§ On the Motion of Viscount Melbourne, the Order of the Day was read for the resuming of the debate on the third reading of this Bill. The noble Viscount and the Duke of Wellington each proposed several verbal Amendments, all of which were agreed to without discussion.
§ Bill read a third time.
§ On the Motion that it do pass.
The Earl of Longford
said, at that late period, he would not go into any discussion on the measure before their Lordships, which he considered singularly ill-timed. He could not understand how that measure could be reconciled with the coercive measure which the Ministers thought necessary for Ireland. It was very strange that such a measure as the present should be brought forward at a time when it was acknowledged that justice could not be administered in the ordinary way in Ireland. The body of Jurymen in that country consisted of two classes—those who were willing to act uprightly, and those who were devoted to the interests of others. The present Bill favoured the introduction of the latter class into the Jury box. He thought that the Bill was not wanted, and that, at all events, it should be postponed until it had a fair opportunity of being reconsidered.
agreed with the opinion of his noble friend who had last spoken, and said, that a large body of the most eminent persons at the Irish bar were opposed to the present measure.
The Marquess of Westmeath
complained that the measure did not grow out of the judicial inquiry lately instituted, but was only a fifteenth part of it, since that inquiry embraced fourteen other important subjects. He was of opinion that the sub-sheriffs should not interfere in the formation of Jury lists.
§ Lord Cloncurry
contended, that the present measure would put back into the hands of the Sheriffs a power with which they ought not to be invested. He remembered that, in one county, Kildare—out of six Sheriffs five had been insolvent, and therefore he considered that they were improper persons to have the power of returning Juries. He had seen one Sheriff hunted about by the Coroner for the debts of his court; and such, he was sorry to say, was the general character of the persons who had of late years filled the office of Sheriff in Ireland. They were the only persons who ought not to select Jurors, the best way of choosing whom would be according to a property qualification.
The Earl of Roden
said, that if there was anything good in Irish Jurisprudence, it was the system of Juries. Irish Jurors were honest men, and anxious to assist in the fair administration of justice. In some instances, rather than do violence to their consciences, they had staid away, and, by so doing, subjected themselves to large fines. The present measure excluded from the Jury lists a respectable body of persons—he meant the parish clerks. He wanted to know from the noble Viscount opposite, why they were excluded, and whether it was from the circumstance of their being Protestants? He thought the measure proposed by his Majesty's Ministers unnecessary and uncalled for; and as he had opposed it in its former stages, he would continue his opposition to the last, and vote against the Motion that it do pass.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that with respect to the general objections made to the Bill, he had already explained himself so fully, that he trusted their Lordships would not take it as a mark of disrespect if he made no further explanations on those objections. With respect to the 722 clause complained of by the noble Earl who had just sat down, he would merely state that it was only meant to exempt parish clerks from the discharge of an additional and an onerous duty. He was not certain whether, as the law then stood, parish clerks could serve or not; but he knew that what was intended by the introduction of the clause objected to was, to relieve them from what they would themselves consider a heavy buth n.
§ The Bill passed.