HC Deb 11 March 1963 vol 673 cc933-5
2. Mr. Lipton

asked the Attorney-General what the cost will be of the time and motion study now being conducted by Her Majesty's Government at the Law

The Attorney-General (Sir John Hobson)

I will, with permission, circulate the reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Hooson

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman not aware that in the Court of Appeal recently reference was made to the fact that 10 years ago this Committee recommended reform of the medieval law relating to highways and that no Parliamentary time has been found in those 10 years for this necessary reform? Does he not agree that this long delay brings the law into disrepute and means injustice to private citizens?

The Attorney-General

The Law Reform Committee, about which I have been asked, has made ten reports since 1953. No one of those reports was concerned with highways. Six of them have already been passed into legislation and dealt with. On two of them it was recommended that no action should be taken, and, of the remaining two, one could not be made retrospective and, therefore, was not a useful subject for legislation, and the only other report was made in July of last year and it is hoped to legislate on it shortly.

Following is the reply:

The reports received from the Law Reform Committee and the legislation passed to implement their recommendations are shown in the following table.

Courts; and when the report will be available.

The Attorney-General

At the request of the Senior Master of the Queen's Bench Division and with the approval of the Lord Chief Justice, officers of the Organisation and Methods Division of the Treasury are conducting a review of the organisation and administrative arrangements in a number of the Supreme Court offices. Reports of this kind by Treasury officials are submitted to the official heads of the departments concerned; they are not published. The cost to the Treasury of the present review cannot be ascertained until the review is completed.

Mr. Lipton

Is the Attorney-General aware that the public will welcome this inquiry because it represents an admission on the part of the highest legal authorities that the machinery of justice in the High Courts is too slow and cumbersome? Can the hon. and learned Gentleman say whether we may expect as a result of this inquiry that some much needed improvements will be effected in due course?

The Attorney-General

I do not accept that there is any substantial delay in the High Court at the moment in the hearing of causes. Indeed, some of them come on too quickly. However, those responsible for the administration of justice are, of course, always anxious to see that it is as efficient as it possibly can be.

Mr. Thorpe

Since this is a public service, why will these reports not be made public?

The Attorney-General

They are for the use of the judiciary, who are, of course, responsible for the administration of justice; but I will certainly inquire to see if what the hon. Member seeks is possible and write to him about it.