§ Considered in Committee; reported, without Amendment.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
In the very few minutes that I have at my disposal I want to say that I think that the fact than no Amendments were put down to the Bill suggests to the House that it is a Measure worth passing. I have only three minutes in which to move the Third Reading, in which time I wish to make four points.
The first is that we had to restrict the scope of the Bill. If hon. Members will look at the Long and Short Titles of the Bill they will see that it would, in fact, include all courts in the land, but, unfortunately, in a Private Member's Bill it is not possible to do this and I was therefore obliged to restrict it to magistrates' courts. The effect of the Bill will be to have uniformity throughout the magistrates' courts. At the moment 85 per cent. of the cases are roughly matrimonial cases, cases of guardianship of infants or maintenance and are already covered—that is to say, registration of change of address is obligatory. The other 25 per cent. of cases will now be covered by the provisions of this Bill.
Many hon. Members have criticised me for not including a wider range of courts, but that is not possible in respect of a Private Member's Bill. With the consent of my fellow sponsors I was obliged to restrict the range. I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) is present. The hon. Gentleman gave me considerable help as did his hon. Friends. All hon. Members will agree that it is of primary importance to ensure that justice is carried out and individuals who have succeeded in obtaining a judgment against the defendant are placed in difficulty if the defendant frustrates the course of justice by changing his address.
In the High Court it is much easier to trace the people concerned because the sums of money involved are larger and a defendant cannot frustrate justice in such a manner unless he manages to 891 leave the country. But this does happen in respect of cases heard in the lower courts. If we wish to ensure that the decisions of such courts are not frustrated, we should be well advised to give this Bill a Third Reading. It may be that eventually Parliament will decide that its provisions should be extended by Government action to cover other courts. If this Measure worked successfully that would be an excellent reason for extending its provisions to apply to other courts.
I hope that this small Measure, which has received backing from hon. Members on both sides of the House, will be acceptable to Parliament and that, as a back-bench Member, I shall have been enabled to contribute something to the amending of the legislation of the country which will improve the effectiveness of the courts and ensure that people who obtain judgments are able to enforce them.
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
One has to be prompt on Friday afternoon and that is why I rose to speak a little early. I sympathise with what my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) is trying to do by means of this Bill, but the fact that is has reached this stage does not necessarily mean that the Bill has the support of everyone. It received a Second Reading because, although I am one of the most assiduous attenders on Fridays, there was one Friday when I was not able to be present. On that occasion the Bill received a Second Reading on the nod. I did not wish to intervene to oppose the Bill during the Committee Stage but I wish to say something about it because it has not yet been debated.
If we once get started on the business of people having to register their addresses with the courts or the police, we shall find that a very dangerous precedent has been established. My hon. Friend mentioned the matrimonial precedent.—
§ Dr. Alan Glynrose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put, but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell
I wish once again to intervene. It is precisely that the 892 Bill which I opposed on the ground that it would lead to this sort of precedent—
§ it being Four o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.