HL Deb 15 February 1973 vol 338 cc1690-1

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 2 [Stipendiary magistrates]:

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 1: Page 4, line 3, leave out from ("effect") to end of line 7 and insert ("but—

  1. (a) the number of metropolitan stipendiary magistrates shall not at any time exceed sixty or such larger number as Her Majesty may from time to time by Order in Council specify; and
  2. (b) the number of stipendiary magistrates appointed under this section shall not at any time exceed forty or such larger number as may be so specified;
and Her Majesty shall not be recommended to make an Order in Council under this subsection unless a draft of the Order has been laid before Parliament and approved by Resolution of each House.")

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I do not think I need underline this particular Government Amendment. Our Committee and Second Reading debates are so fresh in your Lordships' memory that noble Lords will recollect the exchanges which took place on each occasion between the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, and me. This Amendment is manifestly a compromise. I still stick to what I said, but my second name is "pliable" and I have tabled this Amendment in the hope that the noble and learned Lord may be satisfied with what I have done. I beg to move.


My Lords, we are very grateful to the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, for having given way on the question whether there should not be a limit to the number of stipendiary magistrates who may be appointed. I confess that when we were considering the matter in Committee I was influenced in two directions: the first, I hope properly, by a desire always to support a Lord Chancellor when I possibly can—and I hope the noble and learned Lord will agree that in general I have done so—and secondly, by my consciousness that here was another instance of the Executive increasing their power at the expense of Parliament. Unless, when this arises, it is dealt with in Parliament, it cannot be dealt with anywhere else. For the reasons I gave in Committee, I felt sure it was wrong to give all future Lord Chancellors a power under which they could substantially have replaced the justices of the peace by stipendiaries without having to come to Parliament.

I think the number so far as London is concerned is the number I suggested. The number outside London is, I must say, higher than I should have liked. Together they will enable any Lord Chancellor to appoint an additional 50 stipendiary magistrates, which is the equivalent of 2,000 to 2,500 justices of the peace. However, it is not my intention to quibble about numbers. I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for having reconsidered the point and for giving way on the question of principle. I only want gracefully to accept the Amendment which he so gracefully moved.


My Lords, I am greatly moved by those words and I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.