HC Deb 06 April 1948 vol 449 cc14-5
30. Squadron-Leader Fleming

asked the Prime Minister which of the three retired civil servants appointed to act as an appeal tribunal, for screened Communists or Fascists, has any legal qualifications.

The Prime Minister

As I explained in my statement of 25th March, this Advisory Board is not a legal tribunal nor a court of appeal. I do not, therefore, regard legal knowledge or experience as an essential qualification for its members, though in fact Sir Maurice Holmes has been called to the Bar.

Squadron-Leader Fleming

Is the Prime Minister aware that, although he does not consider legal qualifications necessary, it is a fact that if such a tribunal were presided over by a judge of His Majesty's High Court it would give greater confidence to the public and to those concerned.

The Prime Minister

I do not think I quite agree with the hon. and gallant Member. I think a certain amount of legal training is always useful in order to enable one to judge anything, but in this matter I think experience and knowledge of human nature are, perhaps, better than technical legal qualifications.

Mr. W. J. Brown

Is the Prime Minister aware that what both the public and public servants want in this connection is not legal erudition but political horse-sense?

The Prime Minister indicated assent.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Apart altogether from the legal qualifications as laid down in the Question, what is equally important is whether these gentlemen—without passing any reflection whatever upon them—have any political views?

The Prime Minister

These gentlemen have been civil servants for a great many years. I have no knowledge whatever of their political views. I think we can take it that they are impartial, as the Civil Service always is.

Sir T. Moore

It is civil servants whom they are called upon to judge.