HC Deb 08 November 1937 vol 328 cc1423-4W

Parker asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that considerable discontent has been caused in the county of Essex by the fact that such a small proportion of the justices of the peace are drawn from the ranks of the Opposition, and that this discontent is particularly strong in Barking, where there is only one resident Labour magistrate apart from the Mayor, and in Ilford where all the magistrates are supporters of the Government; and whether he will take steps to alter this position?

The Attorney-General

In making appointments to the Commission of the Peace my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor is most careful to ensure the inclusion in such appointments of persons drawn from the different sections of the community and holding different political views, and in the appointments made to the Essex Commission of the Peace in the last four years this principle has been applied impartially by my noble Friend in considering the recommendations submitted to him. He has received no complaints and has no knowledge of the alleged discontent, but will consult with his Advisory Committee, upon which are representatives of the three parties, about the position in Barking and Ilford.

Sir F. Sanderson

asked the Attorney-General whether he can state the approximate numbers of justices of peace on the various commissions of the peace who never attend the courts owing to age or for other reasons; and will he consider taking steps to require all those justices to retire who have not attended for a period of three years?

The Attorney-General

I regret I am unable to give the numbers. There are 319 Commissions of the Peace and it would be an unjustifiable expenditure of public time and money to ascertain the figures for each of these Commissions. But before any additional appointments are made to any particular Commission, my Noble Friend the Lord Chancellor causes a careful scrutiny to be made of the numbers of magistrates, and returns are supplied of those who do not attend the Courts for various reasons. In the absence of any valid reason, Justices who have not attended the Bench or performed any other magisterial work for a period of three years should certainly retire.

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