HC Deb 27 February 1891 vol 350 cc1840-1
MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the statement made recently at the Liverpool Assizes by Mr. Justice Wills, to the effect that the practice of Magistrates' Clerks acting as prosecuting solicitors in cases where they have a direct interest in the number of convictions, is an "abominable system;" and whether he will consider the advisability of legislating to prohibit this practice, and to provide for Justices' Clerks salaries not having any definite proportion to the number of convictions in their Courts?


Yes, Sir. I have seen the statement of the learned Judge. The practice condemned by him is that of Clerks to the Justices acting as prosecuting solicitors in the cases of persons as to whose committal they have at an earlier stage advised the Justices. If they afterwards prosecute at Sessions or Assizes, and thereby earn the allowance for costs, it may be alleged that they have an interest in obtaining as many committals as possible. But their salaries as Clerks to the Justices are not affected by the number of convictions. The practice is, no doubt, theoretically indefensible, and I will consult the Attorney General on the question whether it produces any practical evils calling for legislation.