HC Deb 20 February 1964 vol 689 cc1386-7
33. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will advise the use of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy in the case of Miss Pat Arrowsmith, who was fined on grounds of obstruction for holding a meeting near Liverpool docks and is refusing to pay the fine and the £25 costs awarded against her.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Henry Brooke)

Miss Arrowsmith's conviction was upheld by the Divisional Court on Appeal. On present information I can see no ground for recommending the exercise of the Prerogative of Mercy.

Mr. Allaun

Is the Home Secretary aware that the fine has been paid since my Question was originally tabled, and paid by an anonymous source? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the more serious matter that the legal costs which remain unpaid were awarded personally against Miss Arrowsmith by the Lord Chief Justice although she had been granted legal aid with a nil contribution? Is this in order?

Mr. Brooke

Decisions of the courts are not a matter for me. The question of enforcement of costs is a matter for the local authority.

Mr. S. Silverman

If a series of decisions in the courts appeared to show an unexplained discrimination—unless the discrimination were on political grounds—would there not be a case for the Home Secretary to intervene?

Mr. Brooke

No. It is most important that the Home Secretary should not intervene in decisions taken by a court after hearing all the evidence in the case.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Yes, but is the Home Secretary aware that there happens to be a similar case, again involving an instruction of a nil contribution certificate, where the legal costs have been personally awarded against the prosecuted person?

Mr. Brooke

These are not matters for me.