HC Deb 25 November 1999 vol 339 cc752-4
34. Mr. John Burnett (Torridge and West Devon)

What representations he has received on the statement made by the Director of Public Prosecutions on the right to trial by jury. [98873]

The Solicitor-General

I have received no representations on the matter. As I told the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier), I have read the article in The Times of 15 November and a transcript of the interview. Neither the substance of the article nor the DPP's comments in interview justified the article's headline.

Mr. Burnett

In that article, the DPP expressed his grave concerns about the Government's proposal to curb trial by jury. In The Guardian today, the eminent Professor Bridges describes those proposals as likely to cause further delay and as deeply unfair. The Attorney-General and the Home Secretary both denounced those proposals three years ago. The Solicitor-General's constitutional role is to safeguard the interests of justice. Will he therefore intervene with the Home Secretary to ensure that the proposals are abandoned? They are unlikely to save time or money, and they will deny justice to many of our fellow citizens.

The Solicitor-General

The proposed changes accord with the recommendations of the royal commission. The hon. Gentleman can produce one professor, but I can produce others, such as Professor Zander of the London School of Economics, who support the changes. The changes are justified and I support them.