HC Deb 10 April 1978 vol 947 cc970-1
38. Mr. Lee

asked the Attorney-General if he is satisfied with the effectiveness of the law relating to the disclosure of source funds provided for the conduct of civil lawsuits where the person or persons providing such funds have no recognisable interest in the lawsuits concerned, in the light of the comments recently made by the Honourable Mr. Justice Pain; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Law Officers' Department (Mr. Arthur Davidson)

Yes, Sir. The Law Commission recommended in 1966 that criminal and tortious sanctions against the giving of financial or other assistance by persons who have no interest in the subject matter of proceedings should be abolished. That recommendation was implemented in the Criminal Law Act 1967, and my right hon. Friends have no proposals for further changes in the law.

Mr. Lee

My hon, and learned Friend will realise that this Question alludes to the activities of Messrs. Lewis and McCormick in Newham, North-East. Does he agree that the learned judge's remarks in one of those cases, which were couched in forceful terms, pointed to a very unsatisfactory state of affairs whereby all kinds of people, for questionable motives, shell out money to promote or maintain actions and that the persons concerned have their identities still undisclosed? The learned judge was most anxious that the identities of the persons concerned should be disclosed. Ought not we to do something about them?

Mr. Davidson

I am well aware of Mr. Justice Pain's remarks, and I do not think that I can add anything to them. My hon. Friend will appreciate that there is no law which prevents those who have provided the funds from disclosing their identities. Equally, there is no obvious reason why they should not do so or wish to do so. If they do not wish or choose to do so, one is at least entitled to speculate what their motives are for so refusing.

Mr. Adley

Did the hon, and learned Gentleman hear the Prime Minister the other day deprecating the expulsion from trade unions of people for their political views? Is he aware that people who are expelled from trade unions face the possibility of action against one of the most powerful and wealthy organisations in this country and that, for instance, the ASTMS is trying to expel me for my political views? What are people in my position supposed to do when they cannot cope with the cost of such actions?

Mr. Davidson

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I never regard him as one of the world's greatest authorities on trade unions. In any event, I cannot see what possible connection his supplementary question has with Mr. Justice Pain's remarks.