§ 3.10 p.m.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are now in a position to state their proposals for the amendment of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921; and when the necessary measure will be introduced.
THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS)
My Lords, the Government's proposals for the amendment of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 are set out in Chapter VI of the recent White Paper giving the Government's views on the Recommendations of the Royal Commission on Tribunals of Inquiry and the Interdepartmental Committee on the Law of Contempt as it affects Tribunals of Inquiry (Cmnd. 5313). The Government intend to introduce a Bill to give effect to these proposals when an opportunity occurs.
§ LORD HALE
My Lords, the only question that remains is, when will the opportunity occur? Is the noble Viscount aware that very serious questions have arisen in the country in regard to which a properly constituted Tribunal of Inquiry might have been necessary? The undertakings were given as far back as 1959, at the time of the use of this archaic method for the Waters Tribunal, and of course the vital problem of the present Tribunal, apart from its inadequacy and its inefficiency in its hearing of evidence, is that one cannot use it at all with safety in any case in which there is the possibility of a prosecution.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, the cases in which one may or may not use a Tribunal are, I think, a little different from the point which the noble Lord raised in his Question. As for the legislation to implement these recommendations, in fact a good deal of implementation can be done after a fashion without legislation by various sensible means used by Tribunals, and although probably legislation is needed for two or three of these points we could make a good deal of progress on procedure without actually having a Bill at all, although in the end a Bill will be necessary.