HL Deb 04 March 1887 vol 311 cc1254-6

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 3a."—(The Lord Bramwell.)


, in moving to reject the Bill, said: My Lords, when in 1823, with Mr. Brougham and Mr. Denman, in Scotland, Mr. Ferguson of Raith, an old Member of Parliament, said he never knew a speech gain a vote. Therefore, I can only show that I do not join in giving a bene discessit to this Bill. In 1820 the Solicitor General, for Queen Caroline, denied that any corespondent had ever been called as a witness. The Attorney General for King George IV. said, that in Major Hook's case in the House of Lords, such a witness had been called. I have looked into the Journals of the House, and find that one Campbell, who had been adjudged to pay damages in an action for criminal conversation, had been called as a witness to disprove adultery and had not been believed. Mr. Bradlaugh is anxious to arraign the Corporation of the City of London on oath. I am sorry for him; because only the casting vote of the right hon. Spencer Walpole prevented him from being allowed to affirm. I believe that this Bill may do great harm, and I wish that County Court Judges and those who witness the cases of interested parties under examination may be asked to give their experience on the subject. Two cases lately have each occupied about 13 days. Noble Lords may sneer and snub me, and when they contemptuously turn their backs upon me when beginning to speak, I feel inclined to retaliate. I am determined to force your Lordships to pay respect to the opinions of my Predecessor, and move the rejection of the Bill.

Amendment moved, to leave out ("now") and add at the end of the Motion ("this day six months.")—(The Lord Denman.)

On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion?

Resolved in the Affirmative.

Bill read 3a accordingly; and passed, and sent to the Commons.


  1. "1. Because the shortening of causes and the prevention of too numerous (and not continuous) adjournments, are far more 'expedient' than the admission of interested and suspicious evidence.
  2. "2. Because the evidence of a wife living with her husband is so controlled by her affection for her husband that it could not be relied upon.
  3. "3. Because the whole spirit of our laws has been founded on precautions and evidence that certain men and women (even on oath) could not be relied on has often been given.
  4. "4. Because in cases of divorce a husband or co-respondent should not be admitted, if the case can be proved or disproved without them, and should only be admissible by the special order of the President or Judge trying the cause.
  5. "5. Because only when in danger of being deprived of just earnings or of assault by a separated or brutal husband should a wife be admitted as a witness.
  6. "6. Because the general rule that a man or woman cannot be required to bear witness against himself or herself is in danger of being broken down, if even in previous unauthorized interrogations by magistrates or policemen endangered, and every prisoner would necessarily feel that a refusal to answer natural and pertinent interrogatories put by judicial authority would be itself a strong proof of guilt.—See Heart of Mid Lothian, Chap. XXII.
  7. "7. Because since 1824, when an article on Preuves Judiciaires appeared in the Edinburgh 1256 Review, the admission of interested (and in few cases accused) witnesses has so increased, that restriction rather than enlargement of preposterous evidence ought to be carefully devised.
  8. "8. Because the question of both a prosecution and an action being lawful in some cases, does not justify the great change in the law proposed by this Bill.


House adjourned at a quarter past Seven o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Eleven o'clock.