HL Deb 04 June 1857 vol 145 cc1100-1

The Report from the Select Committee on the Administration of Oaths to Witnesses, read.


in moving the consideration of the Report of the Select Committee on this subject, said, the Committee very early came to the resolution, that in the practice of Select Committees of their Lordships' House it would be a great improvement to abstain altogether from administering an oath to witnesses who came before them to speak to matters merely of opinion. They were of opinion that to swear a man that he must speak the truth on any speculative question of that sort was most preposterous, and that it was always a desirable thing to avoid unnecessary oaths. They, therefore, came to a unanimous decision to recommend the discontinuation of the practice of tendering oaths to a witness who came to speak only to matters of opinion, and he hoped their Lordships would confirm that decision. But where there were contested facts and conflicting evidence, the Committee considered that it was just and necessary to administer an oath to witnesses who came to depose to matters of fact before a Committee of their Lordships' House on a private Bill as it was in any court of law in the kingdom. The Committee, however, had left the mode in which the oath should be administered in that case an open question; but he (Lord Campbell) was clearly of opinion that the witnesses ought to be sworn before the Committee that sat upon the Bill, and not at the bar of the House. The noble and learned Lord concluded to resolveThat Select Committees in future shall examine Witnesses without their having been previously sworn, except in Cases in which it may be otherwise ordered by the House: That all Committees on Private Bills shall examine Witnesses on Oath, except in Cases in which it may be otherwise ordered by the House.

House adjourned at half past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.