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Criminal Defence Service (Advice And Assistance) Bill Hl
22 January 2001
Volume 621

3.8 p.m.

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My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Bach.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [ Extent of duty to fund advice and assistance]:

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moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, leave out lines 5 to 7 and insert—

("(1) Subsection (1) of section 13 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 (duty of Legal Services Commission to fund advice and assistance as part of Criminal Defence Service) shall be treated as having been enacted with the substitution of the following for paragraph (b) and the words after it—").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 1 and shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 2 and 3. Taken together, the amendments would allow the Bill, on enactment, to have retrospective effect. Amendment No. 1 provides that the Access to Justice Act will be read as if it had always been amended by the Bill. Amendment No. 2 provides that secondary legislation made under the powers in Section 13(1) of the Access to Justice Act may also have retrospective effect. Amendment No. 3 changes the commencement date of the Bill. There is no longer any need for the Bill to commence on 2nd April. It will come into force on the day that it receives Royal Assent.

I am conscious that all sides of the House believed that there were unlikely to be amendments to this Bill. Although every effort was made at the end of last week to inform interested noble Lords of those amendments, it is right to say that little time has been allowed for reflection. Following any debate today, it is my intention to seek the leave of the Committee to withdraw the amendments and to bring them back before the House on Report next Monday. I hope that the Committee will feel that the Government are behaving responsibly and correctly in doing just that.

I shall explain why the Bill now needs to have retrospective effect.

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I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. In view of the fact that he will re-table the amendments on Report, I believe that it is much better to discuss and debate them then and to leave the matter as it stands today. I trust that the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, will agree with the suggestion that I have made to the Minister.

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I am most grateful to the noble Lord. If the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, whose views on these matters the Committee and the House always take seriously, agrees, I shall be more than happy to withdraw Amendment No. 1 and not move the other amendments today. I hope that the noble Lord will be satisfied with that.

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My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister. It seems to me that that is the right course and that any debate on this matter should take place on Report.

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I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 2 not moved.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [ Short title and commencement]:

[ Amendment No. 3 not moved.]

Clause 2 agreed to.

House resumed:Bill reported without amendment.