HL Deb 19 July 1949 vol 164 cc123-4

2.37 p.m.


My Lords, may I ask your indulgence to make a correction by way of personal explanation? On the Second Reading of the Justices of the Peace Bill I gave some figures which I find are erroneous. I was talking, your Lordships will remember, about the abolition of quarter sessions in non-county boroughs, and I said: Hampshire is the other difficult case. Hampshire had 257 cases in 1948. It has two non-county boroughs, Winchester and Andover. Winchester disposed of sixty-seven cases and Andover thirty-one, making a total of ninety-eight. If the ninety-eight are added to the 257, quarter sessions will obviously have to deal with 355 cases. Yet how odd this fact is! There is Southampton, a county borough —and perhaps in due course the Lord Chief Justice will explain something which puzzles me—with a population of 176,000, far greater than Winchester and far greater than Andover. It had one case in 1948, three in 1947, and one in 1946. If you want a trace horse, there you have a county borough at hand with its separate quarter sessions doing absolutely nothing, whereas the work seems to be piling up in Winchester. It seems to me that if this reform is carried through, the County Borough of Southampton ought obviously to give greater relief. My figures were erroneous and for this I naturally take full responsibility, and express my humble apologies. The figures I gave for Southampton, which should have been one in 1946, three in 1947 and three in 1948, were merely the figures committed from the County for trial at the Borough Sessions. By error, I included in the 257 cases tried by the County Quarter Sessions, a number of cases which arose in the County Borough of Southampton and which were, in fact tried by the Borough Sessions. I therefore attributed to the citizens of Southampton a much better standard of behavious than in fact was their due. I also did an injustice to the Recorder of the Borough of Southampton and to those assisting him in suggesting that they were making a very small contribution in regard to the trial of criminals. The correct figures for the year 1948 should therefore have been: for the Hampshire County Sessions, 175; for the Southampton Sessions 96, of which latter total 93 arose within the Borough and three had been committed from the County for trial within the Borough.

I express my regret to everyone concerned and take this, the earliest, opportunity of putting the matter right.