HC Deb 06 November 1972 vol 845 cc619-20
31. Mr. Cronin

asked the Attorney-General what further steps are being taken by Her Majesty's Government to reduce the delay in trying criminal cases.

The Attorney-General

There is no serious delay in trying criminal cases except in London. My noble Friend is continuing to take urgent measures to reduce the delays in London, in particular by the provision of additional court rooms.

Mr. Cronin

In view of the great increase in crime which has occurred since the present Government have been in office, is there not a case for substantially increasing the number of courts in the London area to try these cases? Is it satisfactory that people who are acquitted are sometimes remanded in custody for four to six months?

The Attorney-General

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should have preface his supplementary question with that comment. If I may return to the serious part of the question he posed, I agree that there is a problem in London: whereas the period outside London in regard to somebody awaiting trial might be only six or seven weeks, in London it is about 14 weeks. There has been the provision of 31 court rooms in the last two years and a further 10 will be brought into operation next year. In addition, 15 judges and 17 recorders have been appointed to the circuit. Nevertheless, there is a problem and it must receive urgent attention.