§ MR. E. H. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
I beg to ask the Attorney General whether his attention has been drawn to the report of an inquest, held at West Bromwich on the 27th January before Mr. Betham, deputy coroner, from which it appears that a surgeon, being called to give evidence, desired to be sworn according to the Scottish form, whereupon the deputy coroner professed his ignorance of the Scottish oath and stated that he was not bound to administer the oath in that form; whether, under the provisions of the Oaths Act 1888, the administration of the oath in the Scottish form was imperative upon the court in the circumstances stated; and if so, whether, he would communicate with the Lord Chancellor, with a view to the attention of coroners and county court judges being called to the matter; and, whether, having regard to the strong representations of the medical faculty as to the danger of infection from "kissing the book," he will consider the advisability of extending generally the practice of the Lambeth County Court namely to place printed notices in a conspicuous position in the courts calling public attention to the provisions of the Act which permit the Scottish form of oath as an alternative.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER,) Isle of Wight
In answer to the hon. and learned Member's question, I am informed by the deputy coroner that he did not state that he was not bound to administer the oath in Scotch form. On the contrary, he was prepared to accept it if the witness could remember the form of it; the deputy coroner not then having the form by him. The witness was not required to kiss the book; his unsworn evidence being accepted. Under the provisions of the Oaths Act 1888, the administration of the oath in Scotch form is to be permitted if it is desired by the witness, and a circular has been issued by the Home Office calling the special attention of coroners and deputy 1066 coroners to these provisions; and I shall be pleased to show the hon and learned Member a copy of it if he desires to see it.