HC Deb 06 June 1940 vol 361 cc1009-10W
Sir J. Mellor

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the observations of Mr. Justice Hilbery at the Norwich Assizes on 3rd June, with reference to jury service in war-time; and whether he proposes to take steps to prevent persons, who are engaged whole-time upon work of urgent national importance, from being summoned for jury service?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, Sir. Certain steps to lighten the calls of jury service have already been taken by the passing of the Administration of Justice (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1939, as a war-time Measure. Subject to certain exceptions, that Act dispensed with the necessity for a jury in civil cases and at coroners' inquests, and it also reduced the size of a jury from 12 to 7 in all civil and criminal proceedings except in murder and treason trials or other criminal cases where by reason of the gravity of the matters in issue the court or judge considers that this reduction should not be made. Further, under Section 3 of the Juries Act, 1922, a sheriff has power to excuse a person from attending as a juror if on application made in writing he is satisfied that there is good reason for doing so. I am considering whether any further steps can properly be taken to lighten the calls of jury service at the present time.