HC Deb 07 February 1934 vol 285 cc1132-4
50. Mr. TURTON

asked the Attorney-General how many commissioners of assize have been appointed to go on the north-eastern circuit during the last three years?

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Donald Somervell)

The number of commissioners of assize appointed to go on the north-eastern circuit during the past three years is as follows:

1931 1
1932 2
1933 Nil.
51. Mr. TURTON

asked the Attorney-General what is the average cost per day of a commissioner of assize on circuit; and whether that is less, and, if so, by how much, than the average cost per day of one of His Majesty's judges?


The cost per day of a commissioner of assize cannot be stated with precision as the rate of remuneration varies according to the number of days on which the commissioner is employed. During the year ending 31st July, 1933, the average cost per day of a commissioner was £11 17s. 3d. The average cost of a judge is £13 14s. 3d.


In view of the very small difference between the cost of a commissioner and the cost of a judge will my hon. and learned Friend represent to the Government the need of appointing an additional judge, so as to ensure that we shall have two judges instead of one judge and one commissioner on this circuit?


It is, of course, obvious that if Parliament sanctions the appointment of additional judges the necessity for appointing commissioners will be less.


Are these judges the same men who refused to accept the decision of this Government as to a reduction of their wages?


asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that dissatisfaction is being felt in the city of Newcastle-on-Tyne at the decision not to send two of His Majesty's judges on the north-eastern circuit for the February assizes, and that, in view of the amount of work, it is in the interests of the litigants that the two courts should be presided over by two of His Majesty's judges; and whether he will take some steps to obviate the difficulties of the present position?


My Noble Friend the Lord Chancellor regrets the necessity for a commissioner being sent on the north-eastern circuit, which however is unavoidable. He will give consideration to the representations made and to the suggestion of my hon. Friend.


Will the hon. and learned Gentleman make urgent representations to the Lord Chancellor so that this very undesirable state of affairs may be brought to an end?


I am sure that my Noble Friend will consider the representation which the hon. Member has made?


Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that last year when a commissioner was again sent, urgent representations were made to the Lord Chancellor but with no effect?


According to the information which I have just given to my hon. Friend the Member for North Newcastle-on-Tyne (Sir N. Grattan-Doyle) there were no commissioners appointed in 1933.


asked the Attorney-General whether his attention has been called to the increasing practice of appointing a commissioner of assize on the North-Eastern circuit; and whether, in view of the necessity of maintaining the majesty of and respect for the law, he will take steps to provide that the necessity for such appointment shall only arise in exceptional circumstances?


I refer my hon. Friend to the figures which I have already quoted in reply to the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) which do not bear out his suggestion that this practice is increasing. In answer to the second part of the question I refer to the answer which I have already given in reply to the hon. Member for North Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Sir N. Grattan-Doyle).