HC Deb 12 December 1939 vol 355 cc1025-6
80. Rear-Admiral Beamish

asked the Attorney-General whether he has noted the observations of the learned judge at Manchester Assizes on 24th November when passing sentence of five years' penal servitude upon a solicitor on 13 separate counts for fraudulent conversion of clients' property; and whether he will introduce legislation to require that solicitors should submit their professional accounts annually to an auditor of the Board of Trade?

The Solicitor-General (Sir Terence O'Connor)

As I stated on 11th October last, in reply to a question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir A. Somerville), the Law Society are anxious to reintroduce at the earliest practicable moment a Bill on this subject embodying the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee which considered it last Session. Those recommendations, as my hon. Friend will be aware, included a recommendation for the examination of accounts.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that there is a very widespread feeling in the country that the public deserve to be better protected against this form of brigandage?

The Solicitor-General

I am aware that the situation is not satisfactory, and it is desirable to introduce legislation as soon as possible.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward

If a solicitor is capable of fraudulently converting his client's property would he not be capable of submitting incorrect accounts?

The Solicitor-General

There are ways of examining accounts yearly to see whether they are fraudulent or not.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Are the Government ready to give facilities for the Bill?

The Solicitor-General

I cannot answer that question. No doubt if a Bill were promoted in another place by the Law Society, discussion as to time here would take place through the usual channels.