HC Deb 01 November 1938 vol 340 cc21-2
45. Mr. Alan Herbert

asked the Prime Minister whether he will recommend to His Majesty the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the costs of justice to the citizens, the inquiry to cover such matters as the arrangements for the legal assistance of poor persons and persons of small means, the charging of court fees, the distribution of the business of the courts so far as this affects the cost of litigation to persons of small means, the requirement that a husband shall pay the costs of a wife in all divorce proceedings, and any other rule or practice which appears to conflict with the declaration in the Magna Charta that justice shall not be delayed or sold?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

The matters to which the question relates involve problems of very great difficulty. They have constantly been the subject of Government inquiries, including during recent years a Royal Commission and several Departmental Committees which have expended a great deal of time and trouble in an endeavour to carry out the objects which no doubt my hon. Friend has at heart. A number of things have been done in that direction in recent years, and, in particular, it may be mention that the County Court limit has been raised by an Act passed this year. Moreover, the questions which arise are constantly under review by my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and his advisers, and, after consultation with him, I am not satisfied that the interests of the administration of justice would be served by the appointment of a Royal Commission as suggested by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Davidson

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Scottish Commission has already sat on this particular question with regard to assistance to poor persons, made its recommendations a considerable time ago to the Scottish Office, and that none of its recommendations have been operated by the Scottish Office?

The Prime Minister

That does not seem to be very encouraging to the suggestion for another of them.