HC Deb 30 June 1820 vol 2 cc137-8
Sir J. Mackintosh

, in rising to move the committal of the Privately Stealing in Shops bill, said, he should make no observations in the present state of the measure, but reserve himself for the committee, which, after the admission of the principle by the House, was the proper place for the discussion of any objections which might be made to the several clauses. He hoped that any objections which might be entertained to any part of the bill, would be brought forward in the committee, in order that he might have a convenient opportunity of answering them, and not be postponed to any subsequent stage. Upon this, indeed, he was induced to calculate, as he had so often deferred the progress of the bill, at the request and for the accommodation of those gentlemen who were understood to entertain some doubts upon the subject.

Mr. Chetwynd

, after some observations in favour of the bill, recommended the adoption of a clause, substituting a definite punishment for that which this bill proposed to repeal, namely, confinement for some period not more than two years, or less than six months.

Sir J. Mackintosh

observed, that as this bill had been three times before the House, being twice carried in silence, and once with a majority of two to one in his favour, he could not be expected to offer any thing new upon the subject; but he felt it necessary to repeat, that nothing could be farther from his intention, than to cast the slightest imputation upon the judges, because he felt, from the conduct of those exalted magistrates, that no imputation could fairly attach, nor did he mean to take away from them any discretion but that which they never exercised. From the manner, then, in which the judges generally exercised their discretional power, he could not think it necessary to prescribe the limits recommended by his hon. friend.

Sir J. Yorke

observed, that as the hon. and learned gentleman avowedly took up these measures in imitation of the example of sir Samuel Romilly, he ought to recollect the fate of that gentleman's propositions in the other House, and not to pursue a course on this occasion, which, however creditable to his heart, did not appear creditable to his head.

Sir J. Mackintosh

felt persuaded, that the adoption of his hon. friend's amendment would not recommend this bill to a more gracious reception in the other House of Parliament.

The amendment was not pressed. The Capital Felonies Repeal bill was also committed, and ordered to be reported on Monday. The committal of the Capital Felonies Commutation of Punishment bill was then proposed by sir J. Mackintosh, who observed, that he meant to propose the omission of three clauses, namely, that with respect to fines and recoveries, also that respecting marriage registers, certificates, and licences, as those offences rather belonged to the class of forgeries, upon which he had a distinct measure to submit to the consideration of the House; also the clause relating to persons returning from transportation who had been sentenced for offences against the revenue. The last clause he was induced to omit, because, upon farther consideration, he felt that there was no sufficient reason for making a distinction between such persons, and convicts returning for other offences. But upon all the other clauses he meant to take the sense of the committee.

After some discussion, in which the attorney-general, Mr. Lockhart, Mr. Chetwynd, Mr. Harbord, sir J. Rochfort, Mr. Martin, sir J. Yorke, and the solicitor-general, participated, the various clauses were agreed to, and the House resumed.