HL Deb 18 July 1836 vol 35 cc249-50

The Duke of Richmond moved the order of the day for resuming the debate on the Prisoners' Counsel Bill, and brought up a clause to be added as a rider to the Bill, the object of which the noble Duke de- scribed to be, to afford persons an opportunity of obtaining copies of the depositions of witnesses, upon whose evidence they were committed for trial, upon the payment of a reasonable sum, not to exceed three half-pence per folio. The noble Duke moved the adoption of the clause.

The Lord Chancellor

took that opportunity of explaining the course he had taken on a former evening, during the debate on this Bill, in reference to what had fallen from a noble and learned Lord, who stated, that it was the practice of the present law, to allow fresh witnesses to be examined before magistrates after the committal of a prisoner, and in his absence. He had since applied to Sir F. Roe for information upon that point, and had received a letter in reply, assuring him, that in no case was it the practice of magistrates to hear evidence after the committal of a prisoner, nor in the prisoner's absence, except when preliminary applications were made for warrants. When fresh witnesses were discovered after the commitment of a prisoner, they were sent before the grand jury, without being examined by the magistrates.

Lord Wynford

supported the clause, observing, that though when it was first proposed he had taken another course, yet, upon reconsideration he had altered his opinion, and was now convinced that it was very proper to be inserted in the Bill.

Lord Holland

congratulated the noble and learned Lord and the House on the change which had taken place in his Lordship's mind on this point.

Clause agreed to, and the Bill passed.