HC Deb 20 May 1965 vol 712 cc1655-6
18. Mr. Gregory

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he will not seek to repeal that part of the Police Act, 1964, which provides for the inclusion of nominated representatives of magistrates to watch committees; and if he will make a statement.

20. Mr. Heffer

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he will not seek to amend the Police Act, 1964, in relation to representation on watch committees; and if he will make a statement.

72. Sir B. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that there is concern about the representation of magistrates on watch committees permitted by the Police Act, 1964; why he will not introduce amending legislation; and if he will not put this part of the Measure into force.

Sir F. Soskice

The arguments against the inclusion of magistrates on watch committees were fully discussed during the proceedings on the Police Bill, and as Parliament has so recently expressed its intentions in the matter, I am sure that it is now right to give the Act a fair trial.

Mr. Gregory

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply, but I wonder whether, in view of the continued representations made by many local authorities, and the concern of very many people throughout the country about the way this is influencing the formation of watch committees, he will in the near future reconsider and make a further statement?

Sir F. Soskice

I do not think that I can add to what I have said. I can at the moment hold out no hope of legislation on this matter.

Mr. Heffer

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that both sides of Liverpool City Council have unanimously expressed great concern on this question and have repeatedly asked that this matter be reconsidered? In view of the statements made by the Home Secretary himself when he was in opposition, when he put the case most cogently against the Bill, could not this be considered again, remembering that this Measure was introduced by the Conservative Party?

Sir F. Soskice

I still, in general, hold to the views which I expressed in the course of the discussions on the Police Bill when it was in Committee. The arguments, however, are not all one way; there are considerations on the other side; and, indeed, the Police Act follows the recommendations of the Royal Commission. At the beginning of the year I received representations from the Association of Municipal Corporations and from others and I expressed to it the view I am now putting before the House, that it would be best for the Act to have a chance, to see how it works out. In any event, I am not in a position to hold out any hope of amending legislation at this stage.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Gregory.

Sir B. Janner

On a point of order. I have a Question which has been answered with this group. May I not ask a supplementary?

Mr. Speaker

I am not accusing the hon. Member of any kind of malpractice. It is merely that it is still desirable to maintain the rule which I announced to the House about late Questions, and there is today a need to get on. Mr. Gregory.