HC Deb 02 May 1957 vol 569 cc339-41

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make available for Members of Parliament a transcript of the shorthand notes of the trial of Dr. Adams.

Mr. Speaker

Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

The Question has been answered in a most effective way—by the Attorney-General last night —and I do not intend to put it. I should like to express my thanks for that reply.

6. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he proposes to take to assess and award out of public moneys a payment to Dr. Adams, who was recently wrongly detained in custody for a considerable period on a charge of murder, tried at the Central Criminal Court, found not guilty and discharged; and whether he will set up a tribunal publicly to hear and determine in a judicial manner on evidence and argument the correct amount to be so assessed and awarded to Dr. Adams.

Mr. R. A. Butler

It is not the practice to make an ex gratiapayment from public funds to a person who has been acquitted of a criminal charge unless there has been misconduct or negligence on the part of the police or other public officials. If a defendant is acquitted after trial on indictment the court has power under the Costs in Criminal Cases Act, 1952, to order the payment of such sums as appear to the court to be reasonably sufficient to compensate the accused for the expenses incurred in carrying on the defence. I understand that the court did not make any order in this case, and I can find no grounds on which I should be justified in making a payment out of public funds.

Mr. Hughes

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that I am interested in the principle and not on behalf of this particular person, but that there is great risk of loss and damage to a particular accused unless he is given an opportunity to make representations, adduce evidence and appear either in person or otherwise before the Home Secretary? Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that justice is served in this way?

Mr. Butler

I would draw the attention of the hon. Member and of the House to the power that the court has to make orders.

The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask he Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether inspection of the Dangerous Drugs Register of Dr. John Bodkin Adams was made subsequent to 13th August, 1948.


To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what evidence he has that Dr. John Bodkin Adams kept a properly entered Dangerous Drugs Register subsequent to 13th August, 1948.

Mr. Speaker

Dr. Donald Johnson.

Mr. Shinwell

On a point of order. I would cask for your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to the propriety of putting these Questions on the Order Paper, allowing an Answer to be given by the Home Secretary. I understand that proceedings are pending against the gentleman mentioned in the Questions. Therefore, this case is sub judiceIn particular it seems to me, with great respect, that Question No. 8 contains an innuendo against the person named in it. Is it proper that this Question should be asked?

Hon. Members: Hear, hear.

Mr. Speaker

The Question is in order. I understand that the proceedings which are pending against this man are not for murder, but are on other charges. It seemed that the Question was concerned with whether or not there should be a sum paid to him in respect of a charge of murder.

Mr. Shinwell

I am referring to the next two Questions.

Mr. Speaker

I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. I thought he was referring to Question No. 6. I should like to hear what the Home Secretary has to say on the point.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I was about to reply that as certain charges under the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1951, were pending it would not be proper for me to make any comment.

Mr. Speaker

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for drawing my attention to that point. I thought at first that the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) was referring to the previous Question.

Dr. Johnson

Further to that point of order, I understand that the charges against Dr. Adams are not actually in regard to this Question, but are in regard to supplies under National Health Service prescriptions. I am open to correction—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must be ruled by me. I think they come too near to the subject to be safe and proper Questions to ask.