§ 2.50 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a third time. Having already made two speeches in relation to this short Bill, I hope your Lordships will not expect me to speak at any length in moving this Motion.
I can claim that none of your Lordships who have spoken in the debates on this Bill have expressed any opposition to the proposal that the Court of Criminal Appeal should be given power to order a new trial. The only controversy that has arisen has been as to the extent of the power the Court should have. My Lords, I do not intend to repeat the arguments I put forward in Committee where your Lordships came to what I regard as a very satisfactory conclusion, albeit by a narrow margin, but there are three things that I should like to say.
The first is that while it may be true that the power this Bill gives will not be frequently used, none the less it may well prove to be an important power to use in particular cases, to secure that justice is done. Secondly, while some comment has been made on the present practice of the Court of Criminal Appeal with regard to the hearing of fresh evidence, it may be that if this Bill is enacted the Court will consider it desirable to review that practice having regard to the provisions of the Bill.
Thirdly, my noble and learned friend Lord Reid was very pessimistic about the prospect of another Bill extending the present one. One of his arguments, if I remember aright, was that if this Bill was passed it would be years before we had another Bill. My Lords, if this Bill failed to pass, I think it would be years before either of the two main Parties tried to give the Court power to order a new trial for if this Bill fails to pass both Parties will have failed 9 in their endeavours to do so. But if this Bill passes, and public opinion, in the light of experience, changes; if the difficulties to which I referred in Committee are overcome, then it may be that, either in a Government Bill or in a Private Member's Bill, your Lordships will be asked to consider the matter again. I commend this Bill to your Lordships, and I beg to move that it be now read a third time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed, and sent to the Commons.