HC Deb 06 July 1973 vol 859 cc224-5W
Mr. Stanbrook

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has for relieving the Crown Court of minor criminal cases.

Mr. R. Carr

My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and I are aware of the heavy pressure on, and delays in, the Crown Court, and of the widespread view that the law at present allows too many cases to go for trial there. But we are also conscious of the major issues that would be raised by any proposal to alter the types of case in which there is a right to elect trial by jury. We have come to the conclusion that the division of criminal jurisdiction between the Crown Court and the magistrates' courts should be examined by an independent body, and we therefore propose to appoint a committee with the following terms of referenceTo consider within the framework of the existing court structure what should be the distribution of criminal business between the Crown Court and magistrates' courts: and what changes in law and practice are desirable to that end.

I am glad to say that Lord Justice James has agreed to be chairman of this committee. My noble Friend and I will announce the other members as soon as possible.