§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. CHATTERTON)
, in moving the second reading of this Bill, briefly explained its object to be to provide a remedy for the want of a sufficient supply of jurors which was experienced in the administration of justice in Ireland. The Bill, with a few alterations, was the same as that which had been introduced last Session.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Solicitor General, for Ireland.)
§ MR. COGAN
complained that the mode in which jury panels were constitued in Ireland was highly objectionable. They could be packed even by so humble an individual as the sub-sheriff of a county, and that in cases in which sectarian or party feeling come into play a fair verdict could not as a consequence be obtained. There had been recently in Monaghan a trial for homicide, in which it was, notwithstanding banks had been erroneously attributed to that very little doubt as to the guilt of the accused persons existed, found impossible to secure a conviction. Among the first 100 names on the panel there were those of only three Roman Catholics, though the majority of the population in the county belonged to that persuasion.
§ MR. O'REILLY
thought that it was impossible to exaggerate the importance of convincing the people of Ireland that justice was impartially administered in that country. He also thought that the privilege which the Crown enjoyed of challenging jurors was liable to abuse, and that some alteration should be made in the present system.
§ MR. LAWSON
said, he did not rise to oppose the Bill, for it was substantially the same as he had himself introduced last year. His experience was that in some of the counties of Ireland that class of lease-holders had almost entirely disappeared, and it was difficult to get a sufficient number of jurors for the work required of them. Therefore, what the Government proposed to do was absolutely necessary. But he trusted, as the administration of justice in Ireland should not only be, as he believed it was, pure, but above suspicion, that the subject adverted to by the hon. Member for 96 Kildare and the hon. Member for Longford would receive consideration. He thought that the proposal of his hon. Friend ought to be adopted.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday, 1st April.