HC Deb 26 May 1842 vol 63 cc880-1
Mr. Roebuck

moved the second reading of the Witnesses' Indemnity Bill.

Sir R. Peel

said, that on looking into the bill he must call the attention of the hon. and learned Member for Bath to a verbal amendment in the second clause. He thought it was taken from the bill that was sent down from the House of Lords, and seemed to imply that the first clause had given either House of Parliament power to appoint a committee, instead of the House of Commons alone.

Mr. Roebuck

said, he thought that the second clause must be altered as suggested by the right hon. Baronet.

Sir R. Inglis

thought, that leave was simply granted to the hon. and learned Member for Bath to bring in a bill to indemnify witnesses, and the hon. and learned Member appeared so sensible of that, that he confessedly limited himself to that object. It was to indemnify witnesses, and until this bill was delivered on the preceding day, no individual could have collected from what had passed in that House, from what appeared in the journals, or from what was stated by the hon. and learned Member in his place, that the object was to do more than to indemnify witnesses. In taking that course the hon. Member would have followed the precedent which had been set in the case, he thought, of East Retford. He had referred to the case of Grampound, but he there found no bill like this. By the second clause of this bill, it was proposed, that it should be lawful for such committee, at their discretion, to certify that any witnesses examined before them, or any person touching whom any evidence should be given before them, should be saved harmless. That might be right or it might be wrong; in his opinion it was wrong; but he thought that the House in giving leave to bring in a bill to indemnify witnesses did not intend to give a power to indemnify all persons.

Mr. Roebuck

said, that if the hon. Baronet would refer to other cases, he thought he would find the same principle embodied in the acts relating to them. He had been accused of spitefulness, but his real object was to obtain information upon which to legislate, and for that purpose he wished that all persons should be indemnified.

Bill read a second time.

House adjourned.