HC Deb 09 February 1848 vol 96 cc327-8

moved the Second Reading of the Epiphany Quarter Sessions Bill. The object of the Bill was to postpone the period of holding the sessions for a week for the convenience of magistrates, jurors, and witnesses. Although he might encounter the opposition of the bar, on the ground that it would interfere with the discharge of their professional duties during the ensuing term, still he would submit that the measure if carried would be of convenience to a great many persons.


only objection to the Bill was this: From the information he had received, and the best consideration he could give the measure, the inconvenience it sought to remove was occasional, and the effect of removing it would be more than counterbalanced by the permanent inconvenience which would result from this Bill. Unless gentlemen of the bar could attend the sessions regularly, it was likely they would give up their attendance altogether.


said, that the whole matter had been fully considered seventeen years ago, and at that period the time for commencing Hilary Term was changed, and the time for holding the Epiphany Quarter Sessions was fixed, under the advice of the late Lord Abinger, then Sir James Scarlett. The Bill proposed by the hon. Gentleman would not prevent senior barristers from attending quarter-sessions, but it would prevent the possibility of their juniors being present at the commencement of term in Westminster-hall. And if there was one thing more important than another with respect to that branch of practice, it was that the gentlemen who had been concerned in cases at the quarter-sessions should have an opportunity of arguing those cases, on appeal, before Her Majesty's Judges in Westminster-hall. And when the hon. Gentleman suggested an alteration in the commencement of Hilary Term, he thought the House would pause before it sanctioned the alteration of an arrangement which had been so well considered, and had been found, altogether, to work so well. Many great and lasting inconveniences would result from any alteration of the present arrangement, to say nothing of prisoners being detained a week longer before trial.


, in reply, said, he was free to confess that he did not see the force of the objections which had been urged against the Bill. No man acknowledged the efficiency of the bar more readily than himself, and he should be sorry to promote any measure having the slightest tendency to impair that efficiency. He had hoped to secure, without injury to any party, and without opposition from any quarter, the quiet enjoyment of their Christmas holidays to the magistrates, jurors, prosecutors, and witnesses, called upon to attend the sessions; but finding that he could not effect that object, and having drawn the attention of the House to the subject, he would not further press the Bill.

Bill withdrawn.

Motion negatived.