HC Deb 26 July 1967 vol 751 cc794-5

Lords Amendment: No. 23, in page 17, line 23, at the end to insert new Clause "G"— G. The maximum period for which a magistrates' court may adjourn a case at any one time—

  1. (a) under section 14(3) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952 (adjournment after conviction and before sentence) for the purpose of enabling inquiries to be made or of determining the most suitable method of dealing with the defendant; or
  2. (b) under section 26(1) of that Act for the purpose of enabling a medical examination and report to be made on the defendant;
shall be a period of four weeks instead of three weeks except where the court remands the defendant in custody.

Mr. Taverne

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

It has frequently been represented to the Government, by such bodies as the Justices' Clerks Society and the Magistrates' Association, that the three weeks' restriction is most inconvenient in that the majority of magistrates sit at fortnightly or four-weekly intervals. An Amendment to the effect which is now before the House and which was moved in the House of Lords was also moved in Committee by the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle). On that occasion we said that his Amendment was not acceptable. However, time and further reflection has convinced us of the merits of one of the propositions advanced.

The New Clause, therefore, provides that, where the defendant has been remanded on bail, the maximum of the adjournment under Sections 14 and 26 of the 1952 Act may be four weeks instead of three. We feel that there will be a sense of urgency, which is still required, and this will not apply to those cases where a person has not been remanded on bail where we feel that the same sense of urgency should prevail. Otherwise we have gone some way to meeting the point originally made by the hon. Member for Runcorn. I hope, therefore, that the House will agree with the Lords Amendment.

Mr. Carlisle

I welcome this new Clause and thank the Under Secretary of State for the courteous way in which he moved the Motion. When I moved a similar Amendment in Committee, his rejection was somewhat scathing. But in the House of Lords, when the noble Lord the Lord Chancellor moved it, he almost reversed the Under-Secretary with regard to the Amendment I had put forward.

I am sure that this will help magistrates. It will save many an unnecessary additional week's adjournment merely to get back to the same constituted court to try a case a second time, and it will be of added advantage for the procedure in the magistrates' courts.

Question put and agreed to.