HC Deb 06 August 1833 vol 20 cc360-1

On the Motion of Lord Duncannon, the House again resolved itself into a Committee on the Grand Juries' (Ireland) Bill.

Lord Duncannon

said, he had some Amendment to propose in the 30th clause which was under discussion on the last day this Committee sat. He thought it was highly desirable that Grand Juries should be called over, and their attendance enforced, in order that not a less number of Grand Jurors should be in attendance than was necessary by law for finding a bill of indictment. By the clause as it now stood, each Grand Jury were to be called over morning and evening; he proposed instead, that they be called over every morning, and at such other periods of the day as the foreman should deem requisite, provided that at those periods there was a less number present than were required by law to pass a bill, which he understood to be thirteen. Another Amendment suggested by the hon. and learned member for the University of Dublin, to which he (Lord Duncannon) was disposed to accede was, that the penalty on a Grand Juror for non-attendance should be forty shillings instead of five pounds.

Mr. Shaw

said, he had never objected to the amount of the penalty, but to that part of the clause which made it imperative on the foreman to inflict the penalty. That power should be vested in the Judges of Assize, and not in the foreman.

Lord Duncannon

said, the Grand Jury sat not only while the Judges were sitting, but when they were absent. It was absolutely necessary to compel the foreman to inflict the fine, otherwise he would not do it. The noble Lord also said, that at the end of the clause he intended to introduce a proviso, to the effect that nothing contained in it should affect the authority of any Judge to enforce the attendance of any Grand Juror.

Mr. Shaw

was opposed to that part which compelled the foreman to inflict a penalty on any Juror who was absent; it ought to leave in the foreman a discretion to fine according to the circumstances of the case.

Mr. O'Connell

bore testimony to the fact, that at least half a dozen times during each Assize the Judge was applied to, and as soon as the absent Jurors were fined, an immediate attendance took place; and it followed, almost as a matter of course, that his Lordship was applied to for a remission of the fines. It was of more consequence that the power should be vested in the foreman of the Jury, during the absence of the Judge—for instance, before the arrival of the Judge at the assize town.

Mr. Shaw

agreed with the hon. and learned Member, that the same power should be vested in the hands of some competent authority—say, the foreman of the Jury—but not a greater power than would be possessed by the Judge.

The Committee divided on the clause—Ayes 37: Noes 6;—Majority 31.

Clauses to 56 agreed to. The House resumed; the Committee to sit again.

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