HC Deb 18 March 1971 vol 813 cc1621-2
4. Mr. Edward Lyons

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will set up a committee to examine the administration of the magistrates' court.

Mr. Carlisle

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend is considering, in consultation with my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, whether any change in the present system of administration is necessary, and he will consult the organisations concerned before reaching a final decision; but he does not think that a committee of inquiry is necessary.

Mr. Lyons

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is absurd that the magistrates' courts are partly under the control of the Home Office and partly under the control of the Lord Chancellor's Department? Is it not also the case that some magistrates are underemployed while others are over-employed? Could there not be a committee, on the lines of the Beeching Commission, although not necessarily a Royal Commission, to look into the magistrates' courts administration to do for them what Beeching has done for the higher courts?

Mr. Carlisle

In the end the magistrates' courts are under the control mainly of the magistrates' courts committees, although the Lord Chancellor appoints magistrates. It is not necessary to have a Royal Commission in the form of the Beeching Commission, but my right hon. Friend and my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor are considering the matter.