HL Deb 12 November 1947 vol 152 cc585-6

2.45 p.m


My Lords, I beg to ask the question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether their attention has been called to a recent case in the Law Courts, the hearing of which lasted twenty-five days, during which period the daily attendance of a jury was required, who received no remuneration in respect of loss of time or any allowance towards necessary expenses; and whether the Government will introduce a wholly uncontentious Bill to remedy this serious and long-standing injustice, as recommended unanimously by Lord Mersey's Select Committee over thirty years ago.]


My Lords, I appreciate that the obligation of jury service, especially in a case of the length and complexity of the one to which the noble Lord refers, may involve hardship, but, as he is aware, legislation would be necessary to provide any payment from public or local funds to jurors in respect of the loss of time and the expenses which they incur. This question is now under consideration, but I regret that I can hold out no hope of finding time for legislation upon it in the near future. That is the official answer, but may I add this? It may give the noble Lord some slight satisfaction if I say that in my view the matter well merits the consideration which it is now receiving.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble and learned Viscount, but in view of the fact that the matter referred to in the question is wholly uncontentious, surely very little, if any, time would be taken in dealing with it. Alternatively, would it not be possible, so far as criminal justice is concerned, for a clause dealing with the matter to be put into the Criminal justice Bill, which will be shortly before your Lordships' House? Under such a clause a Judge could give a certificate in suitable cases so that payment of some kind could be made to the juror.


I regret to say that having gone into this matter I cannot agree with the noble Lord that it is simple, neither can I guarantee that it will prove uncontroversial. There are difficult questions involved here which need careful consideration.