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COMMONS AMENDMENT

115

After Clause 65, insert the following new clause--

CODE OF CONDUCT

(". In the Justices of the Peace Act 1997, after section 39 insert--
"Code of conduct for members etc.
39A.--(1) The Lord Chancellor may prepare a code of conduct to be observed by--
(a) members of magistrates' courts committees; and
(b) members of selection panels for choosing members of such committees.

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(2) The Lord Chancellor may from time to time prepare a revised version of the code.
(3) Before preparing the code or a revised version of the code the Lord Chancellor shall undertake such consultation as appears to him to be appropriate.
(4) The code, and any revised version of the code, shall come into force as provided by an order made by the Lord Chancellor by statutory instrument; and an order providing for the coming into force of the code or a revised version shall set out the code or revised version.
(5) A statutory instrument containing an order made by virtue of subsection (4) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
Non-compliance with code.
39B.--(1) The Lord Chancellor may make an order under subsection (2) below if he is of the opinion that--
(a) a member of a magistrates' courts committee; or
(b) a member of a selection panel for choosing members of such a committee,
has, without reasonable excuse, failed to observe the code.
(2) An order under this subsection shall state that the Lord Chancellor is of the opinion mentioned in subsection (1) above and may provide either or both of the following--
(a) that, on the making of the order, the person is to cease to be a member of the committee or selection panel concerned or to cease to be such a member for a specified period; or
(b) that, for a specified period, the person may not be appointed (or co-opted) as a member of any magistrates' courts committee or any selection panel for choosing members of such a committee.
(3) The Lord Chancellor may by regulations made by statutory instrument make provision for the purpose of establishing whether persons have failed to observe the code.
(4) A statutory instrument containing regulations made by virtue of subsection (3) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament."").

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 115.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 115.--(Lord Falconer of Thoroton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

116

Clause 67, page 40, line 28, leave out ("in relation to") and insert ("appointed by")

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 116. I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 117 to 122, 198, 202, 208, 232, 233 and 234. Amendments Nos. 116 to 121 inclusive introduce some drafting improvements to the existing Clause 67. Clause 67 describes the role of justices' chief executives, their responsibility for making arrangements for the efficient and effective administration of magistrates' courts and their powers to delegate duties to the staff. Amendment No. 122 provides definitions to facilitate the construction of the amendments made by Schedule 10. Amendment No. 198 introduces a

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replacement Schedule 10. It lists the many provisions that require amendment in order to transfer responsibility for administrative functions from justices' clerks to justices' chief executives. Amendment No. 208 makes a consequential change to Schedule 11. Amendments Nos. 232 to 234 are related repeals.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 116.--(Lord Falconer of Thoroton.)

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, Amendment No. 198 which inserts the new Schedule 10 is 31 pages long. It appears to have been necessary because the parliamentary draftsman discovered no less than 36 new Acts since the Bill was last before your Lordships' House containing references to justices' clerks which needed to be changed to justices' chief executives. Since this is simply a change in the name of the holder of the office, is it not possible to have a single amendment that provides that all references to justices' clerks should be treated as references to justices' chief executives? That may be sloppy drafting. I am sure that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, and the noble Lord, Lord Renton, would be violently opposed to it. However, I wonder whether it would save a good deal of paper.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I wonder whether it would do so. I do not know. However, we are where we are and it is 10 to 12 at night. I believe that we should proceed as it is.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

117

Clause 67, page 40, line 37, after ("of") insert ("all of")


118

Page 40, line 43, leave out ("administrative responsibilities") and insert ("responsibility")


119

Page 41, line 5, leave out ("in relation to") and insert ("appointed by")


120

Page 41, line 11, leave out ("in relation to") and insert ("appointed by")


121

Page 41, line 19, leave out ("in relation to") and insert ("appointed by")


122

Page 41, line 27, at end insert--


("( ) In section 40 of that Act (appointment of justices' chief executive), after subsection (1) insert--
"(1A) The justices' chief executive appointed by a magistrates' courts committee is--
(a) the justices' chief executive for every magistrates' court for the committee's area,
(b) the justices' chief executive for every petty sessions area for which they are the committee, and
(c) the chief executive to the justices acting for every such petty sessions area."").

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 117 to 122.

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Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 117 to 122.--(Lord Falconer of Thoroton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

123

After Clause 72, insert the following new clause--

DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION FOR ENFORCING WARRANTS

(". In the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980, after section 125B (inserted by section 72(2) above) insert--
"Disclosure of information for enforcing warrants.
125C.--(1) Basic personal information held by a relevant public authority may, on the application of a justices' chief executive, be supplied by the authority to him (or to a justices' clerk appointed by, or member of the staff of, his magistrates' courts committee who is specified in the application) for the purpose of facilitating the enforcement of a section 125A(1) warrant which is so specified.
(2) In this section--
"basic personal information" means a person's name, date of birth or national insurance number or the address (or any of the addresses) of a person;
"relevant public authority" means a Minister of the Crown, government department, local authority or chief officer of police specified in an order made by the Lord Chancellor; and
"a section 125A(1) warrant" means a warrant to which section 125A(1) above applies and which has been issued by a justice of the peace to whom the justices' chief executive making the application is chief executive.
(3) Information supplied to any person under subsection (1) above, or this subsection, for the purpose of facilitating the enforcement of a section 125A(1) warrant may be supplied by him for that purpose to--
(a) any person entitled to execute the warrant;
(b) any employee of a body or person who, for the purposes of section 125B above, is an approved enforcement agency in relation to the warrant; or
(c) any person who is the justices' chief executive, a justices' clerk or a member of the staff of the magistrates' courts committee whose justices' chief executive made the application for the information.
(4) A person who intentionally or recklessly--
(a) discloses information supplied to him under this section otherwise than as permitted by subsection (3) above; or
(b) uses information so supplied otherwise than for the purpose of facilitating the enforcement of the section 125A(1) warrant concerned,
commits an offence.
(5) But it is not an offence under subsection (4) above--
(a) to disclose any information in accordance with any enactment or order of a court or for the purposes of any proceedings before a court; or
(b) to disclose any information which has previously been lawfully disclosed to the public.

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(6) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (4) above is liable--
(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum; or
(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine.
(7) The power to make orders conferred by subsection (2) above shall be exercisable by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.".").

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 123. I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 124 and 125. These amendments are designed to help track down a missing fine defaulter or community service dodger by enabling the courts to check whether other government agencies hold a more recent address for the offender in their records. Barriers to information sharing are among the biggest obstacles to effective enforcement. Over £50 million in fines was written off in 1997-98 alone, and it has been estimated that inability to trace the offender could account for as much as 30 per cent of the total. The Government believe it is quite unacceptable that offenders should be able to get away with their crimes while the taxpayer has to foot the bill.

Amendment No. 123 will therefore enable the courts to obtain basic information about offenders from relevant public authorities for the purpose of warrant execution. Amendments Nos. 124 and 125 are consequential. I commend the amendment to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 123.--(Lord Falconer of Thoroton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

11.45 p.m.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

124

Clause 74, page 46, line 10, leave out ("125B (inserted by section 72(2)") and insert ("125C (inserted by section (Disclosure of information for enforcing warrants)").


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