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Notices Of Transfer—Procedure

Volume 116: debated on Thursday 14 May 1987

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Lords amendment: No. 5, in page 8, line 18, leave out "(4)" and insert "(3) and (7A)".

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 6 and 7.

I think that we can take the amendments shortly.[Interruption.] I do not know why the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) is interrupting, because this is not Scottish business. I am not sure how advantageous to the general understanding of these complicated matters his interruptions are. The first two amendments allow magistrates to order witnesses to attend the Crown court trial where cases are transferred by the new procedure in the same way as they would if the case were committed. The third amendment ensures that the judge takes into account any oral submissions that may be made in an application for discharge in determining whether there is a case to answer. They are technical amendments that improve the comprehensibility of the Bill.

We have no great quarrel with the Government on the three amendments. Amendment No. 6 states in subsection (b):

"a person whose written statement is tendered in evidence for the purpose of the notice of transfer shall he treated as a person who has been examined by the court."
At first sight that might appear to enshrine the dangerous principle that evidence can be taken as having been examined, even though it is simply tendered in writing. Because we are talking here about an early stage in the criminal proceedings that follow the investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, although we have some qualms that ought to be put on the record about the principle that appears to be enshrined here, we are happy that the amendments should be accepted.

Amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 6 and 7 agreed to.