HL Deb 14 February 1967 vol 280 cc153-6

2.50 p.m.

Read 3a (according to Order).

Clause 12 [Commencement, savings and other general provisions]:


My Lords, the fiat Amendment which appears in my name is to change a date because, as your Lordships know, the Bill provides for alterations in the procedure of the trial of criminal cases arising out of the abolition of felonies. In criminal cases certainty is essential, and courts will want to know from which date the procedure is to be altered. It has been thought that, on the whole, August 29 is the date when fewer criminal courts are likely to be sitting, and for that purpose it would be a much more convenient date than March 25. Accordingly, I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 44, leave out ("25th March") and insert ("29th August").—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, I would just draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that we are now considering a Marshalled List of two Amendments which I think is identical to the list of two Amendments which was published last week. I should have thought that any member of the public who was induced to part with 5d. to the Stationery Office for this particular Marshalled List might feel that he had been swindled. Since I think it is established practice that one Amendment does not need to be marshalled, perhaps we can, in the interests of economy, go one step further now and say that where two Amendments have already appeared in their correct order in one list those two Amendments need not be subsequently marshalled.


My Lords, I do not know whether it is appropriate for me to come in with this point at this particular moment, but it has occurred to me that we were in Committee on the General Rate Bill and I did not hear the Motion, "That the House do now resume." May I be told whether we are still in Committee?


My Lords, the House has resumed, although I think the Motion was not formally put. I do not know that the point which has been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, is really a matter for me to deal with. I understand that it has always been the practice in your Lordships' House to have a Marshalled List. If there are only two Amendments—one by Lord A and one by Lord B—it is still convenient to have all the Amendments on one piece of paper. The present example of two Amendments in the name of one noble Lord may seem a minimal case, hut, again, it has been found convenient to be able to refer to an Amendment by its number, and to be able to call it by its number. Otherwise there may be some confusion about which Amendment is being discussed. But I will see that the noble Lord's point is given further consideration.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Repeals (obsolete crimes)]:


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 2 standing in my name on the Marshalled List. This Amendment corrects an error by removing the reference to Section 8 of the Statute of Monopolies from the list of repeals in Schedule 4. When that repeal was proposed, it was overlooked that the section had already been repealed by the Administration of Justice Act, 1965, and accordingly we do not want to repeal it again. I am sorry that that had not been noticed before. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 29, line 45, column 3, leave out ("Section 8.")—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. I am sorry to be moving these Motions in your Lordships' House to-day, because it is due to the absence of my noble friend Lord Stonham. But we are all very pleased, I know, to hear that he is getting on so well, and I hope that he will be back with us long before the Criminal Justice Bill arrives in your Lordships' House.

We are indebted to noble Lords on the Committee who made various suggestions for the improvement of the Bill, a number of which I was able to accept on the Report stage. I am only sorry that, despite the best endeavours, we were not able to find any really satisfactory alternative for the "arrestable offence". As the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, knows, it was not for lack of trying. There were meetings but none of us, I think, was able to find a really satisfactory alternative. Some may regret the disappearance of such old friends as felony, allocutus and misprision, but this is, I think, a small price to pay for a worthwhile piece of law reform.

I have always very much encouraged our newspapers to criticise our law and our administration of justice, because criticism is good for all of us, and it has been right for a generation to point out that the distinction between felonies and misdemeanours was a complete anomaly which ought to be removed. Now that has been done, after a good deal of work by Lord Justice Sellers and the members of the Criminal Law Revision Committee. This work has been done after their ordinary day's work, and I am sure that we are all grateful to them for it. But I wish that the Press, on such occasions, would sometimes take note of the fact that anomalies are being removed from the law—certainly during the life of this Administration—and that it is the lawyers themselves who have played the originating part. I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, throughout the proceedings on this Bill I have spoken with great diffidence and as little as possible, not myself being a lawyer, and knowing that this is essentially a lawyers' Bill. But I feel happy to-day that it is passing from your Lordships' House, inasmuch as I was the Home Secretary who referred this question of felonies and misdemeanours to the Criminal Law Revision Committee. I should like to join the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor in the tribute which he has paid to Lord Justice Sellers and the members of that Committee. We all feel a debt of gratitude to them for working so hard on a subject which, if I may respectfully say so, they understand a great deal better than most of us lay noble Lords. I just wanted to say this, because I should not like it to be thought that this Bill passed from your Lordships' House without a word of appreciation for the preparatory work which the Committee did.


My Lords, I am sure that the House will wholly approve what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, has said in expressing our thanks to the Criminal Law Revision Committee. May I add what I should have said before: that I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Criminal Law Bill, has consented to place Her interest, so far as it is concerned on behalf of the Crown, at the disposal of Parliament fen the purposes of the Bill.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.