HC Deb 24 February 1888 vol 322 cc1360-1
MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

asked Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland, Whether Irish Resident Magistrates have power to refuse bail, as they have done to the hon. Members for West Water-ford and West Cork; would an indictment lie against Justices for refusing bail in the case of prisoners entitled under section 16, sub-section 2, of the Petty Sessions Act, as of right to bail; and, is it the law, under the sub-section quoted, that any ordinary Justice of the Peace of the county may attend the gaol and take bail for prisoners awaiting trial, except in cases of the serious offences therein specified?


In the cases referred to by the hon. and learned Member, the granting or refusing of bail was in the discretion of the magistrates, and this was recognized by the Court of Queen's Bench in the case of the application to that Court of the hon. Member for West Cork (Mr. Gilhooly). The Court, while admitting the hon. Member to bail, stated that the magistrates had a discretion in the matter, and that they had exercised it rightly. The section of the Petty Sessions Act referred to in the Question deals with the case of committal to trial for an indictable offence, and has no reference to remand or adjournment before committal or sentence, in which cases bail is discretionary with the magistrates. The legal questions contained in the second and third paragraph do not arise in relation to the particular cases referred to; but, in reply to the hon. and learned Member, I may say that a Justice illegally refusing to accept bail in the case of a prisoner entitled to bail does not commit a misdemeanour if he acts under a bonâfidemistake of the law. The law is as suggested in the third paragraph of the Question in the case of persons committed to trial for indictable offences; but not in the case of prisoners committed to gaol under remand.


May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman, whether these cases were not indictable offences capable of being tried by juries, but which, instead of being tried by juries, are tried by Resident Magistrates; and, whether the hon. and learned Gentleman is aware that bail up to £5,000 was offered and refused in the hon. Member's (Mr. Pyne's) case, and that the same magistrates who refused bail afterwards dismissed the charge as unsustainable?


Even if the case came within the category of indictable offences, and came under the section referred to, in cases of remand bail is always discretionary. I know nothing as to the amount of bail tendered.