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Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 113 and 114:


Page 60, line 11, at end insert--
("1969 c. 54.Children and Young Persons Act 1969.Section 16(3B) and (3C).")

Page 61, line 38, at end insert--
("1998 c. 37.Crime and Disorder Act 1998.In section 74(8), the words "this section or".In Schedule 5, paragraphs 3(3), 4(6) and 5(6).")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the leave of the House I shall move Amendments Nos. 113 and 114 en bloc. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Transitional provisions and savings]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 115:


Page 62, line 9, after first ("proceedings"") insert ("(except in paragraph 3)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 115 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 116 to 119, 121 and 123.

We laid these amendments relating to transitional provisions for the special measures provided in the Bill. We are aware that not every measure is likely to be made available on the same date to every eligible witness in every court area in the magistrates' court as well as the Crown Court. Implementation plans are being considered by the project groups established under the supervision of the interdepartmental steering group, which is devising an integrated implementation programme for all 78 recommendations of the Speaking Up for Justice report. Advice on this programme is likely to be with the Minister by the end of April.

We do not want to lead witnesses to believe that they will benefit from the new measures in Chapter I of Part II of the Bill, especially before a training strategy has been implemented, guidance produced and the necessary equipment is in place. It may be necessary to commence this chapter early to allow for pilot arrangements. I emphasise that no detailed decisions about timetables and approaches have yet been taken; we simply want to provide all the flexibility we may need.

8 Mar 1999 : Column 88

Until full implementation we will have to continue to rely on existing statutory provisions such as Sections 32 and 32A of the Criminal Justice Act 1991--that is, video and live link evidence from children. We will also continue to rely on the courts' common law powers to arrange for such measures as the taking off of wigs and gowns, screens, sign language, interpreters and signboards. The amendments ensure that initially the new arrangements and the old will need to run side by side.

The amendments also provide for the situation when a notification that a measure is available to a court is withdrawn by the Secretary of State. The amendments provide that witnesses who had been awarded the measure through a special measures direction before the measure was withdrawn would still be able to benefit from them. We also provide for making rule and order-making powers in both parts of the Bill before commencement of the substantive provisions to which they relate. That is an administrative device but is needed for measured implementation of the Bill's substantive provisions when the time comes. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 116 to 119:


Page 62, line 30, leave out ("commencement date for Chapter I of Part II") and insert ("specified date").
Page 62, line 39, leave out ("commencement date for Chapter I of Part II") and insert ("specified date").
Page 62, line 44, leave out ("that commencement") and insert ("the specified").
Page 62, line 45, at end insert--
("(4) In this paragraph--
(a) "continuing proceedings" means proceedings instituted before the specified date;
(b) "the specified date", in relation to a witness in any proceedings, means such date as may be specified by the Secretary of State in a notice given to the court in question under section 18(2), where the date is expressed to apply--
(i) for the purposes of this paragraph, and
(ii) in relation to any description of witnesses and proceedings within which the witness and the proceedings fall.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 120 not moved.]

Clause 63 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 121:


Page 42, line 30, leave out ("Apart from section 61 and this section,") and insert ("Subject to subsection (2A),").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Viscount Colville of Culross moved Amendment No. 122:


Page 42, line 32, leave out ("or") and insert ("and with respect to").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carter, need not be alarmed about his timetable, but I want to return to the question of cross-examination and re-examination on video recordings.

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The Minister just said that various items in Chapter I of Part II will be introduced gradually. There is a particular difficulty about Clause 27(2), where there is an elaborate requirement for the presence of people during the course of any cross-examination and re-examination that will be pre-recorded and used in court. At an earlier stage in the Bill, the Minister said that that would not cause any great difficulty because there were lots of police stations where that was done. I made inquiries because the court in north-west London where I sit was a pilot for the admissibility of evidence-in-chief by children in the form of video recordings under Section 32 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

I do not know whether this is typical but in north-west London, the police have two or three suites available where they can record the evidence of a vulnerable witness. I extend that term beyond children because that is what the Bill is about. The facility consists of a room equipped with a video recorder into which goes the witness and the skilled interviewers--who by this time have been well trained, at least as regards children. There is another room into which the video signal goes and where sits a policeman or somebody else in charge of matters as a safeguard--to see that nothing obviously goes amiss during the examination-in-chief or, technically, the taking of the interview.

There is no contact between the room where the interview is taking place and the overseer in the further room. In some cases an earpiece is available but frequently is not used because it makes the witness suspicious or nervous. That is the existing system and, in my experience, it produces high-quality videotapes. They may have to be edited but the raw material is there. That system is not susceptible to adaptation, to allow all the people to take part in an exercise under Clause 27(2). For that, one needs the facilities of a videolink court. Such a court has a room in which the witness sits, connected to the court by a videolink. In that room there can be a companion, an accompanier, somebody to look after the witness and so on.

In the court itself there are at least four videos--one each for the judge, defence counsel, prosecution counsel and jury. One for the jury will not be required under Clause 27(2). If the judge or magistrate is to control matters, he must be able to switch on and off the various videos. If, for instance, it becomes apparent that the vulnerable witness is becoming tired or there is some other reason for an interruption, a button can be pressed and the videolink to the witness is turned off. Then the judge or magistrate can talk to the other people in the court and sort the matter out. Similarly, when it comes to cross-examination and re-examination, the necessary buttons are pressed. There is a video recorder as well as a receiver at the place of each counsel so that the witness can see who is asking the questions. In fact, the witness can be told by the judge or magistrate in advance who the questioner will be.

8 Mar 1999 : Column 90

That system involves complicated and elaborate equipment and, as I well know, is not that easy to use. One has to get it right and become accustomed to it. Is the Minister saying that police stations will be equipped in that way into which the entire court, presumably as a result of one of its own directions, may move to undertake the cross-examination and re-examination--so that a video recording can be produced under the control of the judge or magistrate for use in court? If so, when will that arrangement be in place and how much will it cost? In my part of north-west London at least, such a system does not exist. This part of the Bill should not be brought into effect, even on a pilot basis, until the facilities have been made available. I tabled the amendment simply to ask the Minister to explain the situation and the Government's proposals for putting the provision in place. I beg to move.

7.45 p.m.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Viscount on raising the practicalities of the proposals for video cross- examination. I had always assumed that, although the interview might take place in the police station, which would form the evidence-in-chief, there would undoubtedly have to be a move to the court for the purposes of recording the cross-examination. I cannot see that being done any other way.

In earlier discussions, it was put to me that the problem revolved around a witness knowing that he or she had to go to court on a particular day and be available for cross-examination as if it were by live videolink before a jury. My response was, "I don't see the difference". If the court building has to be used for a recording, the witness giving evidence will know that there is a judge, counsel for the prosecution and defence, and presumably the defendant at the other end. The circumstances are exactly the same for that witness in another room as though the jury or a magistrate were present. Why have pre-recording? It cannot make any difference to the stress and strain placed upon the witness. The same buildings, for practical reasons, will have to be used.


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