HC Deb 25 April 1877 vol 233 cc1847-65

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said that the subject had already received some attention from the Government, for it had had the hononr of being noticed in the Queen's Speech, and within the last few days the House had been favoured with the views of the Government, as shown in the provisions of the Bill which they had brought in. The object of the Bill he was introducing was to render the administration of criminal law in summary cases more merciful, and to make the tribunal which presided over the administration of justice in these matters more efficient. In round figures, there were in the year ending September 1875, 656,000 criminal cases summarily dealt with before the magistrates, and there was no reason to suppose that the number had since diminished. Of that number some 500,000 were convicted. He thought that this large proportion of convictions would suggest that there was some room for improvement in the law and in the administration of it. As a legal practitioner of 25 years standing he had had some experience in the matter; but he had been induced to bring it forward by a body of men, representatives of the class which had been recently admitted to the franchise, who were considering many social questions, and had resolved upon bringing them before Parliament by Bills or Petitions, or by any of the usual constitutional methods. He thought these men were likely to prove powerful motors in promoting effective reforms in many of our institutions. The body to whom he referred had instituted a kind of Parliamentary Council of their own, and had already done much to awaken the dormant energies of their countrymen to activity on various social questions. They had exerted their influence in reference to the Factory Laws, and to the Criminal Law Amendment Act in reference to Master and Servant. Other questions they were agitating with effect, such as the abolition of the property-qualification for Town Councils, and for the consolidation of the criminal laws generally, which in the able hands of the hon. and learned Member for Durham (Mr. Herschell) would probably be brought to a successful issue. Several classes of the community had grievances to complain of. But he wished to distinguish carefully between the law and its administrators. The latter could not make the law; but he believed they administered it to the best of their ability. The agricultural labourers complained of the present state of the law, and they also had an organization with a view of bringing about an alteration in it; but they were not represented in the House. The Home Secretary and the President of the Board of Trade had held out encouragement to seafaring men to expect that imprisonment for breach of contract between masters and men should be abolished. That was a desirable measure. The cabmen also had their grievances. All those things showed that the existing law and its administration were not perfect. A year-and-a-half ago he introduced a deputation to the Home Secretary, who presented a memorial from the Annual Trades Union Congress, praying for inquiry into the appointment of magistrates, the summary administration of justice, the separation of civil from criminal matters, and the whole subject of imprisonment, either by direct sentence or for non-payment of fines or fees. The right hon. Gentleman listened to what was said, and promised to take the matter into consideration. But the Session of 1876 waned away and nothing was done. He (Mr. Hopwood) placed a Notice on the Paper of a Resolution relating to these subjects, but which the Forms of the House prevented him from moving. But in reply to his speech the right hon. Gentleman admitted that out of 140,000 persons sent to gaol, there were as many as one-third to whom the statute law was not applicable, and that great relief might be given by the amendment of the part of the law that related to costs [3 Hansard, ccxxix. 1995.] He (Mr. Hopwood) might here remark that the question of costs was mixed up with the question of fees. The right hon. Gentlemam also admitted that a large number of persons were sent to prison, not because they had committed an offence against the law, but only because they could not pay some small sum of money. He (Mr. Hopwood) contended that the number of summary convictions was excessive, and that the magistrates ought not to be compelled to send to prison more men than was necessary for the public safety. He had again and again urged that justices' clerks should be paid by salary and not by fees. Then there was the question of appeal. He wanted a discussion upon all these matters in that House, as that would have much influence upon persons in the country, and greatly assist in getting rid of bad laws. In regard to fines, the present state of the law took the matter out of the power of the magistrates, for they were unable to forego them, because of the fees, though in many eases they would be glad to have power to dismiss a man with a lecture or reprimand. A man might be unable to pay a fine of 2s. 6d. or even 6d., which, with the fees, would amount to 10s. 6d. or 12s. 6d.—the magistrate could not remit the amount, because that would be depriving the clerk of his living, and the man would be sent to gaol for seven days for this fine, familiarized with prison habits, supported at the public expense, and his family deprived of his earnings. It would be much better to forgive him the fine altogether. It appeared from the judicial statistics for 1875 that the number of persons sent to prison was 93,000, and that of these 60,000 were committed for short terms, such as seven or 14 days. Such of these were cases of assaults on women or children. A large number were for common assaults, where a severe reprimand from the Bench on the chapfallen offender would probably have done much of the good and none of the harm of imprisonment in a gaol. His Bill therefore proposed to do away with the system of paying the magistrates' clerks by fees. This, however, had now been provided for by the Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) which had passed the Lords, and was in the last stage before becoming law. And it was also provided that persons convicted should be allowed to give security for the payment of the fine and costs, rather than that they should be committed to gaol in default of immediate payment. Another matter with which his Bill dealt was the right of appeal. The power of appeal already existed in a very few cases; but it appeared that the number of appeals was only in the proportion of one to every 5,420 convictions. It was quite evident that the power of appeal was far too infrequent. In cases of assault the law did not afford any appeal. He proposed that in every case where the magistrates inflicted imprisonment without the option of a fine, there should be, as a matter of course, the right of appeal. Again, although by law no man could be imprisoned on summary conviction for more than six months, yet the magistrates had, by splitting the offence charged into two or three separate offences under particular circumstances, increased their power of sentencing the accused to 12 months, or even three years. He proposed to put an end to such a dangerous power. Where imprisonment only was allowed by the law, he proposed to give the magistrates the discretion to order a fine, instead of imprisonment. Men might by the present law be committed for a breach of it to prison in default of sureties. A man might, by statute, be sent to gaol for six months for assaulting a police constable, and, at the end of that time, be continued in prison for another six months in consequence of his inability to procure sureties. In Ireland there had been for the past 25 years a right of appeal in summary matters where the fine amounted to £1. It had a salutary influence upon the minds of the magistrates, and prevented them from having crotchets; and bad feelings were kept in check. In many eases the magistrate's clerk was the magistrate; but ho was glad to find in a Bill before Parliament that in future those persons would have to be better qualified for the appointment. Then, as to the selection and appointment of magistrates—as the cases which came before magistrates had increased, he thought that some evidence should be given that the persons appointed had a knowledge of the law. The qualification a short time ago was £100 a-year from real estate, or £300 from long leaseholds; but recently any inhabitant who had resided two years in a house worth £100 a-year could be appointed. Magistrates were now appointed by the Lord Chancellor for the time being; but often persons qualified to serve were not selected. The present system of appointment was a monstrous one. The power of selection ought to be in the hands of the Home Secretary, who would at least be face to face with that House in cases of complaint. Further, there ought to be more stipendiary magistrates in the counties. He was not desirous of destroying self-government, and therefore would retain the present magistracy, but in a reformed and improved state. He believed that this Bill would have the effect of enabling magistrates to administer justice with mercy, and therefore he moved that it be read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Hopwood.)


in moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said, he approved of some parts of the Bill of the hon. and learned Member, but he thought the main objects of the measure would be better accomplished by the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, and if they passed two Bills on the same subject there would be conflicting enactments upon the Statute Book and much confusion would ensue. He by no means admitted the expediency of enforcing a legal education as a qualification for the magistracy, as was enacted by one of the clauses of the Bill. At present the duty was very well performed by country gentlemen, and he had known cases in which lawyers of some practice had failed when they had to determine cases in the absence of magistrates of experience. As to the clauses providing for an appeal on summary convictions—it appeared to have been forgotten that in every case two parties were concerned —a prosecutor as well as an offender—and if an appeal was allowed, the hardship would fall upon the prosecutor, who would be compelled to follow his case from Court to Court. As he did not think the Bill was necessary—and as its main purposes were better provided for in the Bill of the Government, he should oppose the second reading.


in seconding the Amendment, said, that if the Government had not introduced a large and comprehensive Bill upon the same subject, he could have better understood the hon. and learned Gentleman's attempt to carry this Bill to a second reading. There were, no doubt, some points in the hon. and learned Gentleman's Bill for which he deserved the thanks of the country for placing before them—for the present state of the law certainly required amendment on the lines mentioned by the hon. and learned Gentleman in his speech; but his Bill was totally and entirely unnecessary, because every suggestion or alteration of the law proposed by the present measure could be introduced by way of amendment when the Government Bill was in Committee. As to other parts of the Bill, the mere reading of them was sufficient to condemn them. Was it worth while, therefore, to occupy the time of the House with a Bill which he would take leave to designate as impracticable, and he would almost add in many respects ridiculous. As to the proposition that magistrates' clerks should be paid by salary instead of fees, that had already been dealt with by the Government in another Bill. As to summary convictions, the hon. and learned Gentleman had failed to show that any great grievance existed—for out of more than half a million of convictions, how many cases of maladministration had been brought forward? They did occur, but they were few and far between. With regard to the proposal to appoint stipendiary magistrates in counties, the hon. and learned Member had shown no real grievance or dissatisfaction with the mode in which justice was administered. The qualities that constituted a good magistrate were the possession of common sense and the ability to deal with the facts that came before him. The proposal that no one should be nominated a magistrate under 30 years of age was one of the most monstrous and absurd propositions that he had ever heard. To say that a young man might be of age to enter that House and assist in making the laws, but that ho must not be one of the Quorum, or that a man might be a Chancellor of the Exchequer, but must not put his name to an overseer's rate was too ridiculous. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to make all the magistrates the creatures of the Home Secretary for the time being, because he had the power of dismissing them, and they were to be magistrates only on sufferance. Such a Bill did not require discussion; it only required to be read. He would recommend the hon. and learned Gentleman to withdraw the Bill at once, and to wait for the Government measure.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Gregory.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


hoped the House would give the Bill a second reading. His hon. and learned Friend had priority of the Government measure, and it would be hardly fair or courteous to him to refuse to read his Bill a second time. The main principle of the Bill had been admitted — it was only its framework that was objected to, and he thought it would only be right to sanction the principle by reading it a second time, on the understanding that the future discussion of the question should be taken on the Government Bill.


said, that he had not intended to offer one word upon the Bill, and should not do so, for he agreed in the able exposition of the dangerous principles contained in the Bill, and which had been tacked to the main principle of the Bill, given by the hon. Member for West Sussex (Mr. Gregory) and the hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rod-well). The right hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House (Mr. Stansfeld) would forgive him, if he called his attention for a moment to the vicious practice he had recommended to the adoption of the House. The right hon. Gentleman had asked the House to consider only what he called the main principle of the Bill, and upon the second reading to ignore its framework —to sanction the second reading, as a whole, of a Bill, which contained various other principles and provisions that the right hon. Gentleman himself did not attempt to defend, and which even the Mover of the Bill had not recommended. The present Bill afforded an illustration of the abuses which had induced him (Mr. Newdegate), two or three years ago, to ask the House, by a Resolution and Standing Order, to prohibit the introduction of any Bill by an unofficial Member, unless it had been previously deposited in the Public Bill Office; or unless such a summary of the Bill as would inform the House of its whole scope and character was submitted to the House in the Notice for Leave to introduce the Bill. It was a most dangerous practice to ask the House to depart from its old Rule and Standing Order against what was called "tacking"—to vote for the second reading of a measure containing several principles not essential to the main and ostensible object of the Bill. The House would observe, that there were provisions in the Bill which related to the qualifications of justices of the peace, and that those provisions, which nobody had defended, formed one of the principles of the Bill. What, then, the House should do was this. On being asked to sanction the main principle of the Bill, it should be careful not to allow itself even to appear committed to portions of the measure which embodied principles to which the majority of the House objected. The House ought, therefore, to reject the Bill. There was nothing, he feared, that was becoming more lax in the practice of the House than a disregard for the frame and the contents of Bills. On several occasions he had seen several principles—a half-dozen principles, included in Bills introduced by unofficial Members. Then the House probably might intend to sanction one or two of those principles; but when the House assented to the second reading of such a Bill it went forth to the public, that the House had accepted not only what might be termed the ostensible principle of the Bill, but also the other principles, which the House would have condemned had its opinion been taken upon them separately. What was this but to place the House in a false position—by asking them to read Bills 'drawn as the present Bill was drawn? To prevent this was one object of the Resolution, which he had submitted to the House two years ago, and which he should certainly submit to the House again, or to a Select Committee, if the House would grant one. He thought that the hon. and learned Member who had introduced this Bill would act wisely if he remained contented with his success of last Session, for he had succeeded in inducing Government to take up the main principle which he proposed to carry out by the Bill. But the hon. and learned Gentleman asked too much when he asked the House to go beyond that principle, and to sanction the other principles crowded into this Bill. These were not really subsidiary principles to the main principle of the Bill. They were not even necessarily connected directly with its main principle, but involved vicious tendencies that were all their own. The hon. and learned Gentleman had opposed the Prisons Bill, and had voted with him (Mr. Newdegate) in opposition to the conferring upon the Home Secretary power to repeal Acts of Parliament by rules to be framed by him; but now, by one of the provisions of this Bill, he sanctioned the idea of the Home Secretary drawing up for the justices rules that were to supersede the law in the administration of justice. That was the principle against which he (Mr. Newdegate) believed the hon. and learned Gentleman had voted with him the other day. He was glad that the hon. and learned Gentleman should have done so; but how the hon. and learned Gentleman, having thus voted the other day, could now ask him to vote for a proposal similar to that which he had opposed in the Prisons Bill seemed inexplicable. He hoped therefore that the hon. and learned Gentleman would be satisfied with the success of his attempt of last Session, and by withdrawing this Bill avoid placing him (Mr. Newdegate) in the position of having to vote against him.


said, the question before the House was whether the Bill should be read a second time. It had been laid down by a high authority that the assent of the House to a second reading did not carry with it a pledge as to the details of the Bill. The hon. and learned Members for Sussex and Cambridge University, both of whom gave Notice of opposition to the Bill, concurred in their admission of the very useful and practical suggestions it contained, and therefore it would serve a useful purpose to preserve the former on the files of the House. If both Bills were to come before the House, the Government Bill having precedence, he thought that much useful matter might be selected from the Bill now under discussion, and that much utility would result from having the Bill before the House, to assist, and not to be antagonistic to, the measure brought in by the Government. He quite approved of the clause which required a justice of the peace to have some legal training. At present the Lord Chancellor might select any man who had £100 a-year, and the most intense ignorance was compatible with a seat on the magisterial bench. To the clause providing that justices should be 30 years of age, he could not give his assent, believing that if persons under that age were not disqualified for sitting in that House, there should exist no bar to their taking a seat on the magisterial bench.


opposed the second reading. All the good points it contained were embodied in the Government Bill, while many of its provisions were highly objectionable; but, by reading the Bill the second time, the House would appear to sanction the objectionable as well as the acceptable. The Bill would throw large expenses upon the rates, and therefore he hoped that the House would reject it.


remarked that this was the only country in the world in which such large powers for administering the law, and inflicting fines and imprisonment as were possessed by our magistrates, were entrusted to persons who had not the slightest judicial training or knowledge of the law which they had to administer, and without the slightest inquiry into their competency and qualification. He fully approved the two main proposals in the Bill, that in all cases where sentences beyond three month's imprisonment could be inflicted the prisoner should have the option of being tried by a jury, and that in certain cases there should be a right of appeal. These two proposals, however, had been embodied in the Government Bill, and as the Government had had this matter in their hands since the commencement of the Session, he suggested that this debate should be adjourned in order to allow the Government measure to be discussed, and such Amendments introduced into it as might be necessary. If the hon. and learned Gentleman divided the House he should vote in support of the second reading, because he thought all the objections to the measure could be removed in Committee. Looking, however, at the difficulty lying in the way of a private Member passing such a measure, he would suggest that his hon and learned Friend should place upon the Government the responsibility of pressing on their own Bill, and that the Government should assent to the Adjournment of the Debate, and take charge of this Bill concurrently with their own.


said, he could not vote for the second reading, because the Bill contained such a marvellous collection of clauses dealing with all sorts of subjects, that, if it came upon the Statute Book, the procedure before the justices would be rendered much worse and much more complicated than at present.


in supporting the Bill, observed that the introduction of this measure had at least had the good effect of causing a similar Bill to be introduced on the responsibility of the Government. The House ought to read the Bill the second time, and the two Bills should then be considered together in Committee. There was a marked difference between the mode of procedure in Ireland and in England. In Ireland a person convicted before magistrates and sentenced to imprisonment exceeding one month had a right of appeal; but a person convicted in this country might be sentenced to three or six months' imprisonment, and had no right of appeal. It appeared to him that in every case in which the liberty of a subject was taken away there ought to be a right of appeal.


said, the Bill required careful consideration. It proposed to deal with different questions—procedure, punishment, the law of evidence, and the qualification of justices. It was obvious that each one of those questions might be made a subject of serious discussion. He should be very sorry to express any decided opinion upon the proposal of the Bill to allow a person accused of felony before magistrates to be examined as a witness without having that matter debated. If once you admitted that defendants upon charges of felony should be examined as witnesses before inferior tribunals, it would be idle to resist the introduction of a similar change in superior tribunals. The question was far too important to be introduced as ancillary to a measure which had reference to the procedure of justices. That principle of the Bill was certainly one which in an indirect manner the House ought not to be asked to affirm. As regarded the qualification of justices, that, again, was a question involving a very wide discussion indeed. He (the Solicitor General) was not so much impressed by the fact asserted by the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James) that this was the only country in the world where legal training was not required by the justices of the peace, because he believed it to be true, and it was admitted by intelligent foreigners from all parts of the world, that there was no country in which justice was so carefully guarded or so well and so impartially administered as in England; he believed, too, that the administration of justice here was satisfactory to the country. If we were to have a change upon that subject it was perfectly monstrous that it should be introduced at the end of an Act of Parliament having reference to the regulation of summary jurisdiction. But if a change should be made with reference to the class of persons from which justices were selected, he did not think they should be selected only from the category proposed by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stockport. The limits laid down in the Bill would admit the exciseman, the tax-gatherer, or the person who took charge of the last sad offices of the law as proper persons for the administration of justice, and he put it to the House whether it was prepared to affirm such a principle as that? It might be said that the Bill could be amended in Committee. But some of the clauses were absolutely startling. For instance, one clause without any restriction as to the age of the culprit or the value of the property involved provided that if, upon the hearing of a case, the justices thought it inexpedient to inflict punishment, they should have the power of dismissing the case; in other words, they would have the power of determining whether the law should be put in force or not. In one section we had the law for the punishment of assaults upon women and children at once repealed. Again, as to costs, in the case of a proceeding by a gas company, for example, against a person for having knocked down a gas pipe, the Bill proposed that the costs of the litigation should be cast upon the ratepayers—why should they be removed from the parties to the proceeding? While deeply sympathizing with the feelings which had dictated the introduction of the Bill, he must remark that there was hardly a section in it which was calculated to properly carry out the object for which it was devised. Whether it should be read a second time or not, he hoped it would not be assumed that the principles upon which he had commented were approved by the House.


said he agreed to a great extent in the objection of the hon. and learned Solicitor General to the measure. He felt a difficulty in voting for the second reading because there were so many principles involved in the Bill, with some of which he agreed and others he wholly disapproved of. Some of the proposals might be advantageously adopted, whilst others were highly objectionable. Thus we found a clause which proposed to change one of the fundamental principles of our criminal law, by enabling a prisoner on his trial for a criminal offence to give evidence. It had been the glory of our system that a prisoner was not bound to criminate himself, and our courts were free from the painful scenes which were witnessed on the Continent, where a prisoner was subjected to cross-examination both by counsel and Judge. It was true the Bill only proposed to make a prisoner an admissible witness in his own behalf, but once his evidence was admissible he would be subject to cross- examination, and the practical result would be that he must either tender himself as a witness or submit to have the strongest inferences of guilt drawn from the fact that he did not do so. Such a change would inevitably lead to the substitution of the Continental system for their present one, and was a change of so serious a nature that it could not be adopted without the fullest discussion and the most mature consideration. He was anxious that some of the propositions contained in the Bill should become law, and would be glad to see them introduced into the Government measure now before the House.


strongly opposed the second reading of a Bill which, he said, was unprincipled, and calculated materially to interfere with the due administration of justice. He cordially supported the Amendment to reject the measure, leaving the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced it the opportunity of proposing in Committee on the Government Bill such alterations of the existing law as might conduce to the better administration of justice. He believed the magistrates of England did their work in a most exemplary manner. The Bill was in fact an omnium gatherum measure, with all sorts of odds and ends in it. Among its miscellaneous clauses was one relating to the qualifications of ' justices under which ladies might sit on the bench, inasmuch as members of school beards were, as such, to be made eligible for the magistracy, and ladies in many cases were now members of those boards.


said, that the question of the summary jurisdiction of magistrates had long engaged his attention, and several things in connection with it had struck him as needing amendment, and he had had a measure on the subject prepared. In the course of last Session the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) who had introduced the present Bill, went to him with a deputation; when he (Mr. Cross) told them that he hoped, as soon as he had an opportunity, to lay before Parliament a Bill which would effect considerable improvements in reference to summary jurisdiction. That Bill was prepared in the course of the autumn, and he hoped that, if not perfect, it would make a considerable amendment on the present system. The question as to justices' clerks was one of the matters specially brought before him, and it had been already dealt with this Session by the Under Secretary for the Home Department in, he trusted, a satisfactory manner. Turning to the more general question, on which he had himself brought in a Bill the other night, anyone who studied the subject would see that the tendency of modern legislation had been to relax the severity of the penal law, and all the penal provisions of our recent statutes wore very much lighter than those of our older statutes. But when there was a consolidation of the criminal law a few years ago, a great many provisions of the old law crept into the new legislation without an alteration of the penalties contained in them, and thus the severity of the older legislation was in many cases continued, and confusion was created. He had therefore sought to take a bird's-eye view of the summary jurisdiction clauses scattered over various Acts of Parliament, and, as far as he could, in a general Bill, to attain something like uniformity. One great object to be aimed at should be, first, to reduce the penalties of the older statutes as much as possible into harmony with the modern ones, and then to make them even. The Act of Parliament relating to the trial of juvenile offenders and the Criminal Justice Act—extremely important measures—wore not drawn on the same lines, and they, to some extent, crossed each other. He, therefore, thought they ought to be swept from the Statute Book, and the whole put on a more intelligible basis. Some clauses in the Small Penalties Act also worked considerable hardship; and, again, a more precise line required to be drawn between the cases in which justices might convict summarily and those in which they were compelled to send prisoners for trial. It was lamentable to see, from the criminal statistics, how many children under 12 years of age were sent for trial at assizes or sessions; it would be far wiser to allow magistrates to deal with those children summarily, without keeping them in prison for a protracted time. Instances also occurred in which the statute compelled the magistrate to impose a minimum penalty, and under no circumstances could he mitigate it. There was no particular reason why the magistrate's hands should be tied in that way—in regard at least to penalties of imprisonment; though as to fines the case might be different. Then the provisions as to appeals from Courts of Summary Jurisdiction appeared as if they had been thrown into the Statute Book quite at hap-hazard, and that was a matter calling for alteration. There ought to be a common form of appeal and an uniform procedure. Those were among the principal points dealt with in the measure of the Government. Adverting next to the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), its proposal for having stipendiary magistrates appointed all over the Kingdom would not be satisfactory to the country, nor would the class of men contemplated make good Judges as a body. Then the clause prescribing the qualification of justices was one which certainly ought not to appear in any Bill introduced into that House. Nor did he understand how, as the Bill proposed, the Secretary of State was to draw up elementary rules for the conduct of business and the trial of offences in Courts of Summary Jurisdiction; and for himself he would certainly decline that office. There were many other very objectionable things in that measure, and he could not possibly assent to it. The Government had shown their earnestness on this matter by bringing in, in accordance with the Speech from the Throne, a Bill of their own upon it; and if it had not been introduced as early in the Session as they desired, that was owing to what had occurred in the House, and also to his wish not to bring forward more measures than there was a prospect of passing. The Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Stockport was, he believed, a bad Bill, and therefore he was prepared to vote for throwing it out on the second reading. It contained clauses which would, he thought, be objected to by nearly every magistrate in the kingdom. It would have been a wiser, more proper, and perhaps more courteous course for the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Hopwood), when the Government had undertaken to legislate on that subject, to allow the Bill of the Government to be discussed before bringing on his own. But at all events it would be better for that hon. and learned Member to postpone his Bill until the measure of the Government came under the considera- tion of the House, and then he might propose any Amendments which he thought advisable. There was not much use in further discussing the Bill now before them. The measure of the Government would be brought on in a very few days, when ho hoped it would be read the second time without much discussion—especially after the debate they had had that day.


wished, as his name was on the back of the Bill, to say a few words. As he understood the right hon. Gentleman, his suggestion was that the debate on the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman should be adjourned, and that then the Bill might be considered with the Government measure. He thought that was a fair course to pursue. With respect to statements by hon. Members, that his hon. Friend's Bill cast reflections on the magistrates, he (Mr. Mundella) utterly denied that there was any intention to cast imputations upon those gentlemen; on the contrary, the Bill proposed to amend their powers. The Bill of the Government proposed to give parties who might be subjected to fines a power of appeal. It was easy to speak of a power of appeal; but how was a poor man to find money to pay a fine or to prosecute an appeal? If the right hon. Gentleman did not adhere to the course he proposed in reference to his hon. and learned Friend's Bill, then he should advise him to go to a division.


hoped the proposal of the hon. Member (Mr. Mundella) would not be assented to—it was rather too late now to take that course—the Bill had been fully discussed, and the House ought to pronounce its decision at once. He quite admitted that there were two or three clauses in the Bill of the hon. and learned Member which were good; but there were, on the other hand, so many objectionable clauses in it, that it seemed to him to be hardly worth the trouble to weed them out, and, in his opinion, it would be a mere farce to adjourn the debate. Unless the hon. and learned Gentleman consented to withdraw the Bill he should give his vote against it.


said, so far from the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend being an attack upon the magistrates, it was an enabling Bill, proposing to give to them increased jurisdiction, but of an improved and constitutional character. It was a Bill to amend certain defects in the Criminal Procedure Law—Bills of the kind could hardly be other than omnium gatherum Bills. He did not concur in the opinion that because the Government brought in a Bill to amend the law that that should debar a private Member from bringing in a somewhat similar and perhaps a better measure. He thought, however, that the discussion of the present Bill might be postponed pending the progress of the Government Bill.


said, he was prepared to give his support to any Bill that was calculated to amend the law. It had been said that all magistrates should be lawyers. He did not think that that was strictly necessary; but one thing was clear, that they should be guided by the rules of common sense in their decisions. He considered that great credit was due to the Government for the pains they had taken in collecting information on this important question; and he might instance the case of the Claimant where he had been put to the expense of £3,000 in justifying his bail —as indicating a strong necessity for amending the law.


in reply, said, he regretted the course which had been taken by some hon. Members in opposing the Adjournment of the Debate as agreed to by the Home Secretary. If that were not assented to, he could avail himself of the power which the Forms of the House gave him to force it as the hour of adjournment was so near, but would prefer going to a division on the second reading. He pointed out that several of his Amendments, ridiculed by the Solicitor General, had been adopted in the Government Bill printed only a week since.


moved the Adjournment of the Debate.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Bell.)

The House divided:—Ayes 165; Noes 219: Majority 54.—(Div. List, No. 89.)


expressed his regret that the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate had not been agreed to so that the present measure and the one introduced by Her Majesty's Government might be taken' together. But though he had voted for the Adjournment of the Debate he could not vote for the second reading of the Bill. His right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had stated the objections which the Government entertained towards the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Stockport, still it contained principles which were also enunciated in the Government measure, and he thought both might have been considered together.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 164; Noes 228: Majority 64.—(Div. List, No. 90.)

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Second Reading put of for six months.