HC Deb 30 July 1980 vol 989 cc1659-60 10.15 pm
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

I beg to move amendment No. 5, in page 3, line 8, after ' ineligible ', insert ' or not qualified'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

With this we may take Government amendment No. 1.

Mr. Rifkind

When the Bill was being considered in Committee, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) pointed out that, while there were certain penalties imposed for a person who was ineligible to serve on a jury, no such reference was made to one who was not qualified but who, despite that, served on a jury. The hon. Member's point was well founded and this amendment seeks to remedy that matter.

Government amendment No. 5 is designed to ensure that the validity of a verdict cannot be challenged on the ground that one of the jurors was not qualified in terms of clause 1 (1). The effect of Government amendment No. 1 is that there should be the same penalty for serving on a jury when not qualified as there is for doing so when ineligible.

I am sure that these amendments will be acceptable to the House, and I commend them.

Mr. Donald Dewar () Glasgow, Garscadden

I thank the Minister for tabling these necessary amendments. I pay tribute to him and to the Solicitor-General for Scotland, because I cannot remember a Bill on which Ministers have been more helpful or obliging. Perhaps this is not the most epoch-making measure, but it has been a useful exercise.

I am also glad that we are imposing a possible fine of £200 rather than £1,000 which at one time I believed was in the ministerial mind. If one was of evil disposition, one could have a great deal of fun differentiating between a person who was "disqualified" and a person who was "not qualified" for jury service in Scotland. I shall resist the temptation to indulge in theological speculation.

I am grateful to the Minister for clarifying this point, and I promise that I shall say nothing further on this measure.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 1, in clause 3, page 4, line 21, after 'ineligible', insert ', or not qualified, '.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

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