this occasioned a delay of more than a year before he could be brought to trial; and that, after remaining in prison nearly two years, he was found wholly innocent. If an imprisonment, conducted in the best manner, for such a time, was an evil not to be borne, what must an imprisonment for such a length of time have been, conducted as it was in our prisons, where, in addition to all the other hardships, the prisoner was exposed to all the contamination of these abodes of vice and crime? He thought such an evil ought not to be tolerated in a country like this.

Ordered to lie on the table.