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Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, the argument put forward was that this provision is unnecessary. I have not, I confess, heard that replied to. In fact, I think that in Committee my noble and learned friend accepted that it was unnecessary but said it made clear that there was a power to delegate, accepting that

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without the statute there was still a power to delegate. It is highly unsatisfactory that a serious argument should be brushed aside. There is no limit if we are to try to make clear everything that is already clear in the common law. There is no end to the expansion of the statute book. But I shall certainly return to the matter at a later stage. I hope that my noble and learned friend will have second and better thoughts. In the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 27:


Page 3, line 5, leave out from second ("of") to end of line 8 and insert ("any of its functions.
( ) The Lord Chancellor may by order require the Commission--
(a) to delegate any function specified in the order or to delegate any function so specified to a person (or person of a description) so specified,
(b) not to delegate any function so specified or not to delegate any function so specified to a person (or person of a description) so specified, or
(c) to make arrangements such as are specified in the order in relation to the delegation of any function so specified.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 [Directions and guidance]:

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 28:


Leave out Clause 4.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 5 [The Community Legal Service]:

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendments Nos. 29 to 32:


Page 3, line 21, leave out from ("Service") to end of line 22 and insert ("for the purpose of promoting the availability to individuals of services of the descriptions specified in subsection (1A) and, in particular, for securing (within the resources made available, and priorities set, in accordance with this Part) that individuals have access to services of a type and quality appropriate to meet their needs.
(1A) The descriptions of services referred to in subsection (1) are--").
Page 3, line 33, leave out subsection (2) and insert--
("(2) Services which the Commission can fund as part of the Criminal Defence Service do not fall within subsection (1A).").
Page 3, line 36, leave out ("(1)") and insert ("(1A)").
Page 3, line 39, leave out ("(1)") and insert ("(1A)").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendments Nos. 29 to 32 en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 33:


Page 4, line 3, at end insert--
("and the Commission shall notify the Lord Chancellor of what it has done under this subsection.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I wish to speak to Amendments Nos. 33, 37, 43 and 48.

These amendments are designed to strengthen the requirement on the Lord Chancellor to consider the needs for services before making directions about the funding of services or the way that services should

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be funded. Amendments of this type were suggested by, among others, the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, during the Committee stage of the Bill and I am grateful to him.

I hope that your Lordships will agree that these amendments ensure that the need for services is to be considered throughout the funding process. In each case need for services is defined in terms of the types of help listed in Clause 5.

Amendment No. 37 requires the Lord Chancellor in making his determination of the sums to be paid into the community legal service fund to have regard to the need for services described in Clause 5 identified by the commission under Clause 5(4). The amendment also makes it clear that the Lord Chancellor may also take account of any other factors he considers relevant. This reflects the fact that the budget for the community legal service fund will be set as part of the general public expenditure planning process. This takes account of the general state of the economy and the competing needs of other public spending programmes.

Amendment No. 33 is consequential on Amendment No. 37. The Bill has already placed a duty on the commission at Clause 5(4) to inform itself about the need for the services described and about the provision and quality of the services available. This amendment extends the duty to ensure that the commission informs the Lord Chancellor of the results of its investigations, ensuring that he has as much information as possible about the need for services. Amendment No. 37 ensures that, when setting the priorities for the funding of services, the commission takes account of the need for those services described in Clause 5.

Amendment No. 48 was inspired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who I am sorry to note is not present. He suggested in Committee that the use of the word "communities" instead of "areas",


    "would give the community legal service a kind of local community connection"--[Official Report, 19/1/99; col. 565.]
I accept that the commission should be able to respond as flexibly as possible to the needs of different communities, whether that different need arises as a result of geographic location, ethnic or religious background, or otherwise. I therefore propose that the text should be amended to read:


    "The commission may fund as part of the Community Legal Service different descriptions of services or services provided by different means in relation to different areas or communities".
I hope that your Lordships agree that that provides for the greatest possible flexibility. I beg to move.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, I have only one question. It concerns Amendment No. 37. Does my noble and learned friend, or the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, really think that it is necessary to stipulate by statute:


    "In making any determination under subsection (2) the Lord Chancellor shall take into account (in addition to such other factors as he considers relevant) the need for services of the descriptions specified in subsection (1A) of Section 5 as notified to him by the Commission under subsection (4) of that section"?

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If that was not there, would my noble and learned friend really take no notice of what the commission thought was required?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I cannot say whether it is legally necessary or not. It seems to me entirely sensible that it should say that. It provides a focus of what should be considered and it places the emphasis in the right place.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 34:


Page 4, line 5, leave out from ("subsection") to end of line 6 and insert ("(1A).
(6) In particular, the Commission may accredit, or authorise others to accredit, persons or bodies providing services of the descriptions specified in subsection (1A); and any system of accreditation shall include provision for the monitoring of the services provided by accredited persons and bodies and for the withdrawal of accreditation from any providing services of unsatisfactory quality.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 34, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 95. The amendments build upon the powers in Clause 5(5) and Clause 12(5) respectively that the legal services commission may set and monitor standards in the community legal service and criminal defence service, or authorise others to do so.

Clause 5(5) empowers the commission to set and monitor standards of service, and to accredit, or authorise others to accredit, persons or bodies providing relevant services. Amendment No. 34 will place a duty on the legal services commission to ensure that any accreditation system it may establish includes provision for monitoring all those providing accredited services and withdrawing accreditation from any who provide services of an unsatisfactory quality.

I believe that the amendment improves Clause 5 as it puts beyond doubt that the commission, or other authorised bodies, can and will monitor the provision of services by accredited providers and, if necessary, withdraw that accreditation.

Providing consumers with an assurance of quality is a key feature of the Lord Chancellor's plans for the community legal service. The conditions for accreditation will initially be provided by the Legal Aid Board's franchising specification, which will become a requirement of all contracts that the legal services commission makes with providers. But the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor intends in future that franchising will be integrated into a wider community legal service kitemark on which both the commission and other funders of legal services can rely. A common system of accreditation should reduce the administrative burden on providers who seek funding from a number of sources and currently have to satisfy several different sets of quality criteria. It should also encourage referrals between different types of service provider, reduce the burden on funders of developing separate quality requirements, and generally strengthen public confidence in the quality of service provision.

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To develop details of the kitemark, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has set up a quality task force which includes representatives of all the major organisations concerned with the quality of advice. The aim of the quality task force is to identify and agree the core quality criteria which providers should be expected to comply with and which could form the basis of a community legal service kitemark.

Amendment No. 34 also ensures that subsection (5) and the new subsection (6) refer to subsection (1A), as inserted by Amendment No. 30, which lists the descriptions of service available, rather than to subsection (1), which will set out the objectives of the community legal service.

Amendment No. 95 makes a similar change in relation to the commission's powers to accredit providers of criminal defence services. I beg to move.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I do not object to the amendment, but I wish for some enlightenment. The word "accredit" has not previously been used in the Bill. It can mean different things in different circumstances. It is an unusual word to find in a statute anyway. I wonder if the noble Lord can be more precise and tell your Lordships exactly the application of it in this context.


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