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Lord Ackner: After being chided for taking so long in moving my amendment, I shall take little time now in closing. I raise two points only. I was fully aware--and Hansard will show--that the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, sought to move in Committee or at some other stage of the 1990 Act, there and then, that employed lawyers in the CPS should not have rights of audience. What my noble and learned friend the then Lord Chancellor did was to say: "No, this will be dealt with by the committee that I have set up and their advice and the reaction of the presiding judges and myself". In other words, he was not going to prejudice whatever the decision should be. In the part which I read out, he accepted that there was room for debate on either side.

28 Jan 1999 : Column 1173

My final point is a reference to the Lord Chief Justice. It is sad that the Lord Chief Justice is out of step with his judges. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has made no reference at any stage to the lengthy responses put in on behalf of the High Court judges, the Court of Appeal judges and the Inns Committee. They have all strongly said that, in their view, the Lord Chancellor should follow what was done in the 1989 proceedings.

This is a very serious and important point. I am sorry that the members of the Liberal Democrat Party have not yet made up their minds but in suggesting to me that I should not divide the House they have overlooked that I cannot come back on this amendment. As a result of any withdrawal, I cannot next time round invite the House again to take out this clause from the Bill. In those circumstances, as it is now or never, I feel it is only right to divide the House.

6.21 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 31, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 77; Not-Contents, 88.

Division No. 1

CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Ampthill, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Brookman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
David, B.
Desai, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gilbert, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Hacking, L.
Hanworth, V.
Hardie, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Laming, L.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Nicol, B.
Pitkeathley, B.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thornton, B.
Trefgarne, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

NOT-CONTENTS

Abinger, L.
Ackner, L. [Teller.]
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anelay of St. Johns, B.
Annaly, L.
Attlee, E.
Banbury of Southam, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Bell, L.
Biffen, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Brightman, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Buckinghamshire, E.
Byford, B.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnock, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Cross, V.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dudley, E.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Geddes, L.
Gisborough, L.
Halsbury, E.
Henley, L. [Teller.]
Higgins, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kitchener, E.
Knutsford, V.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lane, L.
Leigh, L.
Liverpool, E.
Luke, L.
McConnell, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Milverton, L.
Mountevans, L.
Morris, L.
Nelson, E.
Newall, L.
Norton, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rennell, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Seccombe, B.
Sempill, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Sudeley, L.
Swinfen, L.
Tebbit, L.
Tenby, V.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Trenchard, V.
Vivian, L.
Weatherill, L.
Westbury, L.
Wharton, B.
Wilberforce, L.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Wise, L.
Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and Clause 31, as amended, disagreed to accordingly.

28 Jan 1999 : Column 1174

6.31 p.m.

Clause 32 [Employees of Legal Services Commission]:

[Amendment No. 241 not moved.]

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 241A:


Page 19, line 32, leave out from beginning to ("they") in line 39 and insert ("the body which fall within subsection (2) shall not have effect in relation to him.
(2) Rules of a body fall within this subsection if they are--
(a) rules of conduct prohibiting or limiting the exercise of the right on behalf of members of the public by members of the body who are employees, or
(b) rules of any other description prohibiting or limiting the provision of legal services to members of the public by such members of the body,
and").

The noble and learned Lord said: Amendment No. 241A to Clause 32 is essentially a drafting amendment

28 Jan 1999 : Column 1175

to correct an oversight in the current version of the clause. The clause provides that lawyers employed by the legal services commission may exercise their rights of audience or to conduct litigation on behalf of members of the public notwithstanding any professional rules that may otherwise prevent them from so doing. However, the clause fails to provide for advocates and litigators employed by the commission to be able to offer other legal services to the public. The short explanation is that lawyers do many things other than appear in court and conduct litigation; they give advice, attend interviews at police stations, draft documents and the like.

Lawyers employed by the legal services commission should be able to carry out these activities as necessary but at present they may be prevented by rules such as those in the Bar's code of conduct which permit employed barristers to offer legal services only to their employers and not to clients of their employers. The amendment will therefore ensure that such rules do not limit the provision of legal services by lawyers employed by the commission. I commend the amendment to the Committee.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 32, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 33 and 34 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 242 not moved.]

Lord Kingsland moved Amendment No. 243:


After Clause 34, insert the following new clause--

Legal executives' practice certificates

(" .--(1) A person who (whether expressly or by implication) describes himself as a legal executive is guilty of an offence unless he is a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives who has in force a current practice certificate issued by that Institute.
(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.").

The noble Lord said: My new clause will ensure that a person can describe himself as a legal executive only if he is a fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives with a current practising certificate in force. It is important to ensure that consumers are not misled by self-descriptions of those who offer legal services. In recent years the term "legal executive" has come to bear the meaning of a fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives and to imply that the person concerned is subject to the qualification and regulation that that involves. It is appropriate, therefore, to ensure that the public is not misled by other, less well qualified individuals assuming the same title.

With this amendment is grouped Amendment No. 291, to which I shall briefly speak. Schedule 6 to the Bill amends the provisions of the Solicitors Act 1974 and the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 in respect of rights of audience and rights to conduct litigation. The amendment proposed here to Section 63 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, would extend to legal executives the professional privilege conferred on other authorised practitioners. It makes clear that communications made by or to legal executives, whether they are employed in solicitors' firms, departments or

28 Jan 1999 : Column 1176

otherwise, are subject to the same rules of privilege as apply to communications made by or to other authorised practitioners. I beg to move.


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