HC Deb 30 July 1891 vol 356 cc757-8
MR. COBB (Warwick, S. E, Rugby)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the remission of one-half of the sentence of imprisonment which was passed upon William Jarvis by the Ross Bench of Magistrates, advised by him in June last, upon statements made to him in memorials and letters from the neigh- bourhood, alleging, inter alia, that the punishment was excessive, and that evidence was improperly admitted by the Bench, whether he is aware that, at the recent Herefordshire Summer Assizes, James Green, who had been sent for trial for criminal assault by the same Bench, was discharged as not guilty, and Mr. Baron Pollock stopped the case, saying that it ought never to have been sent for trial; whether he is aware that the Chairman of the Ross Bench is a clergyman 80 years of age, the next Magistrate a doctor nearly 90 years of age, three other Magistrates clergymen, and six military men, and only two lawyers who never attend the Bench, and that the recently appointed Clerk to the Magistrates is a man who has had no legal education, and is not a lawyer; whether Mr. William Hebb, the Registrar to the Newent County Court, who is also a practising solicitor at Ross, wrote to the right hon. Gentleman on 22nd June, pointing out that the Magistrates had no responsible-clerk; and whether, under the circumstances, he will point out to the Magistrates on the Ross Bench that it is desirable that they should appoint a trained lawyer as their clerk?


I have only seen a newspaper account of the case against James Green, in which there is nothing to indicate that the learned Judge said or implied anything by way of censure on the Ross Bench. I will, however, make inquiry of the Judge on this-point. It must not be understood that, because I advised a remission of part of the sentence in the case of Jarvis, I intended in any way to find fault with the Bench. It was a question of the amount of punishment for an admitted offence, as to which there can properly be a difference of opinion. It is no part of my duty to inquire into the ages and professions of gentlemen holding commissions of the peace; and, with regard to the Clerk to the Justices, I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave on the 27th of April.