HC Deb 19 November 1830 vol 1 cc589-90
Mr. Brougham

said, he held in his hand a petition which he felt highly honoured by having committed to his charge. It was upon the question of punishment of death for offences where violence had not been committed. It came from a body of men liable to serve upon Grand Juries in London; and amongst the names that stood forward on the list were those of seven gentlemen who had served as Foremen during the last year. The petition, he stated, was written with distinguished ability and great force, and he would fain have it read at length if he could venture to trespass upon the time of that House; he would content himself with reading the prayer of the petition, which was, that the law which prescribed the punishment of death for offences in which violence had not been committed was detrimental to public justice. He considered this petition worthy the best attention of the House, from the high authority of the petitioners upon the subject to which they directed their attention. It was evident, from the statement, that great difficulty arose from the scruples of Jurors to convict, and that thus the guilty frequently escaped punishment altogether. He believed the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) agreed with him in the principle, though they perhaps, differed in some matters of detail.

Mr. Ward

corroborated the statement of the hon. and learned Member; and said, that he heartily concurred in the prayer of the petition.

Mr. Denman

also supported the prayer of the petition. He considered it most important, and that it required the best attention of the House. It clearly showed the painful alternative to which Jurors were exposed—that of unjustly and unrighteously condemning a man to death, or else that of violating their conscientious feelings, by deciding contrary to evidence.