HC Deb 30 April 1964 vol 694 cc765-7

Amendments made:

In page 53, line 28, leave out "(1)".

In page 54, line 24, leave out "county" and insert "section ninety".

In page 54, leave out lines 54 to 58.

In page 56, line 34, column 3, at beginning insert "Section 84 (6)".

In line 37, after "and", insert "in".

In line 47, at end add— 1964 c. iv The City of London (Courts) Section 8 (2). Act 1964—[Mr. Brooke.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

12 m.

Mr. MacColl

I do not propose to oppose the Third Reading of the Bill at this hour of the night. Such an action makes one unpopular. When one takes up time to support the Bill it is far worse, but I do not think that it would be right to let the Bill pass without making it dear that although it has been rather rushed, it is a Measure of tremendous importance to the County of London.

We spent a lot of time over the London Government Bill, which reformed something which had been in existence since 1889. The division between the petty sessions of lay justices and stipendiary courts in London goes back to a hundred years before that, and this operation will be of enormous value as a piece of legal reform. It is one of the most important legal reforms that has taken place for a long time within the narrow area of inner London.

I do not think that it will be an easy job to get rid of deeply entrenched differences, and perhaps jealousies, not only between the magistrates who have to work together now as a team, but among the staff. It will require great delicacy to make this system work, but if it can be made to work—and I think that everybody is anxious to get it to work—it will make a tremendous improvement in the administration of summary jurisdiction in London. I therefore do not think that a Bill of this importance should be allowed to pass without that being said, and I give it my warmest support.

12.3 a.m.

Mr. Brooke

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) for what he has said, and indeed to hon. Members on both sides of the House for the welcome that they have given to the Bill. I should like particularly to thank the Law Officers for their help to me, and all the hon. Members who served on the Standing Committee.

This started as a good Bill. I suggested on Second Reading that it was not likely to be highly contentious, and it has worked out so. I am convinced that we have made it a better Bill in its passage through the House. As the hon. Gentleman perceived, it will affect a great many people, not only those who are directly engaged in the administration of the law, but many others—witnesses, parties to proceedings, and so on.

I hope that our proceedings have proved that the Government have taken a great deal of trouble to seek to take into account all the suggestions which have been made from many quarters as to improvements to the Bill. I would not claim that we have been able to satisfy everybody, but I think that by our efforts here and in another place we have greatly improved the provisions of the Bill beyond the fairly high level at which they stood when it was first introduced.

I should like the hon. Member for Widnes, who is so knowledgeable on these matters, and has the administration of justice in London so near to his heart, to know that I really appreciate most deeply what he has just said.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third tune and passed, with Amendments.