HC Deb 08 February 1962 vol 653 cc585-6
2. Mr. Cleaver

asked the Attorney-General why there has been delay in the implementation of the Report of the Streatfeild Committee so far as criminal cases in Birmingham are concerned: and what action he proposes to take to alleviate the delay in hearing civil actions.

The Attorney-General

The only delay in implementing the Streatfeild Committee's recommendations is that the new assize arrangements will be brought into operation in May this year instead of in January as had originally been hoped. This short postponement, which was of general application and not confined to Birmingham, was due partly to the economic situation and partly to the desirability of awaiting the enactment of legislation authorising the appointment of more judges. The new arrangements will come into force in time for the summer assizes and I hope they will go far towards reducing the delays in the hearing of civil as well as criminal cases.

Mr. Cleaver

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that we are very pleased to hear that Answer? Would he bear in mind that, as far as civil cases are concerned, it is not thought that the relief which might primarily go to cases of crime would be restricted in civil cases? Is my right hon. and learned Friend further aware that there are a number of plaintiffs today who, under pressure of delay and because they are in need of money, are frequently accepting settlements on disadvantageous terms and against their legal advice?

The Attorney-General

My noble Friend is fully aware of the congestion in the lists of cases awaiting trial, and that was one of the reasons that led to the appointment of the Streatfeild Committee. The new arrangements proposed are flexible and they can and will be changed if experience shows that they do not allow of sufficient time for the disposal of the business of the courts.