HC Deb 10 August 1896 vol 44 cc458-9

in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, explained that its object was to relieve assizes of the trial of simple cases of burglary. In substance, it was to enable magistrates to convict at Quarter Sessions in cases of burglary which were not of a serious character.

MR. E. H. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

remarked that the Bill was really of a more comprehensive character than might be inferred from the few perfunctory observations with which it had been introduced. The first section gave Quarter Sessions the jurisdiction to try burglary, or, in other words, it gave to a Court, upon which there need not necessarily be a single trained lawyer, jurisdiction to try offences which were punishable by penal servitude for life. That was a large order. This having been enacted in the first section it seemed to have occurred to the author of the Bill that it was going a little too far, and in the second section he began to hedge a bit. This latter section proposed that the Magistrate should commit to the Assizes, unless, in the exercise of his discretion, he chose to commit the prisoner to the Quarter Sessions. But the committing Magistrate was a member of the very Court which, if this power was exercised, would have to try the prisoner. They were thus giving power to a man to confer jurisdiction upon himself. By the law, a single magistrate had power to convict, and this was far too large a discretion to give a single magistrate. He objected to extending the jurisdiction of Quarter Sessions, because he found that the Judges on the one hand, and the Justices of the Quarter Sessions on the other, had different standpoints of inflicting punishment, and that meted out by the Justices at Quarter Sessions was much more severe than the sentences imposed by the Judges, especially in so far as related to police supervision. There were many hon. Members who would agree with him when he said that police supervision was admirably designed for preventing a man who had once fallen from ever getting on his legs again. It was the rarest thing in the world at Assizes to impose police supervision, whereas at Quarter Sessions the Justices dealt it out with a most unsparing hand.


cordially supported the Bill.

Bill read a Second time, and committed for To-morrow.