HC Deb 27 March 1867 vol 186 cc699-701

Bill considered in Committee.

Clause 5 (If Witnesses for Accused, bound by Recognizance, appear at the Trial, Court may allow Expenses).


moved an addition to the clause, providing that "such allowances and compensation shall be paid as part of the expenses of the prosecution."


said, he thought the Amendment would effect a great improvement in the Bill; but on one point it did not go quite far enough. The object of the Bill was to put the defendant or prisoner and the prosecutor upon equal terms. The prosecutor might now bring witnesses upon the trial who had not been before the committing magistrate, and if the defendant satisfied the court that the witnesses whom he likewise brought up on the trial could not have been brought before the magistrate, it ought to be in the discretion of the court whether those witnesses should be allowed their expenses or not. As it was, the defendant was put in an inferior position.


said, he agreed in the propriety of the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion; but being desirous of feeling his way in this matter, he was afraid of attempting more than he had already proposed. It should be recollected, moreover, that while it was the practice for a prisoner's legal adviser to be informed of any additional evidence that was intended to be offered against him, the prosecutor did not obtain corresponding information from the prisoner.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 6 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.


proposed a new clause, giving Judges a discretionary power of allowing the expenses of the prosecutor and his witnesses in all cases of misdemeanour except those of a local or personal nature.


asked the House to pause and give the Bill further consideration before they allowed it to pass. He specially called the attention of the House and of the Government to what they were now doing with respect to expenditure. In certain cases expenses were paid not only for the attendance of witnesses, but for counsel and attorneys engaged in the prosecution. Those cases were limited to certain charges of felony and a few cases of misdemeanour. But by this Bill not only were all the expenses of the prosecution to be paid, but also all the expenses on the part of the defence, even in cases where a person was charged before the magistrates but not committed. This was taking an enormous leap, nor would they rest there, for the next step would be to throw the costs of the attorney and counsel on the public. They were getting into a flood of expenses of the amount of which they knew nothing whatever, for no estimate had been made as to what the expense would be. All criminal cases would, in a year or two, come to this, that prosecution and defence would be a little game carried on entirely at the expense of the Consolidated Fund. The House, before sanctioning this measure, ought to have an estimate of the expenditure which it would involve, and this, he apprehended, would be considerable. In the Jamaica prosecution, for example, the whole of the costs would be saddled upon the public, although the parties were undoubtedly in a position to bear their own costs.


said, that he could not on the present clause reply to the remarks of the hon. Member for Pontefract. With regard to the particular cases in which expenses were proposed to be allowed, he detailed several in which the expenses of the prosecution were paid by the public at present, and recommended his right hon. Friend to pick out those other cases which he thought ought to be included in the list and introduce them. He objected to such an allowance for all misdemeanours, and the reservation of cases of a local or personal nature was not sufficiently explicit.


said, it was rather for his hon. Friend to point out the cases in which the principle proposed should not apply. It was surely better to leave the matter to the discretion of the Judges, reserving only cases of a local or personal nature, the expenses of which ought to be defrayed out of local or individual funds.


said, he strongly objected to the clause, being of opinion that it would encourage trivial prosecutions, with the expense of which it would be most unjust to mulct the public. He thought, also, that misdemeanours under the Game Laws ought to be excepted, and that persons who chose to preserve game should themselves bear the costs of proceedings to which they might have recourse.


said, that whenever persons were bound over to prosecute, the magistrates should have power to make them pay costs. He also thought there were cases in which expenses should not be allowed, as, for instance, in proceedings under the Local Government Act.


said, they were opening the door to almost unlimited expense. He thought that to bring in all misdemeanours under this clause would be too wide.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.


also proposed a clause for giving power to Justices to allow costs to witnesses for the defence.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses added.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Tuesdaynext.