HC Deb 14 August 1860 vol 160 cc1318-9

Order for Committee road; Motion made and Question proposed "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, the object of the Bill was to alter the mode of pleading. A prisoner, instead of pleading guilty or not guilty, was, by this Bill, to state whether he would plead guilty, or that he wished to be put upon his trial.


said, the Bill was intended to meet the case of a prisoner who had scruples of conscience to say that he was not guilty, but who wished to be put on his trial. His opinion was, that if a prisoner was of such a delicate conscience, the jury would understand that he was guilty. However, as the Bill had come down from the other House, and originated in the high authority of Lord Brougham, he was unwilling to reject it.


said, he thought this Bill ought not to be proceeded with, The criminal law ought not to be amended in this fragmentary manner. If a prisoner was to be asked whether he desired to be tried, his natural reply would be, no, he did not.


said, he also thought the Bill was of a fragmentary character, but he knew there were cases of difficulty which the Bill would meet.


said, there were prisoners who had consciences. He knew the case of a man charged with murder, who, he believed, would have been acquitted on the ground of insanity; but the man, who knew he had committed the act, could not be persuaded to say that he was not guilt, and he was executed. There were also cases of minor offences, where the chaplains of gaols persuaded prisoners that it was wicked to say not guilty if they felt it was untrue. The Bill had been fully discussed in the other House, and he could not agree to give it up.


moved that the Bill be committed that day three months.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Commitee —instead thereof.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 19; Noes 37: Majority 18.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Bill put off for three months.