§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Attorney-General what action the Government propose to take to bring up to date the British legal system; and whether he will take steps to end the present system of political appointment of lay magistrates, to enable solicitors to conduct cases in the courts and High Courts, to increase the working hours of High Court judges and generally to speed up the process of law; and whether he will make a statement.
The Royal Commission on Assizes and Quarter Sessions, whose report was presented last September, made radical proposals for overhauling the legal system. The Government have already announced their determination to implement the Commission's report and they are proceeding to do so subject to consultation on points of detail. The Royal Commission made certain recommendations with regard to the right of audience of solicitors and the working hours of High Court judges, and the Government are at present considering these.
As regards the appointment of lay magistrates, the political affiliations of candidates are taken into account only to the extent of ensuring that no bench becomes unduly overweighted in favour of any one party. There appears to be no reason to alter this arrangement, which is in accordance with the views expressed by the Royal Commission on Justices of the Peace of 1948.