HC Deb 05 February 1846 vol 83 cc491-2

inquired, whether the Government were in a condition to lay on the Table an account of the grounds on which the Judges had decided that we had no jurisdiction in the case of the Brazilian prisoners who were tried for felony at the last Summer Assizes; and also, whether it were the intention of Government to repeal any part of the Brazilian Slave Trade Act passed last Session?


observed, that in cases of felony our law gave no appeal to any court of error. If the Judge who tried the prisoner entertained doubts with respect to the legality of the conviction, the course was for him to grant a respite of the sentence, until he could have an opportunity of consulting the other Judges. There was not always an argument heard in open court; very commonly it was a conference among the Judges themselves. If, after such conference, the Judge who tried the case should find his doubt of the validity of the conviction confirmed by his brethren, a communication was made to the Secretary of State, requesting him to recommend Her Majesty to grant a free pardon. In the case referred to, there was an argument, which was heard in the Court of Exchequer; in the ordinary course no judgment would be publicly given; but he (Sir J. Graham) was informed by the Judge, that, upon consultation with his brethren, he was induced to advise a pardon. He had no cognizance of the grounds on which the Judges came to that conclusion; nor was he in a condition to lay a statement of them upon the Table. With regard to the other point, the Government had no intention of proposing any alteration of the Act with respect to the Brazilian Slave Trade, which received the sanction of the Legislature last Session.


would take that occasion of noticing that the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Gibson) proposed to move for the production of correspondence, in continuation of that presented last year, relative to the conduct of Brazil with reference to the Convention of 1826 and the Slave Trade Act of last Session; it would be very desirable that that Motion should be postponed. The last despatch presented last Session from Lord Aberdeen to the British Minister concluded thus:— You are already aware that the measure by which, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the Government of Brazil would best evince their determination to carry out the intention which they have so solemnly recorded, would be the negotiation of a Treaty similar either to that concluded between Great Britain and Spain in 1835, or to that between Great Britain and Portugal of 1842. Should the Brazilian Government show any willingness to entertain the question of such a Treaty, you will frankly declare that nothing would give Her Majesty's Government more sincere pleasure than to find themselves relieved, by the conclusion of it, from enforcing the operation of the Bill which they are now about to propose to Parliament; and you will assure the Brazilian Ministers, that it will be a source of real satisfaction to Her Majesty's Government to return to a good understanding, both on this and on other subjects, with a nation in whose welfare and independence they have, from the earliest times, taken a lively interest, and whose growing prosperity and power they have witnessed with the greatest gratification. I am, &c. ABERDEEN. The conclusion of a Treaty would enable the Government even to propose a repeal of the Bill of last Session. Communications were pending upon the subject; and it would be prejudicial to the public interest to produce the correspondence at present.


would postpone his Motion.

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