19 JUNE 1964, Page 11

Spectator's Notebook

DURING his recent visit among the lawyers Mr. rrn Wilson announced that law

reform would be given pride of place in the first session of legislation if his party was returned to power. He outlined one or two proposals which excited interest, parti- cularly the appointment of a Law Reform- Commis-

sioner. But on the whole no fundamental changes were suggested; his words sent no shivers through the Inns of Court. And now the report just issued by Lord Longford's Study Group fills in the details of what some Labour minds are thinking about the prevention of crime. Again (apart from the abolition of capital punishment) there are few fundamental changes suggested—the proposals could for the most part be accepted by members of any of the three parties without demur.

The report makes some sensible and by now widely accepted recommendations about pre- liminary proceedings in magistrates' courts, and in particular it rightly calls for restriction on the reporting of the hearing before the magistrates. The publicity serves only to prejudice the chances of the accused, as has been repeatedly pointed out by left, right, centre, Lord Goddard and the unanimous Tucker Committee,