HC Deb 21 June 1951 vol 489 cc682-4
8. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what official steps are being taken to ensure that all magistrates are informed of a recent statement by the Lord Chancellor on the use of their power to remand persons in custody.

Mr. Ede

I am causing a copy of the Lord Chancellor's statement to be sent to clerks to justices for information.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

As the purpose of the Lord Chancellor's statement was to provide some useful guidance to magistrates, would it not be better to circularise all magistrates personally? Would not that be more in the public interest, as many magistrates do not read Parliamentary reports either in the OFFICIAL REPORT or in the daily newspapers?

Mr. Ede

If they do not do that, I cannot see why they should read a circular sent to them. If the circular is sent to the clerk to the justices, he will at least mention it at the next meeting of the justices and, I hope, in most cases will be able to read it.

Sir Herbert Williams

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Sankey, gave to me in 1933 in this building in relation to a case of a remand, a point of view entirely in conflict with that of the present Lord Chancellor? As many justices have been deceived by the instructions sent out by the Lord Chancellor in 1933, is it not very desirable that justices should be in no doubt whatever about the present situation?

Mr. Ede

I hope that the circular will put all doubt out of their minds. I shall not circulate any report of the conversation between the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), and the then Lord Chancellor.

Sir H. Williams

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that both Lord Sankey was, and the present Lord Chancellor is, a Socialist?

Mr. Blyton

As the Lord Chancellor said that an error of judgment had been committed in the "three tulips case" at South Shields, will the Home Secretary recommend His Majesty to exercise his prerogative to enable the whole or the major portion of the fine to be refunded?

Mr. Ede

I should not like to make a statement on that point at the moment.

14. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation to limit the power of magistrates to remand in custody for more than four weeks children awaiting trial in juvenile courts.

Mr. Ede

Circumstances vary so much that legislation for this purpose would not in my view be desirable. Any person who is aggrieved by the action of the court may apply to a judge in chambers for release on bail or to the High Court for an order requiring the magistrates to hear and determine his case.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these safeguards are not normally or easily available to the ordinary people concerned in these cases, and that the case of a 14-year-old Brixton schoolboy which I brought to his notice proves that children can be remanded in custody for grossly excessive periods while awaiting trial? Is there any reason why 28 days in custody for a child—

Mr. Speaker

We must keep to short supplementary questions.

Mr. MacColl

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that under the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, the period of remand was limited to three weeks? Is he also aware that many magistrates find that that length of time a great handicap to them in dealing with the question of juvenile delinquency?

Mr. Ede

This is a very difficult matter and I am convinced that the majority of magistrates exercise wisely the discretion vested in them.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that the remarks made by the Lord Chancellor the other day, to which he referred in a previous answer, apply equally in the remand of juvenile prisoners as they apply in the case of adult prisoners, and that it is quite improper in either case to use the power to remand as a form of penalty?

Mr. Ede

Yes, I agree with that, and it is probably even more improper in the case of juveniles than in the case of adults.

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