HC Deb 04 June 1951 vol 488 cc677-9
36. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Attorney-General by what authority Mrs. E. Iwi was required to give an undertaking not to sit as a magistrate in the Gore Petty Sessional Division of Middlesex for a period of one year, the alternative being her removal from the bench.

The Attorney-General (Sir Frank Soskice)

A justice of the peace holds office during pleasure and the decision to terminate the appointment of a justice is in the discretion of my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor. This particular matter was first brought to his attention in November, 1949, owing to unfortunate differences which had arisen between Mrs. Iwi and her fellow justices of the Gore Division. My noble and learned Friend asked Mr. and Mrs. Iwi to come to see him, and went into the whole matter. After a long interview he came to the conclusion that Mrs. Iwi was overwrought and that she was firmly under the impression, though my noble and learned Friend thought, quite wrongly, that she was a victim of some intrigue on the part of the other justices.

My noble and learned Friend came to the conclusion that it would be greatly in her own interest and in the general interests of the administration of justice in the Gore Division if time were allowed to heal the differences which had arisen. It was in these circumstances that he pressed her to give him an undertaking to abstain from administering justice for a year, hoping that at the end of this time she might resume her magisterial duties in a happier atmosphere. Mrs. Iwi, after considering the matter, gave the undertaking.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

The Lord Chancellor having made it quite clear that he had no cause to remove this lady from the bench, can the Attorney-General say what is the statutory authority which enables the Lord Chancellor to compel a magistrate not to sit in that capacity for any period? Are magistrates now being bound over to keep away from the commission of the peace for probationary periods?

The Attorney-General

The Lord Chancellor did not compel her; he suggested that she should give an undertaking, and, after consideration, she gave it.

38. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Attorney-General whether he will arrange for an immediate public inquiry to be made into the administration of justice in the Gore Petty Sessional Court of Middlesex, in view of the allegations made by Mrs. E. Iwi, a member of the local bench of magistrates, who has recently resigned at her own request.

The Attorney-General

No, Sir. My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor has carefully considered the allegations which Mrs. Iwi has made, and has decided that no useful purpose would be served by holding an inquiry into this matter.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

In view of the very grave factual statements alleging irregular conduct in the administration of justice by the magistrates of Hendon court, does my right hon. and learned Friend not think that in order to prevent the courts from falling into disrepute some form of inquiry should be made into these allegations?

The Attorney-General

No, Sir. As I have already said, my noble and learned Friend carefully inquired from each and everyone of them.