HC Deb 20 November 1947 vol 444 cc1465-6
Mr. Manningham-Buller

I beg to move, in page 15, line 4, to leave out subhead (a).

I think the Committee will agree it would be convenient to discuss at the same time the following Amendment, in page 15, line 8, to leave out from "complainant," to the end of line 11. Reading through pages 14 and 15 of the Bill, one sees the procedure now for transferring the hearing of complaints from one court to another court. No doubt the machinery worked fairly well during wartime, and was well tested. The only point on which I am not clear, and on which I should like elucidation, is the necessity for stipulating that the complainant must, before his or her complaint is heard, give written particulars of the nature of the evidence by which it is proposed to support the complaint, and also the names, addresses and occupations of the witnesses. That seems a rather unnecessary bit of form filling. It is in addition to the usual procedure when a person takes out a summons, and I should like to know whether it serves any useful purpose. If it does not, it might just as well be cut out. It means that the complainant has to collect a good deal of information, and do a good deal of writing first.

Mr. Younger

If this Amendment were accepted, the only information which it would be necessary to supply for the purposes of this provision would be the occupations of the complainant and defendant, the address of the complainant, and the last address of the defendant known to the complainant, but nothing as regards the nature of the evidence or the witnesses to be called. The whole purpose of this provision is to enable the court—and I emphasise that it is the court which takes the decision—to decide which is the most convenient place in which the hearing should be held. It is clear that if there were witnesses other than the complainant and defendant it would be a very relevant factor to know where the witnesses lived. If the complainant lives in one area and the defendant lives in another, it is, so to speak, fifty-fifty as to which court is decided on as the venue for the hearing. But it is relevant to know what other witnesses there may be, and in which court it would be most convenient for them to attend. I think that is the only point in this. The matter is left to the court, and I am sure we can rely upon the court not to use this provision in any oppressive way by insisting on unduly detailed evidence. This enables the court to make up its mind in a reasonable manner.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I thank the Under-Secretary for that explanation, and, having received it, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next and to be printed. [Bill 17.]