HC Deb 10 June 1880 vol 252 c1608

asked Mr. Attorney General, If his attention has been called to a case, Reg. v. Broadley, decided in the Court of Appeal on May 1st, wherein it appears that a person was charged at the Leicestershire Quarter Sessions with an indecent assault upon a child of seven years old, and that the chairman ruled that "consent" on the part of a child of such tender years could not be relied upon as a defence to the charge. On appeal, however, the Court decided that this ruling of the chairman was wrong, and accordingly the conviction was quashed, and the prisoner, who had been sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment with hard labour, was discharged; and, whether, if such be the state of the law, he will bring in a Bill to provide a remedy in similar cases?


, in reply, said, his attention had been called to the report of the case in question. There was no rule of law which fixed the age below which consent could not be given. The question whether consent could be given or not by a child of tender age was a matter for a jury to determine. In this case the chairman refused to put the question to a jury at all; and if he had left it to them he believed they would have found, as a matter of fact, that consent could not have been given by so young a child. It would be well that on the first opportunity the Government should consider whether there should not be some fixed rule of law in relation to the age at which consent could be pleaded in assaults of this character.