HL Deb 27 March 1956 vol 196 cc792-4

Clause 18, page 17, line 8, at end insert— ("(4) For the purposes of section eight of the Summary Jurisdiction (Appeals) Act, 1933, in its application to appeals from a juvenile court, the panel constituted under subsection (2) of that section shall include, in addition to the members provided for by that subsection, a special section consisting of—

  1. (a) fifteen justices to be nominated annually from amongst themselves by the members of the panel constituted for juvenile courts in the metropolitan stipendiary court area under paragraph 2 of the Second Schedule to the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933; and
  2. (b) one justice to be nominated annually from amongst themselves by the members of any panel constituted under paragraph 1 of that Schedule for juvenile courts in a petty sessional division of the county of London not wholly comprised in that area;
and arrangements shall be made to secure that, so far as practicable, when an appeal from a juvenile court is to be heard by the court a quarter sessions for the county of London, members of the special section will be available to sit with the chairman of the court, and will be not less than half the justices so sitting: Provided that this subsection shall not have effect in relation to any appeal entered by the clerk of the peace before such day as the Secretary of State may appoint by order made by statutory instrument.")


My Lords, this Amendment meets a point raised in Committee in another place by Mr. MacColl, who pointed out that there is no provision to secure that justices with juvenile court experience are included in an appeal court hearing appeals from the London juvenile courts. This is a matter which has become increasingly important with the increased facilities for appears from juvenile courts, including legal aid provided by the Criminal Justice Act, 1948. It needs no words of mine to stress the importance of juvenile courts at the present day. As your Lordships are aware, the juvenile court, though it performs as a court of summary jurisdiction, is also a great social instrument for looking after children needing care at the present time. Again, if your Lordships will forgive a personal recollection of my own, it was always at once a privilege and a consolation that one of the duties of the Home Secretary is not only to supervise the repressive machinery of the law but to have this wide responsibility for children in need of care. I have devoted a great deal of attention to the working of juvenile courts in this country. I think this is a useful provision because it ensures that if there is an appeal from a juvenile court there will be a chance of there being on the appellate body people who understand the working of juvenile courts and the spirit behind them. I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, may I say a word or two on this Amendment? I am sure that the House will agree with it, but I should like to ask the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack a question. The purpose of this Amendment is to enable a number of magistrates to sit at quarter sessions and to decide on appeals. Is it not the position that magistrates responsible for decisions appealed against might be sitting at quarter sessions to hear cases which are virtually appeals against their own decisions? I imagine that most sensible magistrates would not put themselves into such a position, but is there anything in the rules to prevent it? It is necessary not only to do justice, but for the person being tried to see that justice is being done.


My Lords, it certainly would be a very improper thing in such a case for a magistrate to sit on the bench at quarter sessions, and I am sure that the chairman or the clerk would immediately draw his attention to the fact that an appeal was to be heard against his decision. I have not in mind whether the matter is specifically covered by rule, but I promise the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that I will look into that point, and if it is not possible to make a rule I will see that my views, which are his, are sent to the quarter sessions so that such a happening will be avoided.

On Question, Motion agreed to.