§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether he is aware that at the Assizes recently held in Belfast 300 special jurors were summoned for the trial of two criminal cases, many of whom attended them at great inconvenience from distant parts of the county on 17th, 24th, 28th, 29th, and 30th March before being finally discharged; that upon the entire jury panel being challenged it transpired that the larger portion of those upon the jury lists for County Antrim are never called upon to serve on any jury; whether the Judge, Baron Palles, when holding that the jury were properly summoned, is correctly reported to have commented upon the state of 693 things in County Antrim, which, owing to the state of the law, he could not interfere with, and to have stated that the Clerk of the Crown had informed him that were all the jurors of the county to serve in rotation the list would not be exhausted for some 17 or 18 years; and whether the Government will introduce a Bill to amend the law under which such an anomaly exists in County Antrim, and thus relieve a small minority of the jurors in the county from having to perform the duties of the entire number?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN,) Dublin University
My attention has been called to the case referred to, both by the question and by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Antrim. The facts are substantially as stated. I shall be glad to consider whether it would be possible to amend the provisions of the Jury Act of 1871, so as to avoid what is in many cases undoubtedly a hardship.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
Can the right hon. Gentleman state the reason why Belfast, the second city in Ireland, has not jurisdiction of its own, while very small towns have distinct jurisdiction?
§ MR. MADDEN
That, of course, is a separate question, which I shall be glad to consider; but the difficulty referred to arises from the practical effect of the 19th section of the Jury Act of 1871, which is at present in operation, and which does not necessitate the exhaustion of the entire list of jurors. The matter is a complicated one.