HC Deb 03 April 1917 vol 92 cc1131-2W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War, whether the War Department have had to consider whether Article 17e of the Rules of Procedure is legally valid, in view of the provisions of Section 128 of the Army Act, which provides that the rules of evidence at courts-martial are to be the same as those which are followed in civil Courts; whether, at a court-martial under the article referred to, the abstract of the evidence taken before the commanding officer at the preliminary investigation is in the hands of, and is read by the members of, the Court and used by them for the purpose of questioning the witnesses, so that it must necessarily influence their minds; and whether, seeing that in a civil Court no preliminary statements made by witnesses are submitted to, or allowed to be read by, the Court, the War Department will be advised as to whether the procedure directed by Article I7e is not a violation of Section 128 of the Act?


The Rule of Procedure 17 e is not inconsistent with Section 128 of the Army Act, and there is nothing in it contrary to any rule of evidence followed in civil Courts in England. The Summary of Evidence is, under the Rule of Procedure referred to, sent to the President of the Court, and witnesses may be questioned upon it with regard to any variance between the evidence given by them at the trial and the statements made on the taking of the Summary. The judge at a criminal trial in England has a copy of the depositions, and witnesses may similarly be cross-examined upon any variance between their evidence and the depositions.