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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am intrigued by the Minister's final remarks that she expects the local areas in the main to remain. I shall look at that carefully in Hansard. I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for the care she has taken in answering the points made by myself and other Members of the Committee. I am grateful for the support from around the Chamber. I was intrigued by the very careful and helpful language used by Members of the Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Jones, spoke about the special relationship which must not be downgraded. The noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, spoke about the subtle relationship where each has to have confidence in the other. There is two-way traffic in confidence which is so vital.

The noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, referred to the rapport built up between local magistrates and their justices' clerk. It is that combination of tremendous confidence, rapport and trust which needs to appear clearly on the face of the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, was absolutely right when he said that the trick is that the law is rolled out equitably and to the satisfaction of the community. That is a tremendously difficult thing for any government to do in each and every Bill. It is something we should all strive to achieve.

Lord Clinton-Davis: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. While it is important to obtain rapport between magistrates and clerks, I was also referring to that between advocates and the clerk.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The noble Lord is absolutely right. Another noble Lord commented on the importance of local knowledge and building up rapport between various people. I believe the description used by the Government is "court users". I do not say that with any cynicism because all of us at some time in our lives use a court and need to be properly received there.

I listened carefully to what the noble Baroness said. She said that the Government would expect that justices would still be assigned. They want flexibility for assigning justices' clerks. I want more than an expectation; I want clarity on the face of the Bill. I want that while still keeping the flexibility that the Government wish to maintain. Amendment No. 47A is a paving amendment for Amendment No. 50B. That amendment meets the requirement that there is locality, continuity and flexibility of employment. I now wish to test the opinion of the Committee on Amendment No. 47A.

4.15 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 47A) shall be agreed to?

10 Feb 2003 : Column 484

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 97; Not-Contents, 121.

Division No. 1


Addington, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bowness, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chadlington, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Craigavon, V.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dholakia, L.
Donaldson of Lymington, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Erroll, E.
Fearn, L.
Fowler, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hanham, B.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Higgins, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hylton, L.
Jopling, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Michie of Gallanach, B.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Noakes, B.
Northover, B.
O'Cathain, B.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Perry of Walton, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Redesdale, L.
Renton, L.
Roper, L.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandberg, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Stewartby, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wakeham, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warnock, B.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.


Acton, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alli, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Amos, B.
Ampthill, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blood, B.
Boothroyd, B.
Borrie, L.
Boston of Faversham, L.
Bragg, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookeborough, V.
Brookman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chan, L.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Golding, B.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Paul, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rogan, L.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Simon, V.
Slim, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stallard, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Strange, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Tenby, V.
Turnberg, L.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Weatherill, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

10 Feb 2003 : Column 485

4.24 p.m.

[Amendment No. 48 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 49 and 50 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 50A:

    Page 10, line 15, at end insert—

"(c) appointed with the agreement of the justices assigned to the local justice area or areas to which the Lord Chancellor intends to assign the justices' clerk"

The noble Baroness said: I return to the theme of the position of the justices' clerk in the magistrates' court, but from a different angle. The Minister has already referred to it, so I shall be briefer than I otherwise would be. I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 50C and 51, which are in the same group.

10 Feb 2003 : Column 486

Clause 22 gives total responsibility for the appointment of justices' clerks to the Lord Chancellor. That does nothing to make local justices feel that they have any ownership of their local administration. Amendment No. 50A seeks to correct that by requiring local agreement to such appointments by,

    "the justices assigned to the local justice area or areas to which the Lord Chancellor intends to assign the justices' clerk".

In speaking to the previous amendment, the Minister said that the Government expect that there will still be a system by which clerks are assigned to local justices. I am disappointed that the Government do not wish to clarify that in the Bill. The Committee also decided that it does not wish that to happen at this stage, so we shall go ahead with the Bill as it is currently drafted. I am trying to clarify in the Bill that, in making an appointment, the Lord Chancellor should have a duty to take into account the views of the local justices.

Amendment No. 50A would require local agreement, putting a strong duty on the Lord Chancellor. The Justices' Clerks' Society was content with either this amendment or my other one. But I understand that the Minister might respond by asking how on earth one would obtain the agreement of up to 200 justices. One justice could feel plain awkward on the day and say "no". One would, therefore, expect flexibility to be built into the system. I have done that in Amendment No. 50C, which is reasonable to the point of being almost too weak. It simply requires the Lord Chancellor to consult the magistrates of the local justice area before he assigns a justices' clerk there. That is essential, good practice. I hope that the Minister will be able to accept Amendment No. 50C.

Amendment No. 51 is in the name of my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith, who is unavoidably absent today and asked me to speak to it. It complements Amendments Nos. 50A and 50C, continuing the theme of local ownership by requiring that the appointment of an assistant to a justices' clerk should be made only if it is first agreed by the justices' clerk, whose own appointment cannot be made unless it has already been agreed by the local justices. I beg to move.

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