HC Deb 04 August 1834 vol 25 cc928-30

The next item was a grant of 78,500l. for defraying the expense of Criminal Prosecutions in Ireland, and for arrears of expenses.

Mr. Hume

thought, that this was an enormous sum for such an object. He hoped that some means would be taken to diminish this expenditure. He perceived that it was a constant practice to employ eight or nine counsel in one case. Surely that was an unnecessary expense.

Mr. Sheil

held in his hand a return of the expenses of an English and an Irish prosecution. The English was the case of "the King v. Grant and Bell," conducted by the Attorney General, the expenses of which were 181l. 16s. 8d. The Irish case was that of "The King v. Barrett," the expenses of which were 702l. 9s. 4d. Why should such a difference of cost exist in the two cases?

Mr. Littleton

said, that the expenses in the latter case were caused by the delays occasioned by the traverser himself. Had the trial been allowed to proceed in the first instance, the costs would not have amounted to anything like the sum stated in the Return. He could inform the Committee, with reference to the reduction of the expenses of law proceedings by the Crown in Ireland, that it was intended not to employ more than two counsel in any ordinary case, and not more than three in any case in Crown prosecutions. A reduction would, in other respects, be also made in the costs of such prosecutions.

Mr. Hume

wished to know, whether there were in the items of law expenses in England any other prosecutions included besides those of prosecutions carried on by the law officers of the Crown? He asked the question, because he had seen a statement in a public paper which mentioned, that a prosecution carried on by certain Magistrates against an individual was with the understanding, that the Law Officers of the Crown would not undertake the prosecution, but that the Magistrates should be borne harmless as to expense, if they carried it on. He thought such a system was an exceedingly bad one. The Government ought fairly to undertake the responsibility of any prosecution which was paid for out of the public money.

Lord Althorp

had not heard of any such prosecution as that to which the hon. Member had referred having been paid for out of the public money.

Mr. Hume

said, that perhaps the Secretary to the Treasury could be able to say something about it, as it would fall more immediately under his notice.

Mr. Francis Baring

said, that he knew nothing of any such payment.

Mr. Secretary Rice

said, that he had held the office of Secretary to the Treasury for a longer time than his hon. friend, and he knew nothing of any such payment.

Mr. Hume

said, then he was to take it for granted, that the account to which he had referred was incorrect, though he must say, that it was most extraordinary that none of the members of the Government knew any thing on the subject.

The Motion agreed to.