HC Deb 19 March 1923 vol 161 cc2151-2W

asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that provision is made in the Criminal Justice Bill giving additional powers of sentence to stipendiary and other magistrates; whether he is aware that there is no absolute right of appeal from the decision given by a stipendiary, and that the only form of appeal is conditional on the appellant entering into sureties and depositing a substantial sum to meet the cost of appeal to quarter sessions; whether he is aware that all persons in England convicted after trial by jury have an absolute right of appeal; and will he introduce legislation giving all persons convicted by magistrates the same right of appeal as persons convicted by juries in England?


The maximum sentences which Courts of Summary Jurisdiction are, under the proposals of the Criminal Justice Bill, empowered to pass on convictions for indictable offences dealt with summarily are, in most cases, much less severe than those which could be passed if the cases were tried on indictment. No alteration, with the exception of that for "common assault," is proposed in the Bill in sentences now provided by law in respect of summary offences. There is, under the Criminal Justice Act, 1914, Section 37, an absolute right of appeal provided for any person convicted summarily of an indictable or summary offence; under the Bill it is proposed to extend this so as to give a similar right of appeal against sentence only. In all cases of such appeals recognizances of the appellant and sureties are required by the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1879, and the same statute recognises an alternative of the deposit of money in lieu of such recognisances. This is necessary, as frivolous or unsubstantial appeals involve the prosecutors in considerable costs. Under the Criminal Appeal Act, 1907, which applies only to convictions on in dictment, an absolute right of appeal is only given on questions of law, all other appeals are "with leave of the Court." To introduce legislation, placing appellants from Courts of Summary Juris diction on the same footing as persons convicted on indictment of serious offences and liable to serious punishment would introduce so radical and costly a change in the law that, in the absence of any complaint against or hardship arising from the present procedure, I am not prepared to introduce legislation for that purpose.