HC Deb 30 March 1905 vol 143 cc1718-9

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether in framing new regulations for the Criminal Prosecutions and the Criminal Appeals Departments of the Home Office, as recommended by the Beck Committee of Inquiry, he will consider the desirability of discontinuing the practice of receiving secret and so-called confidential information adverse to the persons charged or convicted, and of withholding such information from the persons concerned.


There is no Criminal Prosecutions Department or Criminal Appeals Department in the Home Office. Those prosecutions which are undertaken on behalf of the Government are conducted by the Director of Public Prosecutions; and criminal appeals, where the right of appeal exists, are matters for the Courts of Law. The hon. Member no doubt refers to the Department of the Home Office which has to deal with petitions which are addressed to the Secretary of State praying for the exercise of the Prerogative of Mercy in criminal cases. I can only say that it is essential that, in considering such petitions, I should be able to communicate confidentially with Judges, magistrates, and the police. If I could not do so, the number of cases in which I can now advise the exercise of the Prerogative would be seriously restricted.


Have the recommendations of the Committee been carried out.


Yes, all the recommendations made by the Master of Rolls Committee have been carried out, or are on the eve of being earned out—except one, the reason for which was fully explained to the House.