§ Order of the day for the Second Reading read.
EARL DE GREY AND RIPON
, in moving the second reading of the Bill, said, their Lordships would remember that a murder had been committed recently by a soldier, and that before the murderer could be tried at the ordinary assizes two or three similar outrages were committed. Persons competent to judge of the feelings of the men who had committed these offences, believed that they had been a good deal encouraged to commit them by the long period which had elapsed before the first offender was brought to justice, that these crimes had become almost a fashion, and that they would have been prevented if there had been a speedy and ready mode of punishing the first offender. Abroad, as their Lordships would probably be aware, offences of this description, committed by soldiers, would be dealt with by court-martial; but in this country the offender was handed over to the civil tribunals. Important constitutional principles were involved in that state of the law, and the Government did not consider it desirable to make any change in that respect. As their Lordships were aware, at the time of the Palmer poisoning case an Act was passed providing for the removal of the offender from the county in which the offence was committed, and for bringing him up to London to be tried at the Central Criminal Court, which sat very frequently. The provisions of that Act, the 19 Vict., c. 16, could not be made available in this case, because it required that a Bill should be found by a grand jury before the prisoner could be transferred to the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court. Of course, if it were necessary to 867 wait for this, it would be necessary to wait for the assizes. The Government, therefore, proposed to deviate, to some extent, from the provisions of that Act, and the Bill proposed to confer upon the Court of Queen's Bench in term time, or any Judge of the Superior Courts in vacation, upon the application of the Secretary of State for War, upon his certificate in writing that it would contribute to the maintenance of good order and military discipline if a prisoner under the Mutiny Act charged with any murder or manslaughter were indicted and tried at the Central Criminal Court, power to order the prisoner to be tried at that Court.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
suggested that an alteration in the preamble would be required, as it appeared that there was to be no distinction between cases of murder and cases of manslaughter.
§ After a few observations from the Duke of MANCHESTER, the Earl of DONOUGHMORE, EARL DE GREY, and Lord CRANWORTH,
§ Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Friday next.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.