Clause 20. — (Qualification of Justices' Clerk.)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th December 1949.

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Photo of Mr Anthony Marlowe Mr Anthony Marlowe , Brighton 12:00 am, 7th December 1949

We are dealing here with whole-time clerks, who cannot carry on a private practice. As I was saying, any competent solicitor will make a much better living and will not be attracted to this vocation.

We must also consider the man who is coming into the profession as an assistant. What are the inducements for him to take up this career? I consider there are none. He will know that if he does not happen to be the kind of man who. can easily pass examinations, if he is a man who finds it difficult to qualify, he can never rise higher than first assistant clerk, with a maximum salary of between £500 and £800. That is not going to attract competent and able young men into this vocation. A man will know that if he comes into the profession as a junior assistant, anxious to learn the job of a justices' clerk, he will have to spend a large part of his time studying to pass his examinations, just at the time when he ought to be in his senior's office or sitting with his senior in the court to learn the job of being a justices' clerk. That is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs, and it is quite illogical.

There is no reason why a man should have particular qualifications unrelated to his job. We might as well say that a man should not keep a job unless he is a qualified "vet." The profession of justices' clerk is a specialised job calling for knowledge of the world, understanding of human nature and appreciation of the particular problems that arise in the court. These are qualities no man learns from books on conveyancing, equity or the laws relating to real property. The qualities of this profession can be learnt only by experience, and if the Clause is allowed to remain as it stands, that experience will not be gained and the vocation of justices' clerk will be so much the poorer.