HL Deb 22 April 1971 vol 317 cc831-2

[No. 26]

Clause 33, page 24, line 3, leave out "shall, if any party to the proceedings so requests" and insert "may, if the court thinks fit"


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 26. Clause 33 states in modern form the law about what used to be called rather obscurely "praying a tales" for a jury. As originally drafted, it expressed the existing rule that a tales is prayed at the request of one of the parties. But, in practice, the judge at present determines the matter and, if necessary, elicits a request from one of the parties. The court should be enabled to initiate the procedure of its own motion and this Amendment achieves this effect. The praying of a tales arises when the court runs out of jurors. I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 26.

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


My Lords, I have no objection to this Amendment, but now that we are in the field of juries I wonder whether I might ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor what are the prospects of the implementation of the Report of the Committee on juries, of which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest, was Chairman. I think it met with a cordial reception from nearly everybody, but it is now years since it was published. I am rather sorry that I was a Member of a Government which did not themselves take steps to implement that Report, although I think we should have done so by now had we been returned to office. Whether the Home Office have something against it or what exactly the trouble has been, I really do not know. So I shall be grateful for any information which the noble and learned Lord can give us about it.


My Lords, I am afraid that the latest information I can give to the noble and learned Lord was given in another place by my honourable friend Mr. Mark Carlisle of the Home Office, and that is to be found in Hansard of the House of Commons for April 7, 1971, at column 524. As he is a Minister, I can read what he said, which was: What I can say is that the Government are considering the Report. We have been in office for nearly a year. The right honourable and learned gentleman"— he was referring to Sir Elwyn Jones — accepted that the Labour Government had the Report for five years, and I cannot believe that the compartments were quite so watertight that the Attorney General's Department never knew what the Home Office had in mind for the criminal law. The Government are considering this. I am sure that they will bear in mind the views expressed to-day, and if it is decided to implement the Report in full, then legislation will be considered. But I cannot go beyond that. I am sorry to say that I cannot go beyond that either.

On Question, Motion agreed to.