HC Deb 19 May 1960 vol 623 cc1456-8
6. Mr. Skeffington

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider introducing some payment for loss of time for justices of the peace serving outside London.

Mr. Vosper

The Justices of the Peace Act, 1949, in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission, provides for the payment to justices of travelling expenses and allowances for overnight lodging. Last year, the Trades Union Congress represented that compensation should also be paid for loss of earnings. The Magistrates' Association and the Central Council of Magistrates' Courts Committees, whom my right hon. Friend has consulted, are opposed, by a majority, to this suggestion which my right hon. Friend is now considering further in consultation with my noble Friend, the Lord Chancellor.

Mr. Skeffington

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider taking evidence from bodies other than the two he has mentioned, because there is mounting evidence to show that a number of people can do this important work only at considerable personal sacrifice and that there is a large number of younger men and women who cannot hope to serve and help the community by doing this very important work? Will the right hon. Gentleman have another look at this matter?

Mr. Vosper

I should like to consider that suggestion. The hon. Gentleman will see that there is a conflict of opinion in the evidence contributed so far.

Miss Bacon

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that that is the view of the Magistrates' Association and those who are justices of the peace now, but that there must be many thousands of people in the country who are not justices of the peace who would like to be justices of the peace if only they could afford to be? Will he reconsider this matter to see that those many people, who would be extremely helpful, particularly in juvenile courts, are given a chance to serve in this way?

Mr. Vosper

That is just what we are doing. We are considering this matter. The point raised by the hon. Lady is certainly a very relevant one which my right hon. Friend and my noble Friend will take into account.

Dame Irene Ward

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he has had any representations from individuals who, on being invited to become magistrates, have refused because they have been unable to meet the expenses?

Mr. Vosper

I am afraid I could not answer that question without notice.