HC Deb 18 February 1856 vol 140 cc970-2

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he would now beg to move that the second reading of the Bill be referred for a fortnight, in consequence of the absence of his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, who had charge of the measure, when it would be referred to a Select Committee.


said, he had introduced a Bill for the reform of the jury system in Ireland, which was opposed by the present Government, but he found that they had copied several clauses of his Bill verbatim into the present measure. They had not, however, taken the best portion of his Bill; for, instead of amending the jury system in the manner he had proposed, they had perpetuated the worst abuses of that system. Although the hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland had admitted the soundness of the principle that sheriffs ought to be bound to take jurymen as their names stood in the books, he found, to his infinite surprise, that those clauses of his Bill which carried out that principle, had been struck out, and the sheriff or the sub-sheriff, or the sub-sheriff's clerk was allowed to retain the power, in effect of trying all cases, civil and criminal, in Ireland. He hoped the Bill would be discussed in the House, and not sent to Select Committee.


said, the present Bill was one of great importance to the country. He was compelled to give the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen, that any of the clauses of the Bill were taken from his Bill, an unqualified contradiction. The present Bill was a consolidation of the Irish grand jury laws, from which many of the clauses were taken, and from which the hon. and learned Member had absolutely taken his Bill, and using the same language. There were, however, two important differences between the two Bills. The hon. and learned Member proposed by his Bill that the principle of selection of grand juries in Ireland should in every cose be by the sheriff of the barony by ballot. If that could have been carried out, he (Mr. J. D. FitzGerald) would have approved of it, but, being of a contrary opinion, he must support the principle of this Bill, which, whilst it gave the selection of the juries to the sheriffs, it took away from the Crown the right of setting aside the jurors at the pleasure of the Crown; and it put the Crown in the same position as the subject, in challenging the juries both in civil and criminal cases.


said, he was surprised at the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that this Bill had not been borrowed from his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside), because the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend contained one or two misprints, which were not in the original Acts of Parliament, but which appeared in the present Bill. He hoped, however, that the House would not allow the measure to go to a Select Committee, as he saw no valid reason why the jury law in Ireland should not be the same as it was in England.

Second Reading deferred till Monday 3rd March.