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Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 27 to 31:



"( ) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (b) of sub-paragraph (1), any property, rights or liabilities are to be treated as falling within that paragraph if the Lord Chancellor issues a certificate to that effect." Page 54, line 26, at beginning insert "In this Part of this Schedule"


    Page 56, line 13, leave out from beginning to end of line 44 on page 57 and insert—

"Supplementary provisions in property transfer scheme

8A A property transfer scheme may make such supplemental, consequential or transitional provision for the purposes of, or in connection with, a transfer made by the scheme as the Lord Chancellor considers appropriate.
PART 2 STAFF TRANSFERS
Interpretation

8B In this Part of this Schedule—
(a) "TUPE" means the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (S.I. 1981/1794),
(b) "the appointed day" means the day immediately before the abolition day,

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(c) references to a responsible authority are to an authority which is a responsible authority under the Justices of the Peace Act 1997 (c. 25),
(d) references to a responsible authority's relevant functions are to its functions under that Act, and
(e) references to a transferred employee are to an employee transferred to the Lord Chancellor's employment by virtue of paragraph 8C or 8D.
Application of TUPE

8C For the purposes of TUPE—
(a) the functions of each magistrates' courts committee are to be treated as transferred on the appointed day from the committee to the Lord Chancellor, and
(b) each such transfer is to be treated as the transfer of an undertaking.
8D (1) For the purposes of TUPE—
(a) the relevant functions of each responsible authority are to be treated as transferred on the appointed day from the authority to the Lord Chancellor,
(b) each such transfer is to be treated as the transfer of an undertaking, and
(c) each person falling within sub-paragraph (2) (but no other person) is to be treated as employed in the undertaking immediately before the appointed day.
(2) A person falls within this sub-paragraph if—
(a) immediately before the appointed day he is employed by the responsible authority under a contract of employment,
(b) he spends a substantial part of his time on duties connected with the relevant functions of the authority, and
(c) the Lord Chancellor certifies that in his opinion it is expedient that the person be transferred to the Lord Chancellor's employment.
(3) Where TUPE applies by virtue of this paragraph, it applies as if regulation 5(4B) were omitted.
8E A reference in any enactment to a person appointed under section 2(1) includes a transferred employee.
Restrictions on employment of aliens not to apply to transferred employees

8F Nothing in—
(a) section 3 of the Act of Settlement 1700 (c. 2),
(b) section 6 of the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919 (c. 92), or
(c) any rules prescribing requirements as to nationality which must be satisfied in the case of persons employed in a civil capacity under the Crown,
applies to the employment of a transferred employee by the Lord Chancellor following his transfer by virtue of paragraph 8C or 8D.
Compensation for responsible authorities

8G The Lord Chancellor may, to the extent he thinks fit, compensate a responsible authority in respect of costs incurred by the authority as a result of this Act in respect of a person who—
(a) immediately before the appointed day is employed by the authority under a contract of employment, and
(b) spends part of his time on duties connected with the relevant functions of the authority,
but who is not transferred to the Lord Chancellor's employment by virtue of paragraph 8D.
PART 3 MISCELLANEOUS AND SUPPLEMENTARY".

Page 58, line 19, leave out "person falling within paragraph 1(1)(a) or (2)" and insert "magistrates' courts committee, and each person falling within paragraph 1(2)"

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    Page 58, line 21, leave out from "with" to end of line 27 and insert "—


(a) the exercise of any powers exercisable by him in relation to a property transfer scheme, or
(b) Part 2 of this Schedule."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 8 [Local justice areas]:

[Amendment No. 32 not moved.]

Clause 10 [Appointment of lay justices etc.]:

Baroness Seccombe moved Amendment No. 33:


    Page 5, line 7, at end insert—


"(1A) The Lord Chancellor shall appoint such a number of lay justices as appears to him to be appropriate for the purposes of discharging the work of the magistrates' courts.
(1B) To assist him in discharging his duties under subsections (1) and (1A), the Lord Chancellor shall publish within six months of Royal Assent a national recruitment strategy for the recruitment of lay justices."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, many of your Lordships will remember Amendment No. 33 from Committee stage when it provoked much debate. It goes to the heart of our argument in what we are seeking; that is, to ensure that the Lord Chancellor will appoint sufficient lay justices to ensure that local justice is preserved.

I am grateful to the Minister for her helpful reply to this amendment in Committee, but I believe it necessary to consider it once more in order to clear up one or two points which are, as yet, outstanding. In particular, we are keen to establish exactly when the strategy for recruitment will be published. We have been assured that the strategy will be published early this year—certainly within the six-month period that we proposed. If this is so, would it be possible to have this assurance on the face of the Bill?

My thoughts on the lay magistracy are well known and I am keen to ensure that there is a clear commitment to the continuation of their appointment and work within the court system. I beg to move.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I rise briefly to support these sensible and constructive amendments.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the first of these amendments to Clause 10 would require the Lord Chancellor to have a duty to appoint as many lay justices as necessary for the magistrates' courts effectively to carry out the work. As I said in Committee to the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, we believe that such a provision in statute is unnecessary and indeed inappropriate. The effective running of the courts requires an appropriate number of magistrates. It is therefore implicit that the Lord Chancellor is under a duty to try to appoint sufficient justices for this purpose.

Furthermore, the duty to appoint magistrates implies taking the best measures one reasonably can in the prevailing circumstances to appoint the right numbers and the right calibre of justices. There is a balance to be struck between these two necessary aims. Putting in statute a provision that suggests that the

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Lord Chancellor appoint as many justices as necessary to run the courts would inappropriately emphasise numbers over calibre. If a court were to hold that the Lord Chancellor had not complied with his duty to appoint enough magistrates and ordered him to do so, would it be satisfactory if this could be done only by appointing unsuitable people? I know that that is not what the noble Baroness would want.

The second part of the amendment sets out that the Lord Chancellor should produce a national recruitment strategy for lay justices within six months of the Courts Bill having received Royal Assent. In Committee, I said that we are committed to a national recruitment strategy for lay justices. However, this level of detail on a one-off piece of administrative work, and its timing, is not appropriate for primary legislation. If all departments were to sign up to their administrative programmes in this fashion, the legislative machinery probably would be overwhelmed.

I said in Committee that we were hopeful of publishing the strategy this year—that is, within six months of the Royal Assent time period. Of course I note the concern of the noble Baroness on this issue. I think that I am confident enough to restate the hope as an undertaking. I hope that that is helpful. On that basis, I trust that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Seccombe: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, for his support. The point of bringing this amendment before the House was to ensure that we retain the present balance of district judges and lay magistracy and that we do not drift into different proportions. I accept the assurance and the undertaking that the Minister has given. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 34:


    Page 5, line 14, at end insert—


"(4) Rules may make provision about the training courses to be completed before a person may exercise functions as a lay justice in any proceedings or class of proceedings specified in the rules.
(5) Subsection (3) is subject to section (The supplemental list) (entry of names in the supplemental list)."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we debated the need for these amendments in Committee. I sketched our provisional thoughts on what our amendments on this theme might look like and, indeed, we have followed fairly closely what we contemplated. It may be helpful if I recap the thinking behind these amendments.

I shall deal first with the proposed new clause after Clause 15. This clause gives statutory underpinning to the important roles played by the bench training and development committees (BTDCs) in the training, appraisal and development of magistrates. These roles include—as I said in Committee and as many noble Lords will be aware—managing the bench appraisal and mentor scheme; identifying training needs; referring those magistrates deemed not to have

8 May 2003 : Column 1219

demonstrated the required level of competence to advisory committees; and responsibilities in relation to magistrates qualified to preside in court. Apart from the last role, these currently have no statutory backing. That is not an entirely satisfactory situation given the great importance of these issues.

The amendment to Clause 10 clarifies that the Lord Chancellor has a general power to prescribe training requirements in respect of all magistrates' jurisdictions. I say "clarifies" because it is arguable that, as head of the judiciary or as the responsible Minister, the noble and learned Lord has such residual powers now. Furthermore, as noble Lords may know, magistrates' undertakings, which they sign on appointment, include undertakings to undergo appropriate training. So magistrates understand that this is a condition of their holding office. But we believe, especially under a unified administration, where in the future training will be more consistent across the country and overseen by the Judicial Studies Board, that it is necessary to clarify this power. There are rule-making powers in the Bill that enable the Lord Chancellor to require magistrates to undergo training in respect of specialist functions, such as chairing in court, youth work and family work. It is consistent that this cannot be done for all jurisdictions.

It will not have escaped the notice of noble Lords that subsection (3) sets out a statutory obligation on the Lord Chancellor to provide training and training materials for magistrates where he requires them to undergo training. So magistrates will have a new statutory assurance in this regard.

I explained in Committee that we hoped in our amendment to cover more ground than the amendment tabled by the noble Baronesses, and I assume that I do not need to go into the detail of that amendment again. In its treatment of bench training and development committees, the amendment does not cover many of the roles of those committees. The role it suggests is one in fact carried out by the Judicial Studies Board. Additionally, we would not want to lose the scope to confer new functions on the BTDCs in the future. We believe that our amendment is broader than that suggested and that it makes a more comprehensive provision for the training and development of lay magistrates.

I hope, therefore, that the amendment of the noble Baronesses will be withdrawn in favour of the amendment I have proposed on the Lord Chancellor's behalf. I hope, too, that it meets all their requirements. I beg to move.

1 p.m.

Baroness Seccombe: My Lords, in supporting the government amendments, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 46 tabled in my name. I raised this matter in Committee and the amendment has been tabled as a result of consultation with the Magistrates' Association.

It is essential that a clear commitment is set out on the face of the Bill to provide adequate training for lay magistrates, along with an ongoing commitment to ensure that the highest possible standards are upheld.

8 May 2003 : Column 1220

In Committee the Minister accepted the thrust of our amendment, and I am pleased that the Government have tabled an amendment which fulfils the criteria we had proposed. As a consequence, I shall not move Amendment No. 46 when we come to it on the Marshalled List.

On Question, amendment agreed to.


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