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Lord Bridge of Harwich: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, may I ask her one question on a matter of procedure? If I heard her rightly, she said that a decision of a trial judge in a Crown Court is subject to judicial review. My understanding is that that was the law, as pronounced by the divisional court, until the recent decision of your Lordships' House in its judicial capacity to which I was a party and in which we overruled that decision. Unless our decision has in turn been departed from, the present law, as I understand it, is that a decision on an application to stay a prosecution on the grounds of delay or abuse of process is not open to judicial review in the Crown Court. It was for that reason that I gave such wholehearted support to

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my noble friend's Clause 2, so that the ultimate responsibility for such a decision should rest with three judges and not with one.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am incredibly diffident about taking on the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bridge, on the matter. My understanding is that the judicial review process applied. I shall, of course, write to the noble and learned Lord and make my reply available to the House when I have taken proper technical advice on the matter.

9.7 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, this has been a good-natured, balanced debate on a very serious subject. At this hour of night I believe all noble Lords would agree that it is appropriate that I should thank all those who spoke for and against Clause 1—even the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, who perhaps when he reads the Official Report tomorrow may think that he went a bit over the top.

My heart bleeds for my noble friend the Minister, because the Home Office did not do its homework properly on Clause 2. Anyway, she could not have answered many of the arguments in my speech because obviously her brief was written before the speech was made.

All that having been said, we come to the point that there has been a balanced debate on Clause 1, and nobody has spoken against Clause 2. The two are not mutually dependent. They require separate consideration. I commend this Bill to the House.

On Question, Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

        House adjourned at nine minutes past nine o'clock.


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