§ 46. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Attorney-General if he will circularise all justices of the peace to the effect that no justice should, in the course of his judicial duties, express from the bench his opinions on the merits of any particular Statute under his consideration or his unwillingness to administer it.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross)
No, Sir. I think that, generally speaking, justices are fully aware of the proper relation between the legislature and the judiciary, and that there is no need for a circular on the subject.
§ Mr. Hughes
Have not some recent instances indicated that it is necessary to bring home to justices the traditions which have formerly been recognised in their high office?
§ Mr. Basil Nield
Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman any right or authority to circularise the justices?
§ The Attorney-General
No, Sir, I personally have no rights at all in this matter. There are very few principles in our Constitution more important than those which ensure the complete impartiality and independence of the courts. Those principles would, of course, be difficult to maintain if the courts took it upon themselves to criticise the policy of Parliament as contained in particular Statutes. It would be quite impertinent for me to lay down any rules about the matter and, indeed, His Majesty's judges and other high authorities have from time to time made the practice about these matters perfectly clear. One finds in many of the textbooks a clear enunciation of the principles in regard to the matter.
§ Mr. Keeling
Ought not the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hector Hughes), one of His Majesty's counsel, to have known better than to suggest that the Attorney-General could send a circular to justices?
§ 49. Mr. Molson
asked the Attorney-General whether, having regard to the Report of the Royal Commission on Justices of the Peace, he has any statement to make regarding the Government's attitude to the appointment of persons connected with the licensing trade as justices of the peace; and, in particular, upon those who, by election as mayors of a borough, areex officiojustices of the peace.
§ The Attorney-General
My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor has accepted the recommendations of the Royal Commission regarding the appointment to the Commissions of the Peace of persons engaged in the licensing trade. In future, these persons will not be barred from appointment as justices solely on the ground of their occupations. The Lord Chancellor's advisory committees will be free to recommend such persons for appointment if, having due regard to the objections to such appointments which the Commission note in their Report, they consider that they are well suited for the office of a justice of the peace. As regards ex officio justices, my noble Friend will not take any action to prevent these 1729 justices from adjudicating on the ground that they are engaged in the licensing trade.
§ Mr. Molson
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that this decision will give great satisfaction, as it removes an entirely unwarrantable stigma from an honourable and useful profession?
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Can my right hon. and learned Friend say whether, in applying these recommendations, the Lord Chancellor proposes to make any distinction as between licensed persons who are independent and licensed persons who are merely the tied agents of big brewery companies?