§ 2.37 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lords, I should like to say a very few words about the Motion that stands in my name. Since May 11, 1948, it has been the practice, as your Lordships are aware, for judicial appeals to your Lordships' House to be heard by an Appellate Committee which sits in a Committee Room upstairs, both morning and afternoon. After hearing the appeal, the Committee reports to the House, and the judgment on the appeal is given in this House by those of your Lordships who heard the appeal in the Appellate Committee. As the House also knows, the business of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is also, in part, conducted by those of your Lordships who deal with Judicial Business in this House. For a variety of reasons, the flow of appeals to this House and to the Judicial Committee is uneven, and it sometimes happens that there is much business to be disposed of here while the lists for the Judicial Committee are light.
In such circumstances, it occurred to me that it would be very desirable if your Lordships would see fit to make provision for enabling the Appellate Committee to sit in two Divisions simultaneously, so that opportunity can be taken of making expeditious progress with the business here whenever the lists in the Judicial Committee happen to be light. I am happy to say that my noble and learned friend Lord Simonds entirely concurs in this suggestion, and I hope that your Lordships will think it a useful and sensible suggestion for the dispatch of legal business. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House, in discharge of its constitutional duty to act as the ultimate tribunal in appeals from 28 England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Orders that two Committees, each of which shall include all Lords qualified under section five of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act, 1876, as amended by any subsequent enactment, be appointed to hear, during the present Session, such Appeals as may be referred to them in order to secure the due expedition of public and judicial business; and that the Committees have leave to report to the House from time to time.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I do not think that it is necessary to say very much on this Motion because, from the explanation which the noble and learned Viscount has given us, it appears eminently sensible, and should make for the expedition of legal business. As the noble and learned Viscount knows, there is a considerable delay, and there has been some criticism of the fact that an unduly long time elapses before appeals, both to the Court of Appeal and to the House of Lords, are heard. If, by accepting this Motion, we can speed up matters substantially, I am sure that it will be to the public advantage.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and I entirely agree with him that we should do everything possible to expedite the hearing of cases. He will note that in the gracious Speech there is reference to a method of dealing with part of the trouble of which he spoke, and I hope that the Motion that I have put before your Lordships will also be helpful.
§ On question, Motion agreed to.