HL Deb 26 July 1839 vol 49 cc838-9
The Lord Chancellor

would take that opportunity of answering a question which had been put to him the other day with reference to the concurrent jurisdiction of county magistrates with borough magistrates in borough towns situate like Birmingham. When that question was put to him he took the liberty of postponing his answer, thinking it very desirable that he should be able to reinforce his own opinion with an authority that should put an end, as far as possible, to any misunderstanding upon the subject. He had written, therefore, to his noble and learned Friend the Lord Chief Justice, who was on the circuit, knowing, as he did, from forty years' experience of his candour and fairness, that if he saw, upon reflection, any error in the views which he had entertained, he would immediately acknowledge it. In the letter which he had addressed to his noble Friend he had stated, that from the consideration which he had given to the subject he had come to the conclusion that in Birmingham and other towns similarly situated, the county magistrates had concurrent jurisdiction with the magistrates of the borough. He had received a letter that morning from his noble and learned Friend, and had his authority for making known the contents of that letter to their Lordships. The opinion resulting from his noble and learned Friend's recent examination of the point coincided with his own, and his noble and learned Friend had observed that his excuse for venturing an opinion in debate was his strong conviction of the great inconvenience which might ensue from any doubts upon the responsibility of magistrates in times of danger and disturbance. He might state, at the same time, that the view which his noble and learned Friend now took of the question was in accordance with the general opinion of the profession.

Lord Brougham

happened to know that his noble and learned Friend was misled by not having attended to a particular section of the Corporation Act, which their Lordships knew was a very long one. He had fallen into the same error himself from a similar cause; in fact, he had deferred to his noble and learned Friend's opinion.