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Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: This is the first time that there will be a right of appeal against a finding of fitness or unfitness to plead. In relation to one part of the amendment I should be extremely reluctant to extend the period for appeal against a finding of fitness or unfitness to plead. As the noble Lord will appreciate, that matter will hinge principally on expert medical evidence, and the finding, one way or the other, is the court's assessment of the accused's fitness or unfitness to stand trial now rather than at some point in the future. To extend that beyond seven days would be undesirable.

Having said that, I accept that we may not have given enough detailed consideration to the appropriate appeal procedures in relation to findings and disposals of examination of facts. The previous arguments to the one I have just addressed do not apply, and a longer period than seven days may be required to consider, lodge intimation of and prepare such appeals.

I am not wholly persuaded that the figure of 21 days is the right one and it is not clear to me why that period should be chosen. But I am happy to undertake to reconsider the appeal periods in this second category of cases and to bring forward further proposals for consideration at a later stage. With that undertaking, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: I am obliged to the noble and learned Lord for his co-operation in this matter. I accept that 21 days may be too long an extension and look forward to the result of his deliberations. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 125 not moved.]

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 125A:


Page 37, line 23, at end insert:
("( ) An appellant in an appeal under this section shall be entitled to be present at the hearing of the appeal unless the High Court determines that his presence is not practicable or appropriate.").

The noble and learned Lord said: This amendment is consequential. I spoke to it when dealing with Amendment No. 114. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 126 and 127 not moved.]

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 127A:


Page 38, line 14, at end insert:
("( ) An appellant in an appeal under this section shall be entitled to be present at the hearing of the appeal unless the High Court determines that his presence is not practicable or appropriate.").

The noble and learned Lord said: I spoke to this amendment earlier. I beg to move.

16 Jan 1995 : Column 500

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 43, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 44 [Appeal by prosecutor in case involving insanity]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 127B:


Page 39, line 8, at end insert:
("( ) A respondent in an appeal under this section shall be entitled to be present at the hearing of the appeal unless the High Court determines that his presence is not practicable or appropriate.").

The noble and learned Lord said: In speaking to Amendment No. 114, I spoke also to Amendments Nos. 127B and 127C which are essentially consequential. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 127C:


Page 39, line 46, at end insert:
("( ) A respondent in an appeal under this section shall be entitled to be present at the hearing of the appeal unless the High Court determines that his presence is not practicable or appropriate.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 44, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 45 and 46 agreed to.

Clause 47 [Committal to hospital for inquiry into mental condition]:

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 128:


Page 41, line 27, at end insert ("if he is legally represented").

The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to ensure that where an order for continuation of commitment is made it should be made in the person's absence only if he is legally represented. Continued commitment is a matter of importance to the individual and to ensure that it is done properly and with proper information before the court making the extension legal representation is not only essential but fair to those covered by this clause of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: I agree with the noble Lord that continued committal to hospital is a matter of considerable significance and not something to be contemplated lightly. But there are inevitably cases where it is necessary; for example, where the inquiry into the person's mental condition is not yet complete. We agreed with the suggestion from the senior judiciary that it might be appropriate to provide for a hearing to be held, without need for the person's attendance, simply to continue the period of committal provided that neither the person in question nor anyone on his behalf objected to that. Indeed, the reasoning was to prevent unnecessary travel, stress or distress to someone who may be ill.

The purpose of this amendment appears to be to preclude such hearings in absentia for those who are not legally represented. But if someone has just exercised his right to defend himself in person rather than through legal assistance he should be allowed himself to make the choice as to whether to attend the continuation of the committal hearing. We have included safeguards in our proposals. The court may permit continued

16 Jan 1995 : Column 501

committal to hospital only on the evidence of a medical practitioner and if a suitable hospital is available for his continued detention. With that explanation, I hope the noble Lord will feel that he can withdraw his amendment.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: I am obliged to the Minister for that explanation. I had not quite fully appreciated the context with which we are dealing. I trust that what he has agreed with the judiciary does not contravene anything the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, said in relation to the European Convention, but that is perhaps a matter for another day. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 47 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 129 not moved.]

10.15 p.m.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: I do not propose to move Amendment No. 130.

The Earl of Balfour: I believe that my noble and learned friend Lord Fraser said that he was going to accept Amendment No. 130.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: That is perfectly correct. It was dealt with an earlier stage when we were dealing with Amendment No. 85. It has already been debated.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: If the noble Lord moves it, I shall certainly accept it.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 130:


Before Clause 48, insert the following new clause:

("Information on race discrimination

.—(1) The Secretary of State shall in each year publish such information as he considers expedient for the purpose of facilitating the performance by persons engaged in the administration of criminal justice of their duty to avoid discriminating against any persons on the grounds of race.
(2) Publication under subsection (1) above shall be effected in such manner as the Secretary of State considers appropriate for the purpose of bringing the information to the attention of the persons concerned.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 131 not moved.]

Clause 48 [Prints, samples etc. in criminal investigations]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 132:


Page 42, line 38, at end insert:
("(3C) The duty under subsection (3) above shall not apply where the record, sample or information in question is of the same kind as a record, a sample or, as the case may be, information lawfully held by or on behalf of any police force in relation to the person.").

The noble and learned Lord said: Section 28(3) of the 1993 Act provides that prints and impressions taken in the course of investigation must be destroyed if the person concerned is not proceeded against or convicted. This amendment would enable the police to retain prints and so on from a person whose prints are already held

16 Jan 1995 : Column 502

on record because he has been convicted of a previous crime. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the best and most complete records of convicted persons are kept. If the prints taken of an already convicted person in the course of a new investigation are of better quality than those already held on record, they can be substituted for the inferior set. Amendment No. 134 is a drafting amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Tordoff): I have to tell the Committee that in calling Amendment No. 133, if it is agreed to I shall be unable to call Amendment No. 134.

[Amendment No. 133 not moved.]

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 134:


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