HC Deb 04 March 1954 vol 524 cc1335-6
8. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make more use of the services of lay magistrates in the Metropolitan area.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

There has not yet been sufficient experience to assess the effect of the Order I made last year under Section 11 (9) of the Justices of the Peace Act, 1949, specifying the classes of case which may be taken by lay justices in the County of London, but I shall continue to keep the matter under review. As the hon. and gallant Member is aware, there are practical difficulties in the way of making wider use of the services of lay justices in London, but arrangements have also been made for lay justices to sit in a spare court room at Bow Street to hear cases in relief of the Metropolitan magistrates, and a domestic proceedings court, with a bench consisting of a Metropolitan magistrate and two lay justices selected from a panel, has been set up with jurisdiction to deal with cases arising in any part of the Metropolitan courts area or in the City of London.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Home Secretary aware that many J.P.s in London feel that they are being treated as half-wits, incapable of dealing with minor cases which would help considerably to relieve the congestion and delay which prevails in so many magistrates' courts at the present time?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I hope that I may have relieved the troubled feelings of anyone who has that idea. There is no foundation for that view being held in responsible quarters. Apart from that, I will bear in mind what the hon. and gallant Gentleman says.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Is the Home Secretary aware of the continued need to obviate the delays which result from successive remands? Has he forgotten that it is still possible for a case to be remanded from week to week, being heard perhaps for only a quarter of an hour each day? If justice is to be done, it should also be done speedily.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

If the hon. Gentleman can give me details of a case of that sort, I shall be very interested to look into it.