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Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am happy to give a positive and affirmative response to both of the points raised by the noble Earl, and I am happy to accept his gracious remarks.

There are lessons to be learnt about regulation, and one would be a fool not to keep one's mind constantly open to lessons which could have been learnt in earlier years.

Clause 74 agreed to.

Clause 75 agreed to.

6 p.m.

Schedule 6 [Registration]:

Baroness Williams of Crosby had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 142:


Page 121, line 21, at end insert ("which, in the case of applicants proposing to provide advice or services to persons under the age of 18, shall include evidence of appropriate training and experience").

The noble Baroness said: Further to the kind remarks of my noble friend Lord Dholakia and those just made, I suggest that the noble Lord, Lord Williams, informs the Committee how a person can recover from 'flu within 24 hours. That would be helpful to us all.

It may be that Amendment No. 142 is more appropriately related to paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 6 which makes plain that,


Amendment No. 142 is related to those who give advice to children. We have already discussed children a great deal in Committee and recognised that the expertise of a person who deals with minors is rather different from that of a representative who provides advice to adults. In particular, we are concerned that the advice or service given to such young people should be given by individuals who have some training in the whole area of advising and consulting youngsters. It may be that the Minister will respond by saying that that is a matter which the commissioner can take into account.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: If the noble Baroness is now speaking to Amendment No. 142, I believe that she may have been absent when the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and I had an extensive discussion on Amendments Nos. 127 and 142 which are in the same grouping. I tried to be as helpful as possible to the noble Lord. If the noble Baroness is dissatisfied with what I said--I do not believe that she will be--I am more than happy to discuss it with her.

[Amendment No. 142 not moved.]

Schedule 6 agreed to.

Clause 76 [Designated professional bodies]:

[Amendments Nos. 143 and 144 not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 144A:


Page 49, line 27, at end insert--

21 Jul 1999 : Column 1022


("( ) consult the Legal Services Ombudsman, if the proposed order would affect a designated professional body in England and Wales;
( ) consult the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, if the proposed order would affect a designated professional body in Scotland;
( ) consult the lay observers appointed under Article 42 of the Solicitors (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, if the proposed order would affect a designated professional body in Northern Ireland;").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 145 not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 145A:


Page 49, line 35, at end insert--
("( ) Before deciding whether or not to give his approval under subsection (5)(a), the Lord Chancellor must consult--
(a) the designated judges, if the order affects a designated professional body in England and Wales;
(b) the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, if it affects a designated professional body in Northern Ireland.
( ) Before deciding whether or not to give their approval under subsection (5)(b), the Scottish Ministers must consult the Lord President of the Court of Session.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: I must inform the Committee that if Amendment No. 146 is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 147 or 148 due to pre-emption.

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 146:


Page 50, line 8, leave out subsections (8) to (10).

The noble Viscount said: In moving Amendment No. 146 I should like to speak also to subsequent amendments. Amendment No. 146 removes the power of the commissioner to levy a fee against a designated professional body and to recover that fee as a debt due. This is a Scottish concern. It is not apparent why such fees should be payable in Scotland, especially as Scottish solicitors already pay subscriptions to maintain, inter alia, the disciplinary system. I am informed that the annual subscription paid by each solicitor is £375. That maintains the Law Society of Scotland and its consumer protections, such as the Guarantee Fund, the Master Policy and the system of complaints adjudication.

Amendment No. 147 is designed to ensure that the annual fee payable by a designated body is based on the costs incurred by the commissioner in relation to that body's members. When the Bill passed through another place the Government did not explain their thinking on how a self-financing scheme could be effected. We seek an undertaking that the annual fee relates only to the actual and reasonable costs of the commissioner's activities in relation to the members of a designated body.

21 Jul 1999 : Column 1023

Amendment No. 148 is intended to ensure that the Government's indication to the professional bodies that no charges will be made to the legal professions in the first year will be recorded on the face of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: All members of the Law Society or Bar Council in the jurisdictions of England and Wales are required to provide an annual subscription. Part of that subscription is used in internal disciplinary complaints procedures. I do not believe that the Law Society of Scotland is in any different position. However, I can be helpful to the noble Viscount to the extent that we have written to the professional bodies to inform them that they will not be required to pay a fee in year one of the scheme. In year two they may be required to pay a fee. I am happy to confirm that any fee will be based on an estimate of the likely regulatory activity carried out by the commissioner in year two in respect of each body.

The noble Viscount wanted me to say--I do so--that each professional body would not cross-subsidise the regulatory activity of the commissioner in respect of any other professional body or those registered or exempted from the scheme. It is only right that each body should be expected to pay a fee for any regulatory activity that is carried out by the commissioner on behalf of that body. Amendment No. 147 is not, strictly speaking, needed. The commissioner may not charge the legal professions for services which he does not provide in respect of them under the terms of the scheme.

I hope that I have dealt with the concerns raised by the noble Viscount, not least specifically those relating to Amendment No. 148. We have been able to write to the professions concerned and inform them that they will not be charged financially in year one.

Viscount Astor: I am grateful for the Minister's response to Amendment No. 148. No doubt his reply to Amendment No. 147 will be closely studied north of the Border. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments No. 147 and 148 not moved.]

Clause 76, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 77 agreed to.

Schedule 7 [The Immigration Services Tribunal]:

[Amendment No. 149 not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 149A:


Page 123, line 38, at end insert--
("( ) Before making or altering any such rules, the Lord Chancellor must consult the Scottish Ministers.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

21 Jul 1999 : Column 1024

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 150:


Page 124, line 5, after second ("party") insert ("having been given due notice of the hearing").

The noble Viscount said: Amendment No. 150 provides that there should be clear proof of the fact that all parties to a tribunal have received fair notice of the time, date and place of a hearing before the tribunal can proceed in the absence of any relevant party. The amendment attempts to ensure that protection is afforded to all parties to the proceedings so that an unscrupulous person cannot take advantage of the tribunal system and seek to proceed in the absence of the other party without first showing that due notice has been given to that other party. This is an important point which I am sure the Minister will want to consider carefully. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I understand the purpose of the amendment. The amendment stipulates that appeals should be determined only where a party has failed to appear and that party has been given due notice of the hearing. I am happy to tell the Committee that this point is already covered. The determination of an appeal is allowed only where a party has failed, without reasonable excuse, to comply with any reasonable direction. If one has not been told, self-evidently there is a good case for saying that there is a reasonable excuse for not complying. It is worth ventilating the point, but ultimately I believe that this is a matter for the procedural rules, not the face of the Bill. However, I am happy to give the noble Viscount that reassurance.


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