HC Deb 18 December 1969 vol 793 cc1527-8
10. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy on bail applications and the position of the police.

Mr. Callaghan

It is for the courts to deal with bail applications and for the police to bring any relevant matters to their notice.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that at the moment many people are being held in prison when they have not heard the charges against them, including a man who was held in prison for 11 weeks on a petty pilfering charge? Is there not a need for a thorough review of the bail system?

Mr. Callaghan

I do not think that there is. The Criminal Justice Act, 1967, introduced restrictions on the powers of magistrates to remand in custody. It has brought a small but significant reduction in the proportion of persons remanded or committed for trial in custody. I would not wish to go any further than that.

Mr. Rose

Will my right hon. Friend look into the question of bail applications pending appeal? Is he aware that, in one case, a man served five months of a nine-month sentence, which meant five-sixths of his actual sentence, and was acquitted on appeal? Will he ensure that such a thing does not happen again, especially as the man concerned had been convicted on a first offence?

Mr. Callaghan

I am not aware of those facts, but obviously that is an unsatisfactory position. I do not argue from the particular to the general in this matter. There are a great many cases where it is necessary to remand people in custody.