A Diary of Two Parliaments – 14 May 1874

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Over the coming weeks and months we are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.

Catch-up with other posts in this series here, or search our library here.

The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880

 Thursday 14 May 1874

How Acts of Parliament are Drafted

Gladstone, on his way to the Royal banquet at Windsor, looked in and remained for an hour on the front Opposition bench, the centre of a continually changing group of old colleagues and friends.

Disraeli was not present during the evening, and the House generally was unusually empty, there being but little attraction in a list of orders of the day. The House gave up the greater portion of the night to consideration of the Juries Bill. In the course of the debate a curious instance occurred of the lax manner in which Acts of Parliament are drafted. Clause 5 of the Bill provides for the total exemption from service on juries of (amongst other persons) “all peers, members of Parliament, and judges, all serjeants, barristers-at-law’ etc.”

In the scrutiny which the Bill had undergone at the hands of private members, the closeness of which was testified to by eight pages of amendments, it apparently had not occurred to any one that the term “all serjeants” included certain policemen, soldiers, marines, and others, whom it certainly was not the intention of the Legislature to exempt from service on juries. At the last moment, just as the clause was after long discussion being put to the vote, Thompson pointed out the error, and, amid some laughter, the phrase was amended by the addition of the words “at law.”


Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885


Further Reading and External Links

The Author – Henry W Lucy on Wikipedia

Benjamin Disraeli on Wikipedia