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Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendments Nos. 24 and 25:


Page 144, leave out line 26, column 3, and insert:
("In section 11, in subsection (1), paragraph (b) and, in paragraph (ii), the words "where granted under subsection (1) (a) above,"; in subsections (4) and (5), the words "or arrestment" in each place where they occur; and subsection (6).").

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Page 145, line 9, at end insert:
("1989 c.4. The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989. In Schedule 4, in paragraph 16, sub-paragraph (1) (b); in sub-paragraph (2) (b) the words "where granted under sub-paragraph (1) (a) above,"; and in sub-paragraphs (5) and (6), the words "or arrestment", in each place where they occur.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

An amendment (privilege) made.

3.34 p.m.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

This is a major piece of legislation which, if enacted, will do much to enhance the efficient and effective operation of the criminal justice system in Scotland. Those of your Lordships who entered the Chamber from time to time during our discussions on the Bill might have considered that the qualification for participating in those discussions was to be either Scots or a lawyer—or preferably both. I do not believe that it is necessarily desirable to conduct legislation within quite such an exclusive preserve, so, although I am grateful to my legal colleagues from Scotland for their participation, perhaps I may extend even warmer thanks to those who are not lawyers who contributed to our debates on the Bill and who played a significant part in improving it.

Your Lordships scrutinised with some care the proposals relating to bail. I welcomed that scrutiny, particularly in relation to the possibility of prejudice to the accused and the proposals for limiting access to bail. What we must address—I believe that your Lordships support this—is the growth in the number of offences committed while on bail. I believe that the measures contained in the Bill do this and will serve to bolster the public's confidence in the workings of the bail system. In recent years, it has been somewhat tested.

We have had two lively debates in Committee and on Report about the principles underlying the selection of juries, and in particular the likely effect of our proposals to abolish peremptory challenge and to remove the occupation of potential jurors from the list. I listened with interest and care to the views expressed both from the Opposition and the Cross Benches, but we remain of the view that both proposals will improve the selection of juries without detriment to the interests of those accused of committing crimes.

I recognise that the debates which took place about the proposal to extend the scope of questions permitted at judicial examination did not persuade some of your Lordships that the change is desirable. The noble Lord, Lord Macaulay of Bragar, and the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, expressed most eloquently their concerns about the proposal.

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I believe, however, that your Lordships' consideration of the matter has resulted in a better understanding of the nature of judicial examination and of the purpose of the modest changes in the Bill. The inclusion of a duty on the prosecutor to investigate any defence disclosed at judicial examination—a proposal initially brought forward by the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey—will undoubtedly improve the operation of the system overall.

Your Lordships' opinion was sought on our proposal to remove the prohibition on the prosecutor commenting on an accused person's failure to give evidence, and your Lordships' House approved our proposals. We remain of the view that this is a common sense reform which will enable the issue of what inferences may be drawn from an accused person's silence in a particular case to be dealt with openly and in a fair manner.

The proposals to introduce a system of leave to appeal were examined in detail by your Lordships, most notably by the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey. I hope that the answers provided by my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate have alleviated some of his concerns. We firmly believe that the new procedures are essential to meet the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, while at the same time ensuring that the Appeal Court is not overburdened with unmeritorious or frivolous appeals.

A number of improvements have been made to the details of the proposals as a result of the debates in your Lordships' House, and I am grateful in particular to the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, and the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, for their contributions.

The Government were greatly encouraged to find that the very important provisions in the Bill for reducing unnecessary attendance at court by victims and other witnesses appeared to enjoy broad support in your Lordships' House. The creation of mandatory intermediate and preliminary diets may not have attracted headlines, but the reforms will, I am confident, affect more people who come into contact with the criminal justice system than any other provisions in the Bill, and for that reason they are to be welcomed.

Allied to those provisions are the proposals for changes in the law of evidence which again are aimed at reducing unnecessary attendance at court by witnesses whose evidence is not, in the event, challenged. These measures appear to have the full support of your Lordships' House.

By way of contrast, our proposals to extend the circumstances in which evidence might be permitted as to the bad character or previous conduct of an accused provoked some controversy. In particular, we have reconsidered and improved the provisions in the Bill in the light of comments by the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey. We are glad that we have been able to take the opportunity to introduce an important safeguard for the accused by placing on a statutory footing the decision of the court in Leggate.

Further safeguards for the accused and especially those who are unfit to plead or insane, also secured agreement on all sides of your Lordships' House. I was grateful for the attention which the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, brought to bear on this package of measures. The helpful result has been a number of extensions to the periods allowed for certain appeals.

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The Government recognise the increasingly significant contribution criminal justice social work services are making towards reducing offending behaviour. I say to the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, that I welcome the supportive remarks made by a number of your Lordships during the course of this Bill for the initiatives we are proposing aimed at increasing the scope and effectiveness of those services.

On Part II of the Bill, the provisions on the new arrangements for confiscation and forfeiture are necessarily complex, and I am grateful, as is my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate, for your Lordships' forbearance in considering the amendments which we have found it necessary to bring forward. They were necessary as a result of our having moved so quickly, because it was only last September that the Scottish Law Commission's report became available to us; but we are pleased that we were able to introduce those amendments.

We have also managed to make significant progress with the minor amendments necessary to facilitate the forthcoming consolidation of criminal procedure legislation.

I should not like to see this Bill pass to another place without referring to the informed debates which have taken place on the position of the victim in the criminal justice system. I have welcomed the opportunity to address that fundamental matter. I welcome also the wider public debate that has been provoked in Scotland as a result of the debates that took place in Committee. Sometimes it might not appear that we provoke such interest in Scotland, but on this occasion we certainly did.

It is too easy to think of our criminal justice system as one concerned principally with the accused. A system which enjoys public confidence must be much more than that. The public rightly demands that victims be treated with courtesy and dignity, indeed even with appropriate compassion when there has been real trauma and distress. Much has been and is being done, but I fully acknowledge there is room for further improvement both in the quantity and quality of support and information provided to victims.

I am pleased to be able to inform your Lordships of an 11 per cent. increase in funding for Victim Support (Scotland) next year, bringing the total grant up to £975,000. We are committed to improving the victim's experience of the criminal justice system, and we believe that the route we have set out on is the correct one, without imposing new statutory duties on the court.

While we might not have liked all the proposed new statutory duties, we are not entirely adverse to them. Your Lordships will recall our addressing in Committee the important subject of racial crime and racial discrimination. While I made clear my opposition to singling out racial motivation and requiring courts to consider that one aggravating factor above all others, I was content to accept a new statutory duty regularly to publish information designed to combat racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

I conclude by again expressing thanks to all who have participated in the debates, in particular my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate who has dealt with a number of extremely complicated matters. The Bill will pass now from this House to another place, amended and

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considerably improved in the light of the proper and detailed scrutiny that has been afforded to it. I commend the Bill to the House.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Fraser of Carmyllie.)

3.45 p.m.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for the kind remarks that he has made about my contribution and that of other Members of your Lordships' House who have taken part in this debate. It was a useful but, as the Minister will recognise, not an exhaustive review of the criminal law in Scotland. That is an ongoing process, as is said, and we have to look at it from time to time. The Minister mentioned the Scottish Law Commission. We hope that with the change of government that will come within the next couple of years the Scottish Law Commission's reports may receive the attention that they deserve, and pass through a Scottish parliament in due course, but that is by the way.


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