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The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Turner of Camden): My Lords, I must inform your Lordships that if this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 162 and 163 because of pre-emption.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I am particularly glad about the important concession made by the Government in Amendment No. 166, which brings the question of the court fees under some parliamentary control. Speaking from these Benches, we accept, as the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee did, that the negative resolution is the appropriate procedure because, in the great majority of cases, fees orders are not controversial. However, from time to time they are; there was a fees order some two or three years ago which I would certainly have prayed against if it had been possible to do so. So this gives an opportunity for debate, and I very much welcome it.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I, too, welcome these amendments. But I feel obliged to mention again that the vast number of government amendments, some of them very complicated and far-reaching in detail, will have to be considered further and, if I may dare to say so, even more carefully when we see the Bill reprinted, with all these amendments made. It is not easy, quite frankly, to fathom the net effect of some of these amendments. We really will have to consider the matter afresh and carefully before Third Reading. I hope I am not boring your Lordships when I say yet again that I think that we must have a little more freedom at Third Reading than is normally allowed.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, if the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, had been directed at Amendments Nos. 169 to 303, it would have been more relevant. But as far as this amendment is concerned, I think it is perfectly all right. I have been able to follow, in my own inadequate way, whatever has been said, but I am very troubled by circumstances which come later. The Government may have deliberated upon the matter in a very cogent way—I am not entirely sure about that. However, as far as anything we have considered thus far is concerned, I think the Government have been totally okay.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, of course I am grateful to the Minister for saying that eventually the Government will get around to spelling out those transitional provisions as a government amendment. The problem is that "eventually" will be too late for this House.

Earlier today, my noble friend Lord Hunt made the point that he was not really over-exercised by government amendments arriving late before noble Lords when they are moving in the right direction. This may be moving in the right direction but it will be too late, on this particular occasion, for noble Lords to see what these transitional provisions are.

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I raised the issue of local justice areas in Committee, as the Minister said. It was raised very early on, in the sense that these amendments were published back in January, so the Government have had prior warning. I am delighted that my honourable and right honourable friends in another place will have sight of them, but we will not until they come back as amendments made in another place. I shall welcome the opportunity to see what we can do if there is anything wrong with them, although I am sure that the Government will by then have made sure they are in perfect order.

I agree with the sentiment of my noble friend Lord Renton that where amendments are made that substantially change a Bill, one has to look very carefully at how one reflects on them at Third Reading while keeping very strictly—as I look to my left at the Clerk of the Parliaments—within the rules of Third Reading to allow for clarification and for holding the Government to their commitment. I undertake that, as ever, I will keep within those bounds. We may need to table one or two amendments that probe a little further what the Government have done on Report without, I am sure, worrying the officials of the House.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful, as ever, to noble Lords who have contributed to this short discussion and for the general thanks. I suppose one can only observe that in bringing these groupings forward in the way we have, noble Lords who are slightly disturbed by the lateness of the process are almost victims of their own success in persuading us of the strength and power of their arguments at an earlier stage in our deliberations. I would not want to over-egg that point, but it is worth making. We are very grateful for the focus that we have had on some of these important issues. I am grateful for all the comments and commitments that have been made and given.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 162 to 164 not moved.]

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 165 to 168:


    Page 52, line 21, at end insert "or".


    Page 52, line 23, leave out from "officers)" to end of line 24.


    Page 53, line 11, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—


"(b) amend, repeal or revoke any enactment other than one contained in an Act passed in a Session after that in which this Act is passed."
Page 53, line 16, leave out subsection (6).

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 6 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 169:


    Page 76, line 29, after "omit" insert "—


(a) "under the hand and seal", and
(b) "

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a large group of amendments. I do not think I have ever had the responsibility, awesome as it is, of moving such a large

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group of amendments before. However, Amendments Nos. 169 to 304 are minor and consequential amendments to the Bill. They contain amendments to and repeals of existing legislation as a consequence of the main clauses of the Bill. There are a total of 72 amendments to Schedule 6 and 42 to Schedule 7.

The amendments are the result of a policy laid before Parliament during debate of the main clauses. The amendments to Schedules 6 and 7 do not put forward any new policy in their own right but are absolutely vital to allow the clauses to work with, and alongside, existing legislation.

As the amendments are rather dry, I do not believe that the House would appreciate my explaining them in any detail. Suffice to say that they are minor and consequential, as I said at the outset, arising from among other things the provisions in the Bill removing magistrates' courts committees, the post of justices' chief executive, commission areas and petty session areas. Without these amendments, existing legislation would fail alongside the Courts Bill.

The changes to long-established jurisdictions, terminology and roles have resulted in amendments to legislation dating back to the beginning of the 18th century. That vast amount of legislation had to be carefully checked and rechecked to ensure that it would operate alongside the clauses in the Bill. The amendments before the House are the consequence of that careful checking. No doubt we shall find things that we should prefer not to find at some stage, but we have done a thorough job. We hope that everything is in place so that the legislation works together with earlier legislation. I beg to move.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I do not believe that I have ever before spoken to a group containing 128 amendments. I have to say that I have no idea whether all these amendments are correct, as I have not investigated all, or indeed any, of them. I am perfectly happy to take them on trust.

What concerns me is that these are almost all amendments of routine detail, which ought to have been in the Bill when published. They should not have been incorporated into the Bill in Committee, let alone on Report. The problem may be due to excessive pressure on the parliamentary draftsman's office. Whatever the cause, it is an example of something that should not be repeated.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I confess that I have been in Parliament for nearly 58 years. Although I have often at Committee stage been asked, along with Parliament, to consider a mass of amendments to schedules that amend or repeal previous legislation, I do not recollect such a mass of amendments on Report.

For the sake of the record, I shall say what has happened here. Schedule 6 already contains 253 amendments to legislation since the year 1708, dealing with our judicial system. Schedule 7 already makes 91 repeals of legislation since 1708, but we are now being

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asked to make a further 92 amendments, which go back to statutes starting in 1773. We are being asked to make 43 further repeals in statutes going back to 1802.

We want things to be properly done, even at a late stage, but could the Minister—if I may have his attention—give us some reason for this massive, belated collection of amendments to, and repeals of, previous legislation?

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I would not have missed the noble Lord, Lord Renton, for a moment. Of course, he speaks from inordinate experience, although not for one moment do I believe that he goes back to 1708. I do not join him in his comments, but I hope that before Third Reading the Government will give a resume of what these amendments are all about.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, I have not understood or even contemplated what the amendments mean. They are just too mind-boggling for that. However, the House is entitled to a proper resume, and we should not be prohibited from discussing the issue on Third Reading. I am sure that the Minister's comments are right, but we are being asked to take this on trust. As a revising Chamber, I do not believe that we should do that.

I am happy to give way to my noble friend. If he says that, yes, he will do that, I shall shut up and not detain the House any longer. It is vitally important that we understand what we are doing and, frankly, I do not understand the amendments. Would my noble friend like me to give way?


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