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Page 1, line 9, after ("offence") insert ("in respect of which a court proceeds to summary trial and").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to this amendment I shall, with the leave of the House, speak also to Amendments Nos. 3, 16, 17, 42, 44, 45, 83, 88 and 89.

These are technical amendments which are needed to ensure that the disclosure scheme operates in relation to all Crown Court cases. As currently drafted, it will apply where proceedings for the trial of an offence are transferred to the Crown Court. That will account for the vast majority of Crown Court cases. However, there are two additional sets of circumstances which need to be brought within the ambit of the scheme.

The first of these is where what is know as a voluntary bill of indictment is preferred, following an application by the prosecutor to a judge. This is a device for getting a case to the Crown Court where the normal method is impracticable or undesirable for any reason. It is seldom granted and only where the interests of justice require it.

The second is where a charge of a specified summary offence is included in an indictment with other offences connected to it which are to be tried in the Crown Court. This is an exception to the rule that offences which are summary only must be tried in a magistrates' court. Amendment No. 3 to Clause 1 brings these within the disclosure scheme for the Crown Court by extending the definition in Clause 1(2) of the circumstances in which the scheme is to apply. The other amendment to Clause 1, Amendment No. 2, is consequential. Amendments Nos. 42, 44 and 45 to Clause 14 are also consequential on Amendment No. 3 to Clause 1. They insert references to preferring a bill of indictment, including a count in an indictment, into the definition of the relevant time in Clause 14(3) for the purposes of disapplying the common law rules on disclosure in accordance with Clause 14(1). Where a voluntary bill is preferred the accused needs to know the case against him before he can be required to make defence disclosure. Amendment No. 17 to Clause 5 achieves this. It requires the service on the accused of a copy of the bill of indictment, together with a copy of the set of documents containing the evidence on which the charge is based. This will put what currently happens on a statutory basis. The other amendment to Clause 5, Amendment No. 16, is consequential.

Finally, Amendment No. 83 to Clause 21 and Amendments Nos. 88 and 89 to Clause 32 are related to the amendments to Part I. They insert references to preferring a voluntary bill of indictment into these clauses. Clause 21 applies Part III of the Bill to cases which are transferred to the Crown Court for trial. Clause 32 defines a pre-trial hearing for the purposes of Part IV with references to cases transferred to the Crown Court for trial. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, one marvels at the complexity and structure of this Bill, as proposed

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to be amended. However, I pay tribute to the simplicity with which this matter has been explained by my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate. I only ask that his speech may be represented in the standard text books so that those who have to deal with this may have an opportunity to understand it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 3:


Page 1, leave out lines 18 to 20 and insert--
("(a) a person is charged with an indictable offence and proceedings for the trial of the person on the charge concerned are transferred to the Crown Court,
(b) a count charging a person with a summary offence is included in an indictment under the authority of section 40 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (common assault etc.), or
(c) a bill of indictment charging a person with an indictable offence is preferred under the authority of section 2(2)(b) of the Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1933 (bill preferred by direction of Court of Appeal, or by direction or with consent of a judge).").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 4:


Page 2, line 1, at end insert ("or not.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to Amendment No. 4 I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 78. Before doing so, it occurs to me that perhaps my remarks on the first amendment were to a degree inadequate. When the Minister said that she looked around I acknowledged that she must have done so. I realised that I ought also to have apologised to her for saying the opposite. I now complete my correction of the events as they transpired.

I do not apologise, however, for bringing forward again Amendment No. 4. I have done so only because it seems to me that the arguments in Committee against these amendments were inadequate. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, did not convince me when he said that because the Bill used the word "ascertain" it implied that the two alternatives of being guilty or not guilty were given equal weight. Similarly, the Minister did not convince me by saying that the use of the word "whether" implied that the two alternatives were given equal weight. Of course, the alternatives are implied in the phrase "ascertain whether the accused is guilty". Nobody says that that is not so.

I appeal to noble Lords who are concerned for the proper drafting of legislation. I refer in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, and also to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, who I do not believe was able to be present when this was previously debated. I ask noble Lords to confirm that if in court itself the question to the accused is whether he pleads guilty or not guilty, and the charge to the jury is whether they find the accused guilty or not guilty, surely they are not an unnecessary extra two words. They are there because they are meant to give equal weight to the possibility of the accused being guilty or not guilty. The police and prosecution are supposed to give as much weight to the possibility of the accused being not guilty as they do to the possibility of the accused being guilty.

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I know that this is only a drafting point and it does not affect the way in which the Bill will be implemented by men and women of good will, but I believe that if these phrases are correctly used in the courts they ought also to be used on the face of the Bill. The Bill is incomplete without them. I beg to move.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, most miscarriages of justice in this country derive from a culture which is a sub-derivation of our adversarial system. The intelligent and reflective police officer, of whom in my experience there are many, is and should be aware of the fact that the public interest is truly, fully and faithfully served by the acquittal of the innocent just as much as by the conviction of the guilty. This is not entirely a cosmetic or semantic amendment. It is intended to reflect the principles for which I hope we all contend; namely, that an investigation into crime is not simply to establish whether a person who is charged is guilty, but whether a person who may be charged, or has been charged, may equally be not guilty or in truth innocent.

Lord Renton: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, was so kind as to refer to me in my concern about drafting. I shall look at this Bill with great interest at the end of Report stage to see how Clause 1 reads and what its effect may be. It is very complicated. If it were possible to find more simple drafting at Report stage I am sure that my noble friend Baroness Blatch would wish to apply her mind to it, as indeed would the rest of us.

To be frank, I believe that Amendment No. 4. is overzealous. If an investigation is to take place to discover whether or not somebody is guilty, and that investigation causes the investigator to consider that the person is not guilty, that is the end of the matter. There is no need to overdo it and put into the Bill these extra words.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, it is common ground that this is not an exhortation to the police. The Bill is not incomplete without it, and as to that we have the opinion of my noble friend Lord Renton. I accept that the amendment is wholly well-intentioned to reflect principles that we all uphold but, with the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, I question whether this part of the Bill is the appropriate vehicle to carry that thought. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, was kind enough to put my point for me. It would quite wrong to seek to repeat it.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, has somewhat diminished the force of the amendment by referring to it as a drafting point. I think it is rather more than a drafting point, as the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, said. The object of it--and why I am disposed to support the amendment--is that it is meant to reflect the spirit and principles that we expect to find in the court and to be essentially even-handed throughout the Bill. A great deal of the Bill is concerned with the issue of even-handedness and balance between prosecution and defence.

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If indeed it is a convention to draft a Bill of this kind in this way, it is a reasonable argument for that convention to be followed today. But if there is no convention of a kind embodied in the present wording of paragraph (b), I would strongly support the amendment as more clearly expressing what I am sure that the House wants.


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