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Judicature Acts—The Assizes

Volume 229: debated on Thursday 25 May 1876

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Question

asked Mr. Attorney General, Whether he concurs in the opinion of the Judges, as stated to the House by the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the 18th instant—

"That Courts of Assize of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery, being parts of the High Court of Justice, are subject to the same rules, and that, as the Trinity Sittings end on the 8th of August, it would not he proper for the Judges to sit upon circuit after that day;"
whether he is of opinion that causes cannot be legally tried, or gaols delivered at assizes continuing after the 8th of August; and, if so, whether he is prepared to advise Her Majesty's Government to take steps to remedy the great hindrance to the administration of justice that will necessarily be caused thereby; and, whether the arrangements made by Her Majesty's Judges for holding the ensuing circuits will have the effect of adding eight or ten days at least to the Long Vacation as it has hitherto existed?

In my view, the Courts of Assize of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery are certainly parts of the High Court of Justice, and may be made subject to rules framed under the Judicature Acts. With respect to whether as the Trinity sittings end on the 8th of August, it would not be proper for the Judges to sit upon circuit after that day, I do not quite understand the proposition. If it is intended to ask me whether it would be illegal for the Judges to sit on circuit after that day, I should answer that I do not think it would be; but if it is wished that I should express an opinion whether, having regard to the requirements of public business and other circumstances, it would be proper, suitable, and convenient that the circuits should not continue beyond the date in question, I must answer that upon this point the Judges are far better able to form an opinion than I am. With respect to the second part of the Question, I have already said that I do not think it will be illegal to try causes or prisoners after the 8th of August, and, therefore, it will not be necessary for me to give any advice to the Government on the subject. As to the remaining portion of my hon. and learned Friend's Question, I may remark that the Long Vacation has been considered to begin on the 10th of August and to last to the 24th of October. If, then, the arrangements contemplated are carried out, the Long Vacation will practically remain the same as before, but gentlemen practising on circuits where the business has generally lasted till late in August will get a longer holiday than usual.

Elementary Education Act, 1870—Clause 6—Questions

asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether, under Clause 6 of the Elementary Education Act, giving compulsory powers to Boards of Guardians, it is intended, in parishes having no school but Church of England schools, to give the Boards of Guardians power to compel the attendance of the children of Non-Conformists and Roman Catholics at such Church of England schools?

also asked Whether, under the seventy-fourth section of the Elementary Education Act of 1870, giving compulsory powers to School Boards it is in the power of such School Boards where no denominational school exists, to compel the attendance of children of the Church of England, the Church of Rome, or of children professing the Jewish religion at such Board Schools, where the teaching of the Catechism or other religious formulary of such children is prohibited?

In answer to the Question of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Maldon (Mr. Sandford), I will at once say that it is intended, as I should have thought was obvious from Clause 6 of the Elementary Education Act, that Boards of Guardians, if they pass bye-laws on the requisition of the ratepayers of a parish, should have identically the same powers as school boards now possess of compelling the attendance of children at public elementary schools, whether denominational or not; and it is just as carefully provided in the Bill of this Session, as in the Act of 1870, that no compulsion should be used unless there is within reach of the child a public elementary school—that is to say, an efficient school, with the ample Conscience Clause of the Education Act, 1870. It is also true, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham (Mr. Isaac) mentions in his Question, that it is in the power of school boards, where they have any bye-laws for compulsion and where no denominational schools exist, to compel the attendance of children of the Church of England, the Church of Rome, and of children professing the Jewish religion, at board schools where the teaching of the Catechism and other religious formularies of such children is prohibited. I must remind the hon. Gentleman the Member for Maldon that the only alternative modes of treatment of this question are to leave the neglected children alone, untaught and untrained in all the numerous places where there are only denominational public elementary schools, or to destroy all such denominational schools, after having spent some £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 of money upon them from voluntary sources, and throw them upon the rates. I leave the hon. Gentleman to judge whether such proposals are likely to rally the country to the somewhat strange coalition of parties at which his proposal points.

I rise to Order. I have no objection to the noble Lord making any statement he likes in answer to the Question; but I do not think he ought to be allowed to enter into an argument.

I certainly agree with the hon. Member for Maldon that the noble Lord is rather travelling into an argument than answering a Question.