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Viscount Astor: I hope that the Minister can clarify a point for me. Is a charity carrying on a business? I am not sure whether a charity or a voluntary organisation that is offering advice would be carrying on a business under the Minister's definition.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Some charities carry on businesses. One thinks, for example, of charity shops. Those are undoubtedly businesses. I repeat that the

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scheme we are discussing does not seek to catch the well meaning Member of Parliament, Member of this Chamber--I refer to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury--or members of organised religious bodies, as mentioned by the noble Baroness. There are capacities and capabilities for exemption, but it is right that--in order to protect people who need protection--such bodies should be able to meet the relevant criteria. I stress that the relevant criteria and the methods of examination, as it were, are the subject of continuing dialogue with charitable and voluntary organisations. I have no doubt at all that many charitable and voluntary organisations will be exempt from the measure. However, a minority of them are well meaning and good-hearted but have disastrous effects.

Lord Dholakia: I hope that I may press the Minister a little further. Earlier I mentioned the Legal Aid Board which has sent a document to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and has made a number of recommendations to him. I understand that some discussions have occurred on access to quality immigration services. I do not expect a reply to that point now, but it may be helpful to know the Lord Chancellor's reaction to that document. I hope that the Minister will write to me on that point and place a copy of the letter in the Library.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I shall certainly do that. When the noble Lord raised this matter on a previous occasion, I believe that I said that discussions were still continuing. However, I shall try to establish the up-to-date position before we rise for the Summer Recess. Of course, I shall, as always, place a copy of my letter to the noble Lord in the Library.

Viscount Astor: I am sure that the Committee is grateful to the Minister for his reply to these amendments. I believe that voluntary organisations will want to consider whether or not they are carrying on a business. However, I also believe that this issue will become clearer as the summer progresses. No doubt if there is a problem here, we shall have an opportunity to return to the matter on Report. As I said, I am grateful for the Minister's reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 124A:


Page 46, line 15, at end insert--
(""designated judge" has the same meaning as in section 119(1) of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990;").

The noble Lord said: With this amendment are grouped Amendments Nos. 125A, 126, 128, 128C, 129A, 131A, 131B, 132, 144A, 145, 145A, 149 and 149A. Therefore, this is quite an extensive group!

Amendment No. 125A requires the Secretary of State to consult the Scottish Ministers prior to appointing the commissioner. This amendment is being made to match the requirement on the Secretary of State to consult the Lord Chancellor prior to the appointment of the

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commissioner. We think it is right that he should consult the appropriate body in Scotland prior to this appointment.

Amendment No. 126 would have the effect of requiring the Secretary of State to consult the Advocate General for Scotland about the appointment of the commissioner. Government Amendment No. 125A requires consultation with the Scottish Ministers so the present amendment is unnecessary. I hope that the amendment will not be pressed--not because it was a wrong approach, but because we have dealt with it in an appropriate way.

Amendment No. 128 would require the immigration services commissioner to consult each of the designated professional bodies and other persons appearing to him to represent the views of persons engaged in the provision of immigration advice or services as he considers appropriate before making or altering the commissioner's rules.

The commissioner's rules apply to those who are registered with the commissioner. Practising members of the designated professional bodies are not required to register with the commissioner and are therefore not affected by any rules which the commissioner may make in respect of registered persons.

The commissioner is already required to consult those persons appearing to him to represent the views of such persons engaged in the provision of immigration advice or services as he considers appropriate. He may choose to consult the designated professional bodies, but there is no obligation on him to do so. Given that the legal professions are, to a large extent, unaffected by the rules in respect of registered persons, I do not understand why he should be specifically obliged to consult them. In due course, I shall invite the Committee not to accept this amendment, if it is moved.

Amendment No. 128C requires the commissioner to consult the designated judges, the Lord President of the Court of Session and the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland before issuing or altering the code of standards.

There is already a requirement on the commissioner to consult the designated professional bodies, as I indicated earlier. We consider that it is useful and necessary for the commissioner to consult the designated judges and the Lord President in this regard. "Designated judge" is defined in Amendment No. 124A and has the same meaning as in Section 119(1) of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. This includes the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, the Vice-Chancellor and the President of the Family Division. I shall in due time commend to the Committee both of these amendments.

Amendment No. 131A requires the Secretary of State to consult the commissioner before making an order to extend the code of standards to a designated professional body. It also requires the Secretary of State to consult the Legal Services Ombudsman, or her territorial equivalents, prior to making an order. Amendment No. 129A is consequential to Amendment No. 131A.

Amendment No. 131B has been tabled to require the Lord Chancellor to consult the designated judges or the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland and to require

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the Scottish Ministers to consult the Lord President of the Court of Session before approving an order to extend the scope of the code of standards to a designated professional body. We think that it is right that those persons should be consulted.

Amendment No. 132 requires the immigration services commissioner to consult each of the designated professional bodies and such other persons appearing to him to represent the views of persons engaged in the provision of immigration advice or services as he considers appropriate before establishing a complaints scheme. If a scheme is to work effectively, the commissioner will have to work closely with the disciplinary bodies of the designated professional bodies to develop such a scheme. Officials from the Home Office and the Lord Chancellor's Department have met representatives of the legal professions on a number of occasions to discuss how a complaints scheme might operate. One possibility which has been discussed is the drafting of a memorandum of understanding between the commissioner and the professions. We are happy to accept this amendment.

Amendment No. 144A requires the Secretary of State to consult the Legal Services Ombudsman for England and Wales, or the territorial equivalents, where he is proposing to make an order to remove a body from the list of designated professional bodies. The Legal Services Ombudsman, or equivalents in the territories, has a duty to oversee and report on the legal professions. In view of the role of the ombudsman, it is only right that the Secretary of State should consult her prior to making an order to remove a body from the list. I ask the Committee to accept this amendment.

Amendment No. 145A requires the Lord Chancellor to consult the designated judges or the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland before giving his approval to the Secretary of State to make an order removing a body from the list of designated professional bodies. It requires the Scottish Ministers to consult appropriately. We have been asked by the legal professions to include this amendment. It is right and appropriate that we should do so. In due time, I shall invite the Committee to agree the amendment.

Amendment No. 145 requires the Secretary of State to have the approval of the Legal Services Consultative Panel and the designated judges prior to making an order of removal. The Secretary of State is required to have the approval of the Lord Chancellor before making an order, or of Scottish Ministers. Government Amendment No. 145A requires the Lord Chancellor to consult the designated judges prior to approving an order of removal.

There is nothing to prevent or preclude the Lord Chancellor consulting the Legal Services Consultative Panel. However, I am happy to take this idea away and to consider whether this should be placed on the face of the Bill. For the moment, therefore, I ask that the amendment is not pressed. Obviously, I shall consider it with an open mind.

Amendment No. 149A requires the Lord Chancellor to consult the Scottish Ministers before making or altering the rules of procedure for the immigration

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services tribunal. It is right that the Scottish Ministers should be consulted in this regard. This corresponds to the other amendments which have been tabled in respect of consultation. In due time, I shall invite the Committee to agree the amendment.

Amendment No. 149 would require the Lord Chancellor to consult the Lord President of the Court of Session about making rules as to the procedure and practice to be followed by the immigration services tribunal. In fact, it is appropriate for the Lord Chancellor to consult the Scottish Ministers, not the Lord President of the Court of Session. That is the subject of the previous government amendment to which I spoke, Amendment No. 149A. Bearing in mind that Amendment No. 149A is now in this group of amendments, I shall ask the noble Lord not to move his amendment because we have dealt with the matter appropriately.

I am sorry to have taken the Committee through the amendments in a little detail. However, they are matters of importance because they relate to appropriate consultations. I hope that Members of the Committee will think that we have got the right balance and that we have paid proper attention to the representations made. I beg to move.

5.15 p.m.

Viscount Astor: I am not clear why we are looking at the list in a different order from the Minister. Will the Minister go back a page and consider what he said in relation to Amendment No. 132? I can then deal with the other amendments standing in my name.


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