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Lord Renton: My Lords, perhaps the Minister will clarify a matter in relation to Amendment No. 24, a government amendment that deals with the constitution and procedure of courts boards. In relation to the composition, paragraph 2 makes it clear that one member should be a judge, one a lay justice and then we find that two members should have,

and two more members should be,

    "representative of people living in that area".

I find sub-paragraph (c) puzzling. Are those with,

    "appropriate knowledge or experience of the work of the courts",

the officials of the courts or the local police? Whom have the Government in mind?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, for the membership of the courts boards we intend to have as wide a representation of the local area as possible. We have not prescribed that they could not be someone in the employ of the authority, but the intention is that they would be independent people who would be able to give an additional flavour. Guidance will be given. I shall certainly see what further clarification I can give on that issue. The whole idea of making them inclusive is to include those who may be involved in the area but who may not be directly involved in the courts, so that a different dimension is brought in.

12.15 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken in the debate. It may have taken just over an hour but I believe that it is an hour that has been valuably used. I am particularly grateful to the Minister for the care and attention that she has paid to the amendments to government amendments and generally to the arguments put by noble Lords. I particularly thank my noble friend Lord Renton for his late intervention and for eliciting further explanation about membership of courts boards. I am grateful to the Minister for saying that she will consider this matter and perhaps send more information to noble Lords. Further clarification for Third Reading may benefit all.

I am also grateful to my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern for raising his concerns on Clause 5. I am grateful to the Minister for saying that

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she will look at that again. I shall consult with my noble and learned friend as to what he may wish to do by way of clarification at Third Reading.

It would not be right for me to draw any conclusions on behalf of the noble Lords, Lord Phillips of Sudbury and Lord Goodhart, both of whom are well able, as experienced lawyers and advocates, to put their own case. Suffice it to say that I agree 100 per cent with every one of the arguments that they adduced.

On Amendment No. 19, the Minister did her best to shoot my fox. At the moment I see it as wounded, but I am on the side of the fox and I shall take it to the vets between now and Third Reading. I believe that it is vital to consider the size of courts boards because only within that will we guarantee the local delivery of justice. As I have made it clear that I shall take further action for clarification and I shall possibly press the matter at Third Reading, I shall not go into detail now. I take note of all the arguments put by the noble Baroness, but I undertake, twixt now and 19th May when, currently, we are told that Third Reading will take place, to consult both the Magistrates' Association and the Central Council of Magistrates' Courts Committees. At this stage I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 2.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 3 not moved.]

Clause 2 [Courts officers, staff and services]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 4:

    Page 2, line 9, leave out subsections (2) and (3) and insert—

"(2) The civil service pension arrangements for the time being in force apply (with any necessary adaptations) to persons appointed under subsection (1) as they apply to other persons employed in the civil service of the State.
(3) "The civil service pension arrangements" means—
(a) the principal civil service pension scheme (within the meaning of section 2 of the Superannuation Act 1972 (c. 11)), and
(b) any other superannuation benefits for which provision is made under or by virtue of section 1 of the 1972 Act for or in respect of persons in employment in the civil service of the State."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is in a separate group. We have reviewed the provisions in Clause 2 and bring forward this amendment to clarify the Civil Service pension arrangements on the face of the Bill. This matter was raised at an earlier stage. The effect of the amendment is to clarify that those eligible employees who transfer to the new agency from magistrates' courts committees or local authorities and become civil servants will be eligible for membership of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) and any "other superannuation benefits", which includes the partnership pension account. The current draft of the Bill makes reference only to the PCSPS. However, since October 2002, some employees—those excluded from, or who have opted out of that scheme, have been offered participation in a partnership pension account. Although in Committee we clarified that eligible staff will become civil servants and of course will be eligible for membership of the scheme, we

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thought that it was preferable to state the Civil Service pension arrangements on the face of the Bill. I hope that clarification puts minds at rest. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Thomas of Walliswood): My Lords, before calling Amendment No. 5, I must inform your Lordships that, if it is agreed, I cannot call Amendment No. 6 for reasons of pre-emption.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 5:

    Page 2, line 14, leave out subsections (4) and (5) and insert—

"(4) Subject to subsections (5) and (6), the Lord Chancellor may enter into such contracts with other persons for the provision, by them or their sub-contractors, of officers, staff or services as appear to him appropriate for the purpose of discharging his general duty in relation to the courts.
(5) The Lord Chancellor may not enter into contracts for the provision of officers and staff to discharge functions which involve making judicial decisions or exercising any judicial discretion.
(6) The Lord Chancellor may not enter into contracts for the provision of officers and staff to carry out the administrative work of the courts unless an order made by the Lord Chancellor authorises him to do so.
(7) Before making an order under subsection (6) the Lord Chancellor must consult—
(a) the Lord Chief Justice,
(b) the Master of the Rolls,
(c) the President of the Family Division, and
(d) the Vice-Chancellor,
as to what effect (if any) the order might have on the proper and efficient administration of justice.
(8) An order under subsection (6) may authorise the Lord Chancellor to enter into contracts for the provision of officers or staff to discharge functions—
(a) wholly or to the extent specified in the order,
(b) generally or in cases or areas specified in the order, and
(c) unconditionally or subject to the fulfilment of conditions specified in the order."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment relates to issues raised about Clause 2(4) in this House and by the unions. In Committee, we gave an undertaking to reconsider and discuss the matter further with the unions. We have done so. I hope that the unions are content but also the noble Lords, Lord Goodhart and Lord Thomas of Gresford, who have tabled amendments today.

The effect of Amendment No. 5 is to recreate the current requirement in Section 27 of the Courts Act 1971 to provide that contracting out under Clause 2 in respect of staff carrying out the administrative work of the courts should be after the making of an enabling order and—importantly—subject to prior consultation with the senior judiciary.

In Committee, noble Lords raised concerns about Clause 2(4), particularly with regard to the fact that we had not included a requirement for my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor to obtain an order and to consult the four senior judges before contracting out administrative functions. We have therefore decided to

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bring forward an amendment that will require contracting out in respect of administrative staff functions to be in accordance with an enabling order and, again, subject to prior consultation with members of the senior judiciary.

I want to put it on the record that we are most grateful to your Lordships' House and to the unions for drawing this matter to our attention. I hope that this amendment satisfies and addresses the concerns raised. Amendments to Clauses 22, 32, 46 and 56 are consequential to the amendment to Clause 2. So I trust that noble Lords will not wish to press their amendments. I beg to move.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, Amendment No. 6 in this group stands in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford. It is virtually identical to part of the new amendment introduced by the Government. Therefore, I obviously welcome what the Government have done and I shall not be moving my amendment. I also understand from correspondence that the unions involved in this are content with the new arrangements that have been made. So I am happy to support all the amendments in the group.

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