HL Deb 16 July 1888 vol 328 cc1373-5

House in Committee (according to Order).

Clause 1 (Appointment of coroners to be made by Lord Chancellor).

Moved, To omit Clause 1, and to insert in its place the following:— After the passing of this Act a coroner for a county shall not be elected by the free-holders of the county."—(The Lord Chancellor.)


said, he understood that this Amendment had been proposed in conformity with a suggestion of the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Herschell). Since the noble and learned Lord made that suggestion a very important decision had been arrived at in "another place," and he wished to call their Lordships' attention to that decision in order that they might try to observe some similarity in their legislation. It had been decided in the House of Com- mons that the power of nominating a judicial officer, however ancient that power might be, and if it resided in a popularly-elected Body, ought no longer to reside in a popularly-elected Body, but ought to be confined to the Crown. He had nothing to say against that doctrine in the abstract, for it was, no doubt, a very precious doctrine that all judicial officers should be appointed by the Crown; but he desired to point out that on this point the decision come to in the House of Commons was parallel to the proposition originally made in their Lordships' House with regard to this matter—namely, that no antiquity should bar the application of a sound doctrine to a case, and that no popularity, even of a democratic character, which attached to the authority that possessed a right should be any impediment to the invasion of that right.


said, he did not think that the cases to which the noble Marquess referred were entirely parallel to the case with which they were now dealing. He did not think a Coroner was, properly speaking, a judicial officer, whereas the work of the Recorder and Common Serjeant of London was strictly judicial, in that they had the power of trying prisoners and even of passing a sentence of penal servitude for life for offences committed in Surrey, Kent, and other places a long way outside the City of London. A Coroner had no power to deal with anyone, and a Coroner's inquisition had no more effect than a true bill found by a Grand Jury,


said, he did not understand how the noble and learned Lord would define a judicial officer. A Coroner, at all events, presided over a trial of an issue before a jury. He was at a loss to understand how the noble and learned Lord could say he was not a judicial officer.


said, a judicial officer was one who delivered a judgment, and he did not think it could be said that a Coroner did that.


said, he did not understand how the functions of the Coroner could be excluded from the category. He could not agree that he was not a judicial officer, seeing that he was supposed to decide according to law.


In what cases does he decide according to law?


pointed out that the Lord Chief Justice was himself chief Coroner.

Amendment agreed to.

Clauses 2 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.

On the Motion of the LORD CHANCELLOR, new Clauses were inserted to follow Clause 5, providing— (1) That the right of appointing a franchise coroner shall cease on the death, resignation, or removal of that coroner. (2) That the section shall not apply to Her Majesty in right of her Duchy of Lancaster, though the power of appointing a franchise coroner within the Duchy may be surrendered on behalf of Her Majesty by the Chancellor of the Duchy. (3) That the section shall not apply to the coroner of Her Majesty's Household; that the Act shall apply to the City of London. A clause was also inserted, providing that for the purposes of the Bill the Ridings of Yorkshire and the divisions of Lincolnshire and Sussex shall be respectively separate counties.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.

The Report of Amendments to be received on Thursday next.