HC Deb 01 August 1836 vol 35 cc744-5
Mr. Aglionby

wished to put a question to the noble Lord. He wanted to know what time was necessary after the passing of an Act to have the judges take official notice of it. A Bill had passed both Houses, giving the judges the power to delay the execution of persons convicted of murder longer than the forty-eight hours which heretofore were only allowed, to pass between conviction and execution. The Bill received the Royal Assent on the 13th of July, and on that day a man was sentenced to death at Winchester, and the sentence was executed on the 15th. It might have been that the judge did not know of the passing of the Act, but he thought there was time enough to have the information conveyed to him. There were since then, on the 21st of July, two men hanged at Clonmel, but, the notice of the passing of the Act might have reached the judge on the 17th. He wanted to know what was the cause of the delay, and at what time a judge was bound to know of the passing of the Act? Was he to wait till it was printed and promulgated?

The Attorney-General

said, he took some blame to himself for not having seen, as it was his duty, that the Act should come into force at a fixed time after it passed, and not, as was the case in this instance, that it should be in force on the day it passed.

Mr. Hume

said, if there was any delay in the printing of the Bill, it arose out of the system of giving the monopoly of printing to one party.

Mr. Aglionby

said, the Attorney-General might take what blame he pleased to himself on the occasion, but it was his intention, in framing the Bill, that it should be in force from the time of its passing, and he thought the judges might have taken notice of it even before it was printed.

Lord John Russell

said, that the judge who, on the 13th of July, had sentenced a man to execution on the 15th, acted according to the law as it then stood. He was not aware, until the Bill was printed, that it was to take effect immediately, but as soon as he knew that it was, he directed the Under-Secretary for the Home Department to forward copies of it to the judges.