HC Deb 25 October 1972 vol 843 cc1268-70

Sheriffs and under-sheriffs J.—(1) Sheriffs appointed for a county or Greater London shall be known as high sheriffs, and any reference in any enactment or instrument to a sheriff shall be construed accordingly in relation to sheriffs for a county or Greater London. (2) No persons shall be nominated in 1973 in pursuance of section 6(1) of the Sheriffs Act 1887 as persons fit to serve as high sheriff, but the lord-lieutenant of a new county or Greater London shall, as soon as may be after he has been appointed under section 211(l) above or has been specified in an Order in Council under section 211(4) above, nominate three persons as being fit to serve as high sheriff of that county or Greater London, as the case may be, and they shall be treated as having been nominated under the said section 6(1). (3) The rights of Her Majesty in right of the Duchy of Lancaster in relation to the appointment of high sheriffs shall apply throughout the whole of the counties of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire; and subsection (2) above shall not apply to those counties or to the county of Cornwall. (4) The Lord Chancellor may by order prescribe the area for which each under-sheriff is to act. (5) Where the area for which an under-sheriff acts is situated in two or more counties, the duty imposed by section 23 of the Sheriffs Act 1887 of appointing the under-sheriff for that area shall be discharged by the high sheriff of the county containing the greater part of that area, after consulting any other high sheriff concerned, and if any question arises as to which county contains the greater part of an under-sheriff's area, it shall be determined by the Lord Chancellor. References in this subsection to a county include references both to Greater London and to the City (including the Temples). (6) An under-sheriff shall as respects the area for which he acts be treated as the high sheriff's deputy for the purpose of all the high sheriff's functions, except his functions as returning officer at parliamentary elections. (7) No privileges or duties of a sheriff shall be exercisable under section 34 of the Sheriffs Act 1887 or otherwise by the bailiff of a franchise. (8) In this section "Greater London" does not include the City or the Temples.

Mr. Carlisle

I think that it would also be convenient to take Lords Amendment No. 490.

The purpose of the new Clause is to enable the areas of jurisdiction of under-sheriffs to be left, broadly speaking, undisturbed by the local government changes brought about by the Bill. This is being done primarily to avoid disrupting under-sheriffs' offices and staffs pending a long-term decision to be taken by the Government in due course as to the arrangements for High Court execution.

The machinery for achieving that is to give the Lord Chancellor power, by statutory instrument, to prescribe under-sheriffs' areas of jurisdiction. It is expected that he will probably define them by reference to county court districts under the County Courts Act, 1959, thus preserving the status quo as far as possible.

The Payne Committee on the Enforcement of Judgment Debts recommended the discontinuance of the under-sheriff's functions in relation to the execution of High Court judgments. If that function were taken away from them they would be left with merely ceremonial and formal functions. No final decision has yet been taken on the implementation of that Report, but it is certainly possible that in the next few years the work of carrying out High Court executions may be transferred from the hands of under-sheriffs. Therefore the Government have accepted the view of the Under-Sheriffs' Association that, particularly when it is possibly only for a short time, it is not worth causing the disruption which would be caused were any substantial change to be made in the territorial areas of under-sheriffs at present. Therefore, the new Clause makes it possible to preserve the existing areas of operation and function with a minimum of dislocation.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendment agreed to.

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