HC Deb 09 October 1941 vol 374 cc1120-1
43. Dr. Russell Thomas

asked the Home Secretary the number of stipendiary magistrates employed in the Metropolitan police area; the total number of cases heard by them in 1940; the number of days each sat in 1940; the number of hours per day; and the average number of cases each dealt with per working day?

Mr. H. Morrison

There are at present 26 magistrates of the Metropolitan police courts. During the year ending 31st March, 1941, the total number of cases heard was 165,748, the average number of sittings per magistrate was approximately 170, and the average number of cases heard daily by each magistrate was about 38. Adjourned hearings are not included in these figures. The magistrates are required normally to be in attendance from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but during the war these hours have been varied so as to allow the courts to close at 4 p.m. if the work of the day has then been finished. During the winter months the hours of the court wen; altered to 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. with a proviso that the court might be closed at an earlier hour, not being earlier than 3.30 p.m., if the work of the court was finished. It is proposed that a similar arrangement should be made during the coming winter in order to enable the staff and others to get to their homes before night fall.

Dr. Thomas

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider easing the duties of the magistrates so that those who come in front of them will not get the impression that their cases are unduly hurried?

Mr. Morrison

I will keep that under observation, but I do not think that the courts are unduly overworked.

44. Dr. Thomas

asked the Home Secretary whether he can indicate as nearly as possible the number of persons convicted by Metropolitan police magistrates in 1940 on unconfirmed police evidence, and the proportion this number bears to the total convictions by these magistrates in that year?

Mr. Morrison

To examine the notes of evidence in the very large number of cases where there was a plea of "not guilty" with a view to trying to discover whether there was or was not something to confirm in whole or in part the police evidence would be a most difficult and laborious task, of which the value seems to me doubtful, and I should be reluctant to direct such an investigation at a time when every effort is being made to save clerical labour.

Dr. Thomas

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer, but does he not agree that many of the convictions are obtained upon uncorroborated police evidence?

Mr. Muff

Is it in keeping with the Common Law that only a police constable's evidence should be confirmed?