HC Deb 07 December 1949 vol 470 cc1998-9
Mr. Marlowe

I beg to move, in page 23, line 24, to leave out "separate commission of the peace," and to insert "magistrates' courts committee.'

It may be convenient to the Committee to consider this Amendment together with the next one in page 24, line 25. at end, insert: (7) Any expenses of the council of a county payable by virtue of this section shall be deemed to be expenses for special county purposes. 9.15 p.m.

It seems to me that it is far better to accept the standard that where a borough has the magistrates' courts committee the question of the consideration of expenditure should be taken into account through that committee. The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the clerk to the justices would normally be the person who would conduct any negotiations with the borough, and the clerk of course receives his salary from the borough. It therefore seems far more desirable that the clerk to the justices should not be faced with the possibility of running into conflict with the council of the borough. These matters should be dealt with through the magistrates' courts committee, who are the persons most interested. This Amendment relates entirely to the question of expenditure, and proposes that the negotiations relating to that expenditure should go through the magistrates' courts committee. This eliminates the possibility of conflict between the justices' clerk acting on behalf of the holders of the commission of the peace and the local authorities.

I should like shortly to refer to the second Amendment, which proposes to add a new subsection to this Clause, and this is of particular importance in the case of the Borough of Hove. It is not unrelated to the point which I brought to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman a little earlier, in view of the fact that the Borough of Hove has this high proportion of population in relation to the county area. The present position is that the Borough of Hove already carries one-third of the county rates, and unless these additional expenses, which are a matter for the county as they stand at the moment, are borne by the county, on top of what it is already contributing to the county the borough will pay an additional element in relation to expenses which are properly chargeable to the county.

The purpose of the Amendment is to keep those two elements separate, and to prevent boroughs in this position—there must be other boroughs affected—from having to bear an expense which is a matter for the county, inasmuch as it is the county magistrates' committee which incurs the expense and it is the county and not the borough on which that expenditure should fall.

The Attorney-General

I must confess that the purpose of these two Amendments was a little obscure to us when we saw them on the Order Paper, and I am bound to admit that their purpose has not been altogether clarified by the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe). That was my fault. Might I make this suggestion? We will read carefully in the OFFICIAL REPORT what the hon. and learned Member has said tonight, and we will write to him about the matter, if he will withdraw his Amendment now. Then if be is not satisfied he will have an opportunity of raising the matter again on the Report stage.

Mr. Marlowe

I agree that this is rather a complicated matter, and I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee. Perhaps I have tried to shorten my remarks too much, but I did so in order to clarify the position. The course suggested by the right hon. and learned Gentleman is agreeable to me, and on that understanding I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 26 ordered to stand part of the Bill.