§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN
With regard to the Amendment standing in the name of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood)—in page 50, to leave out from the word "force" in line 38 to the end of line 40— I think it is consequential on one of the Amendments to Clause 54. I shall be glad to hear the right hon. and gallant Gentleman upon it.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I did not know it had any connection with Clause 54. Clause 62 deals with the qualification of special jurors. The fact that the rateable value of a farm has been cut down under this Bill would normally exclude from the ranks of the special jury a large number of farmers. Their houses, being assessed at an artificially low value, they will cease to be qualified for special jurors, and under this Clause the Government seek to rectify that and to keep their farming special jurors, although they live in houses whose rateable value would not otherwise qualify them. It seems to me that is not very desirable.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
At the moment, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is going into the merits of the Amendment. What I want to get from him is the effect of it, a point on which I am not quite clear.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I beg to move, in page 50, to leave out from the word "force" in line 38 to the end of line 40.
A farm at present let at £100 a year will be assessed at £40 a year, and therefore the farmer will be qualified as a special juror. Under the new scheme his house alone will be assessed at, say, £10 a year and he will cease to be qualified as a special juror. Under this Clause as it stands, he will be restored to the ranks of the special jurors by these words:if the property is not included in that list the net annual value thereof for Income Tax purposes,which is the full rateable value of the farm. So that if these words remain in, the farmer will still be eligible as a special juror, and if the words are taken out, as my Amendment suggests, he will cease to be eligible. I do not think special juries are to be encouraged. I do not want to see a larger number of recruits for the special jury lists, and I do not want to see farmers as special 137 jurors. They are a body who will always give any case against anyone who calls himself a Labour man, and very often Liberals will suffer equally forcibly at their hands, and I cannot think this House will be ready to give these rights to people who live in houses assessed at less than £10 a year. It seems to me they are trying to get the best of both worlds. They are trying to get an artificially low valuation for their houses, so as to pay no rates, and they are trying at the same time to get rights as special jurors. I would gladly see all special juries swept away. The ordinary jury is quite enough for me. I can see no reason why we should give this special privilege to a class which already has special privileges enough.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
I do not know whether the right hon. and gallant Gentleman regards service upon a special jury as a privilege or a burden. When he began, I rather thought he was going to say that no one who lived in a highly-rated house should have to bear the burden of serving on a special jury, but as he developed his argument, he appeared to think that no one who lived in a highly-rated house should have the privilege of serving on a special jury. Whatever his views may be about jurymen, and whatever experience he may have of the verdicts of juries, the value of the services of the farming class upon special juries is such that we desire to retain the advantage of their common sense and experience in the administration of the law.
§ Amendment negatived.