HC Deb 21 December 1893 vol 20 cc82-3
MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)

On behalf of the hon. Member for South Birmingham, I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the observations of Mr. Justice Charles, in charging the Warwickshire Grand Jury on the 11th instant, to the effect that he found several Sessions cases had been included in the Calendar, and that the Assizes, therefore, did not get the relief which the Legislature intended to give them when the Assizes Relief Act was passed; and whether he has taken steps, since the date of previous questions to him relating to the Assizes Relief Act, by communication with Her Majesty's Judges or otherwise, to see that the intention of that Act is not frustrated hereafter; and, if so, with what result?


The whole question is under consideration. It is desirable, on the one hand, that the Assizes should be relieved of Sessions cases, and, on the other, that untried persons, charged with Sessions offences, should not be detained for au undue time in custody. In order to mitigate, and, where possible, to prevent, the latter form of hardship, I am issuing a Circular to the Justices of the Kingdom, urging upon them the importance of more freely exercising their power of releasing, on bail, persons committed for trial, and of fixing the amount of bail with a careful regard to the means, character, and circumstances of the accused.


Have not Judges repeatedly expressed au opinion that prisoners should not remain too long in prison untried, and that the Assizes should have the effect of a gaol delivery?


In reply to the hon. Baronet, I have to say I am quite aware that great hardship is caused by the long detention in gaol of prisoners awaiting trial, and I am issuing a Circular in order to get rid of that hardship. Judges have often made observations of the nature indicated by the hon. Baronet.