HC Deb 19 February 1884 vol 284 cc1344-5

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether the Law Officers of the Crown have considered all the points raised in debate on the case of Frederick Maxwell Heron, late Commander of H.M.S. Clyde; and, whether the Report on the subject will be laid upon the Table?


I cannot say that all the points raised in the debate to which my hon. Friend refers have been considered by the Law Officers, because I am not aware that they were all referred to the Law Officers for consideration. What happened was this—that a point of a very peculiar and delicate character, and one of great importance, arose in the case, and the question raised principally was, in fact, whether the sentence of a Naval court martial had been given on tainted evidence? Upon consideration, it was generally felt in the House, and the Government shared that feeling, that that was a point of law which might very properly be referred to the Law Officers of the Crown. But to say that all the points in the debate were referred to them would not be the fact: nor was there any engagement on the part of the Government to refer all the points to them. This Report of the Law Officers, we think, ought to be treated exceptionally. Their advice being given in a quasi-judicial capacity, we distinguish between this and the consultative opinions which the Law Officers give to the Government in political and administrative matters, and we are perfectly ready to lay this Report on the Table of the House, from which the House will see exactly what has been done.


asked whether the question of the constitution of the court martial had been submitted to the Law Officers of the Crown?


I think if the hon. and learned Member will wait till the Report is produced, it will be better than my giving a verbal description of it.