§ SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ (10.55.) MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
I have no general objection to the Bill, but there are two sections to which I do take exception. They very properly create new offences. They also declare it is the duty of the accused person to prove his innocence. That is a distinct violation of English law and justice; but I will not press the point. There is, 949 however, another provision to which, as an Irish Member, I take special objection, and that is the provision in Section 26 as to the fines imposed under the Act. At present these fines are recoverable before the High Court. Section 26 makes the fines, no matter how high the amount may be, recoverable before Justices of the Peace. My experience of Ireland does not prompt me to approve of largely, or at all, extending the jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace. In questions which arise under Excise and Inland Revenue law, I think it is highly undesirable that the jurisdiction should be extended especially under a Bill which creates new offences, and I hope the Government will give us some pledge, at least so far as Ireland is concerned, that the existing law will be left untouched, and that the fines will still be recoverable before the High Court.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir E. CLARKE,) Plymouth
I may say, with regard to the point put by the hon. Member as to the effect of Section 26 upon Ireland, in regard to the recovery of penalties, as well as the other points that have been noticed, they will be considered by the Grand Committee; and if serious objections should be found to exist in regard to these matters, due weight will certainly be given to what may be urged.
§ MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)
I only wish to say that I do not feel quite satisfied with regard to the amount of attention that may be given to Irish interests in relation to this Bill when it comes before the Grand Committee. There may be very few Irish Members present, as the number of those who are on the Committee is not large; and I hold that there are strong objections to making these fines recoverable before a Justice of the Peace. If it is desirable to deal with this question at all, I think it should, at any rate, be before some Court which is more capable of, and more accustomed to, dealing with complicated legal questions than the ordinary Petty Sessions. I venture to ask the Solicitor General to give us some more explicit expression of opinion on the subject, because, unless some strong reason is shown in favour of the exten- 950 sion of the proposed change to Ireland, I think that as far, at least, as that country is concerned, the law ought to be left as it is.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed to the Standing Committee on Law, &c.