HC Deb 25 October 1939 vol 352 cc1401-2
74. Sir Joseph Leech

asked the Attorney-General whether he will consult with the Law Society to ensure that the Bill which will be offered to Parliament for the protection of the public against a continuation of losses by fraudulent solicitors should include provisions to prevent the creation of sole-partner firms of solicitors and to control more rigidly the operations of existing sole-partner firms until the latter are amalgamated with other firms or become extinct by retirement?

The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)

As I stated in answer to a question on 23rd November, 1938, the Law Society had considered this proposal, but did not regard it as expedient. Since that date, the proposal was raised before the Joint Select Committee when the Bill of this Session was being considered, and they did not recommend it.

76. Sir Annesley Somerville

asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that it is now 10 years since the attention of the Law Society was, by the introduction of a private Member's Bill, drawn to the need for the society to stop the continually-recurring frauds by solicitors on their clients, and that no legislation promoted by the Law Society has yet provided the safeguards; and will he therefore introduce a Government Bill to protect the public before more solicitors are convicted of defrauding their clients?

The Attorney-General

The Bill introduced this Session was submitted to and considered by a Joint Select Committee. That committee made a thorough examination of the whole subject and made recommendations going outside the Bill introduced. As I stated in answer to a question by my hon. Friend on nth October, 1939, the Law Society are proposing at the earliest practicable moment to introduce a Bill as amended by the Joint Select Committee. My Noble Friend sees no reason for introducing a Government Bill on this matter.

Sir A. Somerville

In view of the fact that the Bill was withdrawn on the plea that there was not Parliamentary time, is it not the fact that Parliament has had time to deal with this matter?

The Attorney-General

The Joint Select Committee, as the hon. Gentleman knows, made various recommendations which went far beyond or largely beyond the original proposals in the Bill. In view of that fact, the Law Society did not think it was practicable to proceed with the Bill with the alterations and complete all its stages this Session.

Major Milner

Is it not the fact that the Law Society would be only too happy to introduce this Bill at any moment they are able to do so?

The Attorney-General

Yes, Sir, that is what I have stated.