HC Deb 11 May 1925 vol 183 cc1593-626

Order for Second Reading read

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William JoynsonHicks)

I beg to move, "That the Bill he now read a Second time."

I am exceedingly sorry to take up the time of the House at so late an hour, but I must say a few words. The Bill was before the House in 1923 and again in 1924. The object of the first part of the Bill is to improve and develop the system of probation of offenders established by the Probation of Offenders Act, 1907. The whole House, I think, will agree with me that it is entirely desirable to keep people out of prison as long as it possibly can be done. It may interest the House to know that over 12,000 persons were placed on probation in this country last,year, very many of whom it must be assumed would have been sent to prison if they had not been so placed on probation. The provisions of the Act of 1907 have been approved by the magistrates and by a Committee of the Home Office, but they have not been carried out in all the Courts of the country. The Act has been carried out most successfully in some of the Courts and the number of cases of pro bation have increased since the original Act was passed in a wonderful degree. In 1907 and the succeeding year the number of those placed on probation were 10 and 11 per cent. and in 1.923 this number had increased to 18 per cent. In large towns, and particularly in London there have been spleildi d results. There are, however, one or two counties —I think, perhaps, there is no need to pillory them—which have no z taken advantage of the Act and have no probation officer. We want to have a probation officer appointed to every single Court in the land.

In spite of all that has been done and this wonderful member of 1'2,000 people placed on probation last year, the Prison Commissioners report to me that 3,462 lads between the ages of 16 and 21 were received into prison. Nearly half of them had no previous conviction. That means that about 1,700 lads who hail never been convicted before were sent to prison last year, and there were 383 young women of the same ages. of whom 42 per cent., who had never been previously convicted were also sent to prison. What I want todois to give a better chance to these 1,700 young lads nod150yonng women to escape prison.

As everybody approves of this system. I do not think that there is any likelihood of any objection being taken to this part of the Bill, but I am told that there is some fear that the provisions of the Bill which makes compulsory the appointment of a probation officer in every area—the appointment being made by a committee of Alagistrates——the great voluntary agencies are going to be, so to speak, knocked on the head by the provisions of this Measure. I was on the committee and treasurer of a good many of these organisations long before the Home Office or the Government took up probation work at all. Thirty or 40 years ago I had a large numberofpolicecourt missionaries under my care. I began rather early, and I shall be 60 years old next month, so that I am not far wrong when I say that between 30 and 40 years ago I was treasurer of the Church of England Temperance Society in the diocese of Canterbury, and I had a great deal to do with this work, and I should be the very last person in the world to try to cramp in any way the work that is being done by these great voluntary organisations.

In fact, when this Bill came before the House last year the right hon. Member for Twickenham took a very active part in opposing this portion of the Bill, until he obtained an undertaking from the Home Secretary of the day that he would do nothing to interfere with these great organisations, and I am now prepared to carry out the undertaking of my predecessor which was given to the right lion. Gentleman the Member for Twickenham. In order to do so, I propose to move an Amendment to make it quite clear that, It shall be lawful to appoint as a probation officer for any area, or to name in a. probation order as the person to undertake supervision in any special case, a person who is the agent of a voluntary society, and any sums payable by way of salary, remuneration or otherwise under this Act to such an agent may he paid to the society. I should explain that "voluntary society" means a society carrying on missionary work in connection with police courts, or other work in connection with the supervision of offenders. That brings in the whole of these great voluntary organisations who now receive nominations for police court missionaries—the Salvation Army, the Church Army and other organisations. They will remain. Magistrates will appoint the probation officers, and the remuneration of these men will be paid direct to the society, subject, of cours, to the control of the Home Secretary, to see that the money is properly expended, being public money.

I may now refer to the principal objects of the other portions of the. Bill, which are based on the recommendations of Committees presided over by Mr. Justice Horridge, Sir Archibald Bodkin, Director of Public Prosecutions, by Mr. Justice Avow and Mr. Justice Talbot. The object of the latter Clauses of the Bill is first to benefit accused persons, and second to benefit other persons such as witnesses, jurors and others. With regard to accused persons, the object is to enable a man to be brought to trial more quickly than at. present. Very often a man is committed by the preliminary court for trial at Assizes or Quarter Sessions, and there is no convenient Assize or Quarter Sessions to be held for three or four months in that particular district. Take, for instance, the home area. A man committed in Sussex at the end of July will have no Assizes in Sussex until December and he will be kept five months in prison awaiting trial. On the other hand, the Central Criminal Court in London is sitting practically all the time. One of the provisions of the Bill is that, where there are no Assizes coming on rapidly, a man may be sent for trial to the Central Criminal Court, and similarly not only with regard to the Central Criminal Court in London, but to other places.

11.0 P.M.

For instance, Manchester is a much more convenient centre for people who are committed, say, in Stockport, than is Chester—more convenient for the unfortunate prisoner, for the witnesses and for everybody connected with the trial. We want to see, first of all, that there is as little delay as possible, that the man should be brought to trial whether at Quarter sessions or at Assizes, as quickly as possible; and. secondly, that he should be brought to trial at the most convenient place for himself, the witnesses, jurors, and so forth. In Clause 16 we extend the jurisdiction of Quarter Sessions so that the offences enumerated in Schedule I of the Bill, which at present can be tried only at assizes, can be tried at quarter sessions. Take, for instance, such an offenco as stealing from an offertory box in a church, it may be stealing a few coppers. That case has now to he sent to assizes for trial. An offence of that kind and many other offences set out in the First Schedule will become triable at quarter sessions. Then we provide also that a number of indictable offences can be tried summarily. These are stated in the Second Schedule. But in order to protect the interests of the accused person we provide that his consent must be obtained before summary trial can take place. Clause 20 is to give greater flexibility in the dates of quarter sessions. They will he able to be held, within three weeks before or after the usual quarter clay, and the Court will be able to fix the dates of quarter sessions right through the following year, so that everyone will know exactly when they are coming, and the court will be able to fix convenient dates for all parties concerned. As we are increasing the provisions with regard to summary jurisdiction, it is only right to increase the powers of appeal which will be given


On a point of Order. Is it absolutely essential that this Bill be finished tonight.? The Home Secretary with commendable promptitude is rushing through a lot of controversial matters in a most important Bill. It is very improper that they should be run through in this perfunctory manner


The hon. and learned Gentleman, I suppose, was not present on Thursday last when the House agreed to an arrangement


It was not anticipated that the Debate on the Budget Resolutions would take such a long time. The result is that instead of the Debate on those Resolutions concluding at 10 o'clock, it was Ten minutes to Eleven o'clock when the Home Secretary rose to explain this Bill. This is a matter of supreme importance. I appeal to the Home Secretary to accede to the. request which has been most reasonably made, thatweshould have time for reasonable discussion on the very serious matters rased by this Bill


I am exceedingly sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite should have accused me of having dealt with the Bill in a perfunctory manner


I hope the right hon. Gentleman will pardon me. On the contrary, I was very much impressed with the fairness of the right hon. Gentleman's explanation, and with his evident desire to let us all get home early. I was sorry that a Bill which admits of so many controversial points should be dealt. with in such a short time, and I would be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to give us time for a proper discussion


I should be sorry to appear obdurate, but there are very few points other than Committee points in the Bill. I think the House knows I am not unreasonable in these matters, and I shall be only too glad to consider any points mentioned by either of the hon. and learned Members in the course of the Debate and in Committee I hope we shall be able to adjust any little differences which may exist. The Bill in its present form has passed through both Houses already and I understand that it is practically non controversial, except in matters of detail. There is one Clause which I wish to mention. At the present time if a man who pleads not guilty is placed on probation he has no right of appeal. I propose to give a similar right. of appeal against aprobation order as there is against any other" order of the Court Again a man very often pleads guilty the hope of getting a short sentence, and receives a shock when he finds he has been ordered a heavier sentence than he thinks fair. At present having pleaded guilty in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction he cannot appeal. I propose that such a man should have a right of appeal against the severity of the sentence. I think that is only fair. A further Clause which some Lon. Members may think controversial, does away with Grand Juries at Quarter Sessions. I mink on the whole we worked exceedingly well without Grand Juries at Quarter Sessions dieing the War. There has been a great deal 01 pressure put upon me to do away with Grand Juries altogether, but there are two points of view on that question. I think it fair to begin by suggesting that they should be done away at Quarter Sessions, and if anybody objects strongly to that proposal, as I understand some hon. Members do, those objections can he Hut forward in the Committee against the views of those who consider that they are an anachronism and should be done away altogether. The Government will be prepared to consider all the points submitted. I do not know what is the real feeling in the House regarding the question of their abolition. Grand Juries have been one of the institutions of this country for many centuries, and it may be desirable to preserve them at Assizes. I am quite sure, however, there is no real desire for them at Quarter Sessions, and I hope the House will pass this particular Clause.

It is also proposed to make certain documents, such as fiats and consents of the Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General or the Director of Public Prosecutions, direct evidence in themselves. Instead of somebody having to attend to prove the document, it will simply be put in evidence. We want to shorten the process of criminal trial and to save some of the expense which, at present, undoubtedly attaches to it. I also suggest that it will help if a certificate of a man's wages is made admissible as evidence. It is proposed that in summary cases where it is desirable to prove a man's wages, a written certificate from the empolyer should be received asprima facie,evidence and, unless it is disputed, as conclusive evidence. This will obviate the attendance of witnesses to prove a comparatively trivial matter. Clause lo provides that where several crimes are committed by one man in different places they may all be tried at the same place. At present, when a man has committed a series of burglaries in different counties, he has to be taken from one county to another to be tried for one burglary after the other. A few forms will be simplified. There is only one remaining Clause which, I think, needs mention separately, and that is Clause 30, a new Clause, which enables a search warrant. to be issued. If a justice is satisfied by information on oath that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that an indictable offence has been or is about to be committed, he may issue a warrant to search the property named in the warrant, and then a search may take place. The Director of Public Prosecutions has asked for this Clause, which was recommended by Mr. Justice Talbot's Committee. The primary object of every Criminal Justice Bill is to find a guilty man guilty and to let an innocent man go free, andwebelieve that this power, advised by the Director of Public Prosecutions, will go a long way in certain cases, such as those lie has had recently before him, to enable the guilty man to he convicted.

There is a small Clause to prevent photographs of the parties being taken in Court. Everybody has suffered for a long time by prisoners in the dock and witnesses being pilloried by having their photographs taken, and this is to prevent that happening. There is a Clause which some of my hon. Friends behind me are, I will not say interested in, but anxious about, which proposes to increase the penalty, for persons who are drunk in charge of a motor car—anxious, I mean, of Course, on public grounds. The Clause is of a twofold character, dealing with those who are drunk while in charge of a motor car and those who drive to the public danger. I understand from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport that he will be bringing in next year a Bill dealing with the whole motor question, and possibly the question of dangerous driving should be left over till then, because that, I hope, will be a substantial alteration in the law, probably, and will be fully debated next year


Could not the question of drunkenness while in charge of a motor be left over to be dealt with under the Ministry of Transport, having regard to the powers which already exist in various Acts of Parliament which will ultimately be coordinated by the Committee now sitting on motor legislation 1


The evidence before me is that the present penalties are not sufficiently severe. There are 104,000 more motors on the streets today than there were at this time last year. They are increasing at the rate of 100,000 a year, and the streets are becoming hopelessly congested in many parts of the country. I have taken, as the House knows, a very great interest in the motoring world for years past, and I am no enemy to motorists, but I am an enemy to all drunken motorists. It may be a Committee point, and if anyone can convince me otherwise I should bow to the decision of the Committee, but I think and hope the House will feel that, with this increasing number of motors and with the magistrates and the Director of Public Prosecutions saying to me that the existing penalties for drunkenness while driving are not sufficient, it is my duty at all events to put that Clause in. I hope I have not trespassed too long on the courtesy of the House in dealing with this Bill. If it had not been so late, I might have let myself go at greater length


Will the right hon. Gentleman say a word about Clause 40 before he sits down?


Claus 4n enables a constable to execute a warrant, even though it is not in his possession at the time. Of course, a constable is responsible if he arrests a man without a warrant at all, but very often warrants may be issued, and there may be more than one constable employed in seeking a criminal. So long as the warrant is issued, we want the criminal to he arrested. If a man is wrongfully arrested when there is no warrant, he has his remedy. But., so tong as it has been issued, it may be in the hands of John Jones, and William Smith may actually make the arrest. There have been difficulties in that respect. There is another Clause I ought to have mentioned with regard to warrants. At present,ifa warrant is issued in one district, and the criminal slips into another, the warrant has to be backed by a Magistrate in the new district. After all, when a warrant has once been issued by a competent Magistrate, I think that should run throughout the whole of His Majesty's Dominions—at least in England. I assure my hen Friends it was not. my fault or my desire to have a Bill of this character taken at]0 or 11 at night, but I am bound to fit in with the convenience of the House, and I understand that arrangements were made, when I was not actually present, by the Front Benches on both sides, for the convenience of the House. I hope, after such Debate as is necessary, the House will give me the Second Reading of this Bill


Even at this late hour it would be quite impossible for me to say a word at all on this Bill without expressing my own personal distress that the Attorney-General is not able to be present tonight. I am sure that the cause of his absence is a matter on which we all feel very deep regret. So far as I, and, I am sure, those who sit behind me are concerned, we intend most loyally to carry out the arrangement, and to give the right hon. Gentleman the Second Reading of the Bill without a division, and, J. hope, very shortly. The points which we desire to raise are mainly Committee points, which may he more conveniently dealt with in Committee, but there are two points I want to bring before the attention of the House and the Home Secretary tonight, because it is not convenient to deal with points of such importance for the first. time in Committee.

The first point arises in regard to the application of Clause 11. There are, I know, a great many Members of the House who are very interested in this Clause. It is not merely a lawyer's point, but is a matter of public interest, and it concerned me very greatly all through last year. During the last few years there has grown up a practice—and I am attacking no one in carrying out the system which has been adopted, and is properly carried out by the officers concerned—that in cases of crime committed, and perhaps most frequently in cases of murder—and in some very recent cases of murder there have been very good examples—the police have reason to suspect a certain person the crime. In a case of the kind an officer is frequently sent down from headquarters, and the person suspected is either seen at his own house, or is invited to come to the station to give statement of all he knows about the crime. Very often he is a man poorly educated, and generally—and inevitably—terrified. It is quite true that he is given what is known as the statutory caution. But he is cross examined by the police—in cases within my own knowledge—for hours and hours, until, it may be, three o'clock in the morning, and every word he says is taken down in shorthand or longhand—as the case may be—and the man, frequently drugged with terror, is quite incapable of giving the account that, he ought to give. It may be that he deliberately invents something which he knows is not true because he thinks it will sound plausible, and it is taken clown, and a little later he stands in the clock—because frequently within a few minutes of the statement a hand is placed on his shoulder and he is told—it being perfectly well known beforehand—that he is to be detained.

This statement, frequently running into thousands of pages, is there. Whatever the man states in his defence, there is his signed statement, given to the police officer. It is quite impossible for him to have a fair trial. I do not say that that necessarily means that an innocent man is convicted, but it does mean that every man who has been subjected to that examination does not get that trial that we pride ourselves he ought to get. He is hampered from the very outset. There is not a single person connected with a large criminal case within the last three or four years who has not been obsessed by the danger by reason of that process. I have known it myself. Many members of the House know it. It really is a most serious danger. We talk about the Third Degree in foreign countries. I am not suggesting that what happens is analogous, or better, or worse than that. But it is not fair. If the Home Secretary consults what I may call the official mind I know the answer he will get. It is done on purpose to detect crime. I want it to be quite clearly understood that nothing I am suggesting is intended to prevent the police from making any inquiries that they may want to do even from the persons they may subsequently arrest. What I do object to, and what, I believe, other hon. Members do object to, is that where these things are brought before the person's notice they should be subsequently used against him on trial. So long as the police are making inquiries they are entitled, in the public interest, to make all inquiries they think proper, whether or not the person is later going to be charged. But it is an entirely different thing to say that they may use their powers to make inquiries, and then supply the results to the prosecuting counsel in order to ensure or assist conviction. It really is not fair. I put it to lion. Members, there are thousands of men who, if arrested suddenly tonight, say, for some serious offence—and I am not putting this in a flippant spirit but as a matter of course—and took at:; o'clock in the morning, with policemen standing all round, that they had to give an account of their movements during the last week, would not they probably say that it would not sound well to explain all their movements, and would slur over some of the things and give an account not quite accurate; and then in the witness box, when they said that they were at So and so, out would come the statement, and they would be confronted with: "Last week you told the police you were somewhere else." Which is more important—you have had it said: "Here is a man admitting that he lies." There was no reason why he should have lied, unless he was guilty. For my part I say frankly that, although these statements may help to convict people who are guilty, I would infinitely rather some of the guilty got off that one innocent man should be convicted by reason of statements of this sort, and I am sure everyone in the House feels the same. I am quite convinced that if the Home Secretary will not only consider what I say, as I am sure he will, but will ask the opinion of members of his own party, who really practice and know these things, they will tell him there is a very grave danger indeed in this system which has grown up in the last few months. I need not mention the names of cases, it is far better that they should not be mentioned, because it only stirs up a certain sense of resentment in people's minds, and no good can be done by it; but recently, within the last 12 months or two years —in order to give a wide period of time—there have been cases of men who have been crossexamined for hours and hours, up till 3 o'clock in the morning, by the police, and immediately arrested


What the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying may be quite right, but it is not in consequence of anything that is put in this Bill


Oh, no no. It is only because in Clause 11 it refers to the confessions of prisoners in certain conditions that it seemed to me this would be a very apt. Bill in which to introduce some limitationor theexisting practice which has grown up, and would I am sure serve a purpose to which every Member of the House would subscribe. At the same time I warn the Home Secretary, if I respectfully may, that if he merely seeks what I may call the official view he will be told that, as things stand at present, convictions are more readily and easily obtained, which is true. But I do not think that is the one guiding principle the House is most concerned with. I urge upon the Home Secretary seriously to consider the matter before the Committee stage, and see if he cannot assist those of us who are concerned in the matter to briny in some protection of this sort.

There is only one other point, and that is the new Clause. As the Home Secretary has said, practically the whole of this Bill was the Bill for which I was responsible in the last House, and therefore it is one I could not, even if I desired to, question in its general principles. It is Clause 30 which is the new Clause. I suggest to the Home Secretary that that is a very dangerous Clause, especially as it is worded. We need not examine it word for word, but what it says in substance is this: That anybody, any police officer, any individual, may go to a magistrate and state that he has reason to believe, not that a crime has been committed, but that a crime is going to be committed, and thereupon the magistrate may issue a warrant to search the house of anybody: any single living person may have his house searched merely because some other person has sworn an oath that a crime is going to be committed, not by the owner of the house, not by a person who is in any way connected with the crime; but because a crime of some sort is going to be committed, a magistrate, if he thinks fit, without any evidence on oath that any particular house or premisesisconcerned in the matter, may, upon his own opinion, order the house of anybody, however remotely connected with any information, to be searched from head to foot by the police. I cannot think the House is anxious that those powers should be given.

I frankly confess it shocks me and I believe it would shock any member of the House who thought we were giving these powers. It is not even the House of the supposed criminal. It is not the house of a person in any way connected with. the crime. I think the Home Secretary might reconsider that clause. Magistrates have wide powers now to grant search warrants, but this renders every house in the kingdom open to search merely on the information of a complete stranger, who may have a very serious grudge against somebody. A man might go to a magistrate and say, "I think my chauffeur has stole some petrol out of my house and that it has gone to the house of Mr. Jones further down the street; "and the magistrate may order a search warrant to issue and Mr. Jones, who has never heard of the petrol or the chauffeur may have his house searched by the police; and if Mr. Jones is out the door may be kicked in by the police. It is an appalling prospect, and I think the Home Secretary will agree that the Clause requires a little more consideration. I am not wholly unfamiliar with the more professional and official mind on this matter, and I sympathyise entirely with them. Their object is to detect crime, and the mere fact that Mr. Jones may suffer inconvenience is, in their view, only a small matter compared with the major matter of the detection of crime. But while it is desirable that crime should be detected, there must be some limit. We seem to be arriving at the stage when we are ad concerned in locking everybody up and searching everybody else's house, and I think the Home Secretary will agree that this power might reasonably be curtailed. There are other points of detail upon which I hope some little concessions will be made, but those are the two main points to which I attach importance, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think them any less serious because I have put my points in as few words as possible


Perhaps it will be more convenient if all the points with which we are concerned are mentioned now. While associating myself with the points which have been raised by the last speaker, the only other matter I wish to refer to is that raised in the Amendment placed on the Order Paper, with which many other hon. Members have also associated themselves, and which draws the attention of the Home Secretary to the constitution of the tribunal which has to deal with many of the offences covered by this refer to the position of the chairmen of Quarter Sessions in the. countries. I am not making any reflection on the efficiency of or capacity of any individual chairman or deputy chairman of Quarter Sessions, but the function of these officials is essentially to direct juries on points of law, and, therefore, I thinkweare right in asking ourselves, before we put more duties on Quarter Sessions, whether it is reasonable to ask that the persons whose duty it is to direct others on points of law should not themselves have some knowledge of the law on which they are called upon to direct juries.

The position at present is that, if a man happens to be convicted in a borough which possesses a Recorder, he may be quite sure the jury will be directed by one with some knowledge of the law and of some standing, but if he happens to be convicted in a county he may be brought up before an estimable country gentleman who, however much he may be respected and esteemed in that county, may possess no knowledge whatever of our legal system.

Coupled with that, the Home Secretary is proposing to remove the Grand Jury. I am one of those old-fashioned persons who very much regret this decision to remove the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury is a protection to the prisoner. I am unable to understand how anyone who wishes that the prisoner should have every possible opportunity of defence should think it an enlightened, or a progressive, or a valuable thing to remove the protection of the Grand Jury. Anyone who has studied history will know that at the beginning of the last century, when we had a Home Secretary rather less merciful than the right hon. Baronet who now adorns that office, and when the political prosecutions of that time were in full swing, the Grand Jury of the City of London threw out one after another of them, and so saved people from standing their trial. It is argued that today the Grand Jury very seldom functions, and that, therefore, we can do away with it; but even if in a few cases it saves a man from the necessity of standing his trial, I say the institution is worth preserving. I do not suffer from the Bolshevik desire of the Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite to destroy all these ancient, venerable, and useful institutions. Still, as they have decided to do away with the Grand Jury, in their passion for destruction, it becomes even more important that the Chairman of Quarter Sessions should have a knowledge of law. At present he has to read the depositions in order to charge the Grand Jury, but this necessity will now disappear, and he need take no trouble at all.

Then comes a matter of detail rather than of principle: how is this qualification to be laid down? My suggestion is that the proper officer of State for dealing with this matter is the Lord Chancellor. Today he appoints magistrates, and on the whole, with every respect for the Home Secretary's powers over Recorders—which I am not suggesting are not perfectly properly exercised—I think the Lord Chancellor is nearer to what might be called a Minister of Justice than the Home Secretary; and, if you are inaugurating a new control over the appointment of Chairmen of Quarter Sessions, I think the Lord Chancellor is the proper person to exercise it. That, however, is a matter of detail; the fundamental thing is that someone should have the power to disapprove My own view is that, once the power of approval were given and embodied in law, the Quarter Sessions would be so careful not to risk the chance of being snubbed by making an unsuitable appointment that they would in every case appoint a Chairman and Deputy Chairman well versed in the law. I think it would have that effect in practice, and that the approval would very likely go through as a matter of course.

We have a precedent for this. I believe that the Recorder of the City of London may be elected by the Corporation, but must not act judicially until his appointment has been authorised by the Crown. I do ask the Home Secretary to consider, before this Bill goes to a Committee, whether this reform is not needed, and whether, if he studies the records of the Court of Criminal Appeal today, he will not have to admit that many of the appeals that come before that body are due to the fact that Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of County Quarter Sessions have hopelessly misdirected juries on points of law. I do not see any objection. It is an innovation, but not nearly so great as the destruction of the Grand Jury, which leaves the Home Secretary and previous Home Secretaries quite unperturbed. For these reasons because considerable new functions are to be given to Quarter Sessions, and because the Grand Jury is being destroyed—I ask the Home Secretary to consider very seriously whether some control should not be given to the central authority over the appointment of Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of County Quarter Sessions


I consider this Bill one of great importance, and I very much regret that it only came on at ten minutes to Eleven. I make no apology for speaking on the matter. I agree very largely with the hon. and learned Member for Wallsend (Sir P. Hastings), the ex-Attorney-General, as to the matter to which he referred. I do not think it is dealt with by the Bill, and it is a matter which, to my mind, requires the most careful consideration. I regret that it has not been dealt with, because in that sense we have not applied our minds to the considerations which, in my judgment, are most just and desirable in the interests of prisoners in the administration of the law I wholly agree in regard to that, without making any charge against the police. I have known in my practice and experience that two men may be arrested. They are put in separate rooms and kept there confined for hours until at last one believes the other has given him away, and then he makes a statement and his statement is read over to the other man He admits it and a conviction is thereby obtained. We know they are guilty but I object to the way the conviction is obtained, and I wholly object to the way that people who are not very well educated are dealt with and their evidence is afterwards used against them at their trial. I do not think the Bill really deals with that matter. I think it should. It is a matter that we ought to raise now if any Amendment or new Clause is to be introduced which may deal with it. It is exceedingly important to hear what the attitude of the Home Secretary is.

I am not enamoured of the suggestion that the chairman of the Court of Sessions should be approved by the Lord Chancellor. The difficulty I feel is that the Lord Chancellor has no universal knowledge. How can he say who is a proper man for the appointment? He can only make enquiries, and in my judgment the justices of the County, if they act with independence, are far better able to judge whether or no the particular chairman proposed is a suitable man to hold the position. One always recognises that even. Recorders made great mistakes, and indeed some of them possibly greater mistakes than Chairman of Court of Sessions.

I regard with great anxiety this question of the probation of offenders. I do not know whether the House realises that for the first time we are going to introduce a system of salaried officers, who may be entitled to superannuation. I think they live very largely on the salaries, of their secretaries and other officers. My experience of the criminal law is not drawn from London. I have had very little experience of it in London, but I have had great experience of it in the country, and speaking from my experience, 99 per cent. of these young fellows—I do not think I remember a young woman—might he simply discharged on their own recognizances. I think it is true that the policeman, being more drawn from these classes, gets to know the people of the village, and many a young fellow is brought into a criminal court while in a higher class of society he might have escaped because the policeman does not associate there. Where are these young fellows to go? Why cannot they be bound over in their recognizances without this probation officer? The setting up of these salaried officials will increase the charge upon the rates, which already press so severely upon the people, more particularly the poor. I protest against that, and I appeal to the Home Secretary to pause before he takes a step which will increase the rates by the payment of these officials. He has given us no justification for it. I approve of so much of the Bill, that if it goes to a Division I shall vote for it, wholly apart from party; but unless we impress upon the Home Secretary the points to which we object we may get no concessions in Committee. So far as the question of probation officials goes, the voluntary system was adequate. I object to setting up this profesional paid system, a sort of civil service of paid officials under the Bill.

Under this Bill we are greatly increasing the jurisdiction of Quarter Sessions. I do not object to that. On inquiry, I find that, substantially, there is no greater reversal of the decisions or the directions of Chairmen of Quarter Sessions in the Court of Criminal Appeal than there is of the decisions of His Majesty's Judges or Recorders. That is a great tribute to the Chairmen of Quarter Sessions. While I do not object to an increase of the jurisdiction of Quarter Sessions or of the offences that can be tried at Quarter Sessions—and I approve of the rights of appeal against conviction at Quarter Sessions—I object entirely to the recognisances that have to be found by the appellant. I object to a poor man—he may be a working man, or the son of a working man not yet in work—being called upon to find money as a condition of his right of appeal. That is wrong. A person may plead guilty, and an outrageous sentence may be imposed upon him, but if he wants to appeal he must find recognisances.Weought not to put any impediment in the way of en appeal for a reduction of sentence. The murderer can appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal against his sentence without paying a farthing. If the Home Secretary cannot see his way to allow a person to receive his right of appeal without payment, could not he say that the appellant shall not pay more than £5. I wholly object to these sums which may operate penally in regard to a man's struggle for his character and his future life in the hands of justices, and I do ask my right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary, to consider whether or not he cannot reduce that to a nominal sum


The hon. and learned Member may be assured that will be dealt with


I am glad my right hon. Friend says that, because I do feel very strongly on this point. Of course, there are a great number of cases of appeals at Quarter Sessions against magistrates summary convictions, and it is a most serious thing

Lieut.-Colonel WATTSMORGAN

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman talking about Clause 25?


It is not in the Bill at. all


It is in the Bill. The hon. member on the opposite side, coming from the colonies, is not so familiar with law in this country as I am. The Bill says: A person who after pleading guilty is convicted of any offence by a court of summary jurisdiction shall have a right to appeal in manner provided by the Summary Jurisdiction Acts to a court of quarter sessions against his sentence. I may remind the hon. Gentleman what the Jurisdiction Acts provide. I notice he shakes his head. That may be weakness, not knowledge. Recognisances have to be fixed. I am not concerned, therefore, with any ignorant interruption. Having said that I hope I have silenced the intelligence of Wales on the point

Lieut.-Colonel WATTSMORGAN

The hon. and learned Gentleman has not told us yet what is the number of the Clause


I have read it. I am not responsible for the powers of the ears of my bon. Friend, and therefore I now proceed to another point. My right hon. Friend the late Solicitor-General spoke and I entirely agree with what he has said in regard to Grand Juries. In my opinion they are of great value. I do not understand why they are reserved to the court and assizes and removed from the Court of Quarter Sessions. I know cases in my own knowledge, eases in which I was counsel, in which the Bill has been thrown out by the Grand Jury. When you are increasing the jurisdiction of the Court of Quarter Sessions I think it most important that the Grand Jury should be retained. The only argument that I have heard against it is the inconvenience that would be caused to twenty-three of His Majesty's subjects by having to attend on four days in the year to, serve on the Grand Jury if there are any cases for trial. That objection arises from pure laziness and is one which has no real foundation. I believe in upholding the old principals of liberty on which we have worked and which has been found to be so efficient by our forefathers. We shall not improve on them. I shall most strongly support the retention of the Grand Jury for Quarter Sessions as well as for Assizes. The point is one of great importance and I regret very much that some hon. Members who do not follow its importance should have interrupted me as they have done. Notwithstanding that I make no apology for my remarks. I wish to retain every existing protection for the prisoner whether he is guilty or not guilty. It is for the Crown to prove their case and if the Crown do not prove their case then the prisoner should he free in accordance with the principle for which this country has always stood



I am very sorry that we have to rush the consideration of this Bill through so quickly. At the same time I must congratulate the Home Secretary on the. lucidity with which he got through his task. I shall endeavour to imitate him rather than the last speaker, and avoid all minor criticisms. There are one or two comments which I ought to make on the Bill, not with the view of dividing against it. but in order to bring the Home Secretary's mind to bear on these questions when they arise in committee. The Bill greatly enlarges the jurisdiction of quarter sessions. One would expect that when the jurisdictions are enlarged the safeguards for justice should be strengthened. I do not think that these safeguards have grown in proportion to the extent of the increased area of jurisdiction. Take the Petty Sessions. Ever since 1879 lay magistrates have been quite properly given authority, with the consent of the accused, to deal summarily with indict able cases that otherwise would be sent forward. Now they are given a very much enlarged jurisdiction, but nothing whatever is done to safeguard their interests or the interests of justice. I will give two illustrations. At the present time, before the magistrates can deal with an indictable offence with the consent of the accused, the magistrate has to make up his mind whether or not the case is a trifling one. By this Bill an exceedingly novel and very drastic alteration is put in, that before the magistrate asks the unfortunate man whether he will consent to have his case dealt with summarily, the magistrate has to ask the prosecuting counsel to state everything that he knows about the character and antecedents of the man. That means that: before the man is tried, reversing one of the fundamental principles that obtain in all other criminal courts, his whole past has to be exposed. That having been done, the magistrate can say "We will try you summarily." Does anyone think that it is in human nature to rob your minds of the inflammatory particles that have been placed in it by the recital of the man's past five minutes before? If the magistrate says "Your past is so black that what seemed a trifling case is really an important one, and we will send it forward to the Assizes," will not the newspapers get all that, and will it not prejudice the man's fair trial before a Jury?

This is a matter that I am the first to comment upon; I take credit to myself that I am the first, judging by my fellow barristers, to notice this in the Bill. I do not think the proposal is fair to the accused, and I ask the Home Secretary seriously to consider whether it should he changed, notwithstanding that it is based on the Report of four gentlemen who have acted as Crown prosecutors all their lives. There is another matter that has been referred to and that is also of importance. At the present time, suppose that the person convicted at Petty Sessions desires to appeal. It is in the discretion of the magistrate to say, "You must give sureties that you will turn up at the appeal and to cover the cost of the appeal," and the amount of the surety is entirely in the discretion of the Magistrate. They may make it £20 or £50. Most of these persons are very poor and magistrates are very human beings If a magistrate has given a decision in a doubtful case and would like the matter to end, in his own mental confusion the last thing he would desire would be an appeal, and he has an easy way of getting out of it by saying, "My poor friend in the dock, do you want to appeal? You must get two sureties that you will turn up and they will be responsible for the costs in £50 each." Result, no appeal. It is a power given to the magistrates to deny justice to the poor man. That is bad enough at the present moment, but when one reflects that by this Bill we enable magistrates for the first time to deal with a long series of indictable offences and give for the first time appeals from sentences, it will be seen that to require a person, before he is able to appeal from the decision of lay magistrates, to find money which he is not bound to find if he is appealing from quarter sessions or assizes is an anomaly and an injustice, and I hope it will be removed.

There is one other point I should like to stress, and I certainly will assist my hon. and learned Friend, the late Solicitor-General, in trying to put this matter right in Committee. Not only have you enlarged the jurisdiction of the magistrates at petty sessions, but you have immensely enlarged the jurisdiction of the appeal magistrates at quarter sessions. First you have given them a greater original jurisdiction—summary jurisdiction and secondly you have given them el) appellate jurisdiction over a larger area of summary jurisdiction, and thirdly you have given them jurisdiction to hear appeals from sentences. Quarter Sessions are made very important bodies—nearly as important as assizes. What happens? Trials at quarter sessions have to be conducted before a jury. Lay members of the House may laugh at lawyers, and they are sometimes entitled to do so, but there is one thing we lawyers can claim—that it is only by long years of training that the human faculty is able to classify quickly and put facts in the most telling sequence and achieve that balance of the pros and cons which is necessary in an address to a jury. The ablest mind, naturally and without any training, is wholly incapable of suddenly and quickly collecting* facts that have come out in evidence and putting them in proper order and in their true perspective before a jury. To-day yen have two sets of Chairman and guar ter sessions. In the counties the chairman is always a highly reputable man, a county magnate of some sort, but a man who may not know anything about law and probably does not. In some towns you have learners, paid barristers of five years or more standing, and trained men. The anomaly exists today that while in some boroughs like South Molton with only 3,000 population, there is a qualified man of five years' standing to put the facts of a case before the jury, in a county of an immense population there the work to be done is of precisely the same class, you have the same task entrusted to a gentleman who knows nothing at all about the law and has no mental training in that direction. That is an anomaly at present; itisan absolute disgrace when taken in connection with the extension of jurisdiction of the quarter sessions. There is many after points I should like to make but those are the two predominant ones. The subject to those, I have no hesitation in saying, I think this Bill answers very truly to the memorandum of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General —the cause of absence tonight gains the sympathy of all of us. It can be said of h that it does away with a great deal of the delay now existing in the administration of criminal justice. It does lessen the expense. It does do away with a good deal of public inconvenience, and it does put an end to that absurdity with which I, and others, have been so familiar, of witnesses being called from very long distances to prove documents which really are of the purest formality. I do wish: ell of the Bill, and, if amended in the two directions I have mentioned, I think will have done more than many of the more dramatic and sensational Measures that have passed through this House since I have had the honour of being a Member


Even at this very late hour, I hope I may crave the indulgence of the House as a Member rising to address the House for the first time. It has seemed to me that, within the purview of this Bill, there is a number of proposals, novel to many of us, and, perhaps, not fully acceptable to some. The provisions as to the probation of offenders, among other new proposals put in the Bill, can, doubtless, be urged by hon. Members with the feeling that there is nothing to be said against them, but there are proposals in this Bill which are very far-reaching, and which will result in grave changes being made. I could not help feeling, when the Home Secretary was speaking, that he made rather makeweights of the proposals with regard to the reckless driving of motor cars and the taking of photographs in the precincts of the courts. These two small Clauses, very reasonable and very commendable in themselves, do not exhaust the ambit of the very far-reaching proposals to which we are asked to assent tonight. The main suggestion about taking photographs in court will meet with everyone's assent. It is a pity, no doubt, that it could not be extended to taking photographs outside police courts of the whole of the people who are concerned in these causes celibres. and all round prevention of the Publicity attaching to cases which had better be left much less commented upon than they are at the present time.

But these proposals, in themselves, do not exhaust the ambit of the Bill. I should like to comment upon the observations which fell from the right hon. and learned Member for Wallsend (Sir P. Hastings) with regard to police inquiries at the time investigations are proceeding in murder cases. It seems that no one can prevent, and no one would wish to prevent, the police from making, all reasonable and proper inquiries. Those inquiries serve to get a guilty man apprehended, but what might be done, as it seems to me, in this Bill, is to make evidence obtained by the police in the course of the inquiries inadmissible in a court of law. That is an entirely (Efferent proposition, and one which, I hope, will commend itself to the Home Secretary. The position of quarter sessions under this Bill will he very gravely altered. It may he that some hon. Members have not fully considered the enormously increased jurisdiction which will be given to quarter sessions by these proposals. There are seven new offences which are liable to he tried by quarter sessions which now can only he dealt with by the Assizes. The Home Secretary, in his commendation of the Bill, referred to the stealing of money from offertory boxes. No doubt that is one of the offences, but, looking at the First Schedule of the Bill, which is rather a long Schedule, there are included unlawful combinations and. conspiracies to cheat and defraud, offences under the Post Office Act, the Perjury Act, and the Forgery Act, and other offences, on which a very careful direction may constantly be required of the learned chairmen of the quarter cessions to the jury. One will therefore see that it is not so simple as it was made out to be in the first moment of being commended from the Treasury Bench. There are, in addition to that, 18 offences which are at present indictable, which it is proposed shall be dealt with summarily, and, although one wants to support, naturally, the cheapening of procedure, and the quickening of criminal procedure, making the trial of prisoners more rapid and more expeditious, at the same time one cannot help regretting, I think, that even in pursuance of an agreement, this late hour of night is chosen for taking the Second Reading of this Bill.

I do not for a moment wish to oppose the Second Reading, but I do feel, and I hope the Home Secretary will feel when he replies, that there have been many Committee points raised. The weight which is cast upon quarter sessions by this Bill is a heavy one. Our judicial system is, of course, admired by foreigners, and is a pride amongst ourselves. Not only that, but our unpaid judiciary are a body of men who have the support and confidence of the entire population of this country. But you can place upon the camel's back a burden greater than it can bear, and this perfectly worthy body of men, often without legal training, who are undertaking duties of a very onerous nature, without remuneration, will, I venture to suggest, find themselves, under this Bill, charged with new responsibilities, and the public will find, perhaps it cases, that they have new ground for criticism and new ground for disapproval. We do not want the system of magistracy in this country to break down, nor do we want to see placed upon it new and additional burdens possibly greater than it can bear, Several hon. members opposite, including, I think, the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney), referred, in much better terms than I can do, more or less to the same point. I hope the Home Secretary will consider it carefully when he is dealing with these proposals, not from any point of view of the public being dissatisfied at the present time with chairmen of quarter sessions, or with the way in which they do their work, but from the point of view that they are hardworked servants of the public, doing the best they can in very difficult circumstances, and that that best will be made far more difficult by putting upon them a new and an extremely hard burden. I do hope these Committee points will be taken into consideration. I thank the House for so kindly listening to me, and apologise for taking up so much of its time


I hope anything I may say will not be construed into putting a premium upon drunkenness. I believe that drunkenness is a very bad thing for pedestrians, and, therefore, it should be a much worse thing for a driver of a motor car. In Clause 38 of this Bill there is a penalty imposed up to 3 months' imprisonment, or a fine not exceeding £50, or both. At the present time, there are the Stage and Hackney Carriage Acts, which deal with penalties for drunkenness, the Motor Car Act, and the Locomotive Act, all at which have penalties for drunkenness; and, lastly, any magistrate can take away definitely for a period, or for good, the living of a driver charged with being drunk. The hon. Member opposite had already been through that indignity—though not for the same reason. The licence can be taken away, and what greater punishment can be given to a man who is caring his living by driving cars?

There is at present a Committee sitting under the saris of the Ministry of Transport which is going into the whole question of motor legislation. I ask the Home Secretary whether he will agree that this clause should be withdrawn so that it may be submitted and properly codified under the Bill which will deal with Road Transport as a whole? I am sorry to note that the Home Secretary does not seem to take that suggestion; but when one considers;that the penalties are being enlarged and that a more rigorous discipline is to be exercised, one wants some assurance that greater care than hitherto is going to be taken by the police. At the present time any policeman can stop any driver and accuse him of being drunk in charge of his car. A driver, of course, has the right, when in court, or at the police office, to ask for his own private doctor. I have known many of these cases personally. The driver asks for his own doctor. Generally, however, he arrives about four hours after the police doctor, and then the excuse is made that the man has made rapid strides towards sobriety during the period he was waiting for his own doctor. The man, in consequence, is not always convicted for drunkenness but for being under the influence of drink. The fact that The power of the magistrates allows them to take away a man's licence or to fine or imprison him under the various Acts I have cited puts one in rather a quandary as to how many more Acts are coming in. If there are many more we shall have to have a gamble as to under which Act. a man is to be charged.

It does seem ridiculous on the face of it, when Committees are sitting, going into the whole question of motor legislation, that this should be incorporated in this Bill. I again ask the Home Secretary whether, having regard to the fact that, literally, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of these people who earn their living by driving cars, not for pleasure, will be brought within the purview of this Bill, and their living possibly taken away, to reconsider the matter. It may be of interest to the House to know that. despite the apparent necessity for this Clause. in prohibition America the number of drivers charged is 100 per cent. more than in this country. That is a most. remarkable thing. The records last year show a percentage of 4.7, as against 2 in this country. Here is our country when you can get liquor when you want it. provided the places are open: yet you have half the number of convictions compared with the United States ! That you are introducing a Clause like this in face in what I have just said is ridiculous. I hope the Home Secretary will see that the Clause is withdrawn, and the matter dealt with by a competent body under the Ministry of Transport, where penalties for drunkenness, with proper safeguards for the individual, can he brought before the House

Lieut.-Colonel Sir JOSEPH NALL

T am sure the House will have listened with pleasure to the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Goodman Roberts). Doubtless, owing to the lateness of the hour, he has not said all he would like to say, but we hope to hear him again on other occasions. On the question of persons in charge of motorcars being convicted of drunkenness, I want to differ from my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. B. Smith). This is not a question for the Ministry of Transport, which has nothing to do with the ordinary organisation of the traffic, or the policing of the roads. It is a criminal offence, which ought properly to be dealt with by the Home Office. It is a matter in which the law requires strengthening, in order that those persons who drive to the public danger may be properly and promptly punished: and I hope the Home Secretary will stick to the Clause he has in the Bill.

The real object for which I rose is one of public interest; I did not want to go into any Committee detail. It has been suggested that this Bill is going to save a good deal of expense with eases in court. That is, no doubt, time; but it is going to increase the public expense under another heading, under Part I. Like all Bills of this kind, it means more officials, more expenditure, more calls on the public treasury. I would like to ask my right hon. Friend how much he proposes to expend under Part I?


It is in the White Paper

Sir J. NALL: I am sorry

; I have overlooked it. When are we going to have the Financial Resolution authorising the expenditure?


I hope very shortly


This Part I of the Bill is very curious. Under the Act of 1907 permission was given to magistrates to appoint probation officers, and local control was established. In the Act of 1914 power was given to properly-recognised voluntary societies, but again local control was retained. After the War a Departmental Committee was set up, presided over by the right hon. Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir J. Baird), and that Committee reported in 1922, after taking a great deal of evidence. I would quote one or two brief passages from the report. One, on page 22, says The existing law is, generally speaking, adequate. If the existing law, that. is, the 19071914 Acts, are adequate, why do we propose in this Bill a very great extension of Government interference? This Bill proposes to make the appointment of these probation officers compulsory on every court. It proposes to authorise the Home Secretary to spend money on salaries, fix probation areas, provide superannuation allowances and gratuities, to prescribe the constitution, procedure, powers and ditties of probation committees, and, most important of all, contributions may be paid towards these things from the Exchequer. I venture to suggest that there is absolutely no need for this new expenditure from the public Exchequer. Further, this Committee of 1922 referred very pointedly to what, after all, is the important fact in this matter. On page 7 they say: The probation officer hitherto. owes much of his success to the relationship he has been able to establish with the probationer who looks upon him as a friend, not as an official. To turn the probation officer into a new class of civil servant would we believe tend to destroy his valuable influence. Yet, in spite of that Committee's recommendations in 1922, it is now proposed to turn these probation officers into officials of no particular missionary abilities or responsibilities; in short, to abolish that contact and influence which is the great value of the present system. The Committee said again on the same point: All the witnesses, including the magistrates whom we consulted, were unanimous in attaching great importance to the missionary work of the Courts and expressed the opinion that it is essential to the proper administration of justice. We agree with this view and are strongly of opinion that in appointing and fixing the remuneration of probation officers, courts and local authorities should not discriminate tee narrowly between probation work and missionary work. Are these new Treasury officials going to be missionaries as well as probation officers? Because, if they are not, how is that contact between the two branchea to be worked? The missionary side of the work is the bigger side of the work of these officials. The present voluntary societies who provide these men find that an overwhelming percentage of the cases they deal with are on the missionary side rather than probation cases. In one year missionaries of one society dealt with over 9,000 cases of domestic difficulties—nothing to do with probation; while 2,222 cases were dealt with at the request of magistrates, of which only 27 per cent, were probation cases. In a total of 3,000,000 cases only 61,000 had been probation cases. What does it mean? The Courts are not going to appoint these new civil servants, who will be paid out of the local rates, sub-sidised from the Exchequer, to do the missionary side of the work. If they are going to appoint these officials all over the country to do the probation work, societies or somebody will still have to undertake the missionary work, and there will be two officials, two sets of machinery to do the work which is now done by the one body. I quite appreciate the Amendment or Amendments which my right hon. Friend proposes to make in relation to some of the points that have been raised. There are one or two other Amendments equally important in this connection which in my view are essential. My right hon. Friend has not seen his way so far to accept them, but I think they call be accepted in Committee. They will enable the more unnecessary expenditure which may be incurred under this Bill to be avoided. I only hope that when this Bill comes to the Committee stage my right hon. Friend will sec his way to accept all the essential Amendments, which will enable the voluntary societies to continue their work, not only in the interests of their work, but in the interests of the local ratepayers and the Exchequer. I hope and believe that this can be done and that these points can be met in Committee


There are one or two points upon which I should like to say a word. On the question of probationers, I associate myself with what the last speaker has said. The part dealing with probationers in the Bill as it stands is compulsory for all petty sessional areas. Accepting all that the Home Secretary has said with regard to the matter of probation, I should like the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider that position and to make probation, with respect particularly to rural areas, permissible. It is adding expenditure upon the shoulders of these areas where there is practically no crime and where hitherto the work has been done effectively by the church or chapel. This additional financial burden should not he cast upon the shoulders of these areas. The Bill, so far as they are concerned, should be permissible only. Then there is Clause 14, Subsection (2). Hitherto, when a man has been acquitted there is the end of the matter. This Clause gives direc tion to a prosecutor, provided he makes the application within a period of seven days from the date when the decision of the court was given, power to make an appeal to the House of Lords. That is averygrave departure from the law as it stands. The law as it is should be maintained. I am rather suspicious that the object of this Bill is to overcome the difficulty that was experienced in a case a year or two ago. It is better that difficulties should be experienced. When a man has been acquitted it is better that the matter should be left as at present. Another point is Clause 18 and the proviso to that Clause. That Clause provides that in certain circumstances a court of Quarter Sessions, after decision, shall be required to state a case for the decision of the High Courts. But in certain circumstances a court of Quarter Sessions may refuse to state a case. If a court of quarter sessions is of opinion that an application under this sectionisfrivolous it may refuse to state a case. But the proviso goes on to say: Provided that the court shall not refuse to state a case where the applicationismade by or on behalf of the Attorney-General. I cannot conceive the Attorney-General making an application which could be termed frivolous. If he makes a frivolous application, what is the object of the proviso? The position of the Attorney-General should be that of the ordinary prosecutor. Another point to which I desire to draw the attention of the Home Secretary is Clause 22, Subsection (2,b).Here you have the same principle of giving to the Law Officers of the Crown a privileged position. It says: Where the prosecution is being carried or by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the court shall not deal with the case summarily without the consent of the Director. The Director, if he appears before the magistrates, should appear like an ordinary prosecutor. He should not also be the judge in his own court. If the magistrates think fit not to commit a man for trial, the decision should be final, notwithstanding the fact that the Public Prosecutor appears for the prosecution. This appears to be a great departure from the Criminal Law as it stands. I hope the Home Secretary will see his way clear to make Amendments providing that the last word in murder trials should not be given to the Law Officers of the Crown except on the same basis as it is given in the case of other crimes. I should like to associate myself with what the hon. and learned Gentleman, the late Solicitor-General, said with regard to the appointing of competent men for the jurisdiction of Quarter Sessions. They should be competent men who carry out the duties, and I hope the Home Secretary will see his way clear to give information on these points


I only want to say one word which may tend to shorten this discussion. I represent a Committee of the Law Society which has considered this Bill very carefully; indeed, not only this present one but its predecessors, and I would like to say that they regard this Bill as so valuable that they support the Second Reading most heartily. Every question raised tonight has been considered and threshed out most carefully. All points have been dealt with and carefully considered by an experienced committee, who have come, as I say, to the conclusion that the Bill is so extraordinarily valuable that there ought to be no risk of losing it through any discussion


There are only two points to which I wish to make reference. The first is with regard to probation officers. I think everyone in all parts of the House welcomes the extension of the probation principle. I think we all recognise also the exceedingly valuable work done by the missionary societies. The work of the probation officer cannot be distinguished altogether from that of the missionary, but at the same time, I think that the Home Secretary must hold the balance evenly between the societies, many of which are societies of different denominations, and the cases of prisoners put upon probation who may not necessarily wish to fall into line with some particular religious view. There is one point in reference to that, I think, he should carefully consider in those areas where there is only the one probation officer for each sex. I suggest he should satisfy himself in appointing that officer that no religious test should be put upon him, and that if a society does put such a test he should see that it is not. made a test for the probation officer whom he appoints for a district. The other question I want to raise is on Clause 40, a Clause which enables an arrest to be made without a warrant being in the possession at the time of the person making the arrest. It is perfectly clear that there is no reason why a police officer, not having a warrant, should thereby be debarred from making an arrest, but the danger is that a purely unauthorised person, not a police officer at all, should be able to intimidate and arrest him under the law. At the present time the ordinary citizen is protected from anything of that sort by saying, "Show me your warrant." What is to prevent any unauthorised person from posing as a police officer and attempting to make an arrest in that way If there is no such power, I suggest that is a point to which the Home Secretary might give his attention


On Clause 39 the provisions which deal with the taking of photographs, I assume those provisions there are not. in the interests of the Court, but of public decency. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will consider before the Committee the possibility of extending the provisions so that the taking of photographs of certain persons standing for trial shall apply to taking them outside the Court and not only inside the Court


I have listened with very great care to the various suggestions made, and I am much indebted to all hon. Members who have raised the points, but the House will understand that with regard to the latter portion of the Bill relating to jurisdiction I should not like to answer definitely the points raised until I have had an opportunity of considering them more fully. But I think the general feeling of the House is that nobody is against the Bill, and that they would personally vote for the Second Reading. That being the case, I will consider all the points between now and the Committee stage and will consider any Amendments that may be put down.

Question, "That the Bill be now read Second time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee

  1. ESTIMATES. 57 words
Forward to