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Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: My Lords, I just mentioned that in passing in case your Lordships had not noticed.

I welcome being involved to a certain extent with victim support organisations. I welcome and express the gratitude of the voluntary sector for the increase in funding to voluntary organisations that the Minister has managed to obtain. I know that he does not like being flattered by me, but I have described him previously as a caring Minister, and I repeat that, and make no apology for doing so. It is very much appreciated by the Scottish community.

What the Minister said about the Bill is in some ways puzzling. Your Lordships may wish to know that I lost my voice on Saturday morning. I was unable to speak until yesterday afternoon. It may be a matter of some regret that I can speak for a few minutes to answer some of what the Minister said. I cannot for the life of me see how removing any indication of a potential juror's occupation makes jury selection fairer. We have been over that course, and I have no doubt that it will be pursued in another place.

The way that judicial examination now stands is a contradiction in terms. There is nothing judicial about it. It is an attempt to get the accused to confess. That is the way it is being seen. The most remarkable thing the Minister said was when he talked about the inference to be drawn from silence. I am told by my noble friend Lord Carmichael, who has greater experience of Glasgow musicals than I have, that the late and great Tommy Morgan used to say to his wife, "You are nothing but a silent nagger". It seems to me that the inference to be drawn from silence is almost on a par with that. However, those are not matters to be taken lightly.

Both sides of your Lordships' House should recognise the input of the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, who has spent a great deal of time discussing matters with the noble and learned Lords the Lord Advocate and the Minister. He did not

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always agree with them—he is not one for agreeing with Ministers—but useful amendments have emerged from our discussions.

We have reviewed and improved the Bill before it goes to another place on a purely non-party basis. I made it clear, leading the debate from this side of your Lordships' House, that it is not a party issue when we are trying to improve the criminal law system. I hope that it will be recognised by those on the government Benches—I am sure that it is —that the Bill's progress has been the result of the traditional exercise of a listening and amending process. As the Minister said, we hope that when the Bill goes to the other place it will take note of what has been said here and not go flying off at a tangent.

Other issues were raised which the Minister did not mention. Without a shadow of a doubt the issue of the non-proven verdict will come back in another place, as will the review of the jury system upon which I have already commented, and the appeal system. I tried this morning to obtain a copy of last week's decision in the High Court in Scotland which appeared to open the door to a greater degree of flexibility over the court considering new evidence.

I say this in the spirit in which we have conducted consideration of the Bill, and without having seen what the Lord Justice General said, but if the door is opened to appeals on evidence available at the trial, if there is a reasonable excuse for not leading it—if that is the broad import of the High Court's decision—is it necessary to have the Sutherland Committee sitting any more? What is the point of waiting two-and-a-half years for a committee to report back to the House? I believe that 1996 is the reporting year. A great deal of public money will be spent on a quango—or call it what you like. What is the point of that when the High Court has pushed itself into the 20th century and is looking forward to the next century and at what is worrying people throughout the United Kingdom; that is, possible miscarriages of justice?

The argument has been that if someone is allowed to bring in evidence that was available the so-called floodgates of appeal of one kind or another will be opened. The answer to that might be, "So what?". Every convicted person has the right of appeal and it is no answer to say that it is inconvenient for the courts to deal with that. We need a system which will deal with appeals efficiently and with a degree of flexibility.

I hope that between now and consideration of the Bill in another place, with its more robust surroundings, the Government will grasp the nettle of appeals and look at the Sutherland Committee and ask whether it is necessary. Is it not easier for the Government to go to the Lord Justice General and say, "We have read your opinion in that case. What does it really amount to? Do we need this committee any more or can we sit down and amend the Bill so that as it goes through another place we build into it the proper provisions to meet the safeguards that the public is worried about?"?

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The Government should put in place a new system and one that is not strangled by antiquity. The fault with the Scottish appeal system is that it has been strangled. Everyone says, "If we allow this appeal we will get another 10 on the same ground". Again, I ask, "So what?". That is the right of the individual.

Being in opposition is an exercise in political impotence but in considering the Bill we may have achieved a few of our targets. We look forward to the not-too-distant future when perhaps the roles will be reversed. It would be churlish of me to conclude my remarks without paying tribute to the noble and learned Lords the Minister and the Lord Advocate for their consideration of everything that has been said from all sides of your Lordships' House. I thank them for the consideration and courtesy with which they dealt with all the remarks that were made during the debates on the Bill. It has been a valuable debate and I hope that it has improved the administration of criminal justice in Scotland.

3.52 p.m.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, it will not have escaped your Lordships' notice that the Bill has been an education for me at every level. Perhaps in over dramatising the point, I can record that the baptism of fire has been gentle and on my part well received. Noble Lords have been both kind and generous. I thank the noble and learned Lords the Minister and the Lord Advocate for responding to my nine amendments which were usually drafted more with enthusiasm than with parliamentary skill. I was pleased that the care of victims was so well aired and that there was a commitment further to improve services to victims and their families. On Second Reading I called only for a 100 per cent. increase for Victim Support but the 11 per cent. increase is a real improvement and is welcome.

I look forward to the results of the research being undertaken by Stirling University into the effects of the increased use of compensation orders. The noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, and the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay of Bragar, gave the House a perspective of our legal system that I for one had not previously had. Perhaps the exchanges about the precise moment when a victim can be referred to as such characterise what I am referring to. Clearly, there are times when the social work and legal viewpoints can be widely separated. It is a little like the medical and legal situation which leads to the statement, "You are not dead until a doctor says that you are".

The Bill contains three controversial clauses dealing with changes to the judicial examination, the use of the accused's previous convictions and alterations around the accused's apparent right to silence. No doubt those issues will be raised again in another place.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

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Environment Bill [H.L.]

3.55 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Earl Howe.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 81 [Consultation before making or modifying certain subordinate legislation for England]:

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No. 316:

Page 88, line 1, after first ("The") insert ("appropriate").

The noble Baroness said: I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 317, 320, 321B and 324. Many of the amendments in the group relate to improved consultation with various bodies and persons. Amendment No. 316 is a consequential amendment which would insert the word "appropriate" before the word "Minister" in order to make it clear that we are talking about the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales as well as the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment.

Amendment No. 317 inserts the words "or modifying any legislation" in order to make clear those who shall be consulted when the legislation to which this clause applies is changed as well as when it is made ab initio.

Amendment No. 320 provides that for Scotland and Wales the same people should be consulted as are consulted in relation to England. Therefore, the subsection is split into three parts. The present legislation contains an anomaly which does not require the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales to consult the statutory bodies before changing or modifying the legislation. Therefore, the amendment is intended to be helpful to the Government.

Amendment No. 321B relates to consultation and provides that local authorities are consulted in relation to important hedgerows. That covers some of the issues we dealt with last week. It suggests that in determining which hedgerows are important it is important that local people are consulted.

Amendment No. 324 seeks to apply environmental conditions to arable area payments. Those would then be put on all fours with set-aside payments, which also require environmental conditions to be attached to them. I beg to move.

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