HC Deb 24 November 1926 vol 200 cc391-3

asked the Attorney-General whether he can now state what action is to be taken as regards the retention of their commissions as justices of the peace by those justices who, either by word or deed, prevented, or endeavoured to prevent, any person, or persons, from carrying out their lawful work since or during the general strike in May last?

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)

The Lord Chancellor has received complaints about the conduct, during the general strike and the subsequent labour troubles, of 61 magistrates. In four of these eases the magistrates had been convicted. In three other cases they had been bound over, and one magistrate had been discharged under the Probation of Offenders' Act. In 27 of the cases reported to him, the Lord Chancellor has not considered it, necessary to call on the magistrates for any explanation of their conduct. In 18 other cases he has received satisfactory replies to his demands for explanations, and has decided to take no further action In four eases the Lord Chancellor, after receiving explanations from the magistates concerned, has cautioned them. Of the remaining magistrates as to whom complaints were made three have been removed from the Advisory Committees of which they were members, but have not been removed from the bench, and in six cases the magistrates concerned have been removed from the bench My Noble Friend has the remaining three eases under consideration.

In the Duchy of Lancaster the Chancellor has received seven complaints regarding, the conduct of justices since and during the general strike in May last. Explanations have been asked for, in every case, from the justice concerned. In one case the Coln-plaint was found to have no grounds in one ease the explanation given was satisfactory, and no further action was taken; in three eases the justices were cautioned; in one case the justice was cautioned and removed from the Advisory Committee; and in one case the iustice was removers from the bench. No Lancashire justices have been convicted by or summoned before a Court of law.


When a magistrate is removed from the Advisory Committee, does that mean that he ceases to be a magistrate?


No, Sir.


Will the Attorney-General inform the House from whom the complaints were received by the Lord Chancellor?


No, Sir, I have, no information.


May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the House is not entitled, when the right hon. Gentleman gives a reply to the effect that complaints have been received, to know by whom those complaints are made?


The Attorney-General is replying for the Lord Chancellor.


Can the Attorney-General account for the different treatment meted out to the leaders in the general strike, namely, the General Council, and those people who merely obeyed their call, when His Majesty's Government invited the leaders of the general strike to Buckingham Palace to meet the King, while they prosecuted poor people who carried out their wishes?


Arising out of the Attorney-General's answer, should I be entitled to lodge a complaint with the Lord Chancellor against a bench of magistrates in Derbyshire whom I saw at work the other day?


That depends on the nature of the complaint.