HC Deb 04 May 1824 vol 11 cc496-7
Mr. Kennedy

, after apologising for the possible irregularity of his motion at this stage of the business of the session, moved the bringing up of the report on the Scotch Juries Bill.

The Lord-Advocate

said, he was not averse to the motion, but felt disposed, in fairness to his hon. friend, to point out those parts of his bill, to which he should at a future stage of it take some objections. No specific evil had been done, which this bill could remedy. It exposed the jurors to very unequal labour; and if it happened that a juror was taken from a wrong parish, which might be the case in places like Glasgow, where there were twelve parishes, and the boundary of each was not exactly defined, the whole panel was set aside. He objected also to the complexity of the Bill.

Sir G. Clerk

thought, that notwithstanding all the pains that had been taken with this bill, it was still in such a crude and imperfect state, that instead of being a benefit, it would throw the whole criminal law of Scotland into confusion.

Mr. Abercromby

complained of the manner in which his hon. and learned friend, as well as the people of Scotland, had been treated by the lord advocate. He was surprised that a man holding the situation of public prosecutor, should have allowed this bill to have gone thus far without having stated his objections to it. It was not dealing handsomely with the House to bring forward his objections in this indirect manner.

Lord Binning

said, he was ready to wave the selection of the jury by the judges; but he was not bound, on that account, to accede to all the machinery of the new system; and he would therefore put it to the hon. and learned gentleman, whether it would not be advisable to postpone the measure until a more satisfactory arrangement could be made.

Mr. W. Courtenay

said, he should support the measure, because he thought the contemplated change would be productive of good.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, his only wish was, that if a change was to take place, it should be effected in the best manner. He felt the force of some of the objections to the bill, and would suggest the propriety of re-committing it, with a view to further consideration.

Mr. Scarlett

said, he was disposed to meet the question in the same spirit as the right hon. gentleman; but it was incumbent on the learned lord, not only to state his objections, but, as he agreed to the principle of the bill, to specify the substitute he would propose for the present system.

Mr. Kennedy

said, it was a thankless, hopeless, irksome task, to argue on the details of this measure, after what had occurred; but he must bear his testimony to the fairness with which it had been uniformly met by the right hon. secretary of state. He bad no objection to the re-commitment of the bill, on the understanding that the learned lord, and those who thought with him, would be prepared on an early day to meet the discussion.

The Lord Advocate

said, it was not his duty, but the duty of the hon. gentleman who had introduced the measure, to propose the amendments. He had thought the measure impracticable, and he thought so still; but any thing like hostility towards the hon. gentleman, was contrary to his intentions and feelings.

The bill was ordered to be re-committed.