HC Deb 19 June 1911 vol 27 cc4-5

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that Welshmen who give evidence in Welsh in the Law Courts have to pay the interpreter's fee; whether he is aware that on 12th May last a number of colliers were fined at Pontardawe Police Court 4s. 6d. each for leaving their work in order to attend a funeral; that the said fines were deducted in accordance with the magistrate's order by the colliery company from the men's wages; and that three of the colliers who had given their evidence in Welsh had the interpreter's fee of 2s. 6d. each deducted in addition to the fine; and will he say under which statute such a deduction is authorised; and whether he will take steps so to amend the law as to enable Welshmen to give evidence in their own language in Wales without being called upon to pay for doing so?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)

My attention had not been previously drawn to the matter. I have communicated with the magistrates, and am in- formed that the magistrates, having awarded damages and costs to the employers, proceeded, in accordance with the decision in the case Keates v. Lewis Merthyr Consolidated Colliery Company, to ascertain the amount of wages due to the workman, and to make an order under the Employers and Workmen Act, 1875, authorising the deduction of the damages and costs from such wages. As regards the interpreter's fee, I am informed that it is the regular practice at the Pontardawe Court for such interpreting as is found necessary to be done by a police officer without charge to the parties, but that on the occasion in question the officer ordinarily employed as interpreter was absent through illness, and no other officer competent to discharge the duty was present. In these circumstances it was agreed between the parties that an interpreter should be employed, and that his fee should be paid by the losing party, along with the other costs in the case. The interpreter's fee was accordingly included in the costs payable by the defendants.


Can the right lion. Gentleman not promise some legislation or order to put this thing right in future, as a case has happened in North Wales recently?


No, Sir. I am not aware that a case has been made out for legislation.