§ 10. Mr. Gardner
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will institute a full and impartial inquiry into the value of the jury system.
§ Mr. Carlisle
No, Sir. My right hon. Friend will be glad to consider any arguments that my hon. and learned Friend wishes to put before him, but he is not persuaded that such an inquiry is desirable.
§ Mr. Gardner
Will my hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that, contrary to what was said in the recent television lecture by the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, many of us, laymen as well as lawyers, who want to see trial by jury preserved but fear for its future, would welcome an immediate and authoritative inquiry into the value of the system? Does he agree that it would be wrong to allow public confidence in trial by jury to be undermined by what must largely be uninformed opinion? In these circumstances, will he accept that the need for an inquiry is urgent?
§ Mr. Carlisle
I fully accept what my hon. and learned Friend says that we should do nothing to undermine public confidence in trial by jury. Of course, my right hon. Friend and I will carefully consider any proposals which my hon. and learned Friend wishes to put to us. We have looked at this matter but it raises one real difficulty. Any such inquiry would mean violating the secrecy of the jury room, and strong grounds are necessary before such an inquiry could be mounted. It is equally difficult to know how to evaluate in the way my hon. and learned Friend has asked the worthwhile nature of a system in which we all believe.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones
Is the Minister aware that the confidence in the jury system as 1881 implied in his answer is fully shared on the Opposition side?