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Criminal Law—Untried Prisoners—Question

Volume 229: debated on Friday 12 May 1876

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether, in consideration of the fact, evidenced by the Return, No. 171, recently made to Parliament, that no less than 117 prisoners were kept in gaol in England and Wales for periods varying from eight to four months, between the Summer Assizes of last year and the Spring Assizes of this year, before being brought to trial, he will take such steps as may be necessary, either by the introduction of a Bill this Session or otherwise, to enable all prisoners who, after the Summer Assizes, are committed for trial to the gaols of towns in which no Winter Assizes are held, for offences triable only by Her Majesty's Judges, to be conveyed to the nearest town where Winter Assizes are held, and tried there at those Assizes?

in reply, said, that in his opinion the time had come when the practice referred to should certainly be done away with. He wished it had been so long ago. It would be remembered that on the 28th of March last, he informed the House that it was his intention to introduce, on behalf of the Government, a Bill for the purpose of avoiding delay in criminal trials during the present Session. Since that time he had been in communication with the learned Judges as to the best means of securing the end in view. They had not come to a final decision as to what particular form the Bill should take, but it was the intention of the Government to deal with the matter before the present Session concluded.