HC Deb 11 March 1887 vol 312 cc10-1
MR. GODSON (Kidderminster)

asked Mr. Attorney General, Why, in cases of infringement of the laws relating to the Inland Revenue, defendants are not allowed to give evidence on their own behalf, while in certain cases concerning the Customs, by 39 & 10 Vict. c. 36, s. 259, "the defendant shall be competent and compellable to give evidence;" and, whether he will take immediate steps to remove this disability?


In reply to the hon. and learned Member, if his Question refers to proceedings in the Superior Court, defendants are competent and compellable to give evidence in Inland Revenue as well as in Customs cases; but if, as I rather gather, the Question refers to charges before magistrates, the ordinary rule applies that the defendant cannot give evidence in a criminal matter except in the particular cases authorized by statute Her Majesty's Government hope that a Bill will pass both Houses of Parliament this Session to enable the defendant to give evidence in all criminal cases.