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Lord Marlesford: My Lords, my noble friend used the word "redevelopment". Was I right in detecting in that word the idea that the building might be rebuilt and therefore might not be recognisable on completion? If I was right, does my noble friend accept that the art of politics includes at least an element of recognition of public perceptions, sensitivities and good taste? It would be unpardonable to redevelop a building which is an important relic of the time when London was the capital of the world.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, not for the first time, my noble friend Lord Marlesford is not right. It is a Grade II starred listed building and English Heritage has been involved. My noble friend knows perfectly well that one cannot knock down old buildings without all sorts of permission. That is not intended. What is intended is that better use should be made of the space available within the building, which consists of

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large rooms and very nearly equally large corridors. My noble friend might care to know that at the moment 40,000 square metres of the building can be used, whereas after the titivating has been carried out, there will be 60,000 square metres which can be used.

Legal Aid and Nationality

2.59 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will now restrict the grant of legal aid to holders of United Kingdom citizenship.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): My Lords, the Government consulted publicly on this very point last year. The overwhelming weight of the responses supported the view that it would not be right to impose nationality restrictions on the availability of legal aid. The Government announced their decision to that effect in April, and I am not aware of any grounds for altering it.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for that reply. Can he quote any other country which allows British citizens legal aid in its courts?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, my understanding of legal aid systems available in other countries is that they proceed, so far as concerns this point, on the same basis as our own.

Lord Renton: My Lords, will my noble and learned friend tell your Lordships what is the present total cost of legal aid and what proportion of that total cost is given to foreigners?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, the approximate total cost is £1.4 billion. I cannot tell what proportion of that goes to foreigners. We have not analysed the figures on the basis of that distinction.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford: My Lords, now that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has given the total cost of legal aid, will he speak to the newly appointed Lord Advocate in Scotland about the incompetence of the Crown Office over cases which have failed at Falkirk Sheriff Court? Those cases were legally aided. They failed because the sheriff court was closed due to the lack of procurators fiscal to prosecute the cases. Yesterday a major fraud case in Aberdeen collapsed. Would it not be in order for the legal aid costs which had been incurred in those cases to be transferred from the Legal Aid Fund to the Crown Office because of its incompetence?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, the Question on the Order Paper refers to holders of UK citizenship. I do not imagine for a moment that the noble Lord is seeking to distinguish between the Scots and others on that basis. Unless it is on some such basis, I cannot for the life of me see any connection between the noble Lord's question and the Question on the Order Paper.

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, does the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor agree that there is a distinction between the provision of legal aid for those in real need--for instance, asylum seekers or those accused of crime--and for non-UK nationals who merely litigate their commercial contractual disputes in the courts of this country at public expense, for whom there is a less compelling case? Have the Government had further thoughts, since the last occasion upon which the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and I adverted to this subject, about a degree of reciprocity being required in the latter category of case? That is to say, if a foreign government does not provide reciprocal legal aid in commercial disputes why should its nationals have it, as of right, in this country?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I am not certain what exactly the noble Lord is proposing. I do not believe that he is proposing a distinction based on UK nationality. So far as concerns other matters, obviously there is a means and merits test in the legal aid system. If the courts of this country have jurisdiction and the case is proceeding here, it is not easy on grounds of fairness to distinguish between one litigant and another. Of course the connection between the case and the courts of this country requires to be fairly strong. Otherwise some other jurisdiction might have charge of the case. There is authority for saying that, in considering whether to send a case to another court, the question of whether legal aid is available in that court is not a relevant consideration.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, will my noble and learned friend identify some of the foreign countries that would grant legal aid to British citizens?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, obviously I cannot speak in detail about every country, but my understanding is that in the legal aid systems of most countries where a legal aid system operates--that is by no means all--the principles upon which legal aid is available are principles similar to those which apply here; namely, that, where the courts of the country have jurisdiction, legal aid will be available and a nationality test is not applicable. That is my understanding.

Boxing Bill [H.L.]

3.5 p.m.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to prohibit the organisation of boxing matches for profit. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.-- (Lord Taylor of Gryfe.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

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Restaurants (Service and Cover Charges) Bill [H.L.]

The Earl of Bradford: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to prohibit the levying of service charges and cover charges other than for advertised entertainment in restaurants and premises offering similar services; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.-- (Earl of Bradford.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Science and Technology: Select Committee

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider Science and Technology and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be named of the Select Committee--

L. Craig of Radley,

L. Dainton,

L. Dixon-Smith,

L. Flowers,

L. Gregson,

L. Haskel,

B. Hogg,

L. Nathan,

L. Perry of Walton,

L. Phillips of Ellesmere,

L. Porter of Redesdale,

E. Selborne (Chairman),

L. Soulsby of Swaffham Prior,

L. Walton of Detchant;

That the Committee have power to appoint Sub-Committees and that such Sub-Committees have power to appoint their own Chairman;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any Lord for the purposes of serving on the Committee or any Sub-Committee;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Committee and any Sub-Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee and any Sub-Committee have power to appoint Specialist Advisers.

That the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee and any Sub-Committee from time to time be printed and, if the Committee think fit, be delivered out;

That the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee or any Sub-Committee in the last session of Parliament be referred to the Committee.-- (The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Statutory Instruments: Select Committee

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That a Select Committee of seven Lords be appointed to join with any Committee appointed by the Commons to consider--

(1) Every instrument which is laid before each House of Parliament and upon which proceedings may be or might have been taken in either House of Parliament, in pursuance of an Act of Parliament; being


    (a) a statutory instrument, or a draft of a statutory instrument;


    (b) a scheme, or an amendment of a scheme, or a draft thereof, requiring approval by statutory instrument;


    (c) any other instrument (whether or not in draft), where the proceedings in pursuance of an Act of Parliament are proceedings by way of an affirmative resolution; or


    (d) an order subject to special parliamentary procedure;

but excluding any Order in Council or draft Order in Council made or proposed to be made under paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland Act 1974; and

any draft order proposed to be made under section 1 of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994.

(2) Every general statutory instrument not within the foregoing classes, and not required to be laid before or to be subject to proceedings in the Commons only, but not including Measures under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 and instruments made under such Measures;

with a view to determining whether the special attention of the House should be drawn to it on any of the following grounds--


    (i) that it imposes a charge on the public revenues or contains provisions requiring payments to be made to the Exchequer or any government department or to any local or public authority in consideration of any licence or consent or of any services to be rendered, or prescribes the amount of any such charge or payments;


    (ii) that it is made in pursuance of any enactment containing specific provisions excluding it from challenge in the courts, either at all times or after the expiration of a specific period;


    (iii) that it purports to have retrospective effect where the parent statute confers no express authority so to provide;


    (iv) that there appears to have been unjustifiable delay in the publication or in the laying of it before Parliament;


    (v) that there appears to have been unjustifiable delay in sending a notification under the proviso to subsection (1) of section 4 of the Statutory

21 Nov 1995 : Column 236

    Instrument Act 1946, where an Instrument has come into operation before it has been laid before Parliament;


    (vi) that there appears to be a doubt whether it is intra vires or that it appears to make some unusual or unexpected use of the powers conferred by the statute under which it is made;


    (vii) that for any special reasons its form or purport call for elucidation;


    (viii) that its drafting appears to be defective; or

on any other ground which does not impinge on its merits or on the policy behind it, and to report their decision with the reasons thereof in any particular case.

That as proposed by the Committee of Selection the following Lords be named of the Committee--

V. Addison,

L. Airedale,

L. Brooks of Tremorfa,

V. Oxfuird,

L. Prys-Davies,

L. Shaughnessy,

L. Skelmersdale.

That two be the quorum of the Committee.

That the Committee have power to agree with any Committee appointed by the Commons in the appointment of a Chairman.

That the Committee have power to appoint one or more Sub-Committees severally to join with any Sub-Committee or Sub-Committees appointed by any Committee appointed by the Commons; and to refer to such Sub-Committee or Sub-Committees any of the matters referred to the Committee.

That it be an instruction to the Committee that they do not consider any instrument which is directed by Act of Parliament to be laid before and to be subject to proceedings in the Commons only; and that the Committee do not join with any Committee appointed by the Commons in considering any such instrument.

That it be a further instruction to the Committee that, before reporting that the special attention of the House be drawn to any instrument, the Committee do afford to any Government department concerned therewith an opportunity of furnishing orally or in writing to them or to any Sub-Committee of the Committee such explanations as the department think fit.

That the Joint Committee have leave to report from time to time.

That the Committee do meet with any Committee appointed by the Commons this day at a quarter-past four o'clock.--(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


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