Oral Answers to Questions — Justices of the Peace (Selection).

– in the House of Commons on 3rd June 1942.

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Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

asked the Attorney-General whether he is in a position to communicate to the House what information has been received from the Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Glamorgan with regard to the composition of the magisterial benches in the Caerphilly higher and lower petty sessional divisions?

Photo of Mr Arthur Pearson Mr Arthur Pearson , Pontypridd

asked the Attorney-General whether he can now indicate the reply of the Lord-Lieutenant of Glamorganshire to the inquiry regarding the composition of the magisterial benches of those portions of Miskin Lower and Cowbridge petty sessional divisions which serve within the Pontypridd Parliamentary division?

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

My Noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor has been in communication with the Lord-Lieutenant on this subject. It is the duty of the Advisory Committee, of which in Glamorgan a substantial number are members of the Labour party, to take care that the benches for the county should be open to men of every shade of political opinion. The Lord-Lieutenant states that the Advisory Committee, in submitting the list to the Lord Chancellor, has always endeavoured to keep the balance between parties, and my Noble Friend, from his examination of the lists submitted for Glamorgan, is satisfied that this principle is observed. As I pointed out, however, on the 13th May, Justice of the Peace are not appointed as representatives of any political party, and in particular it is not possible to maintain an exact balance of political opinion in every petty sessional division. The Advisory Committee, under the guidance of the Lord-Lieutenant, will, I have no doubt, bear in mind the statements made by the hon. Members for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) and Pontypridd (Mr. Pearson) when next they come to consider the question of making recommendations to the Lord Chancellor.

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in the lower petty sessional courts in Caerphilly only two out of nine magistrates represent the point of view expressed on this side of the House, and that in the higher courts the proportion is only nine out of 32? Further, is he aware that all the local authorities are composed of Labour councillors, that the county council is fully representative of the same party as this side of the House, yet the Lord-Lieutenant's Committee has gone out of its way to flout the democratically expressed opinion of the community there? Will he take some action?

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I am not aware of that. One of the main objects of the machinery was to ensure that the names were considered by a Committee on which all parties were represented. That is the case in Glamorgan, as in other parts of the country. No doubt, however, the Lord-Lieutenant and his Committee will bear in mind the statements made by the two hon. Members when they next come to consider the position.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

Is it not recognised that magistrates everywhere say they do not want anything to do with political parties? Justice has nothing to do with politics.