§ Mr. DENNIS HERBERT
I beg to move,That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Law relating to Solicitors.This Bill is one which is intended to remedy a defect, or to stop a loophole, in the lair relating to disciplinary measures against solicitors who are guilty of professional misconduct. Many Members of the House will be aware that 765 matters of discipline with regard to solicitors have been entrusted by Statute to the Law Society, acting through the Council of that Society; and a Statutory Committee set up under Act of Parliament deals with all applications which are made against solicitors, subject to appeals to the Courts. In serious cases, the usual punishment of a solicitor who has been guilty of professional misconduct or of an offence against his client. is either to strike him off the Roll of Solicitors, or, in the somewhat less serious cases, to suspend him from practice for a certain time. It has been found that that punishment in some eases has been evaded to the very serious detriment of those who are not aware of the suspension and who may get into the hands of the defaulting solicitor. It is in order to remedy that defect, that this Bill has been prepared. It is brought forward at the instance of the Council of the Law Society, the Parliamentary Committee of which has thrashed out the terms of the Bill very carefully, and, if the House gives me leave to introduce it, it will be introduced in exactly the same form as it actually passed in another place towards the end of last Session, but too late to be dealt with by this House.
I am authorised to say that the Bill in this form has the approval of the Lord Chancellor's Department and also of the Master of Rolls, who is the Judge who has the appointment of the Committee of the Law Society who first deal with these cases; also that it has the approval of the Attorney-General, a member of the Government and Leader of the English Bar. I am happy to he able to say that the Bill will be supported by an ex-Law Officer of the Labour party and an ex-Law Officer of the Liberal party. It is a simple Bill to meet what I may call a crying scandal from, which members of the public are apt to suffer. I hope, therefore, that the House will give me leave to introduce it, and that it may pass into law at an early date. I desire only to say that, if leave be given to introduce the Bill, it will he printed at once, and, if any hon. Member would like any further information about it, I myself or any of the Members whose names will be found on the back of the Bill, will be very happy to give that information or any explanation which may be possible. I am taking the oppor- 766 tunity of this method of procedure in the hope that, having the goodwill of the Government behind the Bill, we shall have the goodwill of the Members of the House generally, and that it will be given its Second Reading after Eleven o'Clock one night, in order that it may go before a Standing Committee as soon as possible.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Dennis Herbert, Sir "William Bull, Sir John Simon, Sir Henry Slesser, and Mr. Withers.