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Lord Archer of Sandwell: I do not take a dogmatic position in this debate. I rise only to underline what was said a moment ago by my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis: that the risk we are talking about is not principally to the Bar but to the clients who may, in certain circumstances, find difficulty in securing representation and, certainly in the solicitors' profession, in securing advice.

I venture simply to draw one lesson from history. The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said that no doctor would contemplate a conditional fee agreement. I seem to remember reading somewhere that it was the habit in parts of the Ottoman Empire to pay your doctor so long as you remained in good health. However, if you fell ill, you ceased to pay him until you recovered. There is some evidence that those who were invalids found it very difficult to find doctors.

Lord Goodhart: I am grateful for the support that my amendment has received from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and for the considerable degree of support that it received from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, and the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis. The reaction of the Government is hardly unexpected; but, nonetheless, it is disappointing. I shall not go into it further, except to make two very brief comments in response to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, said.

First, as far as concerns cherry-picking, I do not see that as being a danger. It is obvious that a conditional legal aid fund would be able to spot the bad cases that were being thrown at it and that it would look with a great deal of suspicion at any case that comes to it from a firm that is known to have a wide CFA practice. Indeed, what is far more likely to happen is that firms which are not prepared to undertake the risk of CFAs will go for CLAF. As I said earlier, this means that there will be a considerable widening of choice to potential clients. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, rightly said, it is the client's interest that we are considering in this case.

Secondly, as regards funding, I do not believe that this proposal need divert funds from anywhere. The way that I would in fact envisage this assistance being funded would be through money raised from the private sector but guaranteed by the Government. If, as I strongly believe, CLAF turns out to be viable, one would not be diverting funds from anywhere else. On this occasion I shall withdraw the amendment, but we may wish to discuss this matter further. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill): I call Amendments Nos. 144 and 145. These were debated on Tuesday.

Lord Windlesham: With the leave of the Committee, I point out that there is a point of inaccuracy as regards

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the groupings list, in that Amendment No. 144, which has been debated, is grouped with Amendment No. 145, which has not been debated, as the amendment to which it was attached was not moved. Together with my noble friend Lord Kingsland I wish to make a number of points on Amendment No. 145. However, this constitutes a major new part of the Bill. Perhaps the Committee wishes to adjourn until another day. I am probably speaking out of order but I wished to make that point.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: May I just deal with Amendment No. 144, which has not been moved, and Amendment No. 145 to which the noble Lord wishes to speak?

Lord Windlesham: I wish to speak to it, but not necessarily now. If the Committee wishes to adjourn at approximately 10 o'clock I think my remarks would receive a better welcome on another day rather than making a substantial speech now. As I said, we have

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just reached a landmark point in relation to Amendments Nos. 144 and 145. I refer to the introduction of a novelty to our system of criminal justice--the criminal defence service. It may be better to discuss that another day, if that is the wish of the Committee.

Lord Ackner: I support that proposal. We have two days next week set aside.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: There is no proposal currently before us because the noble Lord does not intend to move that amendment at this stage.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

        House adjourned at eight minutes before ten o'clock.

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