HC Deb 30 July 1875 vol 226 cc215-6

asked Mr. Attorney General, Whether he has been enabled to make the further inquiries he promised as to the grounds upon which Mr. Baron Huddleston discharged from custody William Smallbones, who was illegally imprisoned for eight months under the order of the County Court Judge at Farnham; whether the result of such inquiries has not been to confirm the statement of the learned Baron made in his letter to the Attorney General of the 24th of July, communicated to the House on the 26th; and, whether he will state to the House on whose authority and information it was that the Law Department of the Treasury communicated to the Attorney General the statement read by him on the 22nd instant, which the learned Baron declared to be "absolutely untrue" so far as he is concerned?


Sir, I much regret that the hon. Member for Derry should have thought it consistent with his duty again to bring the case of William Smallbones under the consideration of the House; and the more so as his Question is based upon an assumption, which he doubtless believes to be, but which is not, well-founded. I have never promised, as asserted in the first part of the Question, that I would make further inquiries as to the grounds upon which Mr. Baron Huddleston discharged Smallbones from prison; on the contrary, I distinctly informed the House on Monday last what those grounds were, as communicated to me by the learned Judge, and added that I, of course, accepted his statement, though it contradicted the information which had been given to me, and I expressed my regret that I should have been misinformed. The only inquiry which I stated would be made, was an inquiry into the cause of the inaccuracy of the information which had been afforded to me as to the proceedings before the Judge in Chambers; that was an inquiry based upon the accuracy of the statement of the learned Judge and the inaccuracy of the information supplied to me. I must, therefore, answer the first and second parts of the Question of the hon. Member by stating that I have not made any such inquiries as those suggested by him. As regards the third part of the Question, I can only state that I have not the means myself of making any sufficient investigation into matters such as those referred to in his Question; that I can only prosecute such inquiries by means of others; and that, even had I the means, I have not, at this period of the year, the time at my disposal necessary for such a purpose. Under these circumstances, the only information of which I am possessed having been hastily acquired, I do not think that I should be exercising a wise discretion were I to make any statement to the House upon the subject.


gave Notice that as the question related to the liberty of the subject, he would call attention to the case on going into Committee of Supply.

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