HC Deb 05 April 1910 vol 16 cc199-200

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that, under the Regulations made by the Secretary of State governing the allowance payable to prosecutors and witnesses in criminal prosecutions in 1904 now in force, under the scale of allowances to witnesses at coroners' inquests which are based on those Regulations, pharmaceutical chemists are only entitled to the sum of 2s. 6d. a day (apart from travelling expenses) for their attendance, notwithstanding that by the effect of the Pharmacy Acts they are often compelled to engage qualified chemists at a much greater cost than 2s. 6d. a day to take charge of their businesses during their absence; whether he is aware that Mr. William Blakeley, chemist, of Birstall, near Bradford, was required to attend as a witness at an inquest held by one of the coroners for the West Riding of Yorkshire on 23rd and 25th February last, and was necessarily absent from his business on those dates, being paid only 5s. for those two days, notwithstanding that he engaged a locum tenens at a cost of 15s., and paid in travelling expenses and for refreshments 2s. 4d.; and, seeing that there have been frequent complaints to the local authorities in this matter, whether he will amend the Regulations above - mentioned, so as to bring chemists under the scale applicable to witnesses giving professional evidence, or to entitle them to the amount paid to a qualified locum tenens in addition to the present allowance?


Under the Regulations of June, 1904, 2s. 6d. is the limit for the day allowance payable to a witness who does not lose wages, earnings or income, by attendance in court. The Secretary of State does not think a chemist who attends personally to his shop and has to leave it to give evidence comes under this category, and for him therefore the general limit of 7s. for a day attendance applies. Under the Regulations travelling expenses should be repaid to a witness in addition to his allowance for the day. When an opportunity occurs my right hon. Friend will consider the possibility of so amending the Regulations as to permit of a special allowance being made when a witness has been required to provide a special locum tenens during his absence from home to give evidence. I should add, however, that these Regulations do not apply to witnesses giving evidence at coroners' inquests. The Home Office has no authority with regard to the allowances payable to these witnesses; they are fixed by the county or borough council.