HL Deb 27 October 1982 vol 435 cc572-3

33 After Clause 57, insert the following clause:

"Questions to persons summoned for jury service


In section 2(5) of the Juries Act 1974

  1. (a) for the words "attends in pursuance of such a summons, or of a summons" there shall be substituted the words "is summoned under subsection (4) above or"; and
  2. (b) after the word "may", in the second place where it occurs, there shall he inserted the words "at any time".".

7.26 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I am sorry to say that there is a misprint in Amendment No. 33 in the list of Commons amendments. On that list the amendment should begin with the words: In Section 2 subsection (5) of the Juries Act 1974". I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their amendment.

The purpose of the new clause as now explained is to ensure that questions may be put to a prospective juror to ascertain whether he is qualified for jury service at any time, and not just when he attends in pursuance of a jury summons. The result will be that if a juror refuses without reasonable excuse to answer, or knowingly or recklessly gives a false answer to the questions which are customarily set out in the jury summons, he will commit an offence which is at present triable summarily before magistrates with a maximum fine at present of £100, though under the Criminal Justice Bill it will be a maximum of £200. The difference is that we may ask the questions at a subsequent time and not just at the original time. I beg to move.

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

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, this is obviously a sensible provision in that questions ought to be directed to a prospective juror if necessary immediately after the summons has been issued or between the issue of a summons and the time a juror attends court. It is, of course, interesting that this means that the questioning at that time—as, indeed, when he attends court—can result in a charge being preferred against a juror (and I think that this ought generally to be known) not only if he does not reveal a cause for disqualification which exists, but equally if he tries to pretend that he has a disqualification which he does not have in order to try to avoid jury service. The noble and learned Lord will most likely agree with me that that ought to be generally known.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, who as usual has made a useful contribution, not the less useful because it was brief.

On Question, Motion agreed to.