HC Deb 28 April 1966 vol 727 cc927-8
15. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to introduce legislation to implement the proposals of the Tucker Report on the Reporting of Committal Proceedings.

22. Mr. Abse

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the fact that the expressed view of the Tucker Report relating to proceedings before examining justices was that reporting before the trial has ended of nationally sensational cases was undesirable and impaired public confidence in the administration of justice, and of the concern that reporting of such proceedings continues, and as the report was accepted by Her Majesty's Government in January, 1965, when legislation to implement the report will be introduced.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I wish to give further consideration to the whole question of committal proceedings before introducing legislation on the reporting of them.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

But in view of the decision of the magistrate in the Moors trial—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot now refer to any specific case, particularly one which is sub judice.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

In view of recent decisions by magistrates not to exercise their discretion about the hearing of committal proceedings in camera, is it not extremely urgent that mandatory restrictions should now be imposed?

Mr. Jenkins

Yes, it is important to proceed on the matter with greater urgency than has been shown in the eight years which have gone by since the Tucker Report was published. But, equally, if it were considered that some change in the nature of committal proceedings were desirable—and the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) and Mr. Edward Gardner recently published a pamphlet on it which I have studied with interest—it would be important to determine the nature of committal proceedings before determining how they should be reported.

Mr. Abse

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his predecessor gave me a specific undertaking in the House in December, 1965, that the Tucker Report was intended to be implemented? Why has it now apparently been decided otherwise? Is it not desirable that there should be no yielding to pressure by the Press, who would dislike the ending of committal proceedings, particularly at a time when the public is concerned that the nauseating details of trials should not be repeated twice?

Mr. Jenkins

It is not a question of yielding to pressure. It is a question of whether it might be desirable to make a more far-reaching change.