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Central Criminal Court

Volume 117: debated on Tuesday 24 June 1851

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said, that in bringing forward a Motion for extending the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court to the whole of each county on the Home Circuit, he must remind the House of the great facility in travelling which had been brought about within the last five or six years, by means of the railroads; and that, he considered, was a very good ground for his Motion, which had for its object to facilitate the ends of justice, and to economise expense. Five or six years ago, they could not travel from the extreme eastern end of Sussex to the county town of Lewes, a distance of forty miles, in much less than four hours, and that, then, was considered good travelling; whereas he could now travel from Hastings to London in one hour and three quarters. He therefore argued, that if prisoners could be brought up to London for trial, say once a month, an important object would be gained by the speedy despatch of criminal charges, and a saving also would be effected on the expenses at present incurred by lengthened periods of detention before trial. Prisoners could be brought up to London at about as little cost as would be requisite to convey them to the county town. He did not press the Government to carry his proposal into effect by any one particular sot of machinery, whether by the present Central Criminal Court, or by a court expressly established for the purpose, nor did he press them now on the point of time as to when his proposal should be carried into effect, whether next Session, or at a future period; but his object then was more entirely confined to keeping the question before the minds of the Government, with a view to its being adopted at some future period.

Motion made, and Question put—

"That it is desirable to extend the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court to the whole of each County on the Homo Circuit."

said, he had two objections to the present Motion. One was not only the ordinary objection that it was an abstract resolution, but it was a resolution to which the Mover said, he had no wish to give any practical effect unless at some remote period—a resolution that assured the House a certain change was desirable, which yet the hon. Mover said was not desirable at present or during the next Session, but only at some future time. Then, as to the merits of the question. The effect of this change would be contrary to every object for which the Central Criminal Court was established—a court which was for the trial of offences committed in the metropolis and its immediate neighbourhood, including Middlesex, the City of London, and certain defined parts of Kent, Essex, and Surrey, these parts being in the immediate neighbourhood. Whereas, if the hon. Gentleman's proposal was adopted, they must include the counties of Kent, Essex, Surrey, Hertford, and Sussex. Again, he did not see that it would be desirable to bring prisoners so great a distance, as for instance from Dover, to he tried in London; and there could be little doubt but that considerable expense must be incurred by those who would be taken away from their business to attend the court in London. Besides, if he meant to include so much as the hon. Gentleman proposed, why did he not take in part from the other circuits? Why leave out Oxford, which could be reached from London in one hour—a saving of three quarters, as compared with Hastings? And then, too, he might as well take in Essex and Hants, and other counties, equally as well as those he had named. He must, therefore, oppose the Motion.

Question put, and negatived.