Oral Answers to Questions — Urban District Councils (Signing of Documents).

– in the House of Commons on 2nd July 1942.

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Photo of Major Henry Procter Major Henry Procter , Accrington

asked the Attorney-General whether, in view of the burden of work now falling on chairmen of urban district councils in signing forms and documents of many kinds, he will make arrangements to enable past chairmen of urban district councils to sign all documents which may now be signed by the existing chairman, who is an ex-officio magistrate?

Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby

I have been asked to reply to this Question. I am not aware that there are classes of forms or documents which the chairman of an urban district council is the sole person capable of attesting or witnessing. Some documents are by Statute required to be attested by a justice of the peace, a notary public or a commissioner for oaths, and my Noble Friend has no evidence before him that there is any insufficiency of justices of the peace for the purpose. As far as my Noble Friend is aware, in other cases where a justice of the peace (whether the chairman of an urban district council or otherwise) is a possible attesting party, there are long categories of people who are equally competent to perform this duty.

Photo of Major Henry Procter Major Henry Procter , Accrington

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in urban district councils in the Parliamentary Division of Accrington there is a great shortage of magistrates, and, as the war proceeds, all kinds of forms require signatures, and, as a great deal of time is required from busy men to do this work, surely steps should be taken to remove some of the burdens from the shoulders of the chairmen of urban councils?

Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby

If my hon. and gallant Friend can refer me to any district where there is a shortage of magistrates, or to any particular class of form that he has in mind, I will have the matter inquired into at once.

Photo of Major Henry Procter Major Henry Procter , Accrington

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman look into the shortage of magistrates in Church and in other urban districts in my division?