HC Deb 29 November 1933 vol 283 cc868-9

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has considered the petition received from Montserrat protesting against the passing of Ordinance 8 of 1933, which provides for the treasurer sitting as a magistrate in cases in which the Treasury is itself prosecuting; and whether he is prepared to recommend the disallowance of the ordinance?


For reasons of economy it has been found necessary to combine the posts of Commissioner, Magistrate and Treasurer. The Commissioner is enabled as Treasurer to exercise a general supervision over the Treasury, but he does not in fact advise that a particular case should be brought before him, and whilst being Prosecutor in name, takes no active part except as Magistrate. All proceedings are conducted by the Assistant Treasurer. The Commissioner's functions as Magistrate are general and are not, of course, limited to revenue cases. As the hon. Member is aware similar legislation exists in other parts of the Empire where the numbers of staff are limited. In these circumstances, while I have considered the petition to which the hon. Member refers, I am not prepared to advise His Majesty to exercise his power of disallowance in respect of this Ordinance. The Governor of the Leeward Islands is being informed accordingly.


Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that it is a suitable arrangement and in accordance with our British ideas that a Treasury official should be judge and prosecutor Would it not be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to utilise the services of justices of the peace, who do not occupy such a position?


No. That has been considered. I do not like the way my hon. Friend has put his supplementary question in view of the answer. He will remember that during the time I had the privilege of his assistance we had to consider this matter, which has been in operation in many colonies, and I do not know that he or I took any exception to it.

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