HC Deb 28 April 1925 vol 183 cc21-3
32. Mr. G. HARVEY

asked the Attorney-General whether the Lord Chancellor is prepared to consider promulgating a rule whereby 'justices of the peace who have not attended at least one-quarter of the sittings of the Bench, to which they have been appointed, shall automatically relinquish their office?

The ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)

In the Lord Chancellor's view it is not practicable to promulgate a rule such as that suggested by the hon. Member. The Lord Chancellor constantly takes action in individual cases in which justices of the peace remove from the areas for which they are appointed, and take no part in the magisterial work. I ought to point out that many magistrates who do not attend the sittings of the Bench, undertake a considerable amount of those duties which may be described as "ministerial," and also that in some cases magistrates who have rendered long public service on the Bench are disabledbyage or illness from regular attendance.


asked the Attorney-General whether the Lord Chancellor, having regard to the indications that dissatisfaction exists in many parts of the country with regard to the methods of procedure whereby justices of the peace are appointed, will consider the setting up of a committee to re-examine the whole question.


I must refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to his question on the 11th March last. The Lord Chancellor is not aware that dissatisfaction exists with regard to the present method of selecting justices of the peace, which is based on the recommendations made by the Royal Commission in 1910, and he is not prepared to appoint a committee to re-examine the question.


May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman if he is prepared to accept from me evidence that there is dissatisfaction with the existing conditions?


I think my hon. Friend will be much more usefully employed if he sends any information direct to the Lord Chancellor.

34. Sir F. NELSON

asked the Attorney-General, with reference to appointments as justices of the peace, if he is in a position to state whether the Lord Chancellor is prepared to request Lords Lieutenant to convey to advisory committees that when vacancies occur the opinion of the Chairman or Senior Magistrate of the Bench concerned should in all cases be invited before any recommendation is forwarded?


; Lords Lieutenant and advisory committees are at liberty to consult any person they may think fit with regard to persons whom they propose to recommend for appointment to the Bench. The Lord Chancellor believes that in many cases Lords Lieutenant or members of advisory committees consult the Chairman or Senior Magistrate of the Bench concerned before submitting names for appointment; but he is not prepared to direct that this course shall in all cases be followed.

Lieut.Colonel Sir JOSEPH NALL

May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend whether the advisory committees in all cases will be asked to advise before appointments are made, in view of the fact that the last Government made appointments without reference to the committees?


I am afraid I cannot answer for a preceding Government. Under the present system, my Noble Friend the Lord Chancellor does receive the advice of the advisory committees, and acts upon it.


asked the Attorney-General whether the Lord Chancellor is prepared to intimate to advisory committees that recommendations for appointments as Justices of the Peace should be directed exclusively towards strengthening and maintaining the efficiency of the various Benches and without regard to political considerations?


The attention of all members of advisory committees when they are appointed is drawn to the recommendations of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Selection of Justices of the Peace. Those recommendations recognise the importance of strengthening and maintaining the efficiency of the Bench by appointing persons of high moral and personal character and general ability, and the Lord Chancellor has no doubt that these matters are the first consideration of the advisory committees when they recommend persons for appointment. But the Royal Commission further recommended that the Bench should include persons of all social classes and of all shades of political opinion, and if this recommendation is to have effect, the Committee must, in making their selection, have some regard to these matters.

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