THE LORD CHANCELLOR,
having brought up the report on this Bill, observed that he had received several suggestions in opposite directions. Some parties were of opinion that if the Bill confined the jurisdiction to petty sessions great delay would often occur, inasmuch as in remote districts petty sessions were not held more than once in a fortnight. On the other hand, it had been suggested that cases ought not to be tried at petty sessions without providing that they should always be tried in open court. Now he could not yield to either of these suggestions. In some cases there might certainly be a delay of a fortnight; but this was a difficulty with which it was impossible to grapple, unless in every place there should be a petty sessions always going on. With regard to enacting that the petty sessions should be a public place, he did not like to introduce such a provision, because the Court of Queen's Bench had decided that the words, "petty sessions" implied a holding in public. He wished to introduce certain amendments in the Bill—such as the form to be adopted by the justices making convictions, and would then name a day for the third reading.
concurred in the course which had been taken by his noble and learned Friend in not yielding to the objections to which he had referred; and as the principal objections to which he had taken exception had been removed, he did not think he should have occasion to press his own Bill further. The noble and learned Lord then said that he intended before the recess to bring before their Lordships the most important subject of criminal law procedure. He proposed to go into every part of the subject except the law as to punishment.
§ Amendments reported; further Amendments made.
§ Bill to be read 3a, on Thursday next.