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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I cannot invite the House to accept that proposal. "In the interests of justice" is a tried and tested test. We believe that there is a sufficient body of case law to act as guidance for its application in these circumstances. Therefore, I do not believe that there is a sufficient case at this late stage on this particular issue for accepting six new amendments to be sent to another place.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

2

Clause 3, page 2, line 32, after 'possession' insert 'and came into his possession in connection with the case for the prosecution against the accused'.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2. I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 3, 16, 17, 21 to 23, 25 and 26.

These amendments clarify the definition of "prosecution material" in Clauses 3, 7, 8, and 9. Under the Bill at present, the prosecutor in any particular case must consider whether to disclose any material in the possession of any prosecutor, or inspected by any prosecutor in pursuance of the code of practice, whether or not it has any bearing on the particular case he is prosecuting. This imposes an impossible and unnecessary burden on the prosecutor. Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 rectify this unintended consequence by limiting prosecution material to material which is in the prosecutor's possession or which he has inspected in connection with the case against the accused. All the other amendments are consequential.

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Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2.--(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

3

Clause 3, page 2, line 33, leave out paragraph (b) and insert--


'(b) which, in pursuance of a code operative under Part II, he has inspected in connection with the case for the prosecution against the accused.'

Baroness Blatch : My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 3.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 3.--(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

4

Clause 3, page 2, line 37, leave out 'making a copy of it and giving the copy' and insert 'securing that a copy is made of it and that the copy is given'.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4. I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 5 and 6.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 6 to Clause 3(3) and (4) are designed to reflect more closely the existing responsibilities of the police and the prosecutor in copying material to the accused. At present, where the police give a copy of the material to the prosecutor, and it is disclosable, either the police or the prosecutor will then give a copy to the accused. But Clause 3(3) and (4) place the duty of copying to the accused on the prosecutor in all circumstances. The amendments provide that the prosecutor must secure that a copy is made and given to the accused, leaving it open whether the police or the prosecutor will do the actual copying.

Amendment No. 5 is a technical amendment designed to reflect developments in technology. Clause 3(3)(a) provides for the prosecutor to disclose material by making a copy of it and giving the copy to the accused. This implies that the copy will be in the same form as it was when it reached the prosecutor. But it may well be more efficient, particularly in cases with a large volume of written material, for the material to be scanned on to a computer and disclosed on a computer disk. The information would be the same as before but it would be recorded in a different form. Amendment No. 5 makes that possible.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4.--(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

5

Clause 3, page 2, line 41, at end insert--


'and a copy may be in such form as the prosecutor thinks fit and need not be in the same form as that in which the information has already been recorded.'

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6

Page 3, line 2, leave out 'making a copy of it and giving the copy' and insert 'securing that a copy is made of it and that the copy is given'.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 5 and 6.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 5 and 6.--(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

7

Clause 3, page 3, line 19, leave out from 'during' to end of line 21 and insert 'the period which, by virtue of section (Time limits), is the relevant period for this section'.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 7. I shall speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 11, 13, 18, 27, 30 to 34 and 37 to 39. The substantive amendments are the three new clauses contained in Amendments Nos. 27, 38 and 39. They are designed to introduce some flexibility into the provisions of the Bill relating to the timing of prosecution and defence disclosure.

The Bill as it left this House required the prosecutor and the accused to make disclosure within a period to be prescribed by the Secretary of State in regulations. It is intended to prescribe a standard period which should be sufficient for the majority of cases. Disclosure may take longer in some cases where, for example, there is a large amount of material to consider or it is necessary to secure a court ruling on the disclosure of sensitive material. In those cases more time may be needed to comply with the Bill's disclosure duties. But the Bill does not provide for the disclosure time limits to be extended. Amendment No. 38 remedies this by widening the regulation-making power so that it may make provision to allow the prosecutor and the accused to make disclosure within an extended period if the court agrees to an application for extension. Inserting this new clause into Part I of the Bill requires us to make a number of consequential amendments, and Amendments Nos. 7, 11, 13, 18, 30 to 34 and 37 achieve this.

Because the prosecutor will be required to make disclosure within a time limit, whether original or extended, there is a risk of the accused trying to have the proceedings aborted if the prosecutor is a few days late. Amendment No. 27 guards against this. It provides that a failure to make prosecution disclosure within a time limit does not of itself constitute grounds for staying proceedings for abuse of process. But the protection does not apply if the delay by the prosecutor is such as to prevent the accused receiving a fair trial.

Finally, Amendment No. 39 provides a transitional arrangement until such time as regulations are made for prosecution disclosure. The new disclosure regime is different from the old and we are not going to know what the time limits for prosecution disclosure ought to be until the Crown Prosecution Service and the police have gained some practical experience of operating the new system. Accordingly, Amendment No. 39 requires the prosecutor to make disclosure as soon as is

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reasonably practicable after the duty arises. That will enable us to monitor the operation of the new system and to collect information as a basis on which to develop time limits for prosecution disclosure.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 7.--(Baroness Blatch.)

Lord Renton: My Lords, I do not in any way criticise the substance of this group of amendments. However, from the drafting point of view, I think that Amendments Nos. 38 and 39 go into too much unnecessary detail and that a more compendious method of stating the matter in general terms would have served the purpose. The more detail that we go into in procedures relating to either civil or criminal proceedings, the greater the excuses for one side or another to take advantage of very small points. I say no more.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

8

Clause 5, page 3, line 29, leave out from beginning to end of line 3 on page 4 and insert--


'(1) Subject to subsections (2) to (2B), this section applies where--
(a) this Part applies by virtue of section 1(2), and
(b) the prosecutor complies with section 3 or purports to comply with it.
(2) Where this Part applies by virtue of section 1(2)(a), this section does not apply unless--
(a) a copy of the notice of transfer, and
(b) copies of the documents containing the evidence,
have been given to the accused under regulations made under section 5(9) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987.
(2A) Where this Part applies by virtue of section 1(2)(ab), this section does not apply unless--
(a) a copy of the notice of transfer, and
(b) copies of the documents containing the evidence,
have been given to the accused under regulations made under paragraph 4 of Schedule 6 to the Criminal Justice Act 1991.
(2B) Where this Part applies by virtue of section 1(2)(c), this section does not apply unless the prosecutor has served on the accused a copy of the indictment and a copy of the set of documents containing the evidence which is the basis of the charge.'.
9

Page 4, line 4, at beginning insert 'Where this section applies'.


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