HC Deb 06 July 1871 vol 207 cc1219-20

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether his attention has been called to the case "Lancashire Justices v. the Treasury," and whether in future the Treasury will pay all costs in criminal prosecutions as taxed by the appointed officers of the courts of quarter sessions and of assizes; and, whether there would be any objection to the half-yearly return of costs in criminal prosecutions being made up to the 25th of March and 29th of September, instead of to the 30th of June and 31st of December, as at present?


Sir, my attention has been called to the case of the "Lancashire Judges v. the Treasury," in which a Rule was made absolute, by consent, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, for payment of a larger sum than the Treasury had intended to pay. As to the second part of the Question, whether I am about to give up altogether the control the Treasury has hitherto exercised over those payments made in aid of county and borough expenditure in this matter, I have to say that such is not my intention. These payments are made by the Treasury under Rules which were settled with great care at the Home Office in the time of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey). To give them up, and to pay whatever costs are taxed in the different Courts, would be to surrender £100,000 a year, and that is a surrender I am not prepared to make. I do not think my opinion is worth much; such as it is I give it to the House; but I do not believe the Court of Queen's Bench would, after argument, make a Rule absolute against the Treasury for the payment of these sums. Until it has done that, and until I have exhausted every means of resistance, I shall not consent to a measure involving such a large sacrifice. As to the Question whether the half-yearly Returns could be made up to the 25th of March and the 29th of September, instead of to the 30th of June and 31st of December, as at present, I have made inquiries from those who collect the information for the Returns, and I am informed that the adoption of the periods suggested would involve the division of the Spring Assizes, which would be very inconvenient, and therefore objectionable.