HL Deb 13 July 1857 vol 146 cc1353-5

then moved the Second Reading of the series of Bills which, he said, had been framed with the view of carrying out the consolidation of the criminal statutes. Those Bills comprised the Offences of Larceny, &c.; Offences against the Person; Malicious Injuries to Property; Forgery; Libel; Coinage Offences; Deer, Game, and Rabbits; Accessories and Abettors Bills.


said, he did not rise to oppose the second reading of the Bill, but he must state that he was not prepared for this proceeding of his noble and learned Friend. When these Bills were read a first time, he understood that they would be laid on the table this Session and considered, but that they could not be proceeded with till next Session. That seemed to him the most expedient course, for there might not only be consolidation but alteration of the Acts, and though no doubt they had been most skillfully prepared, still if there had been any alterations, they ought to be well considered. He had always been most hopeful with respect to the feasibility of effecting a consolidation of the statute law, but while that was the case, he thought such consolidation ought to be effected as a whole and not piecemeal; and, taking that view of the matter, he thought his noble and learned Friend would act wisely in deferring all legislation upon the subject until a future Session.


said, he differed from his noble and learned Friend the Lord Chief Justice, with reference to the expediency of postponing legislation, upon the subject under discussion. He was of opinion that the Bills ought to be proceeded with during the present Session, inasmuch as the utmost pains had been taken by the Commissioners to reduce them to a satisfactory shape, and inasmuch as no advantage was likely to result from further delay.


called attention to the 57th Clause of the Act for the punishment of offences against the person, for the purpose of urging upon their Lordships the expediency of amending the law regarding the punishment of rape. By the Act as it stood, the punishment was the same whether the offence had been committed by one or by more persons. He recollected when the Marquess of Normanby was Home Secretary, the Amendment of the law was under consideration, and he (the Marquess of Westmeath) had proposed, that inasmuch as the abominable offence of rape was greatly aggravated when committed by more persons than, one, and that frequently the unfortunate woman died from the violence committed under the former circumstances, that the punishment should be death when the offence was proved against two or more individuals. At present the sentence was transportation, whether the offence was committed by one or by several persons. He divided the House twice on the subject, but the proposition was rejected, though only by small majorities.


said, that as those Bills were simply to consolidate the existing law, the noble Marquess was out of order in raising this particular question.


said, he hoped that no alterations had been made in the Acts relating to the several subjects, inasmuch as by the form in which those Bills were now moved, it would be most inconvenient to discuss the merits of any altera- tions. He thought it was highly expedient that those consolidations should take place under separate headings. Their Lordships had better, then, accept those measures as consolidations, upon the assurance of the Government that no alterations had been made in the several Acts.

The Bills were then severally read 2a.