28 AUGUST 1880, Page 3

Sir Henry James, in answer to a question addressed to

him on Monday, declared the intention of the Government not to prosecute the persons named by the Judges as having given bribes, in any case in which a Commission had been named to inquire into the corrupt practices declared to be prevalent. And this, no doubt, is just as it should be. If you want to get a constituency to make a clean breast of it, of course you must not begin with terrifying all the principal witnesses by institut- ing prosecutions against the most notorious of them. But we confess we greatly doubt the policy of these Commissions of Inquiry. They are often made into gigantic local comedies, which do more to amuse the inhabitants of the places guilty of corruption, and to excite an amiable feeling towards the giving and taking of bribes in the rest of the world, than to bring the practice into disgrace. Give the Judges power to punish—not too severely, but promptly and disagreeably—all whom they find guilty of bribery in the course of their inquiry, and you would do a great deal more to make people ashamed of bribery, than by all those gigantic exposures which are followed by no individual penalties, put together. Indeed, we suspect they popularise the idea that bribery is a capital joke.