HC Deb 22 April 1971 vol 815 cc1348-9
18. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to ensure that an accused person appearing at a magistrates' court is asked whether or not he wishes to apply for bail.


No, Sir. This is not a matter on which a mandatory provision would be appropriate.

Mr. Clinton Davis

Is the hon. and learned Member aware of the disquieting information disclosed by Mr. Michael Zander in the last edition of the "Criminal Law Review" that in about 50 per cent. of the 513 cases which he investigated, the question of bail was not first raised by the court? Is he further aware that there is a danger that an accused person who is not aware of his entitlement to make an application could well find that what might be a successful application could not be entertained?

Mr. Carlisle

I am aware of the article which Mr. Michael Zander has written in the "Criminal Law Review", and the Home Office is considering the matter generally. I do not think that a mandatory provision requiring magistrates to ask every person whether he required bail, even if they have already decided that in no circumstances would it be granted, is the appropriate method for dealing with this problem.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

Does not the overriding presumption of an accused person's innocence up to the time he is found guilty demand such a mandatory provision as the Minister rejects?

Mr. Carlisle

With respect, I do not think it does. Mr. Michael Zander in his article pointed out that there were cases in which bail is "not a realistic possibility". It would seem absurd in those cases to make a mandatory requirement on courts to invite the person to apply for bail when they clearly were not able to give it.