HL Deb 07 May 1866 vol 183 cc477-8

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(Lord Chelmsford.)


, in moving the second reading of the Bill, said, as the law now stood, power was given to the examining magistrates to award expenses to any prosecutor or witness attending before him, but this power only extended to cases in which there was a commitment of the prisoner, and the witnesses are bound over in recognizances to appear to give evidence. The object of this present measure was to permit the payment of expenses incurred in attending before a magistrate in any bonâ fide charge of felony, and in certain cases of misdemeanor, although the parties may not be bound over by recognizance or subpoena to prosecute or give evidence, and although no committal for trial may take place.


suggested the postponement of the Bill. The object of allowing expenses where they were at present allowed was no doubt to induce witnesses to give evidence; but it was guarded by the necessity which magistrates were placed under to see that a primâ facie case was made against the prisoner before expenses were allowed. He was afraid that the Bill would lead to frivolous and vexatious proceedings, and he hoped the noble Earl would consent to the postponement of the second reading. He must confess that he had never heard of any cases of hardships arising from the law as it at present stood.


said, that the objection of the noble Earl assumed that magistrates would not properly discharge their duty, but would allow a certificate where a frivolous charge had been preferred.


said, he was not disposed to regard the Bill with much favour. He did not think it at all desirable to encourage the number of those charges which were made, but not followed by the committal of the accused person; and, therefore, there was much weight in the observations of the noble Karl (the Earl of Carnarvon.)


said, he should like to know whether the Bill had the sanction of the Government, as it was a measure which bore upon the administration of justice. He thought it only right that Her Majesty's Government should vouchsafe some expression of opinion on the subject. He understood that the Bill had come up from the other House with the approval of the Home Secretary.


thought the present instance furnished a signal example of the disadvantage of having no Member of the Government in their Lordships' House who was in a position to answer any question whatsoever connected with the Home Office.

After a few words from Lord BERNERS,

On Question, Motion agreed to: and Bill read 2a accordingly.