HC Deb 28 October 1943 vol 393 cc358-9
22. Mr. Astor

asked the Home Secretary the terms of reference of Lord Justice Goddard's Inquiry?

Mr. H. Morrison

In order that Lord Justice Goddard may be armed with full powers to conduct an effective inquiry the House will be asked to pass a Resolution under the Tribunals of Enquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921. The Motion which has been put on the Order Paper for this purpose shows that the inquiry will be comprehensive and will cover the whole conduct of the Hereford Juvenile Court in the proceedings against Craddock and Payne. To facilitate the inquiry the Treasury Solicitor will arrange for the calling of witnesses and the presentation of evidence. In so doing, he will act at the request and subject to the instructions of Lord Justice Goddard, and he will not be acting on behalf of any of the persons whose conduct is the subject of inquiry or of any Government Department. He is now proceeding, on the instructions of the Lord Justice, to collect the evidence which is required and it is hoped that those concerned will give him all the necessary assistance.

Mr. Astor

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the terms of reference are sufficiently wide that the action and procedure of the courts involved in this case will be subject to review?

Mr. Morrison

I am dealing only with the Hereford Juvenile Court, as I understand it, in this case, and the inquiry will cover the conduct of the prosecution by the police, the conduct of the proceedings by the local justices themselves, the guidance given to them by the clerk, the procedure followed in announcing and giving effect to the court's order of corporal punishment, the considerations which the justices had in mind in committing the boys to the care of the local education authority and the treatment of the boys when in the care of that authority. I think that sphere of inquiry should cover the whole ground.

Mr. Astor

Would it cover the procedure by which the High Court reviewed the case with inadequate affidavits, the result of which was a Press campaign of great virulence, which may subsequently be regretted?

Mr. Morrison

I must make it clear that it is no part of the purpose of the inquiry to review the proceedings of the High Court, and, if I did anything like that, I am not sure where I should finish up.

Sir Percy Harris

Will it be open to the public?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir.

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