§ (2) Subject to the provisions of this Section, it shall be the duty of every registration officer within the meaning of the Representation of the People Act, 1918, in making out in pursuance of that Act the electors' lists for the autumn register for any year, to mark in the prescribed manner the names of such of the persons included in the lists as are qualified and liable to serve as jurors and the names of such of the persons so qualified and liable as are qualified to serve as special jurors.2102
§ (6) Where the claim of any person not to be marked as a juror or as a special juror in any electors' lists has been allowed by the registration officer or a court of summary jurisdiction, the registration officer shall, if he proposes to mark that person as a juror or as a special juror in any subsequent electors' lists, give to him notice of his intention so to do not less than fourteen days before the publication of the electors' lists:
§ Provided that the foregoing provision shall not apply in relation to the registration officer of a registration area other than the area in which the claim was made or in any case where the person whose claim was allowed has subsequently changed his place of residence.
§ Mr. HAILWOOD
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the wordsProvided that the registration officer shall not mark the names of nuns nor the name of any woman living in religious congregation, but shall treat such name as though it were exempted under the Schedule 2103 to the Juries Act of 1870, similar to the manner that certain men are exempted.I have no doubt that it must come as a great shock to many people to know that nuns are liable to serve on juries, and the probable cause of that shock is that they may never have heard of such an occurrence. Consequently, there is some doubt in their mind as to whether nuns are liable for jury service. That liability came in consequence of the Sex Disqualification Removal Act, 1919. Prior to that Act women were not called upon to serve on a jury. Since that time women have been liable for service on juries, just as women are qualified to become Members of Parliament, magistrates, etc. Under the Act of 1870, and under the former Act of 1825, there was a very comprehensive list of individuals who were exempt from serving upon any kind of jury. The whole of the exemptions on that list were male exemptions, for the simple reason that in 1825, and also in 1870, only the male section of the population had the vote. Therefore, it was only necessary to exclude certain male members of the population from serving on juries.
I would like to point out how comprehensive is that list of exemptions. It comprises Peers, Members of Parliament, magistrates, officers of His Majesty's household, barristers at law, sergeants, certificated conveyancers and special pleaders, attorneys, solicitors, and proctors, and their managing clerks, and notaries public, officers of the Courts of law and equity, and of the Admiralty and Ecclesiastical Courts, including the Court of Probate and Divorce, clerks of the peace, and their deputies if actually exercising the duties of their respective offices, coroners, gaolers, and keepers of houses of correction, and all subordinate officers of the same, keepers in public lunatic asylums, judges, clergymen, Roman Catholic priests, ministers, of any congregation of Protestants, Dissenters, and of Jews. The list is very comprehensive. If women in those days had been liable to service on juries by reason of possessing the vote, it is certain that certain classes of women would have been exempted, just as certain men are exempted by the Act of 1870. Certain women are to-day exempted from service on a jury if they hold an office similar to that which was held by these exempted men in the days when the Jury Act was passed. A 2104 woman Member of Parliament is exempt, also a woman magistrate, a woman doctor, and a woman barrister. My only plea is that the Sex Disqualification Removal Act, 1919, ought to have been comprehensive enough to include similar cases amongst women so that there should be no difference whatever between the status of men and the status of women with regard to service on juries.
I plead the case of the nuns because they hold a position in our social life similar to that held by clergymen, priests, or ministers of any religion. They devote themselves to religious work, pure and simple, or to charitable work, and if a man is exempt on those grounds, surely a women ought to be exempt on the same grounds. These women devote themselves entirely to this class of work. Some of them look after the sick, others look after the poor, and others devote themselves to perpetual silence and perpetual prayer. In my Amendment I am not picking out any particular religion. I have worded it comprehensively enough in order that these women, no matter what religion they profess, if they devote themselves to religious work, may be exempt from serving on a jury. Twelve months ago, on the 25th May, 1921, I asked a question in the House with regard to this subject. I asked the Attorney-General whether he would take steps to amend the Sex Disqualification Removal Act, 1919, so as to exempt nuns and other congregations of women living in religious communities from liability to service on juries, seeing that the Schedule of the Juries Act, 1870, exempts peers, Members of Parliament, judges, clergymen, priests and others from such service. The Home Secretary replied:My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. The claim of nuns to be exempted from jury service should, in my opinion, be given favourable consideration whenever there is time for legislation on the subject, but I am afraid that I do not see my way to introduce a Bill for that purpose at the present time.It was undoubtedly a very busy Session in 1921, and it was very difficult to get legislation introduced which would exempt nuns from service. Since that question was asked, nuns up and down the country in various convents have been annoyed frequently by being summoned to serve on juries, and very great difficulty has been experienced in getting them released from this duty, so much so that 2105 on the day that I asked my question, the secretary of the Catholic Union of Great Britain wrote to the Lord Chief Justice on the matter. The Lord Chief Justice's reply was as follows:The Lord Chief Justice has directed me to reply to your letter of yesterday respecting the attendance of a sister belonging to the Community of the Convent in Little England Lane. The Lord Chief Justice regrets that he has no power to release the sister from attendance, but it is open to her to try to convince the officer of the Court, who is responsible, that sufficient members of the jury are available and that there is some sufficient reason why she should be excused. The persons summoned must attend to obtain their release or a medical certificate must be sent.8.0 P.M.
Mr. Franey, who is a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, got into communication with the office of the Master of the Crown, and he was unable to get this nun released. The Master of the Crown Office laid down that if the Lord Chief Justice could not exempt a nun they were unable to exempt her, and the only ground was a medical certificate. Fortunately in this case it was possible to get a medical certificate, and the nun was exempted from service. But this process has had to be followed on all these other occasions. It has been asked in this House whether a nun really has ever served on a jury. No nun, to my knowledge, has ever actually served on a jury, but it imposes trouble on them, and those who are working for them in order that they may not have to serve. This is the opportunity for settling the matter. A Juries Bill has been introduced into the House of Lords and brought down here. Before it received its Second Reading, I communicated with the Home Secretary and asked him if he would kindly receive a deputation consisting of two other Members and myself in order that this point might be considered. The two other Members were the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Major Hennessy) and the hon. Baronet the Member for East Surrey (Sir Stuart Coats). The Home Secretary replied that there was no possibility of amending the Bill, and that no useful purpose would be served by seeing myself and the other hon. Members.
It was the same Home Secretary who gave me the very sympathetic reply 12 months ago. I have the honour of representing a constituency in Manchester, 2106 which is part of Lancashire. We are sometimes looked down upon for our want of tact, but we in Lancashire look upon this want of tact as another way of saying that we mean what we say. When I got my answer from the Home Secretary last year, I took it that he meant what he said, and that on the first favourable opportunity he would give consideration to this matter. The Juries Bill is, I think, such an opportunity. When a Minister of the Crown is approached by Members of this House, the least he might do is to hear what they have to say. It may be annoying sometimes to have deputations from outside waiting on Ministers, but when three Members of this House, three faithful supporters of the Government, wish to put forward views, they should be heard. I am reminded of Dumas' great novel, the "Three Musketeers." I do not know that the Queen of France in those days was more faithfully served by Athos, Porthos and D'Artagnan than the Government of the day has been served by these three hon. Members, and I think that on an occasion of that sort, the least the Home Secretary could do would be to hear what we have to say. I feel it somewhat of a slight to have been turned down without being heard.
On the Second Reading of this Bill in this House the Home Secretary did not even deign to make a reply, but took the Bill as an agreed Measure. Since then it has been in Committee and again I moved an Amendment. The attitude which the Home Secretary has taken up is that if the door be opened on an occasion of this sort for one particular class of the community, he might have to grant similar concessions to other classes of the community. That is no argument. If any class of the community has a good case, that case should be heard. If the Government through their Minister say that they are favourably disposed, and there is no opposition to a proposal, it is futile to say that because other people may make a similar demand, therefore it has got to be turned down. I do not understand by what process of logic the Home Secretary puts forward reasoning of that sort. These other claims may be good or bad. If they are good they should be granted, and if they are bad, turned down. I am not asking for a special favour, but in common honesty something ought to be granted to nuns 2107 because of the position which they hold and any women holding similar positions—because virtually they are ministers of religion just as much as male members of the community—they should be granted exemption.
I beg to second the Amendment.
This Amendment was discussed exhaustively in Committee. Owing to reasons into which I need not enter, a Division was not taken upon it, but the Home Secretary would probably agree that if a Division had been taken on that occasion an Amendment probably would have been carried. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why was not a Division taken?"] The reason was that at that particular moment towards the end of the business it was found that there were only 19 Members, present, and if a Division had been taken it would have rendered abortive all the proceedings which had taken place previously, and the work would have had to be done over again. In response to an appeal made by the Chairman and others, those who are interested in the Amendment did not pursue it, and agreed to bring it forward on the Report stage. On that occasion my right hon. Friend resisted the Amendment, and based his resistance upon two main points. The first was that there was not the remote possibility of a nun ever being asked to serve on a jury. The other was that it opened the door to other claims, and the granting of this claim would make it very difficult to resist those claims. In regard to the first objection, if my right hon. Friend becomes convinced that it was not operative, and that he was misinformed, his principal objection probably would be removed.
I have here a number of original letters written to the secretary of the association referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for the Ardwick Division (Mr. Hailwood) by professed nuns who were called upon to serve, and who were perturbed and harrassed in their cloisters by demands for service. I ask my right hon. Friend to take advantage of the fact that there are these letters. I could get many more if necessary. They complain grievously of the hardship and, from the point of view of the writers, of the injustice of being asked to serve on juries. I will not detain the House by reading those letters, but 2108 they are genuine and very strong. Clause (3) of the Bill purports to give the sheriff power to excuse a person from attending on a summons when that person shows good reason for being excused attendance on a jury. But there is nothing in the Bill which defines what may be a good reason, which will therefore have to be gathered from the pre-existing law. The fact of being a nun is not of itself a good reason for being excused, and the Section goes on to provide(a) nothing in this Section shall affect the power of the Court or a judge to excuse any person from attending on a jury.These words, no doubt, are intended to prevent powers which exist at present from being diminished, but they equally prevent the reading into the Section of any extension of powers. Therefore, a judge is still to be without power to excuse a nun as such. My hon. Friend the Member for Ardwick dealt at length with the points which I intended to make with regard to applications that have been made to the High Court and Lord Chief Justice. Therefore I hope that what I have said will convince my right hon. Friend that, at any rate, the first part of his objection falls to the ground. With regard to the second objection—the opening of the door to other sections of society—it is plain that nuns as such stand in a category by themselves. My right hon. Friend instanced chief constables——
I think that the OFFICIAL REPORT will show that my right hon. Friend in his speech, in reply to my hon. Friend, did make use of these words. If that is not so, I apologise. People who claim exemption are not confined to one religion. These are ladies who have cut themselves off from the world and all its associations and interests and have voluntarily decided to go into a convent or nunnery and to devote themselves, from their point of view, at any rate, to work which is a more essential service than anything outside. They consist mainly of three classes. First of all there are the nuns who devote themselves chiefly to educational work. That work is well known and appreciated by the general 2109 community and by the Board of Education. The second class is the class that works in the under-world, in the slums, helping the poor and the needy. They are the Lazaruses who pick up the crumbs falling from the rich man's table, and they minister to the poor and suffering. Every Member of this House will know and recognise the work that is performed in this country by that sisterhood. They devote themselves to this work in spite of every inconvenience and hardship, denying themselves not merely of luxury but of the ordinary pleasures of life, in order to alleviate misfortune and suffering. There is the third class, those who voluntarily go into what are called the enclosed orders.
I remember about 30 years ago there was an old friend of mine who had a daughter, young, beautiful, talented, and a delight to her parents and friends. Much to the regret of her parents she decided to take the veil and to go into an enclosed order. The Home Secretary does not need to be told that that means that after due deliberation a young person taking such a step knows full well that from the moment she enters the cloisters she will never come out again alive. I appeal to my right hon. Friend and to the House to recognise, not merely what an absurd thing it would be, but what an appalling catastrophe and outrage on common sense and decency it would be, if one of these holy women was obliged to break her vows, to come out into the world, to go into a Court and to attend and sit in a jury box with others, and probably to listen to sordid and filthy details until her ears were polluted by things of which she had not the smallest conception. If this Amendment rested merely on the ground of the enclosed orders, that ought to be sufficient to make my right hon. Friend accept it. But, after all, suppose that my right hon. Friend persists in his objection and suppose the law is carried out, and suppose nuns were forced to leave their cloisters and to attend on juries. What use would they be? What service would they do? They know nothing of the world and of the things that are happening, and from the point of view of service on a jury they would be worse than useless. I appeal to my right hon. Friend that, having learned something more of the feeling of Members of the House since the Amendment was 2110 moved, he should accede to what is the almost unanimous wish of Members of all sections. I invite his attention to the list of names appended to this Amendment. Those names represent High Church, Low Church, Broad Church, Nonconformity, Roman Catholics and Jews. As far as I know, in the course of discussion of the Amendment there was not a single Member who said that he would vote against it. I appeal to the Home Secretary to take his courage in both hands and voluntarily to do an act of justice, wisdom and common sense by accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. SHORTT
As the House will recollect, this Bill was a very short Bill intended to make the compilation of the Jury Lists a much more economical matter than it is at present, and having regard to the state of business, it was absolutely essential that it should remain a small Bill, as far as possible an unopposed Bill, and that it should not have introduced into it great questions of a very controversial nature. I have had a great deal of correspondence and seen a great many people about jury exemptions, jury pay, and many other questions dealing with juries; and had I once consented to open the door to any of these questions, this Bill, from being a small Measure, would have become a very big and very controversial Measure. For that reason it was impossible for mo in any public way to accede to the request of my hon. Friends and to say publicly that I would accept an Amendment dealing with the exemption of any class, however negligible. From the jury point of view and from the point of view of their value in the Courts, I agree that nuns are purely negligible.
Had I excepted them I should have been inundated with all kinds of people, who are always pressing their claims for exemption. I do not mind telling the House quite frankly that I never had the faintest intention of defeating the purpose of this Amendment in the long run, but had I given way in Committee upstairs, or before that stage, I should, as I say, have been inundated by people, who would have said to me, "You told us that this was a small Measure into which big questions ought not to be introduced," and thus it would have become a controversial Measure, instead of being what it now is. I do not enter into the 2111 merits of the question at all. I do not think there can be very much doubt on that. I do not think any Member of the House considers that a nun from a convent would be a proper juror, or that she would be eligible for service as such. Coming to deal with the Amendment, I tried to see some of my hon. Friends responsible for it, including my hon. Friend the Member for North Newcastle (Mr. Doyle), and I think I have pointed out to him already what I propose and the way in which I propose it should be done. This Amendment, instead of being where it was originally put down—Clause 2, Sub-section (2)—has been transferred to Clause 1, Sub-section (2), and that makes a difference. As it read originally, it simply provided that the registration officer should put into the notice that he is obliged to publish on the church doors, and in other places, a statement of the law which was not the law. The Amendment would never save nuns from the legal liability to serve. It would only ensure the registration officer putting up notices that nuns were not to be summoned, although in fact under the law he would be bound to summon them. What I suggest to my hon. Friends is that in Clause 8, after Sub-section (2), the following words should be inserted:A woman who is a vowed member of a religious Order living in a Convent or other religious community, shall not be marked as a juror and shall not, although included in the jurors' book, be liable to serve on any jury.I may also point out as regards the Amendment on the Paper, that it does not provide for a case where a nun has her name put on by mistake. If it is put on by mistake the sheriff is liable to summon her. My proposal will provide against that. I hope my hon. Friend will not press the last three lines of the present Amendment:but shall treat such name as though it were exempted under the Schedule to the Juries Act of 1870, similar to the manner that certain men are exempted.I do not think those words do any good and they may lead to complications. I suggest that this Amendment should be withdrawn. What I suggest really carries out what is intended, but it should be moved when we come to deal with Clause 8.
§ Mr. HAILWOOD
The only point is as regards the word "vowed." Sometimes 2112 nuns are two or three years in a convent before they take vows, but I think that from the time they are admitted into the convent they should be exempted, even though they have not taken the vows.
§ Mr. ACLAND
Having listened to the whole Debate, I venture to suggest that, although very late in the day, the case of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment has at last been met by the Home Secretary, and it would be better for those interested to accede to his suggestion.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I desire to express my sense of satisfaction that the Home Secretary has accepted the Amendment. I may point out to the Mover and Seconder that it is not always the most effective way of carrying a reform, to give unqualified support to the Government of the day. I take it that not only was the irresistible justice of their case a reason why the right hon. Gentleman conceded the demand made, but that another reason was because—uninvited by the Gentleman in charge of this matter—my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. O'Connor) and myself brought all the pressure that a somewhat violent though small opposition could bring to bear upon the right hon. Gentleman. We have a right to congratulate ourselves on the fact, considering that the hon. Gentlemen who moved and seconded this Amendment failed in Committee, where, above all places, they ought to have succeeded. In Committee they had an opportunity of addressing the jury. All one can address here are the absentees. When a Bill is before Committee, one great advantage is that one has all the people who are to give their judgment on it listening to the arguments advanced, and one can get an honest vote. Yet though they had an irresistible case, a case that could not be met unless by the concession which the right hon. Gentleman made, they did not press the matter successfully in Committee. I am quite surprised. I respectfully suggest to the Mover and Seconder that when they come to deal with a vital matter of this character, affecting the Catholic Church in these islands, they should at least consult all Catholic Members of the House.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Neither my hon. Friend the Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) 2113 nor myself were ever asked for our support or consulted on this matter, yet I venture to say, had it not been for the pressure we brought to bear added to the case that was made, it is very possible the right hon. Gentleman would never have made this concession at all. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will contradict it.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
No, the right hon. Gentleman will not, because the hon. Member for Scotland Division and myself went to him about the matter, and he did not at all seem in a mood to accept the Amendment at that time and that is not very long ago. When he saw us here on the Benches and when he knew this matter would be fought with all the strength and violence of which we were capable, he came to the conclusion it was desirable from the Parliamentary point of view, to concede to people like our humble selves that which he would not concede to the lamblike followers of the Government. However, irrespective of who was responsible for the concession made, I am glad it has been made. When an appeal of this character was made by a number of ladies who have consecrated their lives to great, high, humanitarian and Christian causes; who have made such a splendid sacrifice as to give up everything sweet in life and dear to them, for the purpose of serving humanity, it would be a scandal to drag them out and compel them to perform the function of jurors. I therefore join in the congratulations which will be offered, I have no doubt, to the right hon. Gentleman for having accepted the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Captain ELLIOT
I beg to move, in Sub-section (6), after the word "lists" ["publication of the electors lists"], to insert the wordsThe registration officer shall also send a similar notice to any person whose name appears in the current dentists' register kept under the provisions of the Dentists Acts, 1878 and 1921, if he proposes to mark that person as a juror or as a special juror in any electors' lists.The explanation of the Home Secretary on the previous Amendment makes it quite 2114 simple to understand the Government's point of view that they were unable to make concessions, even those that were eminently just and reasonable, for fear of opening the door to others which would not be so just and reasonable, but they are willing to make these concessions although at the last moment, and however we may agree or disagree with the policy of standing out against Amendments but allowing them at the last minute, if they are to be allowed we are willing to take them at whatever stage in the Bill the Home Secretary desires to admit them. Therefore, I have the greatest confidence in moving this small and very reasonable concession which is asked for in this Amendment. This is no question of an added exemption; there is no question of exempting any new class of persons in this Amendment. The right of dentists at present to be exempted from serving on juries is admitted, and it rests on the Dentists Act, 1878, which says, in Section 30:Every person registered under this Act shall be exempt from serving on all juries and inquests whatever,and goes on to sayand the name of any registered person shall not be returned in any list of persons liable to serve in the Militia or in any such office as aforesaid"—that is to say, as a juror. The point is therefore quite simple and practical. At present registered dentists are exempt by law from as long ago as 1878, not only from serving on juries, but—and this is the point which we wish to press—from appearing in jurors' lists. Now it is proposed under the present Bill, as far as we can read, that they should appear on the jurors' list, and then, if they so desire, claim to be removed from the list. We ask the very simple and reasonable privilege that the returning officer should notify anybody whose name appears on a registered list of dentists that he proposes to mark him as a juror, and thus give the dentist a chance to point out that he is exempted under the Act. The difficulty of a busy professional man keeping in touch with the lists and schedules of various kinds, the various Government publications, is almost insuperable, and the least that should be done is that, when a man who is already exempted by law, and has only to claim exemption to obtain it, is about to be placed on the jurors' book, from which there is no appeal, if his name once appears on it, until the 2115 next occasion for revising the book, he should be notified by the officials that his name is about to appear on this list, and that he must claim if he desires to obtain the exemption to which he is already by law entitled. Under this Bill, under Clause 2, if a man's name appears on the jurors' book, he must serve, notwithstanding any exemption which the law confers on him, and it is claimed—and I think rightly claimed—that the present Bill is an infringement of an already existing right, and we desire to make sure that this infringement does not take place. There is no reason for putting this class of busy professional men to the added worry and trouble of themselves keeping au fait with the interminable lists of Government publications which are continually being poured forth from the printing press, and that the onus should be placed on these men of claiming exemption is an infringement of their present right, which is that their names shall not appear on any lists.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I bog to second the Amendment.
I hope, in view of the precedent afforded by the action of the Home Secretary on the previous Amendment, that he might perhaps shorten the proceedings by expressing his willingness on this occasion also to accept an Amendment which he could not do at an earlier stage, because, as he explained, he thought that if this action was taken he might be subjected to other claims. I have no doubt whatever that if we had had the intimation that he proposed to take the action he did on the previous Amendment, instead of proposing this Amendment we would have proposed an Amendment that dentists should be exempted from jury service. With no disrespect to the case put up by my hon. Friends on the previous Amendment, I think we might also have put forward an extremely strong case, because the, Dentists Act of 1878 states that a dentist will be entitled to exemption from jury service if he so desires. One may assume that a busy professional man would always desire to be exempted, and I think it might easily have been ascertained that that was the general desire of the profession, and it would have saved a good deal of cumbersome procedure and negotiation if that course had been taken.
2116 However, we have not put that forward, and, therefore, I must content myself with asking the Home Secretary to accept the Amendment we have proposed. After all, if the right hon. Gentleman has steeled his heart against any extension of exemption, this Bill ought not to be used to put any body of people, professional or otherwise, in a worse position than before. I am glad that, so far, the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me. What happens at present, as I understand, is that, before the list is made up, an intimation is conveyed to the dentist, and he has an opportunity of expressing his willingness or not to accept jury service. Under the Bill, that is not the position, and, as my hon. and gallant Friend has shown, Clause 2 gives an opportunity of over-riding the exemption which is given under the Act of 1878. All that we are asking my right hon. Friend to do is to say that the procedure, which, more or less, so far as it is possible to carry it out under the new procedure now existing, shall be continued, that a registration officer shall convey to a registered dentist the fact that he is about to make up the jury list, and that his name will go on automatically unless he objects. Under those circumstances, I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to accede to the Amendment.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I hope my hon. Friends will not press this Amendment. It really is quite unnecessary, and it is putting a wholly unreasonable and unnecessary burden upon the registration officer. After all, this Bill does not make the position of the dentist one iota worse than it was before. As it is to-day the dentist, if he chooses, can be exempted from jury service. He is, in fact, exempted, because his own choice decides it; but there is no notice given him today that he may be put on the Jury List. It is perfectly true in some few cases the man who prepares the Jury List sends out notices for information to help him make up his list, but there is no notice at all in the sense of the notice referred to in Sub-section (6) of this Clause. What will be the result if the Bill stands as it is? The only list to which the dentist will have to look will be the first, and then if he is put down as a juror or special juror and he intimates that he does not desire to serve, from that time onwards, so long as he remains in the 2117 district, the registration officer then knows that this man is exempted by his own desire, and cannot put him on the Jury List again without sending him the notice provided for under the Sub-section. Therefore, it can only refer to new men coming into the area, and to put on the registration officer, in an area where there may not be a local directory or information, the burden of ascertaining whether any man who happens to come into his area is a registered dentist with out any real benefit to dentists as a whole, is to put on him a wholly unnecessary burden. I can assure the House that this Bill does not make the position of the dentist one iota worse, but it makes it better in this respect, that from the time he has intimated that he does not wish to serve, he is protected by notice, as he is not at present.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
May I put this to the right hon. Gentleman? If the dentist's attention be not drawn to the list, and he has made no objection, then Clause 2 overrides the privilege that he has at present, and he is then compelled to serve, although the Act of 1878 says he shall not be so compelled.
§ Mr. SHORTT
One must take the whole circumstances into account. I am not going to say anything about the fact of a man not taking the trouble to find out, but all he has got to do, under Clause 3, is to exercise the new power given under that Clause, and write to the Sheriff, "I am a dentist and an exempted man; therefore, I do not wish to serve on the jury to which I am summoned." I cannot imagine the Sheriff not writing back, Baying, "Certainly you are exempted." Really, the position is no worse.
§ Mr. SHORTT
If a dentist to-day does not take the trouble to intimate that he does not want to serve as a juror, he is bound to serve, just as under this Bill. It is no worse.
§ Captain ELLIOT
The right hon. Gentleman admits that, under the present Act, dentists do receive notification in certain areas.
§ Mr. SHORTT
No. What I said was that some of the people who prepare jury lists send out letters asking for information, and in that indirect way, no doubt, 2118 in some places they get that information; but there is no question of sending out notices.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I rather regret the line which the Home Secretary has thought it right to take. He has got to the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour, and there would have been no danger of other classes coming in, if he had made this rather small concession.
§ Mr. ACLAND
That is the ground I am suggesting he might have taken. Last Session a Dentists Act was passed, which consolidates and defines the dentist's profession, and removes altogether the point the right hon. Gentleman made as to the difficulty of ascertaining who was or was not qualified. I have been spending all to-day trying dentists for things they ought not to have done, and I have lost my voice in the process. It is all in the endeavour to make into a real profession what ought to have been a profession long since—the honourable profession of dentistry. I regret that the Home Secretary has not been able to find any way of meeting the case put by my hon. Friends. I cannot regard the dentists' rights under Clause 3 as being worth very much, because under that you only refer to the power of a Court or judge to excuse any person attending on a jury, and the Court or judge, as one may see in many cases, may not unlikely take the view that once a name is on the list, though he has not had his attention called to the list—and people do not study lists of persons affixed to church doors or kept in public offices—the person summoned is bound to attend. I think it would have been more becoming on the part of the Minister in charge to recognise the considerable work which his colleague the Minister of Health has done in helping to pass the Bill which really does establish the profession and art and science of dentistry if he had tried to do what he could to meet this case.
§ Amendment negatived.