HC Deb 06 November 1946 vol 428 cc1357-9
2. Mr. Frank Byers

asked the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the possibility of introducing, in the next few months, legislation affecting proceedings of civilians against the Crown.

The Solicitor-General

I regret that I can add nothing to the reply given by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General to a question by the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson), on 8th October last, in which he stated that the Government are aware of the necessity of introducing legislation to deal with this matter as soon as Parliamentary time is available.

Mr. Byers

Would the Government give serious consideration to the introduction early in the next Session in another place of the Crown Proceedings Bill, which is very largely an agreed Measure?

The Solicitor-General

The Government have considered this matter in all its aspects as very urgent. Arrangements have been made, pending the possibility of legislation being introduced, to avoid injustice in particular cases; but the case of Adams and Naylor has created difficulties though it is found that in general they can be overcome.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Will not the Solicitor-General agree that one result of the remarks made in another place in the case to which he has referred has been to make this question much more urgent than it was before, because of the criticism of a device that had long been used to overcome the inherent injustice of the absence of this Measure? If these devices are to be frowned upon, then it becomes all the more urgent that this matter should be dealt with.

The Solicitor-General

I agree that the case referred to does make this more important. As I say, it has been treated as a matter of importance but it still has to take its place in the order of priority.

Mr. Stephen

Would the learned Solicitor-General not agree that there is so much unanimity on this matter that a Bill might not take up very much time?

The Solicitor-General

I would say that the Bill must take some time because it is not quite as simple as hon. Members may think at first sight. It would be unwise, and I should have thought not conducive to any useful purpose, to introduce it unless it can be dealt with properly.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Will there be any legislation to improve the administration of justice during the next 12 months?

The Solicitor-General

That does not arise out of this Question.

Captain Crookshank

Would not the learned Solicitor-General say that Bills which affect the rights of all citizens should have higher priority than Bills with purely political objects?

The Solicitor-General

All Measures which the Government place high in the list of priority are of prime importance.