asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that the "Surrey County Clarion," the organ of the Surrey Federation of Labour Parties, in its issue for August, 1950, states that three gentlemen identified therein by name have been nominated by the Surbiton Labour Party for consideration for appointment as justices of the peace; and whether, as these gentlemen will now, if appointed, inevitably be regarded as political nominees, consideration will be given to the undesirability on these grounds of appointing any of them.
I am aware that a statement has appeared in the "Surrey County Clarion" giving the names of three gentlemen which were said to have been submitted by the Surbiton Labour Party for consideration for appointment as justices of the peace. As the hon. Member has already been informed, the Lord Chancellor is of the opinion that it is undesirable for many reasons that the names of candidates for appointment to the commissions of the peace should be prematurely published, but he has no power to prevent publication by an independent body.My noble Friend has no objection to any organisation, political or otherwise, suggesting to his advisory committees the names of persons considered to be suitably qualified for appointment as justices. If an advisory committee, after considering all the relevant circumstances, recommends a candidate for appointment as being in every respect suitable for the office of justice of the peace, my noble Friend would not decline to accept the recommendation solely on the ground that the name of the candidate had already been published as having been recommended by a particular organisation.
In view of the fact that this is the second occasion on which the organisation and publication in question have conducted themselves in this way, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman see that they now become aware of the view of his noble Friend in the matter?
I have no doubt that the Question that the hon. Member has put and the answer which has been given to it will receive proper publicity.
In view of the implication of the Question on the Order Paper, and of the supplementary question, can the Attorney-General say whether it is the fact that out of 25 Surrey county aldermen 15 are justices of the peace, and that, out of the 15, 14 are members of the Conservative Party?
I am not sure, and I am not concerned with the complexion of the Surrey County Council, but I hardly think that the addition of the names of three persons who may possibly be connected with the Labour Party will be felt to give rise to undue political bias.
Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the deduction made by the general public from this statement in the "Surrey County Clarion" is that the submission of names was invited from this organisation, and will he deny that?
I think that there is no reason whatever to suppose that anyone would make so erroneous deduction, and in that regard I do not propose to add anything to the answer I have given.