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Question

Volume 229: debated on Thursday 25 May 1876

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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.