HL Deb 19 May 1965 vol 266 cc457-8

2.38 p.m.


My Lords, I must ask the indulgence of the House to permit me to make a short statement about the Poor Prisoners (Counsel and Solicitor) Rules, 1965, which have just been laid before it. These Rules, made by my right honourable friend the Attorney General, with the concurrence of my right honourable and learned friend the Home Secretary and myself, replace and revoke an earlier set of Rules made by our predecessors in 1963; these, by inadvertence, were not laid before the House by them as required by law. The relevant provision in Section 4 of the Poor Prisoners Defence Act, 1930, requires Rules made under that section to be laid before each House of Parliament "as soon as may be after they are made". Since the Rules were made as long ago as March 4, 1963, the Attorney General came to the conclusion, with which I fully agree, that the proper course is to revoke them and make a new set of Rules in proper form.

In 1951 on the last occasion on which it was reported to the House that certain delegated legislation had not been duly laid before it, the view was taken by the Government of the day that the failure to lay a Statutory Instrument to which Section 4 of the Statutory Instrument Act, 1946, applies did not prevent the Rules from having come into operation and having full legal effect from the date when they purported to do so. The matter was agreed, however, not to be beyond doubt.

Fortunately, these Rules were in the nature of minor and consequential amendments, and no private rights are affected. It will be seen that Rule 1 merely alters the form of legal aid certificate so as to incorporate in it the name of the solicitor assigned to the assisted person; the old Rule required the name to be sent separately along with the certificate. Rule 2 makes a further small amendment in the form of legal aid certificate consequential on the coming into force of Section 18(2) of the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949, by omitting words that by reason of that provision have ceased to be applicable. Nobody, therefore, will have suffered loss or in- convenience, even if the 1963 Rules are shown, contrary to my present view, to have had no validity since they were made.

I ask the House to accept the apologies of all concerned for the failure to lay the set of Rules which it is proposed to revoke.


My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for the full explanation he has given of an unfortunate omission which occurred a long time ago.