HL Deb 26 July 1860 vol 160 cc180-1

House in Committee (according to Order).


said, he entertained grave objections to the additional speeches which it was proposed to allow to counsel. The occasions he thought must be of rare occurrence where the effect could be beneficial, while a great waste of time must necessarily ensue. He therefore begged to move the insertion of the words "if the said Judge shall think the Evidence requires to be commented on."


said, he by no means approved the proposed Amendment, but, remembering that the 12th of August was near at hand, that other things betokened the approach of the end of the Session, and that both in that House and elsewhere the formidable body of Chairmen of Quarter Sessions was largely represented, and that the insertion of such a clause would facilitate the passing of the Bill, he was disposed to waive his private opinion and to consent to the noble and learned Lord's proposal, in the belief that he was thereby improving the administration of criminal justice.


said, he thought it was casting on the Judge a very invidious duty, and one which in most cases he would be slow in undertaking, to require him to decide whether a particular speech ought or ought not to be made.


said, the Bill would operate unfairly in the case of a prisoner who was undefended by counsel, but who called witnesses in his own behalf. The prosecutor would thereby be entitled to a speech in reply, in addition to that made in opening the case, although no one had addressed the jury for the defence. In cases where there were more prisoners than one, only one having obtained the benefit of legal assistance, the injustice would be even more apparent.


said, it very rarely happened that prisoners who were undefended by counsel produced witnesses in their own behalf. In nine cases out of ten no evidence whatever was given for the defence, and therefore there would be very few cases to which the objection would apply.

Amendments made: The Report thereof to be received To-morrow.