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 Hartley Shawcross Mr Hartley Shawcross , St Helens 12:00 am, 7th December 1949

That is true only in a limited number of towns. That situation is a temporary one. Year by year the number of cases in which there is an unqualified clerk with no opportunity in that court of being articled to a qualified man will be diminished. The unqualified clerk is inevitably, under this Bill, a dying class. As each one goes, a qualified clerk will be appointed in his place and assistants will then have the opportunity of qualification. But it often happens in these large areas where the justices' clerk may be an unqualified man, that some of the assistants—the deputy-clerks, for instance—have already qualified and in that case unqualified assistants will be able to take their articles with them.

I am prepared to cover this interim period as far as maybe—and the problem that the hon. Member for Tynemouth raised is an interim problem only; eventually it will disappear completely—by considering, as I have promised to do, an Amendment extending the period. I said I would consider one or two years. I do not want to make this a Dutch auction, but I will consider whether we cannot go a little further than that so as to ensure that those who joined the service in 1945 with the expectation that they might reach the top of it, will not be prejudiced by what has been done now.