HC Deb 09 July 1908 vol 192 cc99-105

The Bill which I have now the honour of asking the House to allow me to introduce is substantially the same Bill as that which was read a first time and circulated last session. I was anxious that the opinion of Scotland should be obtained upon that measure, and specially requested that the important professional bodies of the country should consider it in detail and formulate their opinions regarding it. I have to acknowledge very gratefully the helpful co-operation of all these public bodies, and I desire to explain to the House that I have been able to give effect to various amendments on points of detail, all of which, however, have been forwarded to me with expres- sions of marked approval of the substance and urgency of the measure itself. It is now twenty-one years since the present Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Kingsburgh, succeeded in carrying into law a great and much needed amendment of the criminal procedure in the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and in cutting down large masses of useless formalities, and introducing businesslike methods of accuracy and precision. There was thus effected a very notable judicial reform in Scotland, and reform on similar lines and applicable to all the Courts of summary jurisdiction throughout the country is for some time overdue. Advantage has accordingly been taken of this opportunity of removing many archaic and complex forms by the substitution of others on the lines of the Act of 1887. When I explain to the House further that the proceedings of these inferior Courts are regulated by no fewer than four general statutes, viz.:—The Summary Procedure Act, 1864; the Summary Prosecutions Appeals Act, 1875; the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1881; the Burgh Police Act, 1892; not to speak of other local and municipal Acts, it will be at once seen that the necessity for simplifying and codifying the whole mass of this legislation is manifest; and this object, I trust, is attained in the measure. One figure which I venture to give will illustrate to the House the practical need to which I allude. The three great Burgh Statutes which contain procedure clauses are the General Act of 1892, and the main Municipal Statutes applicable to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Taken together, these statutes contain no fewer than 1303 clauses. The codes of procedure in various respects are in conflict, and I think both the magistracy and the public will be thankful to have a harmonised and substituted code provided in a single Act. I cannot, of course, in introducing a Bill give details as to all those items of substantive reform which it contains. For instance, the limit of sentence in the case of Sheriff Summary trial has been raised from two to six months in accord with principles given effect to in various special statutes. Power has been given to accept admissions of facts and documents, proof of which, although they were mere matters of form, has hitherto been necessitated because the case was a criminal and not a civil one. These two instances may indicate to the House that not a little has been done in a direction which I trust the House will highly favour, namely, the avoiding of delay over the cases of untried prisoners. I give these as illustrations of the type of business- like reform which the Bill is meant to favour. I have to explain further, however, that there has arisen in the course of years in Scotland a body of legal decisions on points of legal technique the result of which has put a premium upon the ingenuity of the finder of flaws and a real obstacle in the way of administration of justice by summary Courts with any sense of security. The instances are numerous, and one of them, which is to hand, I may cite. A prisoner was convicted of two separate offences—a somewhat brutal assault and also a breach of the peace. He pleaded guilty to both, but because the clerk entered the conviction as of a "crime" instead of the plural "crimes" the Court held that the conviction was bad, and the man, a criminal on two counts by his own confession, was on account of this slip sent home to his friends and his relations; a slip of grammar or the pen had let him prematurely loose upon society. The Bill accordingly endeavours to put a stop to such things by giving ampler powers to the High Court to prevent miscarriages of justice, and to see that unless the accused has been misled or prejudiced thereby, such flaws shall not invalidate the proceedings. In accomplishing such a work of codifying and simplifying the law it has been necessary to frame a measure of some bulk. It contains seventy-seven clauses, and I have adopted the procedure of scheduling not only convenient forms of complaint, such as I have referred to, but also the sections of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1887, so as to avoid as much as may be the awkwardness of legislation by reference. In regard to such measures I think one fact is too often forgotten, viz., the debt of gratitude in which the whole country stands to the Judges of these inferior Courts. I do not refer merely to sheriffs, but to that large body of painstaking magis- trates who, without remuneration, from day to day and week to week, perform many an irksome judicial duty. And if in addition to satisfying the more abstract demand for a less, complex judicial code the measure should succeed in lightening and simplifying the task of the magistracy throughout Scotland, such a work is well worthy of the labour of Parliament. I add in conclusion that the Bill is not inconsistent with that general body of humane legislation as to children, the probation of offenders and the like—which has recently appeared or will shortly appear upon the Statute-book. And from the Scottish point of view this measure will form a legislative complement to the Sheriff Courts Bill which, with the assent and co-operation of all parties in the House, was last year passed into law. May I bespeak a similar assent and co-operation in this instance? Without these, for it is in no respect a party measure, the Bill cannot this year reach the Statute-book, but with these I think the House may rest assured that the passage of this Bill into law will substantially promote the prompt, effective, and sound administration of justice.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to regulate and amend the Law relating to Summary Jurisdiction and Criminal Procedure in Scotland"—(Mr. Thomas Shaw.)

EARL WINTERTON (Sussex, Horsham)

did not think this was the Bill that ought to be brought forward in the way it had been. It was a Bill of great complexity; it largely increased the powers of summary jurisdiction in Scotland, as the Lord-Advocate had stated, and contained seventy-seven clauses. Leave to bring in Bills of less complexity had been refused on many occasions, and he thought the Government should not bring in so complicated a measure at this period of the session, when there was no time to consider its very numerous clauses. He would divide the House against it if he was the only one who went into the "No" Lobby.

Question put.

The House divided, Ayes, 261; Noes, 55. (Division List No. 181).

Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.) Flavin, Michael Joseph Macdonald, J. M. (FalkirkBg'hs)
Agnew, George William Flynn, James Christopher Mackarness, Frederic C.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Maclean, Donald
Asquith, Rt. Hon. HerbertHenry Fuller, John Michael F. Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.
Atherley-Jones, L. Fullerton, Hugh MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down. S.)
Baring, Godfrey Isle of Wight) Gill, A. H. MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)
Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester) Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John M'Callum, John M.
Barnes, G. N. Glen-Coats, Sir T.(Renfrew, W.) M'Crae, Sir George
Barran, Rowland Hirst Glendinning, R. G. M'Killop, W.
Beauchamp, E. Glover, Thomas M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)
Beck, A. Cecil Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) Maddison, Frederick
Bellairs, Carlyon Greenwood, Hamar (York) Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)
Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R. Gulland, John W. Markham, Arthur Basil
Boland, John Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton Marnham, F. J.
Bottomley, Horatio Gwynn, Stephen Lucius Masterman, C. F. G.
Boulton, A. C. F. Halpin, J. Meagher, Michael
Bowerman, C. W. Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose Meehan, Francis E.(Leitrim, N.)
Branch, James Hardie, J. Keir (MerthyrTydvil) Menzies, Walter
Brigg, John Hart-Davies, T. Middlebrook, William
Bright, J. A. Harvey. A. G. C. (Rochdale) Molteno, Percy Alport
Bryee, J. Annan Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Montagu, Hon. E. S.
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Mooney, J. J.
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Hazleton, Richard Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)
Buxton, Rt. Hn. SydneyCharles Heaton, John Henniker Morgan, J. Lloyd(Carmarthen)
Cameron, Robert Hedges, A. Paget Murphy, John (Kerry, East)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Hemmerde, Edward George Myer, Horatio
Causton, Rt. Hn. RichardKnight Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Nannetti, Joseph P.
Channing, Sir Friancis Allston Henry, Charles S. Nicholls, George
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe) Nicholson, Charles N.(Doncast'r)
Cleland, J. W. Hobart, Sir Robert Nolan, Joseph
Clough, William Hogan, Michael Norman, Sir Henry
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Holt, Richard Durning Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Horniman, Emslie John Nugent, Sir Walter Richard
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Nussey, Thomas Willans
Condon, Thomas Joseph Hudson, Walter Nuttall, Harry
Cooper, G. J. Hutton, Alfred Eddison O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid)
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Idris, T. H. W. O'Brien, Partick (Kilkenny)
Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd) Illingworth, Percy H. O'Brien, William (Cork)
Cox, Harold Jacoby, Sir James Alfred O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Jardine, Sir J. O'Doherty, Philip
Crean, Eugene Jenkins, J. O'Dowd, John
Crooks, William Johnson, John(Gateshead) O'Grady, J.
Crosfield, A. H. Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)
Cross, Alexander Jones, Leif (Appleby) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Crossley, William J. Jowett F. W. Parker, James (Halifax)
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Joyce Michael Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Kavanagh Walter M. Perks, Sir Robert William
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Kearley Sir Hudson E. Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)
Devlin, Joseph Kincaid-Smith Captain Phillips John (Longford, S.)
Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Pirie, Duncan V.
Dewar,Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.) Laidlaw, Robert Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) Lamb, Edmund G.(Leominster) Power, Patrick Joseph
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Lamont, Norman Price. C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)
Dillon, John Law, Hugh A.(Donegal, W.) Price, Sir Robert J.(Norfolk, E.)
Donelan, Captain A. Lavland-Barratt, Sir Francis Pullar, Sir Robert
Duckworth, James Lea, Hugh Cecil(St. Pnncras, E.) Radford, G. H.
Duffy, William J. Lehmann, R. C. Rea, Russell (Gloucester)
Duncan, C.(Barrow-in-Furness) Levy, Sir Maurice Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')
Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley) Lewis, John Herbert Reddy, M.
Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan) Llovd-George, Rt. Hon. David Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Loekwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R. Redmond, William (Clare)
Erskine, David C. Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Rees, J. D.
Esslemont, George Birnie Lundon, W. Remnant, James Farquharson
Everett, R. Lacey Lupton, Arnold Richardson, A.
Faber, G. H. (Boston) Lyell, Charles Henry Ridsdale, E. A.
Fenwick, Charles Lynch, H. B. Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Ferguson, R. C. Munro Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Robinson, S. Steadman, W. C. White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Robson, Sir William Snowdon Straehey, Sir Edward White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Roche, John (Galway, East) Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Rogers, F. E. Newman Stuart, James (Sunderland) Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Summerbell, T. Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.
Russell, T. W. Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth) Wiles, Thomas
Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe) Wilkie, Alexander
Scott,A.H.(Ashton under Lyne Tennant,SirEdward(Salisbury) Wills, Arthur Walters
Seddon, J. Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.) Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Seely, Colonel Thomas, Sir A.(Glamorgan, E.) Wilson, Henry J. (Yorks, W. R.)
Shackleton, David James Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.) Tomkinson, James Wilson, P. W.(St. Pancras, S.)
Sheehan, Daniel Daniel Toulmin, George Winfrey, R.
Sheehy, David Trevelyan, Charles Philips Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Sherwell, Arthur James Villiers, Ernest Amherst Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John Walters, John Tudor Yoxall, James Henry
Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie Wardle, George J.
Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.) Wason,Rt.Hn.E(Clackmannan) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master of Elibank.
Snowden, P. Wason, JohnCathcart(Orkney)
Soames, Arthur Wellesley Watt, Henry A.
Spicer, Sir Albert Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.) Weir, James Galloway
Acland-Hood, Rt Hn Sir Alex F. Fell, Arthur Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Gordon, J. Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Balcarres, Lord Goulding, Edward Alfred Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.
Baldwin, Stanley Hamilton, Marquess of Sloan, Thomas Henry
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Hay, Hon. Claude George Smith, Abel H.(Hertford, East)
Banner, John S. Harmood- Hills, J. W. Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Barrie, H T (Londonderry, N.) Hope, JamesFitzalan(Sheffield) Stanier, Beville
Beaeh, Hn. MichaelHughHicks Lane-Fox, G. R. Starkey, John R.
Bull, Sir William James Lonsdale, John Brownlee Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.)
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Lowe, Sir Francis William Stone, Sir Benjamin
Carlile, E. Hildred Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Castlereagh, Viscount M'Arthur, Charles Valentia, Viscount
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Magnus, Sir Philip Walker,Col. W.H. (Lancashire)
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Mason, James F. (Windsor) Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Clark, George Smith Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Clive, Percy Archer Morpeth, Viscount TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Earl Winterton and Mr. Bowles.
Courthope, G. Loyd Morrison-Bell, Captain
Craik, SirHenry Nield, Herbert
Dalrymple, Viscount Parker, Sir Gilbert(Gravesend)
Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon Renton, Leslie

Bill ordered to be brought in by the Lord-Advocate and Mr. Solicitor-General for Scotland.