HL Deb 05 July 1895 vol 35 cc242-4

, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said that he hoped that the House would consent to allow the Bill to pass through all its remaining stages that evening. There was a difference between the law of England and that of Scotland in relation to inquiries into cases of accidental death. In England the inquiry was an open one, which was held before a coroner and a jury, but in Scotland the inquiry was quite private. This Bill had been fully considered by the Grand Committee for Scotland in another place, and he therefore trusted that the House would facilitate the passing of the measure into law.


said, that he entirely agreed in the remarks of the noble Lord opposite in reference to this measure, which he hoped their Lordships would allow to pass through all its stages that evening. The Bill had passed through the Standing Committee of the other House of Parliament, and had been very carefully considered, and its main principles had been passed with general consent. He agreed that the measure was a step in the right direction, because it was desirable that the system now in force in Scotland that inquiries into accidents of the character dealt with by the Bill should no longer be conducted in secret. He was not going to discuss the relative advantages or disadvantages of the English and Scotch systems, because doubtless there was a great deal to be said on both sides. It had been said in favour of the Scotch system that it had the advantage of saving the feelings of the relatives of the deceased persons, and there was no reason to doubt that hitherto such inquiries had been satisfactorily conducted; but during the last few years, in a certain class of cases, suspicions had arisen in the minds of some people, and they desired that a jury should be associated with the officer who made the inquiries. He was bound to say that the Bill was not in all respects in the form that he should have liked to have seen given to it, but he thought, in the circumstances, that it was desirable that it should pass as it now stood. He did not think that there was any ground for the objection that had been raised to the measure on the ground that it would involve a large additional expense, because he believed that the result of the inquiries would frequently be to save the relatives the cost of bringing actions which were not well founded. He hoped that their Lordships would permit the Bill to be read a Second Time.

Read 2a (according to Order), and (Standing Order No. XXXIX. having been suspended) committed to a Committee of the Whole House forthwith: Bill reported without Amendment: Standing Committee negatived.

On the Motion that the Bill be read a Third Time,


said, that one of the objections that was entertained in Scotland to the Bill was that it made inquiries into the cause of death in the cases dealt with absolutely necessary, whether foul play were suspected or not, whereas in cases where there was no suspicion of foul play a coroner in this country was not bound to hold an inquest. On point of principle he wished to know why the provisions of the Bill did not apply to all cases of accidental death.

Bill read 3a, and Passed.