HC Deb 02 May 1930 vol 238 cc587-9

I beg to move, in page 4, line 6, after the word "chairman," to insert the words "or acting chairman."

I understand that the Government are prepared to accept this Amendment, which is an improvement of the Bill.


indicated assent.


I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


I should like—[HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] I do not know what objection there can be to my occupying about five minutes—[HON. MEMBERS: "Another Bill!"]—in connection with a matter on which I am entitled to say a few words now that we have reached the Third Reading stage of the Bill. The Bill has been prepared as a result of the report of Mr. Justice Finlay's Committee, of which I was a member a few years ago. While I wish to express my satisfaction at the Bill arriving at this stage and passing, as it will in a few minutes, its Third Reading, there are one or two points to which I should like to call attention. The Bill suffers from one or two blemishes, which Parliament may perhaps have an opportunity of putting right at some future date. One of those matters was referred to in the Committee's report, and I am sorry that it has not been dealt with in the Bill.

One of the greatest hardships to poor persons in criminal cases is the necessity of appearing before quarter sessions to appeal from a petty sessional bench, and being obliged to give security to the court before they can do that. There is nothing in the Bill which enables the magistrates or any court to relieve the poor person from the necessity of being obliged to give security to the court in case of an appeal to quarter sessions from the petty sessional bench. I hope that some opportunity may be found of putting that matter right. I do not suppose that it can be done without legislation, but I would direct the special attention of the Home Office and the law officers to the matter, in case the Lord Chancellor's department may be able to give further consideration to this rather important point.

Another point—[HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] I do not know whether hon. Members opposite have anything to say on the Third Reading; if so, perhaps they will get up and say it.


On a point of Order. Is it in order for an hon. Member on the Third Reading to raise matters relating to items which are not in the Bill? Are we not bound to deal with what is in the Bill, instead of what is omitted from it?


The hon. Member is quite right. On the Third Reading of a Bill we confine our remarks to what is in the Bill.


I am sorry that I have made a mistake, but as it is an important point I hope that I may be forgiven for having referred to it. The further point to which I would call attention is the provision that is made in the Bill for the payment of the costs of solicitor and counsel who are engaged in cases of the kind referred to in the Bill. It is appreciated on both sides of the House and expressions of appreciation have been made from the Bench, that great work has been done by both branches of the legal profession absolutely gratuitously in civil cases under the Poor Persons' Rules. The question may be raised as to why there should be provision in this Bill for the payment of costs. In case any question should be raised on that point, I only want to say—I believe I am right and perhaps the Bar will back me up in this—that the only remuneration which in ordinary cases might be paid under this Bill will be remuneration which will be far less than that which would be required if these members of the legal profession were employed in the ordinary way, and the justification for that is that in these particular criminal cases, if members of the profession are called upon to do this work without any payment at all, they are called upon not merely to give their professional services gratuitously, but are called upon in fact to put themselves to considerable expense in travelling and in other ways in order to carry out the work. With those few remarks I want to express my satisfaction that the Bill is to be carried through in pursuance of the desires of the Committee to which I have referred.