§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Mancroft.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The EARL OF DROGHEDA in the Chair]
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2 [Consequential provisions]:
§ LORD MANCROFT: moved to omit "and the filing of a copy thereof." The noble Lord said: There are two small Amendments on Clause 2 which stand in my name on the Order Paper. I think I can dispose of them in a very few seconds. They are really only procedural Amendments, and they have been brought to my attention by the Chief Chancery Master, to whom I am naturally much indebted for his technical help. 24 Clause 2 of this Bill says what is to happen when the High Court makes an order transferring proceedings from the High Court to the Lancaster Palatine Court. As the Bill now stands, it provides that, where an order for the transfer of any proceedings to the Palatine Court has been made, the party to whom the order was granted must produce his duplicate order to the proper officer of the High Court, together with a file copy of the order. I am given to understand that this might mean the filing of copies of orders in several different branches of the central office—the Masters' Chambers, the Registrars' office, the filing department and elsewhere, which would obviously be troublesome and expensive.
§ What the Chief Chancery Master has suggested, and what I propose to effect by these two Amendments, is that we cut out the requirement for filing a copy of the order. It seems to me to be unnecessary anyhow, because the duplicate order will remain on the file of the High Court and be there as a permanent record anyhow. On production of the duplicate copy to the Masters' Chambers, together with a simple request indicating what documents have been filed in the High Court in the proceedings, the Masters' clerks will collect the documents together (whether they are in their own or another department of the central office or Chancery Chambers) and despatch them to the Lancaster Court. It will then be for the authorities of the Lancaster Court to make whatever rules they see fit about the receipt of the documents, and the next steps which they want to be taken. This is purely a procedural Amendment which I think will facilitate the domestic arrangements of this Bill. I hope that the Amendment will commend itself to your Lordships. I beg to move.
Page 1, line 18, leave out ("and the filing of a copy thereof.")—(Lord Mancroft.)
THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD SIMONDS)
The noble Lord has explained this Amendment with his usual clarity. The proper officials have carefully considered the matter and are well satisfied that the passing of this Amendment will, in fact, simplify the procedure upon transfer from the High Court to the Palatine Court. Therefore, I commend the Amendment to your Lordships.
I hope that I may be in order if I may say one thing further, while I am on my 25 feet dealing with this Amendment. When this Bill came before the House on Second Reading, a question was asked of me in regard to legal aid, the question being: what would happen to cases started in the High Court, in which legal aid was given, upon their transfer to the Palatine Court, where no legal aid is at present given? I promised that I would have the matter looked into, for clearly it would be a hardship that a case should be transferred and that the litigant should thereby lose that legal aid which he was getting in the High Court. I have, as promised, looked into the matter and am now in a position to make this statement. There is no legal aid in the Lancaster Palatine Court, just as there is no legal aid in the county court except where cases are transferred from the High Court to the county court and legal aid had been given in the High Court. Some of the cases to be transferred from the High Court to the Lancaster Palatine Court may well have begun with legal aid and they should, of course, be continued with legal aid in the Lancaster Court. The Treasury have signified their agreement to the making of regulations by the Lord Chancellor extending the benefits of the Legal Aid Act, in connection with proceedings in the Chancery Court, to the County Palatine of Lancaster in, or in connection with, any cause or matter transferred thereto from the Supreme High Court. This will be effected by regulations made by me under Section 1 of the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949. They will require an Affirmative Resolution of each House of Parliament. The noble Lord, I think, will be satisfied that I have looked into the matter and done my best to satisfy him in this regard.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD MANCROFT
This Amendment is purely consequential but perhaps I should not be out of order, and I should certainly be lacking in gratitude, if I did not say now what I had intended to say on the Motion that the clause stand part of the Bill. I am extremely grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for the care with which he has gone into the matter, and for the extremely satisfactory result which has been arrived at. I beg to move.
§ Amendment moved—
§ Page 1, line 19, leave out ("copy together with the others").—(Lord Mancroft.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.