§ MR. EYKYN
said, he wished to ask Her Majesty's Government, Whether the William Henry Cook, scheduled as a briber in the Report made to the House of Commons by the Commissioners to inquire into corrupt practices at Beverley, is the same person as William Henry Cook, Esquire, Q.C., now one of the Judges of the County Court for the county of Norfolk; and, if so, whether he is not under section 45 of 31 and 32 Vict. c. 125, rendered incapable as being found guilty of bribery, of holding any judicial office; and, if in the judgment of Her Majesty's Government the statutable incapacity does not attach without further proceedings, it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to institute such proceedings as may be necessary in the present state of the Law to subject the person so scheduled to the disqualification imposed in the said Act?
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, in reply, that there was no doubt as to the identity of the person referred to in the Question of the hon. Member. The second part of the Question was one of very great doubt and difficulty, and he would frankly tell the House how the difficulty arose. By section 45 of the Act 1365 31 & 32 Vict. c. 125, it was provided that if any person other than a candidate should be found guilty of any proceeding in which, after notice of the charge, he had had an opportunity of being heard then he should be disqualified. The difficulty was whether his being summoned and heard as a witness complied with the words of the section, "having the opportunity of being heard," or whether the Act did not mean us a person charged with an offence, and having a right, therefore, to cross-examine witnesses called against him, and adduce witnesses in his defence. In one sense Mr. Cook had an opportunity of being heard—he was heard to give evidence; but he had no opportunity of cross-examining the witnesses against him or of adducing witnesses in his defence, or making that defence which a person charged with a criminal offence ordinarily would have an opportunity of offering. It appeared to him (the Attorney General) to be a question of great difficulty whether the Act did apply to the case of Mr. Cook, and it could not be authoritatively decided except by some judicial interpretation. He had no right or power to give any authoritative opinion, and therefore he must decline to give an opinion on the question. With respect to the last part of the Question, it did not appear under existing circumstances to be the duty of the Government to take any proceedings of a judicial character against Mr. Cook.
§ MR. HAVILAND-BURKE
said, he wished to ask Mr. Attorney General, If the attention of the Government has boon drawn in an official form or otherwise to the committal of the foreman of the jury for five days by W. H. Cook, Esquire, Q.C., County Court Judge, whilst presiding in his official capacity at Norwich; whether the Judge of that County Court was justified in ordering the Registrar to enter a verdict for the Plaintiff before the jury had determined the verdict, which was eventually given, for the Defendant; and whether airy, and what steps will be taken by the proper authority to prevent the recurrence of such acts?
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
, in reply, said, he had taken the opportunity of communicating with the learned Judge of the County Court, and, with 1366 respect to the first part of the Question of the hon. Member, he understood that the foreman of the jury was committed, not for anything done by him as a juryman, but that after the trial was over and the jury was functus officio, he used some offensive and insulting expression to the Judge, whereupon the Judge committed him for five days, but on the juryman expressing his regret the order of commitment was instantly cancelled. With respect to the second part of the Question, he was instructed that the Judge did not order the Registrar to enter the verdict for the plaintiff. A Memorial had been presented to the Lord Chancellor, and the matter was, he believed, now tinder his Lordship's consideration.