§ Mr. Etherton
asked the Home Secretary in view of the varying practice in different parts of the country and the uncertainty which exists, to indicate whether justices, who also act as special constables, should sit when police prosecutions are being considered; and whether justices who are air-raid wardens should sit when lighting and similar offences are being tried.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
The question whether a magistrate is disqualified to act in any particular case is a matter of law which I have no authority to determine. The general principle is that a magistrate should avoid adjudicating on a case in which he may be thought to have a bias. A magistrate who is a special ccnstable is not, I am advised, disqualified merely by reason of his being a special constable from acting as a magistrate; but if he is actively engaged in the duties of a special constable there may be cases in which he should abstain from adjudicating because the police (including the special constabulary) are directly or indirectly concerned. As regards the second point, while I am aware that different opinions have been expressed, it seems to me that the case of a magistrate who is also an air-raid warden stands on a rather different footing, and that such a magistrate need not, in general, regard himself as precluded from sitting in the circumstances described; although he should no doubt, in order to avoid any suggestion of bias, refrain from taking part as a magistrate in any proceedings in which he, or any air-raid warden closely associated with him, had been personally concerned.