HC Deb 29 March 1848 vol 97 cc1101-3

Order of the Day read for the Second Reading of the Appeals in Criminal Cases Bill.


was not aware whether his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Homo Department intended to object to the second reading of this Bill. Since he had introduced it, a noble Lord in the other House of Parliament, and a Member of the Government (Lord Campbell), had introduced a Bill of a somewhat kindred character. The Bill of that noble Lord, however, proposed to give a power of appeal on questions of law only. His (Mr. Ewart's) Bill proposed to give a power of appeal on questions of fact. There was, therefore, a considerable difference between the two Bills. Since he had introduced this Bill, he had received numerous suggestions from hon. Gentlemen for its amendment. Those alterations however, did not affect the main principle of the Bill, and could be all duly considered in Committee. He must say that he regarded this as a matter well worthy the consideration of Government; and he hoped that, whatever course the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department intended to take in regard to it, it would be a course which would not be opposed to the principle of the Bill; but rather that he would admit the soundness of the principle, although he should delay the consideration of the mode of carrying it into effect. It would depend upon the nature of the right hon. Gentleman's statement what course he should take with regard to the further progress of this Bill.


admitted the importance of the question which his hon. Friend had submitted to the consideration of the House in the Bill which then stood for a second reading; but this could not be considered as an isolated question. It was connected with other important matters. It was connected, for instance, with the establishment of a public prosecutor, and it was also essentially connected with the establishment of a new court of appeal, to be constantly sitting, in order to carry out the object which the hon. Member wished to see effected. It was true that he had declined the responsibility of introducing any measure at an early period of the Session; but his hon. and learned Friend must be aware that a Bill had been introduced into the House of Lords proposing material alterations in the mode of reserving questions of law, and obtaining a satisfactory decision of the Judges upon those questions, and giving the prisoners the benefit of those decisions, if they were in their favour, by entering a verdict of "not guilty," in lieu of the present plan—which was very inconvenient, and which did not give full justice to the prisoners—of obtaining the opinions of the Judges in an irregular and private manner; and if they thought the prisoners were not properly convicted, of recommending them to the pardon of the Crown. It was very probable that a Committee of the House of Lords would be appointed to consider the question, before whom the Judges might be examined; and he should be sorry to assent to the principle embodied in the measure of his hon. and learned Friend until this Bill before the House of Lords had been fully considered. He therefore thought that his hon. and learned Friend would exercise a sound discretion in postponing his measure until the Bill was before the House.

Second reading of the Bill postponed.