HC Deb 14 April 1859 vol 153 cc1771-2

said, he rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill to consolidate and amend the Statute Law of England and Ireland relating to offences against the person. This and seven other Bills to amend the Statute Law were the first of a series of Bills amounting, in the whole, to 150, which were in a forward state of preparation, and which, if approved of by Parliament, would complete the consolidation of the entire Statute Law of the United Kingdom. At this period of the Session, and of the Parliament he felt reluctantly withheld from submitting to the House any detailed statement of the intentions of the Government on this important subject. He would merely observe, that after 350 years of inertion—after the efforts of so many of our greatest lawyers and statesmen had failed, the late Government, in pursuance of certain proposals and suggestions of the Statute Law Commission, which was presided over by Lord Cranworth, undertook the commencement of the task. These Bills were arranged with great pains by some of the first lawyers and statesmen of the country, and were introduced into the House of Lords and passed that House in 1856. The late Solicitor General introduced them in this House in 1857, but their progress was interrupted by the dissolution of Parliament. Last Session the House was so occupied with other business that it was found impossible to bring them forward; but early this Session he (the Attorney General) was prepared to lay them on the table. In the interval, however, the Government had come to the conclusion that while consolidating the Statute Law of England, it would be as well to extend the consolidation to that of Ireland. With the able assistance of his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, and the late Solicitor General for Ireland, now a learned Judge in that country, those Bills to amend and consolidate the Criminal Statute Law of England and Ireland were prepared. He now begged to lay them on the table, and he hoped that early in the new Parliament they would become law, and result in an entire consolidation of the law.


said, that it would be more convenient, in order that those Gentlemen who were interested in the subject should be able to examine them, that the seven Bills which were finished should be printed. They could not, however, well understand the scheme without the Procedure Bill and the Punishment Bill, which were not yet completed. He would, therefore, mention, that instead of specifying the punishment at the end of the clause which constituted the offence, it had been thought advisable to bring in a separate Bill, defining the punishment assignable to each offence. They proposed to do away with capital punishment in ten cases in which it was now legal, reserving it only for treason and murder. In Ireland conspiracy to murder was a capital offence, but it was proposed to change the law in that respect, so that the Bills would not only consolidate, assimilate, and amend the Criminal Statute Law, but would also ameliorate it in favour of Ireland.


said, he begged to tender his thanks to the Mover and Seconder of the Motion for the steps they had taken towards assimilating the law of Ireland to that of England, and he hoped they would not stop there, but make the assimilation complete.

Leave given.

Bill to consolidate and amend the Statute Law of England and Ireland relating to Offences against the Person, ordered to be brought in by Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for Ireland, and Mr. Secretary SOTHERON ESTCOURT.

Bill presented and read 1°.

House adjourned at a quarter after Eight o'clock.