HC Deb 04 April 1887 vol 313 cc354-5
MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)

(for Sir THOMAS ESSMONDE) Dublin Co., S.) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If there are any Nonconformists in Flintshire qualified to act as magistrates; if so, why there are no Nonconformists holding the commission of the peace; if there is any likelihood of Nonconformists being soon appointed magistrates; if misunderstandings or miscarriages of justice have ever occurred in consequence of many of the present magistrates being ignorant of the Welsh language; and, if, in future magisterial appointments, care will be taken to select gentlemen who understand the language of the people?


I have received a letter from the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Flint, and he informs me that he has, from time to time, made inquiries, and cannot ascertain that there, are any Nonconformists resident in the county possessing the status and qualifications prescribed by law for a county magistrate. If any should be found, and if the Bench should require strengthening, no consideration of religion or politics would deter the Lord Lieutenant from recommending them for appointment. I am not aware that any misunderstandings or miscarriages of justice have occurred in consequence of the magistrates being ignorant of the Welsh language. English is the language of our Courts of Justice, and the evidence of a Welsh-speaking witness must be interpreted into English, not by the magistrate, but by a sworn interpreter. The Lord Lieutenant will, in the future as in the past, select those men who are, in his opinion, best qualified to assist in the administration of justice.

MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)

asked, whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman was aware that these sworn interpreters were often extremely incompetent men?

MR. MATTHEWS, in reply, said, that he did not pretend to know the qualifications of the interpreters.