HC Deb 20 November 1888 vol 330 cc1650-1

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether the reports appearing in The Bristol Mercury and The Bristol Daily Press newspapers of October 23, 1888, of a prosecution under "The Coal Mines, &c., Regulation Act, 1887," before Lord Hylton, Chairman of the Bench of Justices at Kilmersdon Petty Sessions, in which the summons obviously required amendment, so as to include not more than one count, in accordance with "The Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1848," section 10, are substantially correct; whether it is correctly stated that, before the close of the case for the prosecution had been announced, Lord Hylton delivered judgment against the persons charged without having heard one word in their defence; if he can state what course Lord Hylton took after his attention was called to the irregularity which he had committed; and, whether he will inquire into all the circumstances of the case?


I have seen the report in The Bristol Mercury, which appears to be substantially correct; but I do not gather from it that the summons required amendment. I have made inquiry into the circumstances, and I am informed that, at the close of the complainant's case, Lord Hylton did not deliver judgment, but did express the opinion of the Bench that the summons was rightly taken out. Upon the defendants' solicitor objecting that he had not been heard, Lord Hylton stated that he had announced the opinion of the Bench in order to save time, and that the solicitor was at liberty to address the Bench. The solicitor then argued the case and called witnesses. The Bench ultimately decided the case against the defendant; and the Government Inspector who was present in Court informs me that the decision was satisfactory and carefully arrived at.


asked, if it was usual for Justices to express an opinion before the defendant was heard?


said, he did not know that it was usual; but he had heard learned Judges express opinions in the course of cases.