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Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, perhaps I may express gratitude to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for the thought that he has given to this proposal and the amendments now brought forward. I can assure him that the extra allowance that the amendments permit will be extremely well used.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I, too, welcome this new clause. There is one point on which I would like some assurance from the noble and learned Lord. From the wording of the amendment I assume that there cannot be a case in which a child is compelled to attend a trial against its will. If a member of the child's family is the accused then the child could be very upset by the proceedings and should not be required to remain in court. I am sure that the noble and learned Lord can give an assurance on that point.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, as I understand the changes, they are to enable, and not compel, children to attend, with the consent of the court.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 19:

After Clause 56, insert the following new clause--

Enforcement of community orders made by Crown Court

(". Schedule (Enforcement of community orders made by Crown Court) (which transfers to the Crown Court certain functions relating to the enforcement of community orders made by the Crown Court which are currently functions of magistrates' courts) has effect.").

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The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, these amendments make changes to the way in which alleged breaches of community orders are dealt with by the courts. These changes are, I believe, uncontroversial and will make the process for dealing with certain breach cases quicker and more efficient. They reflect the views of the judiciary who have argued that they are necessary in order to avoid unnecessary court proceedings, delays in resolving breach cases, and to increase confidence in community sentences.

The new clause inserts into the Bill a new schedule concerning the enforcement of community orders made by the Crown Court. The new schedule makes amendments to Schedule 2 to the Criminal Justice Act 1991. Schedule 2 currently provides that alleged breaches of community sentences imposed by the Crown Court should be brought first to the magistrates' court to be dealt with or, depending on the circumstances, to be committed to the Crown Court.

The new schedule creates a more streamlined process. Certain functions are transferred from the magistrates' court to the Crown Court in respect of the enforcement of those orders made originally by the Crown Court. Amendment No. 67 makes related repeals.

The changes flow from representations made by the judiciary that it is inappropriate for alleged breaches of orders made by the Crown Court to be heard by magistrates, and that all subsequent issues concerning such orders, in particular alleged breaches, should be heard by the Crown Court. It would also be more efficient for any such proceedings to start in the Crown Court, thereby saving the time and expense of a magistrates' hearing.

The Government are committed to ensuring that court processes are not needlessly long or complex. The amendment provides an element of flexibility, in that it is left to the judge, when passing a community sentence, whether to reserve jurisdiction to the Crown Court or not. It is important that if an offender has failed to comply with requirements of a community order the matter is dealt with swiftly and efficiently by the courts. We see no benefit in retaining the current arrangements whereby some cases have to be dealt with in the first instance by a magistrates' court only to be passed on to the Crown Court. I think it is right, then, to take the opportunity provided by this Bill to make these changes, which will improve and streamline the process by which community sentences are enforced. By the same token, it makes sense for all proceedings in respect of revocation of orders made by the Crown Court, which are always heard by that court, to start their life there rather than in the magistrates' court. The amendment so provides. I beg to move.

Viscount Colville of Culross: My Lords, I welcome this provision. Ever since the 1991 Act came into force Schedule 2 has been the subject of much argument, and many profound speeches at judicial seminars have been given by eminent people from all walks of life. The matter is still incomprehensible to most of us.

I ask two things of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer. First, does this provision indicate that there is to be some consolidation? It is high time that

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there was. One has only to look at the text of Amendment No. 52 to see that it is totally incomprehensible unless it is placed in the proper context with the other text.

Can the noble and learned Lord also say whether it is the Government's intention, by means partly of clarifying this matter, that the court's attention should be focused not only on the revocation of the community order, but also on the decision whether an alternative sentence should be imposed? Too often, what happens is that someone is brought before a magistrates' court or a Crown Court and sentenced for the new offence and the Probation Service asks for revocation of the previous community sentence. It is very seldom that there is any discussion of what ought to take the place of the remainder of the community service which is being revoked, in addition to the penalty for the new matter. It may be that there should be no additional penalty, but nevertheless the matter ought to be considered; otherwise community sentences fail to carry the weight that they are supposed to carry as alternatives to prison in the first instance. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord would like to contemplate that matter. I believe that it is not a matter for the Bill, but something on which guidance could usefully be given.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the noble Viscount raises two points. First, one sees all too well the number of statutes concerned with consolidation and we shall give thought to that question. On the noble Viscount's second point, this amendment streamlines the procedure. His point is an important one which is worthy of consideration, but it seems to me that it is not appropriate for this Bill or this amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

6 p.m.

Clause 60 [Greater London Magistrates' Courts Authority]:

Lord Ackner moved Amendment No. 20:

Page 38, line 40, leave out ("subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House") and insert ("laid in draft before, and subject to approval by resolution of, both Houses").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, recently I was approached by the deputy chairman of the Inner London Magistrates' Courts Committee to put forward this amendment. I do not know why I was approached. I suppose I was chosen on the basis of alphabetical merit.

The amendment seeks to replace the proposed annulment procedure for the making of statutory instruments under Clause 60 by the affirmative procedure, as laid down in other provisions in the Bill. Clause 60 proposes far-reaching changes to the magistrates' courts service in Greater London. It will create a Greater London magistrates' court authority to run all the Greater London magistrates' courts and replace the existing 22 magistrates' courts committees. Clause 60 is an enabling clause, leaving a great deal of detail about the new authority to be covered by statutory instrument.

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The Greater London magistrates' courts authority will be a radically different animal from other magistrates' courts committees in its constitution and powers. In contrast to other magistrates' courts committees, it will be able to own property, to acquire rights and liabilities and, crucially, to be its own paying authority, which presumably is a power to precept local authorities directly for their contribution towards its annual running costs.

The restructuring of the magistrates' courts in Greater London represents--so I am told--the largest rationalisation by far of magistrates' courts committees anywhere in England and Wales. The GLMCA--the Greater London magistrates' courts authority--will be bound to be seen as a flagship authority. It will affect the lives of 7 million people living in Greater London, plus many hundreds of thousands of commuters and visitors from overseas and other parts of the United Kingdom.

Parliament will reserve to the Lord Chancellor extensive powers to give flesh to this new body by the making of regulations. It is submitted, therefore, that there ought to be a proper parliamentary scrutiny of such regulations. In other parts of the Bill--for example, in procedures relating to the funding code under Clause 10--the affirmative procedure is to be used. There is a danger that if the annulment procedure is used for regulations made under Clause 60, the regulations might slip through. Of course, such regulations will have a profound effect on the running of magistrates' courts throughout the capital and the new body will be different from all other magistrates' courts committees in England and Wales. I respectfully submit that the affirmative procedure should apply to them. I beg to move.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I support the amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner. We have seen the negative resolution procedure used when matters are not of such great importance that parliamentary approval is not essential, although it can, if necessary, be invoked. We have here the power on the part of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor to make regulations governing the whole of the criminal jurisdiction but, in the first instance, only for the 7 million people of London, the capital city of the United Kingdom. Therefore it is important that it should be a matter for an affirmative resolution, after discussion in either House of Parliament. I hope that the noble and learned Lord will look sympathetically at this amendment.

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