HL Deb 13 August 1834 vol 25 cc1234-5

A conference having been held with the Commons, on the subject of this Bill, the Report of the Conference was presented.

The Lord Chancellor

wished to say a few words to their Lordships on a subject that gave him great concern, he meant on the subject of the disagreement between the two Houses of Parliament upon the Justice of Peace Bill. The House of Commons had refused to agree to the Amendment of their Lordships, who had omitted two clauses which had been in the Bill when sent up from the Commons. On the first of these he should have said nothing; but he could not assent to the other. He could not avoid expressing the discontent he felt on this subject; and he must say, with all due deference for the House of Commons, that it was impossible to comply with their wishes on this point. One of these clauses required, that all Justices should, in all cases, take down all the evidence that was offered on any subject brought before them. Any one who knew what sort of evidence was frequently offered, and, from the want of professional assistance, what sort of evidence was often admitted, would know that this could not be done. Anything so wild, then, as this proposition he had never heard of. He never could bring himself to agree to the restoration of those two clauses. The Bill itself was a beneficial measure; but rather than impose upon it the two clauses which their Lordships had rejected, he would consent to lose the Bill. The second of these clauses gave to the Justices of the Peace authority to set aside or annul all Acts of Parliament affixing a penalty upon certain offences. He had great respect for the magistracy, but he could not consent to give them such power as this. He could not consent that they should say, that certain penalties should not be paid, though the Legislature had imposed them. One of the results of investing them with such a general power, would be to make the Legislature itself careless about imposing penalties, inasmuch as the discretion of the Justices could correct any error. He should, therefore, move, that the Amendments of the Commons be read a second time this day six months.

Lord Wharncliffe

supported the Motion, on the ground that it would be impossible for the Magistrates to do what was required by the first clause, and improper to intrust them with the discretion given by the second.

The Motion agreed to, and the Bill was put off for six months.

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