HC Deb 11 June 1861 vol 163 cc930-2

said, he would move that the Offences against the Person Bill, the Larceny, &c., Bill, the Malicious Injuries to Property Bill, the Forgery Bill, the Coinage Offences Bill, the Accessories and Abettors Bill, and the Criminal Statutes Repeal Bill, all of which were on the paper for Committee, should be referred to the same Committee of the whole House.

Ordered, That the Offences against the Person Bill, the Larceny, &c. Bill, the Malicious Injuries to Property Bill, the Forgery Bill, the Coinage Offences Bill, the Accessories and Abettors Bill, and the Criminal Statutes Repeal Bill, be committed to the same Committee, and that they have leave to sit till Four of the clock, and report the same a Six of the clock.

On the Motion that Mr. Speaker leave the Chair,


said, it was true a Select Committee had carefully considered the details of these Bills, but then a Committee upstairs was by no means a satisfactory tribunal to deal with any great principles of criminal law. The Committee was composed of a large number of Members, but some of the important questions involved were decided by only five persons. Therefore, he hoped that any question of principle would be raised in the Committee of the whole House, in such a manner that it might be fairly discussed, and that the deliberate judgment of the House might be taken upon it. The first of those Bills contained a proposition of such magnitude, and one which the House considered so important, that on a former occasion it had the effect of changing the Government of the day; and surely it was impossible that the House, at a morning sitting, should review and reverse that decision. He wished, then, that those important questions should be reserved for the Report. There was only one technical difficulty, that no question could be raised upon the Report unless some Amendment was to be made in the Bill; but as he understood that some small Amendments would be proposed, he would not object to considering the Bills in the manner now proposed.


said, that he had given notice of a motion with respect to the punishment of death, but it was postponed in Committee because the question was considered of such great importance that it should be reserved for the consideration of the House. He entirely agreed with the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets.


said, he had understood from the hon. and learned Solicitor General that the Bills were not likely to come on soon, and he was therefore surprised when the noble Lord at the head of the Government made a statement that they would be brought on at a morning sitting on Tuesday. He had himself in Committee divided the Committee upon the fourth Clause, which was carried only by the casting vote of the Solicitor General, and, therefore, he was resolved to take the sense of the House upon it. However, on the understanding that an opportunity for so doing would be afforded, as suggested by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, he would offer no opposition to the course proposed.


said, that he must express his surprise at the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Henley) as to 'the effect of a recent conversation which had taken place between them with reference to the time at which it was probable those Bills would be taken in Committee. He (the Solicitor General) had not the slightest recollection of any such conversation; and, therefore, either the memory of the right hon. Gentleman or his own must he entirely at fault. He certainly did state in answer to a question put to him by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) that it was the determination of the Government to bring forward these Bills as speedily as the public business would permit. He (the Solicitor General) had given notice of certain Amendments which he intended to propose in the two Bills earliest in order, namely, the Offences Against the Persons Bill and the Larceny Bill. He had, likewise, some verbal Amendments to propose in the Malicious Injury to Property Bill, the Forgery Bill, and the Coinage Offences Bill. Therefore, not as a matter of concession or arrangement, but as a matter of right, it would be open to any hon. Member upon the report to introduce any Amendment which he might think fit. He had every reason to suppose from what took place in the Select Committee that no hon. Member would feel himself called upon to propose any Amendment in the Accessory and Abettors Bill. He hoped the House would allow the Bill to go into Committee, and proceed to consider the details.


said, the hon, and learned Gentleman might have totally forgotten the conversation, but he (Mr. Henley) could not have imagined that such a conversation had taken place.


expressed a hope that every possible effort would he made to carry these Bills for the Amendment of the criminal law, through the House with as little delay as possible.