HC Deb 29 November 1960 vol 631 cc197-8
38. Mr. V. Yates

asked the Attorney-General what administrative action is being taken to reduce the delays which occur between the lodging of notices of appeal against conviction and the hearing of such appeal cases.

The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)

The speed with which appeals can be heard depends primarily on the time taken to produce transcripts of the proceedings in the court below and summaries of the cases for the use of the judges in the Court of Criminal Appeal. Transcripts are now being delivered more quickly than before and special measures have been taken to speed up the writing of the summaries. The court has been sitting two days a week throughout this term and arrangements which have now been made will enable additional sittings to be held next term which will reduce the delays considerably.

Mr. Yates

While I appreciate the right hon. and learned Gentleman's answer, may I ask him whether he is aware that I recently called the Home Secretary's attention to the fact that a man in Winson Green Prison in Birmingham has been waiting since July, and as far as I know that case is no nearer being settled? Is not this a very intolerable situation, due especially to the fact that there are not sufficient shorthand writers to transcribe the notes?

The Attorney-General

There is difficulty. As I have said, steps have been taken to try to shorten the period between the lodging of the appeal and the hearing of the appeal. The difficulty is in getting copies of transcripts made, and in a heavy case that is a fairly bulky performance. However, I can give an assurance that the steps now taken should lead to a material reduction in the time between the lodging of the appeal and the hearing of the appeal.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will my right hon. and learned Friend assure us that he or the Lord Chancellor's Department is investigating the possibility of making more use of tape recording in the courts, which would solve a great many of these problems?

The Attorney-General

I will take note of my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. S. Silverman

Is the Attorney-General aware that there are a number of cases where there is little hope of appeals now outstanding being heard before the expiry of the sentences against which the appeals have been lodged? Would he not consider it a rather bad reflection on the administration of justice if it should happen in a particular case that a man's appeal was allowed after he had served the whole of his sentence?

The Attorney-General

It would if it happened, but special steps are being taken to accelerate the hearing of appeals where the sentences are short.