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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The intention is that there should be a minimum of one. That would be the irreducible minimum. However, the noble Lord is right to say that, because of the difference in need of different areas, the councils may be constructed differently and have different compositions. We propose to ensure that the framework is right. The fundamental principles on which each council operates will be the same, but they will allow sufficient flexibility and variation to respond to local needs. As the noble Lord rightly said, the larger areas may have many more members. Various and differing consultative sub-boards may also be set up. We intend to examine all those issues in detail and they will be included in guidance. The framework document will help us greatly with the parameters. We shall continue to put flesh on the bones. As that flesh becomes manifest, we shall ensure that that information is brought back to the House.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden: I am most grateful to the noble Baroness. However, she has painted a vivid picture of the Government feeling their way through territory which appears to be almost unknown in this consultation, and yet she has not provided an answer to the question that I ventured to ask. What has already been made known to the Government to bring about the change between what was promised in the White Paper and what the Bill currently characterises for the CACs?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: One Member of the Committee—I cannot remember now whether it was the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, in his usual charming turn of phrase, or the noble Lord, Lord Waddington—suggested that the Government had made a U-turn on local management boards. I say absolutely that there has been no U-turn. We have strengthened the local focus.

As demonstrated by our decisions, we have decided that an executive agency that provides a national framework will best respond to the needs identified to us both in the Auld report and in the other assessments of the necessary changes. We thought it important that the external members of what will be the local management board have a statutory identity, and we propose to give

28 Jan 2003 : Column 1071

them that in the clauses which cover court administration councils. Although some have latched onto the name, we believe that the important point is not the body's name but what it does. It may be called a council or a board. We will examine how the functions between the different parties will operate.

Through the guidance and the framework document, we hope to give not only the Committee but all those with anxieties about the matter, both in the magistrates' community and elsewhere, the types of reassurance about how the arrangements will work that they clearly need. We want to make it clear that our intention as expressed in the White Paper has not changed one jot.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: Perhaps I may intervene very briefly. As we are in Committee, we have the wonderful luxury of being able to pick up on one or two little points.

It may be appropriate for me to return later, when we come to my Amendment No. 23, to the noble Baroness's comments regarding actions rather than words. I should like now simply to ask her a question about consultation. In a previous debate, she tried to be helpful about the current consultation. She said that the Government will publish the consultation and that the House will be able to debate it. Does she recognise that noble Lords need to have that debate before the Bill leaves this House? In saying that we will have a chance properly to consider the consultation within the context of this legislation, was she undertaking to speak to the Leader of the House to ensure that we do not reach Report stage before we have that consultation?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The noble Baroness knows better than I that that is a matter for the usual channels. We have indicated how the timings will run. We intend, as and when we get the initial outcomes from the consultation, to try to make an on-going assessment and share it as soon as is practicable.

As noble Lords who attended the relatively small meeting that was held will know—I say small because, although it was open to all, few had the burden of attending, perhaps because the fire was then not as evident as it clearly is in the House today—we are not consulting on specific options. Instead, we are using the large and small areas as scenarios. We are asking stakeholders—if the noble Lord, Lord Gresford, wants me to list whom I mean by stakeholders, I am happy to do so again, but it will be in Hansard, if that assists him—what structure they think would best help them to achieve the objectives set out before we present options.

After that consultation process, we will narrow the options, stating what appears to be beneficial and less beneficial. Through that process, we hope to engage people appropriately.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to all those who have taken part in this debate and, in particular, the Minister for doing her best in what are exceedingly difficult circumstances to be as helpful as she can. I salute her for that and have every confidence in her in the matter.

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However, we still face a dilemma. Procedurally, it would have been perfectly possible for the Government to complete their consultation and take the relevant decisions for us to know what we were doing. However, the Bill is before us and we are being asked to take the decision without knowing in any way how the new system is to work. How can we possibly make a valid and sensible judgment?

The noble Baroness kindly said that the new structure would have to be introduced by order. So it may. That indeed brings the matter before us again, but the procedure for orders is that we accept them or reject them. We cannot alter a comma or a capital letter. On a matter of such significance, I fear that we are being treated in a somewhat cavalier fashion. The other procedure was available under which we could have known what was to happen.

I stick simply to the issue of numbers. I cannot say that I am satisfied with the answer that I have received, because I have not received an answer. Given that, I beg to test the opinion of the House.

7.14 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 16) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 85; Not-Contents, 92.

Division No. 2


Anelay of St Johns, B.
Barker, B.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Craigavon, V.
Crickhowell, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Deedes, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donaldson of Lymington, L.
Dundee, E.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glenarthur, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goschen, V.
Greaves, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Henley, L.
Hogg, B.
Home, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hylton, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kimball, L.
Laird, L.
Lindsay, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Luke, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Montrose, D.
Moynihan, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Perry of Walton, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Roper, L.
Rotherwick, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandwich, E.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shrewsbury, E.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tope, L.
Waddington, L.
Wakeham, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Warnock, B.
Wigoder, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.


Acton, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chandos, V.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jones, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Simon, V.
Slynn of Hadley, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Tenby, V.
Thornton, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

28 Jan 2003 : Column 1073

7.23 p.m.

[Amendment No. 17 not moved.]

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