HC Deb 18 July 1972 vol 841 cc394-5
Q3. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Prime Minister, if the statement made by the Lord Chancellor broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation on 30th June, 1972, on the subjects of industrial relations and criminal law reform represents the policies of the Government.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Clinton Davis

Does the Prime Minister not agree that that speech represented an implied acceptance by the Lord Chancellor of the reasoning behind the Report of the Criminal Law Revision Committee? Does he not agree that this is an attempt by that Committee to foist upon this country a hybrid system of criminal law, representing a cross between an inquisitorial system and our present system, and yet having no safeguards for the accused? Does he not feel that there is absolutely no evidence to support the basic premise in the report, namely that professional criminals are somehow or other getting away with crime?

The Prime Minister

I have read the whole of the transcript of the interview with the Lord Chancellor, and I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that he went to great pains to emphasis that he was not announcing any decision of any kind. In the to-and-fro discussions between Mr. Robin Day and himself, the Lord Chancellor was, I think, examining the various issues on which the committee had made recommendations, but he emphasised many times that no decision had yet been taken by the Government and that the Government wanted to hear representations before they did so. The decision would then be announced by the Home Secretary and debated by Parliament if Parliament wished.

Sir Elwyn Jones

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that the Home Secretary has indicated that there will be a debate on the report itself before any legislation arising from it will be introduced by the Government? Will the Prime Minister use his influence to see that that comes to pass?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I will gladly give that assurance.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the recent report of the Oxford Group for research on juries has indicated that there is a fundamental flaw in the reasoning of the committee, and that what is required before any decisions are made by this House, or by the Government, is much more detailed research on how juries react to evidence before them in present criminal trials?

The Prime Minister

It is a report such as this and the views upon it of organisasions which are concerned with all these matters which the Home Secretary wishes to consider before the Government can reach any conclusions. It is also useful for public discussion to develop before we have a debate in the House on the report.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

The Question is about the broadcast by the Lord Chancellor. Is there any power to make this broadcast compulsory reading for all right hon. and hon. Members, since it was excellent and penetrating and all could profit from a study of it?