HC Deb 20 April 1910 vol 16 cc2083-5

asked the Attorney-General whether his attention has been called to the cases of alleged intimidation during the recent Parliamentary election in the Eddisbury Division of Chester brought against Mr. Charles Bell, of Norley, a justice of the peace for Cheshire, ac the Oakmere Petty Sessions, held on 12th April, and to the admissions made by Mr. Bell in cross-examination of the reasons why he dismissed two of his workmen, who had been in his employ for eight years and five years respectively; and whether, in view of these admissions, the Lord Chancellor proposes to allow Mr. Bell to remain one of His Majesty's justices of the peace?


May I ask whether it is not a fact that the bench unanimously dismissed the charge against Mr. Bell, and whether the Lord Chancellor never removes names from the commission of the peace in connection with charges which are dismissed because the conclusion is that there is no case?

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir William Robson)

Although the Bench unanimously dismissed the case it by no means follows that the Lord Chancellor is bound by the action of the Bench. He may exercise, and must exercise, an independent opinion on the facts. The Lord Chancellor has considered the proceedings in this case, as reported in the "Manchester Guardian." It appears that the ground of dismissal, as alleged by Mr. Bell, was that the action of the men in wearing Liberal colours while in a motor car was an insult to the owner of the motor car, who had lent it to Mr. Bell, and had complained of the men's conduct. This appears to the Lord Chancellor a very poor reason for dismissing men from their employment, but it was, if believed by the Bench, a sufficient answer in law, and the bench accepted it. The Lord Chancellor's authority to remove a magistrate from the bench en complaint being made is for misconduct alone, and he considers that the action of Mr. Bell, however arbitrary and reprehensible, cannot be treated as misconduct justifying so strong a step as removal from the Bench.


Does the right hon. Gentleman think that a gentleman who can be guilty of such gross tyranny can exercise a judicial faculty?


That is not a question for the right hon. Gentleman, but for the Lord Chancellor?


Is not it a fact that a man is perfectly entitled to discharge anyone who is in his employment for what is undoubtedly a most dishonourable action?


I do not know what the hon. Member refers to as as undoubtedly dishonourable action. I am not aware of any action, undoubtedly or otherwise dishonourable in what is related of the voter in this case.