HC Deb 15 April 1948 vol 449 cc1247-9

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Younger

I beg to move, in page 20, line 23, to leave out from "to," to "satisfied," in line 29, and insert: quarter sessions for sentence in accordance with the following provisions of this section. (4) An offender so committed as aforesaid, shall be committed—

  1. (a) where the court of summary jurisdiction acts for a county other than the County of London, to the appeal committee of the quarter sessions for that county;
  2. (b) in any other case, to the next court of quarter sessions having jurisdiction in the county, borough or place for which the court of summary jurisdiction acts;
and where the offender is so committed to an appeal committee, the clerk to the court of summary jurisdiction shall notify the clerk of the peace, and the clerk of the peace shall give notice to the prosecutor and to the governor of the remand centre or prison to which the offender is committed of the date on which the case will be dealt with by the appeal committee, being the next practicable sitting of that committee. (5) Where an offender is so committed for sentence as aforesaid, the appeal committee or court of quarter sessions shall inquire into the circumstances of the case and may— (a) if. The House may remember that in Committee Amendments were made to Clause 27 which related to commital for sentences so that the commital should be to the appeals committee of quarter sessions in counties except in the county of London. The object of this Amendment and the series to page 20 which follows it is to bring the Clause into line with the amended procedure. Clause 18 deals with the committal for sentences for Borstal training. There is in this respect no distinction to be drawn between committal for other types of sentences and committal for Borstal training.

The reason it is considered appropriate in the other instance under Clause 27 that the appeal should go to the appeals committee is that in any event the appeal against conviction would come before that committee, and if there is to be a committal for sentence it was thought that it was better that it should go before the same tribunal, so that the two could be treated together by the same court. It was also clear that by bringing it before the appeals committee a good deal of time could be saved, because the appeals committee could meet any time. There is a provision under Clause 18 to ensure that committal will not be to assizes as it can be at present, but to quarter sessions in order to bring the procedure of the two sections into line. I hope with that explanation the House will be prepared to agree to the Amendment.

Mr. Maude

On consideration of what the Under-Secretary has said in regard to Clauses 27 and 18, I am rather worried, and I would urge that the matter should be given very careful consideration, because I am inclined to think that we are going to have a tremendous rush to quarter sessions. Persons will decide that it would be better to exercise their rights to go for trial rather than be tried by the magistrates and then sent on to quarter sessions. They will be advised by their legal advisers not to be tried at petty sessions with the result we will get a rush into our courts of quarter sessions. I very much fear that this will be the practical result of these Clauses, and I would ask that this matter should be given very careful consideration.

Mr. Ede

The hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Maude) has been very helpful throughout the Bill, and I welcome the criticism he has made. I will have it examined to see if the fears he has are likely to be realised, and if they are and it is possible to do anything to reduce them, it will be done.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 20, line 31, leave out from "training," to first "in," in line 32, and insert "or (b)."

In line 36, after "sessions," insert "or by an appeal committee."

In line 38, after "court," insert "or committee."—[Mr. Younger.]

Mr. Younger

I beg to move, in page 21, line r, after "report," to insert "or representations in writing."

This Amendment and the group that follows are really drafting Amendments. The first ensures that if a report or representations in writing by the Prison Commissioners are considered by the courts, as they can be under Subsection (4), they will be made available to counsel or solicitor of the offender. It is a drafting Amendment, but it is one of some small importance.

Amendment agreed to.

Consequential Amendments made.