§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I beg to move, in page 37, line 25, to leave out from "admission" to "notwithstanding" in line 26 and insert:on the hearing of such applications of evidence of such descriptions as may be specified in the rules".This is a drafting Amendment to meet a point raised in Committee. The Clause enables provisions to be made in county court rules for the procedure to be followed on applications to the court under the two Clauses we have just dealt with —Clauses 52 and 53. In paragraph (b), the rules can provide for a relaxation of the rules of evidence in relation to any evidence given on such applications.
We discussed this matter in Committee, and the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) suggested that the paragraph was too widely drawn and than the relaxation of the rules should be confined to those reports which I mentioned as the ones I had in mind; that 302 is to say, reports of medical officers, social workers, mental welfare officers and so on. There was no difference in the Committee over the view that these reports ought not to be subjected to the full rigidity of the rules of evidence. I undertook, at column 474 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, to look at the point raised by the hon. Gentleman.
These rules will be rules of court made by the Lord Chancellor for the application of county court judges. That being so, it is not either necessary or practicable, and would not be usual, to describe in detail in the Statute the kind of report to which the relaxation would apply. The Amendment tightens up the paragraph by referring, instead of the very broad reference which we had before, to—evidence of such descriptions as may be specified in the rulesinstead of to "any evidence." I think that will in substance meet the hon. Gentleman's point, without leading me into the indelicacy of spelling out this matter in too much detail for the use of the judiciary.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
I think this wording meets the objections which I expressed in Committee to the rather broad wording of the original paragraph (b). I can quite understand that it would not be appropriate to spell out things which ought themselves to be spelled out in the rules as they are drafted, but 1 am quite sure equally that the views which have been expressed, both from this side of the House and in the Committee and by the right hon. and learned Gentleman both in Committee and today, will be taken into account when these county court rules are drafted, and that they will specify the very limited field in which it will he possible to side-step the normal laws of evidence.
§ Amendment agreed to.