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Bail Act 1976: Implementation

Volume 387: debated on Monday 14 November 1977

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2.38 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government why no part of the Bail Act 1976 has yet been brought into force and when it will be.

My Lords, the Bail Act cannot be brought into force until rules of court have been made prescribing the procedure to be followed in the High Court, the Crown Court, magistrates' courts and juvenile courts. Work on these is well advanced, and the respective Rules Committees will be consulted shortly. Some time must also be allowed for the courts to make the necessary preparations. The Act is likely to be brought into force early next year, but until the Rules Committees' views are known it is not possible to give a firm date.

My Lords, while thanking my noble friend for that Answer, may I ask him whether I am right in saying that the only reference in the whole Act, including the Schedules, to rules to be made is in Section 8, which says that rules will be made as to the form which recognisances are to take? Secondly, is it really satisfactory that an Act which Parliament passed in 1976 should not in any way be brought into force until 1978 simply because the Executive so decree?

My Lords, the fact is that there is a very substantial amount of work to be done here. There are four separate sets of rules of court to be made—those dealing with the Supreme Court, the Crown Court, magistrates' courts and juvenile courts—and these matters are being considered by three separate Rules Committees. Certainly, again, there is no disposition on our part to differ from my noble and learned friend on the importance of this matter, but I think one has to recognise that, once an Act of this sort has been passed, a very substantial amount of administrative work has to be done thereafter.