§ MR. WHATMAN
said, he rose to ask Mr. Solicitor General, Whether, in the case of householders liable to serve on special juries, and resident in such houses during a part only of the year, and not occasionally, returning at other times, the High Bailiff of Westminster, or other summoning officers, are right in leaving summonses for such persons, their houses being shut up during such absence, to serve on juries whilst they are so absent; whether 1617 the High Bailiff of Westminster and other summoning officers ought to ascertain whether such persons have been so summoned during their absence before serving them with a peremptory order to pay a fine of £10, &c, and putting them to further trouble and inconvenience to be excused paying the fine imposed; whether, considering the inconvenience of this practice, and the consequent uncertainty of the suitors in court obtaining a full special jury, any steps will he taken to amend this practice; and whether the exemption of Members of Parliament to serve on special juries ends with the Session of Parliament, or whether it is continued by the successive prorogations of the House? Perhaps the House would allow him to add that the reason for his putting the question was that he had received a summons from the High Bailiff of Westminster to attend at his Court some days after the date at which he was required to attend. He subsequently received a notice informing him that he had been fined for non-attendance, and upon stating the circumstances to the officer he was told he must apply to the Court in order to have the fine remitted.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL,
in reply, said, that special jury lists were made out by the parish officers, whose duty it was to place upon the list the name of every householder qualified to serve. Special sessions were held for the purpose of revising the lists, and if the hon. Member found his name improperly placed upon the list his remedy was to apply to the Justices to expunge it. When the list was made out it was entered in the jury hook for the following year, and then it became the duty of the summoning officer to summon every person whose name appeared in it. It was not the duty of the summoning officer to inquire whether any person liable to be summoned was or was not permanently resident in London, as it was sufficient to leave the summons at the place of residence, there being no necessity for personal service. If the person summoned desired to have the fine for non-attendance remitted on the ground of his absence from town, he must apply to the Court, who would take the matter into consideration. In answer to the third Question of the hon. Member, he believed that some inconvenience had arisen from the fact that many persons occupied residences both in London and in the country, which gave rise to much difficulty. At the same time, he must say 1618 that there was great difficulty in obtaining a full number of special jurors, and he thought that the question whether there should not be some legislation on the subject deserved consideration. With regard to the last Question of the hon. Member, as to the liability of Members of that House to serve upon special juries, he must remind the hon. Gentleman that their exemption was not founded on any statute, but merely upon the privileges of the House. There could be no doubt that a Member of Parliament was exempt while Parliament was Bitting, and in 1829 it was decided by the then Speaker that a Member was exempt when the House adjourned. The question whether that exemption held good during a prorogation had not yet been settled by any authoritative decision, but it appeared to him that exemption from serving upon special juries could not be less extensive than the exemption from arrest. He was, therefore, of opinion that the exemption referred to extended over a prorogation.