HC Deb 25 July 1958 vol 592 cc824-5
The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 8, line 31, to leave out subsection (5).

This subsection was the subject of considerable discussion in Committee, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate then said that consideration would be given to the matter. The Report of the Franks Committee suggested that there should be only a limited right of appeal, but on further consideration we have come to the conclusion that we ought not to restrict or abolish the possibility of an appeal in certain cases from the Court of Appeal to the House of Lords.

It is conceivable that there might be a conflict between a Scottish decision and an English decision of the Court of Appeal, and it would be unfortunate if that could not be resolved by a further appeal. One also might get the situation which arose quite recently in relation to tax legislation. A case came before the English Court of Appeal in which the court felt itself bound by one of its own previous decisions, but at the same time it pretty clearly intimated that it thought that the previous decision was wrong. It was, however, bound to follow the decision because it was binding upon the Court of Appeal. In that case, there was an appeal to the House of Lords, and the result was that the House of Lords held that the Court of Appeal's first view was correct.

It is conceivable that that situation might arise again, and therefore on further reflection we feel that it is desirable that there should be a right of appeal with leave to the House of Lords. I apprehend, although, of course, it is not for me to say, that having regard to the chain of appeals that will take place in many cases before a case ever gets to the Court of Appeal, there would be considerable reluctance, both on the part of the Court of Appeal and on the part of the House of Lords, to give leave to appeal to the House of Lords unless the circumstances of the case clearly warrant that further appeal. Therefore, we feel that it is safe in this instance to depart from the suggestion contained in the Franks Report.

Sir Frank Soskice (Newport)

I rise only to thank the Attorney-General for having moved the Amendment. I agree with him, and I think that the Committee upstairs agreed with him, that the question is nicely balanced, but on balance I certainly think that the Government are right in deciding on this occasion to depart from the recommendation of the Franks Committee. There is, after all, the safeguard of the leave of the Court of Appeal or the House of Lords which has to be obtained before an appeal can be taken to the House of Lords. I agree with the Attorney-General that that should be an adequate safeguard against an undue multiplication of appeals.

I notice that there is in the name of the Lord Advocate an Amendment in page 9, line 24. I do not know whether it would be convenient for the Attorney-General, if he may speak for his right hon. and learned Friend, to say that that is simply a consequential Amendment which is rendered necessary because of the differing procedure of the Scots law from that of the English law.

Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)

This was an important matter and it was discussed in detail in Committee. I am grateful that the Government have given very careful consideration to what is an important matter and I am glad that they have come to this decision.

Amendment agreed to.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland (Mr. William Grant)

I beg to move, in page 9, line 24, at the end, to insert: and (c) an appeal shall lie, with the leave of of the Court of Session or of the House of Lords, from any decision of the Court of Session under this section, and such leave may be given on such terms as to costs or otherwise as the Court of Session or the House of Lords may determine". This is the Scottish corollary to the Amendment which the House has just accepted. Broadly speaking in Scotland leave is not needed to appeal to the House of Lords. If there is an appeal following a final judgment, it may be taken without leave. It has been felt—I think, rightly—that in cases such as these what might be frivolous appeals should be discouraged. In this Bill, it is advisable to have the rights of appeal similar in the two countries.

Amendment agreed to.