Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Baroness Mallalieu: I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord and the noble Baroness.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 25, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 26 and 27 agreed to.

Clause 28 [Restrictions on reporting]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 116:


Page 17, line 33, after ("apply") insert (", or shall not apply to a specified extent,").

The noble Baroness said: Clause 28 sets out the proceedings which are subject to reporting restrictions, the matters which may be reported and the

19 Dec 1995 : Column 1569

circumstances in which reporting restrictions may be lifted. Your Lordships will appreciate that preparatory hearings may give rise to substantive rulings on points of law and procedure which are of general importance, have substantial precedent value and which, subject to the overriding interests of justice, ought to be reported. But, as drafted, Clause 28 only provides for the judge to make an order to lift reporting restrictions in their totality. In many cases judges would be unlikely to make such an order as to do so could lead to the reporting of matters which might be prejudicial to the trial. The amendment to Clause 28 would address this difficulty by enabling the judge to make an order to lift reporting restrictions to a specified extent. I beg to move.

7 p.m.

Baroness Mallalieu: These amendments seem to give greater flexibility and to be entirely desirable. They have our support.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendments Nos. 117 and 118:


Page 17, line 37, after ("apply") insert (", or shall not apply to a specified extent,").
Page 18, line 4, after ("apply") insert (", or shall not apply to a specified extent,").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 28, as amended, shall be agreed to?

Viscount Colville of Culross: This may be a very silly question to ask the noble Baroness. Why are we referring to Great Britain if the Act will not apply to Scotland?

Baroness Blatch: I shall take that question away and answer in detail at the end of this session. The answer is that I do not know.

Clause 28, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 29 [Offences in connection with reporting]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 119:


Page 19, line 26, at end insert ("in England and Wales").

The noble Baroness said: In speaking to the amendments to Clause 29, it may assist the Committee if I deal first with the amendment to Clause 47(1), which is the substantive amendment which gives rise to the amendment to Clause 29. As drafted, Clause 47 provides that no part of the Bill will extend to Scotland. The amendment to Clause 47(1) would provide for the Bill to be extended to Scotland only in respect of the reporting restrictions under Clause 28 and the corresponding offence provision in Clause 29. This would provide a safeguard against a reporting in Scotland of proceedings in respect of a preparatory hearing or an application for leave to appeal or an appeal in relation to such a hearing, which may be seen by potential English jurors. It would also be consistent with the reporting restrictions which apply by virtue of Section 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 in respect of preparatory hearings in cases of serious or complex fraud.

19 Dec 1995 : Column 1570

Clause 29 creates an offence of contravening the reporting restrictions in Clause 28. Clause 29(3) provides that proceedings for an offence under Clause 29 shall not be instituted otherwise than by or with the consent of the Attorney-General. Given that the amendment to Clause 47(1) extends Clauses 28 and 29 to Scotland, Clause 29(3) should be amended so that it specifies that the Attorney-General's consent to institute proceedings under Clause 29 only extends to England and Wales. This takes account of the position in Scotland, where it is the Lord Advocate who must consent before proceedings for an offence may be instituted. This latter requirement is at large and does not therefore need express provision in the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 29, as amended, agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 120:


Before Clause 30, insert the following new clause--

Meaning of pre-trial hearing

(".--(1) For the purposes of this Part a pre-trial hearing is a hearing which relates to a trial on indictment and which takes place--
(a) after the proceedings for the trial have been transferred to the Crown Court, and
(b) before the start of the trial.
(2) For the purposes of this section the start of a trial on indictment occurs when a jury is sworn to consider the issue of guilt or fitness to plead or, if the court accepts a plea of guilty before a jury is sworn, when that plea is accepted; but this is subject to section 8 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 and section 23 of this Act (preparatory hearings).").

The noble Baroness said: The new clause before Clause 30 defines a pre-trial hearing and the start of a trial on indictment for the purposes of Part IV. Your Lordships will notice that the amendment draws directly on the wording in Clause 30(3) and (4) which as a consequence are no longer needed. The amendments improve the drafting of the Bill by applying the definition to the whole of Part IV. Their effect is otherwise neutral. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 30 [Power to make rulings]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 121:


Page 19, line 37, at end insert--
("(2A) Subject to subsection (2B), a ruling made under this section has binding effect from the time it is made until the case against the accused or, if there is more than one, against each of them is disposed of; and the case against an accused is disposed of if--
(a) he is acquitted or convicted, or
(b) the prosecutor decides not to proceed with the case against him.
(2B) A judge may discharge or vary (or further vary) a ruling made under this section if it appears to him that it is in the interests of justice to do so; and a judge may act under this subsection--
(a) on an application by a party to the case, or
(b) of the judge's own motion.
(2C) No application may be made under subsection (2B)(a) unless there has been a material change of circumstances since the ruling was made or, if a previous application has been made, since the application (or last application) was made.

19 Dec 1995 : Column 1571


(2D) The judge referred to in subsection (2B) need not be the judge who made the ruling or, if it has been varied, the judge (or any of the judges) who varied it.
(2E) For the purposes of this section the prosecutor is any person acting as prosecutor, whether an individual or a body.").

The noble Baroness said: In order to explain the purpose of this amendment to Clause 30, I should first draw your Lordships' attention to Clause 31. Clause 31(1) provides that a ruling made by the judge under Clause 30 is not binding on the parties during the trial unless the judge orders that it is. This leaves open the possibility that a judge may make a ruling under Clause 30 which is not binding. It is difficult to foresee why a judge would want to make a ruling on law or evidence which the parties were free to disregard or why any of the parties would want to apply for such a non-binding ruling. The amendment to Clause 30 will rectify this irregularity. A ruling made under Clause 30 would automatically be binding from the time it is made until the case against the accused is disposed of, unless, of course, it is discharged or varied in accordance with the new subsection (2B) in Clause 30.

In addition, subsections (3), (4), (5) and (7) of Clause 31 have been incorporated into an expanded Clause 30. This improves the drafting of the Bill. Subsection (6) of Clause 31 is no longer needed in the light of the new clause before Clause 30 which, for the purposes of Part IV, sets out the meaning of a pre-trial hearing. As a consequence of these changes, Clause 31 is redundant and I have therefore given notice of my intention to oppose the Motion that it stand part of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I suppose we do not object to the suggestion that any rulings of the judge in a pre-trial hearing should be non-binding. It seems to make sense, although I am bound to say that for 2000 years Popes have found it useful to distinguish between statements in which they are fallible and statements in which they are infallible. I should have thought that one ought to pay attention to 2000 years of history. As the amendment reads, it sounds all right.

However, I have to say that these amendments to Clause 30 and the abandonment of Clause 31 in favour of a new clause make great difficulties for those of us who would wish seriously to consider and amend the Bill. I know that the Minister did her best to get amendments to us as soon as she could. However, of the four major group of amendments that she has put down, three of them came to me in three successive letters on 14th December. That makes our life very difficult. In this sense I echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, when he said that we shall have to treat the Report stage of this part of the Bill as a Committee stage and that we shall have to have time to do it. There will have to be negotiations between the usual channels about how we find the time to do it. I honestly do not know whether these complicated and far-ranging amendments are right. I have to express my sense of dissatisfaction with my own knowledge in my reception of the amendments.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page