HL Deb 13 April 1818 vol 37 cc1296-7
The Marquis of Lansdowne

adverted to the conversation which had taken place on Friday last. The reports to which he then referred, had stated some irregularities in the court of Common Pleas, in Ireland, with respect to the loss of certain recoveries. He had, however, since had a communication with a person who held the place of prothonotary of that court, who had assured him, that no loss or inconvenience had occurred with respect to any recoveries. In consequence of what had already passed on the subject, he thought it proper that their lordships should be informed of this circumstance. While he was on his legs, he should move for an account of the fees taken in cases of pardons granted by the Crown. He was glad to learn, that a bill on that subject was in progress in the other House of parliament, and he hoped it would soon come before their lordships. It was a serious consideration, that by far the greater number of the persons who received pardons under the great seal were unable to avail themselves of the advantage to which they were entitled by the mercy extended to them by the Crown, in consequence of not being able to pay the fees. But it was not the mere fees which constituted the burthen of the charge. A great part of the expense was occasioned by the stamp duties. It appeared that a pardon could not be sent out without incurring an expense of more than 40l. This was certainly a great hardship, especially when it was considered that the persons to whom the mercy of the Crown was extended were often in great distress. It was with reference to the bill which he had stated to be in progress, that he had resolved to move for some papers which appeared to him necessary to enable their lordships to understand the subject when it should come before them. He concluded by moving, that there be laid before the House an account of the fees paid on suing out a pardon granted under the great seal.

The Lord Chancellor

said, he had no objection to the motion, but wished the words, "distinguishing the parts of the fees payable to different persons," to be added thereto.

The Marquis of Lansdowne

consented to this addition, and the motion was agreed to; as was also a subsequent motion of his lordship, for an Account of the Number of Pardons sued out during the last ten years.

Lord Holland

adverted to the heavy expense incurred in several cases where the parties indicted pleaded Not Guilty. The expense incurred was, indeed, so considerable, that professional men were actually in the habit of advising some of their clients to plead guilty to indictments charging them with offences of which they were certainly innocent, rather than incur the heavy expense arising from a plea of Not Guilty. He expressed a hope that some noble lord would take up this subject, with a view of remedying the evil.