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Lord Goodhart: In Schedule 1.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Moving provisions between clauses and schedules is a minor part of the revising functions of this Chamber. However, I can assure the noble and learned Lord that it would be inappropriate for the commission to invest money in equities. I ask the noble and learned Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I regret that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, is as bad as my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Kingsland moved Amendment No. 20:


Page 2, line 42, after ("Chancellor") insert (", whether at his request or not,").

The noble Lord said: It will not have escaped the attention of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor that one of the themes running through the many amendments tabled to the Bill concerns the proper relationship between the legal services commission and the noble and learned Lord's department. The amendments to Clause 3(2)(g) seek further to illuminate that distinction. Were they to be accepted, subsection (2)(g) would read:


There may be occasions on which the legal services commission wishes to make clear its views on a matter which diverges from the views of the noble and learned Lord's department. In those circumstances, we believe it entirely proper that there should be a statutory basis upon which it can formulate its decision to make those differences public. I beg to move.

The Lord Chancellor: The amendment would provide that the legal services commission could give the Lord Chancellor any advice about any of its functions, with or without the prior request of the Lord Chancellor, and would require the commission to

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publish that advice. The Government intend that the legal services commission should be free at any time to advise the Lord Chancellor about any of its functions. For this reason, there is nothing in the Bill as its stands which prevents the commission from providing the Lord Chancellor with any advice it considers necessary concerning his functions, whether or not the Lord Chancellor has requested such advice. Therefore, the first part of the noble Lord's amendment is unnecessary.

Advice given by the commission will be published in accordance with the open government code of practice. But advice about policy issues under consideration is protected under the code; that is to say, the open government code of practice introduced by our predecessors. The purpose of that is to preserve the frankness and candour of internal discussions on policy issues. The complexities and details of the code would be difficult to capture in statutory language. For that reason, I believe that the question of publication is best left to the code. However, I have no difficulty in giving an undertaking that publication will be effected in accordance with the terms of our predecessors' code.

Lord Kingsland: I thank the noble and learned Lord for his helpful reply, upon which I shall reflect. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 21 and 22 not moved.]

Lord Simon of Glaisdale moved Amendment No. 23:


Page 3, line 3, leave out subsection (4).

The noble and learned Lord said: This is a brief point in a renewed attempt to shorten the Bill. Subsection (4) allows the commission to delegate its functions. Is that necessary? I understood the rule to be that a delegate may not sub-delegate. Subject to the fresher knowledge of the law of my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, I know of no rule which prevents a body which is not a delegate from delegating further. Incidentally, I see my noble and learned friend Lord Wilberforce in the Chamber and perhaps I may appeal to him. He is silent and has not contradicted me. I beg to move.

The Lord Chancellor: Clause 3(4) provides the power for the commission to regulate its business and to delegate the discharge of some of its functions. It will delegate powers, for example, to franchise solicitors. The provision puts beyond doubt that there is such a power to delegate and it already exists in current legislation. Such a power has therefore already been approved by Parliament and it appears to be right to put the power of the commission to delegate beyond any doubt on the face of the Bill.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My noble and learned friend did not attempt to deal with my argument that the provision is unnecessary if the commission already has a power to delegate. I am bound to ask whether he is

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really interested in shortening the Bill and getting rid of a completely unnecessary provision. It is no answer to say that the provision makes the position plain. Of course it makes it plain, but it is plain anyhow. One is occupying six lines unnecessarily by stating that the commission can do something which it can do in any case. I do not press the amendment at this stage, but I am bound to say that that was one of the most unsatisfactory answers to an amendment that I have ever heard. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 3 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I have one further short question about a matter to which I have already referred. The commission can invest money but not in bodies corporate. The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said he believes that it should not have the power to invest in equities. If he says that I am bound to attach considerable weight to it. However, can the commission invest in property? It seems strange that if it can invest in property--and I can see no reason which precludes it--it should not be able to invest in shares in bodies corporate.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I was able to confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, that the commission could not invest in equities. However, I shall have to write to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, about its power to invest in property.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I am grateful to the noble Lord. I shall be still more grateful if his letter is proficient.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Lord Kingsland moved Amendment No. 24:


After Clause 3, insert the following new clause--

Estimates and accounts

(" . The Commission shall prepare and publish estimates and accounts to show the following--
(a) the setting up costs of all the services for which they are responsible;
(b) the administrative running costs for all the services for which they are responsible;
(c) the cost of the legal services for which they are responsible; and
(d) the cost of disbursements within those legal services for which they are responsible.").

The noble Lord said: In tabling this amendment, I am aware that in paragraph 16 of Schedule 1, the question of accounts and audit is dealt with. My amendment is a probing amendment.

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will recall that, when he presented this Bill at Second Reading, he laid great emphasis on the importance of containing the costs of legal aid for both criminal and

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civil matters. But Members of the Committee will not be unaware that a new institution is being set up and it is bound to cost money.

My amendment seeks to provide an opportunity for the Committee and, indeed, the general public, to examine the extent of the costs which will be incurred as a result of the establishment and operation of the legal services commission. I beg to move.

The Lord Chancellor: I am not sure that I entirely follow this. Under Clause 6(2), the Lord Chancellor is obliged to pay to the commission the sums which he determines are appropriate for the funding of services by the commission as part of the community legal service. He may determine the manner in which, and the times at which, the sums are to be paid to the commission and may impose conditions on the payment of the sums.

I shall be agreeing a financial memorandum with the commission under Clause 6(2)(b). As the noble Lord said, paragraphs 16(1) and 16(2) of Schedule 1 impose an obligation on the commission to maintain accounts. I see no gap in that regard and I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Goodhart: Before the noble Lord does so, perhaps I may intervene briefly. I have some considerable sympathy with the purpose of the amendment. While I certainly hope that it will happen in any event, it will be extremely important to have accounts which are comprehensible and which really explain what is happening.

In any accounts provided, I should like to see the breakdown between the spending of the community legal service under the different heads of service that it can provide under Clause 5(1); for example, as between information, advice, representation, education and so on. It would also be extremely helpful to know how the funds spent by the community legal service were broken down as between the various heads of spending under Clause 7(3); for example, by contracts, grants or loans, to persons or bodies to provide services, by establishing and maintaining bodies to provide services and by providing services itself and so on.

I hope that the accounts will be sufficiently informative to enable us to see in some detail how the money is being spent.


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