HC Deb 07 April 1826 vol 15 cc107-8

The report of the committee on this bill being brought up,

Mr. Hume

complained that the bill, as it now stood, did not sufficiently define the powers of the judges in India to select native subjects to sit upon juries. This would be considered a great evil by all who reflected that the prejudices of the Europeans in India had been carried to such a height, that there had been a declaration made by some of that class, that they never would convict any white man of murder, if his victim were a black. He wished to see the practice established of composing juries of an equal number of Europeans and natives, in cases where the natives were the objects of trial; and he hoped that the president of the Board of Controul would consent to a provision in the present bill, that the judges should report to this country their practice upon the selection of natives upon juries.

Mr. Wynn

said, that the proposition of the hon. member for Aberdeen was unquestionably good in principle, but the selection of natives to sit upon juries would, in many situations, be found most inconvenient, and even impossible, in practice. He lamented most strongly the nature and the degree of the prejudices existing in India against the native inhabitants, which prevented the enactment of such measures as the hon. member proposed. The prejudices were much less strong in the national service than in that of the company, and he had known instances where persons, rejected from the latter, had been admitted into the former, and had risen to the highest rank. Complaints had certainly been made from many quarters against the non-admission of half castes upon juries, but he had received no such complaints against the exclusion of the natives. He should be happy to follow the suggestions of the hon. member whenever an opportunity should offer.

The report was agreed to.