16 FEBRUARY 1945, Page 13


SIR,—Why should it be necessary to take the oath or nuke an affirmation at all? It should surely be enough for the Clerk to say that perjury is a penal offence and to state what the punishment may be. It is notorious that perjury is rife. Neither affirmation nor oath-taking prevents people, as Ulstermen say, from sinning their souls telling lies. Eireans; as they frequently assert, are devout Christians, but they lie like troopers, especially in courts of law, as the Minister of Justice in the Dad sorrowfully con- fessed. Jurors who swear to deal justice, habitually,•as in County Meath, betray their trust, to such an extent that it is almost impossible to secure a conviction there. (See Dthl Debates, No. 92, No. 4, col. t to.) Many Eireans are besotted enough to think that they evade the crime of perjury if, on kissing the book, they hold their thumbs between their lips and the Bible. They believe that, having kissed their thumbs, instead of the Book, they are relieved of any penalty, here or hereafter, for lying. I suggest that this antiquated and entirely ineffective method should be scrapped, and that the person who now administers an Oath should be instructed to say, "Perjury is a crime, and any person committing it may be sent to prison for seven years," or whatever the maximum sentence may be. The whole business of oath-taking is absurd. I find myself occasionally compelled to go round the town looking for a Commissioner before whom I can take an oath. Why I have to do this, and to pay the man five shillings for listening to me, I cannot imagine. It is high time that the Society of Friends, those oathless people, busied themselves in ridding us of this cumbersome and puerile obligation.—Yours sin-