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Lord Richard: My Lords, perhaps I may say a few words about the report and what it is that we on these Benches have agreed to. I should tell my noble friend Lord Monkswell that, as I understand it, it is not the intention to create a permanent Select Committee on Scottish Bills which would tend to sit either in London or in Scotland. Indeed, any Select Committee within the terms of the report will be tied to a specific Bill.

As I understand it, the Deer (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill--which, I am bound to say, seems to me to be an appropriate one with which to try such an experiment--will be introduced and a committee on the Bill will be established. If that committee considers it necessary (and I gather that it does), it will then go to Inverness for a day to take evidence on the deer and from anyone else who may be able to assist. Thereafter, all proceedings on the Bill will be brought back to this House. At that stage, it will then be for the House to decide whether the Committee stage of the Bill will proceed in what has become known, in shorthand form, as "a Moses Room type procedure"; in other words, the special Public Bill Committee procedure or the Jellicoe procedure which, as I understand it, means pretty well the same thing. Alternatively, the Committee stage may be held on the Floor of the House. The only part of the consideration of the Bill which will be taken in situ will be the deer bit.

Perhaps I should also make it clear to the House that we on this side of the House regard the matter as an experiment. We have not given our agreement to this becoming the normal procedure for all Bills which may relate to Scottish affairs. On the contrary, we shall want to look at each Bill as it comes forward and then decide whether it is appropriate for the committee on that Bill to take evidence in Scotland. Indeed, I have no doubt

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that if there were a Welsh Bill, evidence could be taken in Cardiff, Machynlleth or wherever else seemed particularly appropriate. Moreover, if there were a London Bill, no doubt we could reopen County Hall for the purpose of taking evidence.

Therefore, as I understand it, what we are being asked to agree to in a sense is that, where it seems geographically sensible in relation to a Bill--and Scotland seems the obvious place to start because of the red deer amendment Bill--the relevant committee should go away, take evidence and then return to this place, whereupon the House will decide what to do with it.

Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, I entirely agree with what the noble Lord has just said. It is indeed an experiment. The Procedure Committee considered the matter on that basis and agreed to it. As regards future Bills, obviously we shall have to look at each one of them and judge each on its merit. I believe that it is a worthwhile experiment which I very much hope proves to be a success.

The Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I am grateful for the contributions made by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition and my noble friend. I only dissent in one respect with what the noble Lord said; namely, on the question of referring the Bill to a Jellicoe Committee as the next stage. Indeed, if the Bill were to go into the Moses Room, it would be as a Committee of the Whole House off the Floor of the House, which is not quite the same thing.

The only other point that I should like to make is that I do not believe that I am in a position to say whether the committee would meet in Inverness or in any other place north of the Border. The location has not yet been determined. Certainly, it is not a matter for the Procedure Committee to decide.

I turn now to the questions posed by the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell. Yes, the intention is that the committee should be open to other Members of this House. It is hoped that, if the experiment is to be successful and repeated, not all 450 or 800 Members of your Lordships' House will travel up to Scotland and claim their rail fares both there and back; otherwise, the experiment will prove to be somewhat expensive.

As regards the days on which the committee will meet, that is a matter for the committee itself and for the usual channels to decide. However, I suspect that the committee will want to meet on consecutive days--that is, on more than one day--if it is to get value for money. Therefore, it would be most difficult to have a meeting on a Monday morning or on a Friday. Moreover, I believe that the idea of the sittings of such a committee moving into the Recess is unlikely to find favour, at least at this stage. I hope that that answers the noble Lord's question.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Hong Kong (Overseas Public Servants) Bill

3.16 p.m.

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.

Church of Scotland (Property and Endowments) Amendment Order Confirmation Bill

Read a third time, and passed.

Consolidated Fund Bill

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.--(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.)

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, I should like to express my sympathy for my noble friend in being involved in such a nonsense as summarily moving the Bill, knowing perfectly well that the Procedure Committee in its wisdom--or rather lack of it--decided that we should be inhibited from debating the measure.

Lord Strabolgi: My Lords, in view of what the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal said earlier, I had not intended to say anything. However, following the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, about the Procedure Committee, of which I am a member, I must ask him whether he has seen a copy of the Bill. I have a copy with me. It consists of two clauses.

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone: Three!

Lord Strabolgi: Well, my Lords; only two clauses are really applicable. The first applies to certain sums--indeed, very large sums--for the year ended 31st March 1996. Clause 2 refers to a slightly larger sum for the year ended 31st March 1997, while the third clause merely cites the fact that it is the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill. I do not know how the noble Lord would attempt to have a Second Reading debate, and subsequent stages, on a Bill of this kind. If he can do so, then he is a more ingenious politician than even I thought him to be.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, would the noble Lord agree to try an experiment to see whether he is right or I am right? Is it not a fact that what this Bill does is to authorise enormous payments of public funds without this House having any opportunity whatever of debating whether this is right or wrong?

Viscount Davidson: My Lords, may I point out this is Second Reading and my noble friend is out of order?

On Question, Bill read a second time; Committee negatived.

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Then, Standing Order No. 44 having been dispensed with (pursuant to resolution), Bill read a third time, and passed.

Criminal Procedure and Investigations Bill [H.L.]

3.20 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): 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.--(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 63:

Before Clause 15, insert the following new clause--

Code of Practice

(". In this Part references to a code of practice are to the code set out in Schedule (Code of Practice).").

The noble Lord said: In rising to move Amendment No. 63 I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 97, 99, 100 and 162. Amendment No. 63 is a paving amendment in the right place to introduce a new schedule which consists of the text of the code of practice. We had a certain amount of debate on the Motion of Commitment yesterday afternoon as regards the code of practice and there was a considerable amount of debate on the code of practice at Second Reading during which, I remind the Committee, a large number of noble Lords from all parts of the Chamber complained that Part II is almost entirely an enabling provision for a code of practice which had not yet been produced. There was a widespread feeling on Second Reading and yesterday that there was something wrong with having a code of practice of this kind not available at the time of Second Reading and available, as we learnt, only a few days before the Committee stage.

I remind the Committee that we received the code of practice only at midday on Wednesday 13th December; in other words, only two working days before the Committee was due to sit. I also remind the Committee that the draft we received on 13th December was dated 11th December. Whether that means that it had been prepared and had been sitting around for two days, or someone had forgotten to change the date, I have no way of knowing. However, the fact of the matter is that we had little time between Wednesday midday and the time the Chamber rose at 4.30 p.m. on Thursday to put down amendments which could have been accessible to the Chamber for full debate. In practice, we had to table our amendments by four o'clock on Friday, which meant that they were starred in yesterday's Marshalled List.

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When I heard the Minister complain, in response to the first debate yesterday, that she only had access to our amendments on Sunday afternoon I thought that was a little rich. We slogged hard to treat the code of practice seriously and to produce amendments to it in a short period of time. For the Minister then to complain that we were not reticent--I believe that was the word she used--in coming forward with amendments and that she had to consider them at the last minute does not reflect badly on the Opposition but extremely badly on government business management in that we were forced to behave in that way and to produce amendments at such short notice. However, we have done so.

The first thing we thought to be necessary was that the Committee should have direct access to the wording of the code of practice. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, complained yesterday that he could not get hold of a copy of the document when he went to the Printed Paper Office, although I know that it was placed in the Library. From Friday morning it was available in a list of amendments and has been available all this week in the Marshalled List of amendments because I put it there. I took the view that the Committee had the right to know the substance of this matter; Part II of the Bill is only the shell. I make no apology for taking up the time of the parliamentary printers in producing and reproducing this code of practice because I believe that this afternoon's debates will make it clear that the wording of the code of practice is essential to the understanding and interpretation of Part II of the Bill. As Part II of the Bill, which is concerned with criminal investigations, precedes in chronological order in the criminal justice system Part I, the code of practice is essential for understanding the great bulk of the important part of this rather disparate Bill.

I go further and remind the Committee of the conclusions of this Chamber's Select Committee on the Scrutiny of Delegated Powers. That committee remarked that noble Lords had said at Second Reading that the Bill was nothing without the code. It cites six different references at Second Reading in relation to that phrase. The committee made a comment which deserves this Committee's full attention. Paragraph 16 of the Scrutiny of Delegated Powers Committee's report of 5th December states:

    "The majority of codes authorised by statute are not subject to Parliamentary control; and the Department's Memorandum argues that there is no need for such control in the case of this new code because it 'does not affect the liberty of the individual and is purely procedural'. However, correct procedure in the criminal law is indispensable to the process of a fair trial, and there is an obvious comparison here with the codes issued under sections 60 and 66 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. That Act requires the Secretary of State to publish codes in draft, to consider representations about their content, and to lay the final draft before Parliament for affirmative resolution. Another comparison is with the scheme provided for in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995, which requires a draft of the scheme to be laid before Parliament for approval by both Houses".
The Chamber has only recently debated the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995. The committee concluded that,

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    "two additional procedural safeguards are needed--provision in the bill for consultation about the content of the code; provision for subjecting the code, when it is laid before Parliament, to affirmative resolution procedure".
Amendments in this group provide for both of those recommendations. Amendment No. 97 provides for the affirmative resolution procedure. Amendment No. 99 prohibits casual revision of the code. I can assure Members of the Committee that they will see from the Bill that casual revision is indeed possible. Amendment No. 100 provides for consultation in the terms asked for by the scrutiny committee.

The minimum requirement for this Chamber to do its job properly as a revising Chamber is that it has access in good time to the material which is necessary for an understanding of the Bills which come before it. The minimum requirement for a Bill which provides genuine legislative support for political or other initiatives is that the Bill itself should be explicit about the most important aspects of its provisions. Part I of the Bill is extremely explicit about the disclosure procedures immediately before and leading up to a trial in a criminal case. Some would even argue that it is too explicit. Part II is not at all explicit because it depends entirely on a code of practice which is not subject to parliamentary scrutiny, as was confirmed by the Minister in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, yesterday.

We have devised a series of amendments, running up to and including Amendment No. 96, which seek to bring out the important aspects of the code and subject them to parliamentary debate. If that takes a number of hours this afternoon I do not apologise, because that is what we are here for. In the first instance it is important that the code of practice should be available for inspection.

I certainly do not propose to seek the opinion of the Committee on Amendment No. 162 which contains the text of the code of practice. However, it is important that we should recognise the principle that the code is available for parliamentary scrutiny, subject to consultation--in the words of the scrutiny committee--and that its enactment and changes to it are subject to parliamentary scrutiny by means of the affirmative resolution procedure. It is on that basis that I beg to move Amendment No. 63.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: At Second Reading I raised the status of the code of practice in terms of legal efficacy. I have been interested in the subject for some time, and introduced a debate in this House many years ago.

I thought that under Clause 18 as it stood the code of practice would have had such legal efficacy as is conferred by statutory instrument. However, I was mistaken, as it appears that the intention was merely to lay it before Parliament. As my noble friend the Minister indicated yesterday when I sought clarification, the code will not have parliamentary approval, as is proposed in Amendment No. 97. I believe that it should. I am bound to support Amendment No. 97. The scrutiny committee

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appears to consider that that is the appropriate way in which the status of the code should be cast. I have always deferred to that committee, although I expressed a personal opinion in that direction before its report was issued.

However, I do not believe that the code should be entrenched in the Bill in the form of a schedule having the quality of primary legislation as proposed in Amendments Nos. 63 and 162. I shall therefore oppose those amendments in due course.

There is a reasonable sanction in Clause 93, which Amendment No. 99 proposes to omit. I support Amendments Nos. 93 and 97 but oppose Amendments Nos. 63 and 162.

I support Amendment No. 100 relating to consultation before the code is laid before Parliament. Again I follow the recommendations of the scrutiny committee, but that was my own approach in any event.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, that Part II is in a sense an enabling provision for the code of practice. It should have parliamentary approval. I agree that it is essential to an understanding of Part II of the Bill. I know that my noble friend the Minister will be disappointed at my qualified opposition to the position of the Government, but there it is.

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