§ Offences triable at Quarter Sessions.1458
§ We are suffering from him. He causes very serious loss of life to people who are quite innocent, and we ought to protect those people. I think that by this we shall be doing something to protect them. Of course, there is the other view, that they may be better protected if we do not pass this. That aspect of the matter has been ably explained by the noble and learned Viscount in charge of the Bill. But we all have oar own views, and I still think that if we have this compulsory suspension for some years it may do good. I shall propose to take the opinion of your Lordships if the noble and learned Viscount does not see his way to accept it.
§ On Question, Whether the said words shall be inserted:—
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 40; Not-Contents, 37.
§ 7. Offences under the following provisions of the Larceny Act, 1916, that is to say, section twelve, section eighteen, paragraph (iv) of subsection (1) of section twenty, section twenty-four and subsection (2) of section thirty-three.
§ LORD PHILLIMOREmoved to leave out paragraph 4. The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I do not intend to 1459 put His Majesty's Government in the position of being defeated again this evening and I do not intend to press this Amendment. At the same time I trust the Lord Chancellor will see his way to accede to it. The object of the Amendment is to take out of the jurisdiction of Quarter Sessions some offences which are very serious in the eye of the law and which may entail the punishment of penal servitude for life. There are one or two other offences which do not entail quite so serious a penalty but still very serious penalties, but the whole should stand together. They are what I call Post Office offences. The Lord Chancellor, on the last occasion, said that he believed there was some difference of opinion between different Government offices and I hope he will come down this evening on the side of the Government office which proposes to leave these matters to Assizes and not submit them to Quarter Sessions. I move the omission of this paragraph in order that they may remain as at present offences triable only at Assizes.
Page 37, lines 11 and 12, leave out paragraph 4.—(Lord Phillimore.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, since the last debate I have, as I promised, consulted those who are specially cognisant of this kind of offence and I have come to the conclusion that it is better not to adopt the Amendment. The proposal is that what the noble and learned Lord has called Post Office offences, offences small and great of the servants of the Post Office, public servants, should be all sent to Assizes. Our proposal is that magistrates shall have a discretion if they choose to send such offences for trial at Quarter Sessions. These offences differ very greatly in importance. Some of them are very serious, some are less serious, and on the whole I think it is best to leave justices with a discretion in this matter to commit either to Quarter Sessions or to the Assizes. Under this Bill some of these offences may be dealt with summarily at petty sessions, and it seems somewhat absurd if they can be dealt with by magistrates at petty sessions that they are not to be dealt with by Quarter Sessions. There is this further consideration, that it may mean a long delay if you insist on sending them to the Assizes. It may be that the 1460 Assizes will not be held for many months while Quarter Sessions may be coming on in a few weeks, and to insist on a man being kept until the Assizes may mean that he is kept for a long period without trial. I feel sure that the proposal in the Bill is right and I hope the noble and learned Lord will not press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.