HC Deb 28 May 1862 vol 167 cc84-5

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he thought a great deal of the cumbrous machinery by which lists of jurors were at present made out, and jurors themselves summoned, might be got rid of if the agency of the Post Office were more extensively used. The object of the Bill was to provide that clerks of the peace, instead of issuing warrants for the high constable to take precepts to the parish officers, should themselves forward these through the post as registered letters to the parish officers; and in like manner, when the lists were allowed by the magistrates at Petty Sessions, that the magistrates' clerk should return them to the clerk of the peace without the intervention of the high constable. The other object of the Bill was to dispense with the heavy outlay entailed upon the sheriff in having to employ a staff to leave summonses at the houses of jurors. That object it was sought to accomplish by following the precedent contained in the Registration Act, under which proof of the service of an objection was allowed if the party forwarding it by post bad taken it to be postmaster, and required him to stamp both the objection and the duplicate. That Act bad been in force for the last twenty years, and ho bad never heard any complaints of hardship inflicted on persons who had been struck off the roll without sufficient notice.


said, be did not object to the Bill being read a second time, as he understood the Committee was to be postponed till towards the end of June, which would give sufficient time for the consideration of the subject. The merits of the first portion of the Bill consisted to a great extent in the amount of the saving which would be effected, and on that point he was not prepared to offer any opinion, as ho did not know what the expenses of the existing system were. But he entertained considerable doubt whether it would be safe to impose fines upon an absent juryman, on the assumption that the letter containing the summons had been duly delivered. Under the present system it very often happened, though there was no appearance, that the returning officer had it in his power to state mitigating circumstances which bad come to his knowledge.


said, he thought it would be a hard measure to fine jurymen under the circumstances contemplated by the Bill, seeing that they were sufficiently punished in being kept away from their business. He should not, however, oppose the Motion; but he would take that opportunity of expressing his belief that a good Jury Bill on the principle of rating would be a very desirable measure.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Wednesday 25th June.