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Fishguard Petty Sessional…


Fishguard Petty Sessional Division. Preliminary Arrangements. Action of Urban Council. A special meeting of the magistrates resi- dent in the area to be comprised by the new Fishguard Petty Sessional Division will be held in the Fishguard Town Hay at 11.30 to-morrow (Thursday) morning, for the pur- pose of making the preliminary arrange- ments in connection with the inauguration of the new regime. In anticipation of this gathering, an extra- ordinary meeting of the Fishguard Urban District Council was held at the accustomed venue on the evening of Wednesday of last week, Mr Levi Evans, J.P. (chairman), presi- ded, and there were present Mr T Lewis (vice-chairman), Mr B G Llewhelin, Capt. J Thomas, and Messrs H Williams, 0 D Jones, D G Thomas, D John, D P Lewis, W J I Vaughan, D Rees, and F George, together with the Clerk (Mr A J Hodges), and the Surveyor (Mr D G Wilcox). The agenda stated that the meeting had been convened for the purpose of considering the advisability of petitioning the local justices to appoint as clerk to the new Fish- guard Petty Sessional Division a solicitor ¡ having a practice in the town. The Chairman said the object for which the meeting had been convened was very clearly expressed in the agenda, and he dared say that most of them had made up their minus as to the course which they proposed to take. He understood that it had been in- tended to bring the question forward at the last meeting, but owing to the lateness of the hour that idea had had to be abandoned. The question was quite clear and needed no explanation on his part, further than that he hoped that each one of them would express his views on the subject. A special meeting of the justices who intended sitting in the new division had been convened for Thursday week at the Town. Hall, and if they decided upon petitioning in favour of appointing a solicitor who was resident in the town, then it would be well to decide also as to whether, in order to make the petition effective, it should be sent by letter or be presented by a deputation. Mr Llewhelin asked for a definition of the phrase "local justices," and also enquired who was the convener of the forthcoming meeting. Were all the justices in the county entitled to sit, or merely those living within that new division? It was explained that the justices entitled to vote were those who acted for the Dews- land and Kernes Divisions, and they had been asked to attend that meeting, but it was understood that those who really would vote were those who were prepared-to act within the new division. The others could legally vote, but it was understood that it would be a breach of etiquette for any magistrate who did not intend to sit and act in the division to do so. Mr Llewhelin said the only reason why he had asked was. that, supposing the Council was agreeable to petitioning a certain section of the magistrates, it wanted to know whom it was to petition. Etiquette was one thing, but it was broken frequently, particularly where licensing matters were concerned, and possibly the Clerkship might be as important in the view of magistrates as were licenses. They knew that etiquette had been ignored in the past, and he wanted to know whether only the local magistrates would vote upon that question, or whether it would have to be decided by the whole of the County Bench. In other words, who was the convener of the meeting going to notice? Etiquette pre- mised that only residents of the new division should be noticed, but would the convener of the meeting curtail the notices to that divi- sion, or would he include the whole of the magistrates living in the two existing div- isions. Mr J R Richards said he understood that all the magistrates in the county had a legal right to attend -but, of course, it was not etiquette for them to do so. The convener could ask any magistrate to attend, and of course his vote would be legal. The Clerk expressed a doubt whether the meeting would be convened personally, pointing out that the notice thereof had al- ready been advertised. The Chairman said the Clerk to the Peace (Mr W Davies George) had sent out notices to various magistrates individually, but it was not worded in a manner confining it to those who resided in the locality. Whether any outsider would take it upon himself to attend and vote in favour of any particular appli- cant, he did not know. Mr Llewhelin asked if the convener were likely to be Clerk at that particular meeting. The Clerk replied in the affirmative. Mr Llewhelin said they could send a peti- tion to him, and he would bring it before the magistrates. Mr D G Thomas asked what about canvas- sing and the activities of the candidateS in the meantime ? Support would be promised to individuals before the meeting was held. Mr 0 D Jones said he thought that a cer- tain thing had been left out in drawing up the agenda, and asked if he would be in order in proposing an addition. Proceeding, he said he thought that the most important thing should be whether the person appoin- ted would be conversant with Welsh or not, he thought that that was a very importaut matter. It would be an appointment which would have to deal more particularly with one of the most Welshy districts in Pem- brokeshire. Time after time had he attended the Court, and had heard witnesses express a desire to give evidence in Welsh, and he thought that the Council should impress upon the magistrates who made the appoint- ment that the Clerk should be a person who had a thorough knowledge of the Welsh language. The time had come-he thought that ever the present Liberal Government(who could not by any means be accused of any inordinate love of Wales and Welsh) had made it a point in most appointments that the persons appointed should be acquainted with Welsh, although there were cases where they were entirely devoid of that language. It was high time that they should claim that no public appointment should be made un- less the person appointed were conversant in Welsh. He would be within his rights if he claimed to address the Council in Welsh, but out of courtesy to one or two members he desisted, although it would be a great advan- tage to him to do so. Mr D G Thomas, interposing, pointed out that the Council was discussing a question without having a proposition before the meeting. Mr 0 D Jones said he knew that they were out of order. Mr Llewellyn then moved that the Council petition the magistrates who would vote on that issue of the Clerkship, asking them to support a gentleman qualified and living within the district—(cries of hear hear from the public "gallery")—and having a knowledge of both languages—(further public cries of hear hear ")-English and Welsh. He agreed, he said, with Mr Jones that it was a great advantage for the Clerk to possess a knowledge of the Welsh language. There was no doubt that there 'were several witnesses who, though they understood English to a degree, were better able to give their evidence in their accustomed language —the tongue in which they were used to con- verse-and he thought that it was a great detriment to justice to try to persuade those particular persons to give their evidence in English. Even when they had persisted in giving their evidence in Welsh it was liable to be distorted in the translation from one language to another; the interpreter might be a good one he might be only an ordin- ary one he might, possibly, be an inferior one and it was even possible that a wrong construction might be given to the intention of the witness. He thought that that ought to be a large factor in appointing any official in Welsh districts. He did not mean to say that that district was the most Welsh in Wales of course, with the advent of the works at Goodwick, and one thing and another, there had been a very large admix- ture of the English language and residents, but, at the same time, we could not ignore • the fact that a large percentage of the wit- nesses were Welsh-speaking persons, who did not understand much of the English language. Mr D G Thomas: And the defendants! Mr Llewhelin Well, the defendants are not very much relied upon The witnesses are man who ought to be able to speak the truth without regard to defendant or com- plainant. Mr Richards, interposing, suggested that the magistrates should be petitioned indiv- idually, pointing out that it was no use leav- ing the matter until the time of the meeting. Mr LIewhelin, proceeding, said the petition must point out the advantage of having a resident Clerk and the disadvantage of not having one. In the first place it was a great advantage to get that division, but that ad- vantage would be very greatly marred if they had to get a Clerk living fourteen or fifteen miles distant. He had no disrespect for any- one living outside the area, but the disad- vantage would be very great, and that was the only point with him. He suggested that a copy of the petition should be sent to each magistrate living within the new division, and to nobody else. Mr Richards seconded, remarking that he thought that that was the right way to go about it. As Mr Llewhelin had pointed out, if they did not petition the magistrates in- dividually the Clerk of the Peace would hardly see them before the day of meeting came, and would, very possibly, not be able to explain the petition to them. Mr Rees said they were laying great strain upon Welsh. They wanted a man from the town, who kept his office there: it did not matter to the Council who he might be. It was not Welsh, but a man who could hold the office, that they wanted. He did not j' want to move an amendment: they had Messrs Tombs, Vaughan, Evans, Williams, and Johns in the town-five fit gentlemen- and it did not matter which of them was appointed, but he dared say that the man who could not speak Welsh best was the fittest to take the post. They wanted a good man for Fishguard, and the recommendation that the Council should send should be to select a man from the town. He could not understand the strain that had been put upon Welsh. It was a rellection upon some in the town who might perhaps compete for the petition. Mr Llewhelin said he was certain that he, for one desired to cast no rellection upon anyone. He had no particular one in view, but they could not lose sight of that particu- lar fact that it was an advantage in Welsh- speaking districts to have a Welsh clerk ap- pointed. Mr 0 D Jones stated that, in spite of what Mr Rees had said, he thought that the main point should be that the man appointed should have a knowledge of Welsh. He did not care whether he were a man in tne town or not; whether he had an office in the town or not. Mr Jones asked for common cour- tesy to be extended to him, adding that when he was an older member he would be able to meet Mr Rees on his own ground. He closed by asserting that he was there to defend the appointment of Welsh-speaking districts. The motion was unanimously agreed to and the Chairman and Vice-chairman with Messrs Llewhelin, Richards, and the Clerk were appointed to draft a petition.

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