HC Deb 09 March 1961 vol 636 cc665-6
19. Mr. H. Clark

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many resident magistrates are now serving in Nyasaland; and whether he intends to increase their number in the near future.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. lain Macleod)

There are eleven posts of resident magistrate and one of senior resident magistrate. The total establishment was increased from ten to twelve in February, and the Nyasaland Government are keeping the possibility of a further increase under review.

Mr. Clark

Does my right hon. Friend think that this increase is adequate in view of the very long delay there is in bringing cases to court in Nyasaland, which makes the maintenance of law and order extremely difficult there?

Mr. Macleod

The increase, obviously, is a help and, as I said, the Nyasaland Government are keeping the matter under review. I am sure my right hon. Friend knows that all administrative officers, except those serving on contract terms, are Nyasaland magistrates, although they have varying powers.

Mr. Brockway

Will this include women magistrates?

Mr. Macleod

I do not think so, but I should like notice of that supplementary question.

Mr. Elwyn Jones

Is it desirable that district commissioners should perform judicial functions including, I think, hearing appeals from native courts, since they are essentially executive officers? Is it not desirable to remedy the situation by increasing the establishment of resident magistrates?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, I think that is so, but recruitment is proving rather difficult. Three administrative officers have been seconded, I hope only temporarily, for full-time duties in this respect.

Forward to