HC Deb 17 March 1890 vol 342 cc999-1000

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the repeated observations of Mr. Justice Hawkins and other learned Judges, in their addresses to Grand Juries, on the great hardship to prisoners by the operation of "The Assizes Relief Act, 1889," in having to remain in prison until the holding of the next Quarter Sessions, notwithstanding that an Assize is held in the interval; whether he will cause inquiries to be made as to the number of prisoners whose trials have been thus delayed, and the length of such delay; and, should the result of the inquiry prove that such hardship exists, will he take steps to secure an amendment of the law in that respect?


My attention has been called to the observations made by Mr. Justice Hawkins. I have not been informed that other learned Judges have made similar criticisms on the principle of the Assizes Relief Act. I will collect information, as suggested, to ascertain what number of prisoners have had their trials delayed and the length of such delay; should it appear that the advantages of this recent legislation are purchased at the cost of undue hardship to prisoners I will call the attention of the Lord Chancellor to the subject. It was a necessary result of the legislation of last year that there should be some delay.