HL Deb 08 June 1832 vol 13 cc543-4

On the Order of the Day being read for the House going into Committee on the Sentence of Death Bill,

Lord Tenterden

said, that the object of this Bill was, to alter the mode of passing sentence in capital cases, by the Judges, at the Old Bailey. There was an important distinction prevailing between the practice of the Judges on Circuit, and at the Old Bailey, in cases of this description; for in the former they were allowed to record the sentence of death, but at the latter they were compelled to pass it, leaving it to the prerogative of the Crown to select the proper objects for mercy. The object of this Bill was, to assimilate the practice, but on inquiry it was found, if it was passed in its present shape, none of the names of the persons convicted at the Old Bailey would be sent up to the King, and the Crown would be abridged of that part of its prerogative. He had spoken to several authorities on the subject, who were all of opinion, that the cases of convicts should continue to be reported to his Majesty, and at their suggestion he proposed to introduce an amendment, by which it was provided, that the cases of persons convicted capitally should be laid before the King, prior to the sentences being pronounced. This would do away with the objection respecting the rights of the Crown, and at the same time assimilate the practice of the Judges on Circuit and at the Old Bailey.

The Duke of Wellington

said, that the Amendment, as it now stood, compelled his Majesty to approve of sentences of death to be passed on certain individuals. Now, in his opinion, there was a great difference between the King's power of remitting the sentence of death, and his Majesty approving of a sentence previous to its being passed. He thought that care should be taken not to place the Crown in so objectionable a position; and that the Bill and Amendment should be printed, and time be given for inquiry and consideration before it was further advanced.

Lord Tenterden

said, it was his wish that due time should be allowed for the consideration of the clause he introduced.

Bill committed, and, as amended, ordered to be printed.

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