HC Deb 26 June 1913 vol 54 c1228

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the action of magistrates in connection with charges under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1912, in declaring the proceedings a secret inquiry, and in admitting the Press as a concession, on their agreeing to suppress the names of the accused; and, if so, whether he will consider the desirability of introducing legislation to prevent white slave traffic cases being conducted as secret inquiries?


Magistrates are authorised by Section 19 of the Indictable Offences Act, 1848, to exclude the public from the preliminary hearing of indictable cases, and I understand that they avail themselves of this power in cases where the facts to be disclosed are of a grossly obscene character. In the case to which my hon. Friend refers the magistrate took this course, but, in his discretion, allowed representatives of the Press to be present and trusted to their honour not to publish the names of persons where it would have been contrary to the interests of justice to do so. The practice adopted by the magistrates in such cases appears to me justified by considerations of decency and morality, and I see no reason for interfering with it.


May I ask whether any further proceedings in this case will be in public?


It does not depend upon me.


Will my right hon. Friend consent to giving a Return of such cases so that we may know how far the administration of justice is being carried on in secret?


The hon. Member must give notice of that question.