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Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, my noble friend has used the word "flexible". However well intentioned, the one thing that this amendment is not is sufficiently flexible. Having regard to that, does she agree that when we have a new system, the Lord Chancellor should be given the right to be much more flexible than usual, albeit within constraints? This provision has also settled the constraints.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, my noble friend is right. The noble Baroness says 42, but she

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accepts that we may need to change the boundaries to reflect the needs of North Wales, Chester and London. I believe that she would respond that that is why she has put the amendment in terms of the Lord Chancellor having "regard to the desirability". I accept that that is how she puts it, but I also agree with my noble friend that it creates a degree of rigidity.

To properly design an organisation fit to run the unified administration, the Government are talking to representatives of all those groups. With the greatest respect, it seems that the noble Baroness is not doing so. She seems to be receiving a very one-sided view, that represented by the magistracy.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, surely the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, dealt with that last point by referring to the consultations that are under way across the country. Is it not fair to say that they lean strongly in favour of the amendment?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I do not think that it is right to say that. The research agrees with us that although the 42 criminal justice areas will be the building blocks, there has to be flexibility. The family and other jurisdictions do not respond to the 42 CJAs. Geographical areas such as North Wales, Chester and London, for example, may also have special needs on which we need to reflect and in relation to which we need to be flexible. That is what we are doing.

I should like to pick up a point which the noble Lord made when we last debated this issue. There is almost a tendency to suggest that magistrates' courts do the majority of the work in the system. Although I would be the first to give total credence to the good work that the magistracy does, that tendency distorts the true position. In 2001, more than 1.7 million claims were issued in the High Court and county courts—a sizeable and important chunk of work which needs to be administered, but much of which does not go near the court room. In the Court Service there were 151,722 sitting days on civil and family work. In the same year there were 112,012 private law applications in family matters, 86,601 of which were made in the High Court or county courts compared with 25,411 in the family proceedings courts. In the same year there were 87,688 sitting days in the Crown Court and 1,153,865 sitting hours in the magistrates' courts. A huge volume of work is done by our courts, but we need to consider them together and not separately.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, the Minister is being provocative in stringing out these many undigested statistics—the last two of which I think are crucial, on Crown Court sitting days and county court sitting days as against—

Baroness David: My Lords, is this in order on Third Reading?

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: If it is not, my Lords, I shall not persist. I have made my point in any event.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I was trying to demonstrate that the work of the civil and family

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jurisdictions is significant in terms of workload and in terms of the issues at stake. The new administration must equally support the needs of that business. I know that some members of the judiciary are very concerned that the civil and family courts will be shoehorned into a structure designed only with the interests of criminal business in mind. We have all, I think, recognised that that would be a mistake. This amendment sends entirely the wrong message to them and to stakeholders and users of those courts. They are all of equal importance, even if they do not appear to have had a similar number of champions to voice their cause in this House.

We seek parity of treatment. We have given the assurance that the 42 areas will be the building blocks, but we will want to see flexibility. I reassure the noble Baroness that the Lord Chancellor really will take these issues into account in determining that. I assure her that when we have culled the information we need to come to a final conclusion, this matter will come back before the House and the House will have an opportunity to debate it. The affirmative resolution procedure will be the one adopted and the House will have its say on the final design.

All those amendments were made to enable us to do what I genuinely believe the noble Baroness wants us to do—to devise a system that is really fit for purpose, which will not only meet the needs of the criminal justice system and honour the structure that has been in place, but support and enable the civil jurisdiction in family and other issues to have their work dealt with properly. We do not think, with the greatest respect, that Amendment No. 1 assists us to do that. It is not necessary. I hope that the noble Baroness will accept what we say and be reassured that this is very much what we intend to do.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, and to my noble friend Lord Renton for their support for this amendment. I listened very carefully to the Minister's response and to the intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, but I am not reassured. The Minister said that although the Government do not object in principle, there are other factors which they must properly take into account. I agree with her. That is why my amendment seeks to be flexible.

The Minister says that the police areas are not the single greatest factor and that one has to look overall at efficient and effective delivery, for something that is fit for purpose. That is also what I am trying to achieve. However, I am trying to achieve that without creating a temptation for a Lord Chancellor—not this Lord Chancellor, as I always say, but a future incumbent—who believes that, in a centralised system, efficiency can be best driven by perhaps just a handful of areas rather than local areas.

The Minister takes me to task and says that I should have cast my net wider to obtain views on my amendments. I started casting my net—fisherman I am not, but I did my best—from the day that the Bill started its passage in your Lordships' House more than five months ago, on 9th December. Seldom has a

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Bill taken so long to make progress through your Lordships' House. In that time, I have not received one telephone message, letter or e-mail objecting to Amendment No. 1. I really have tried to gain as many views as possible. In his interjection, the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, said that he thought that I was not being flexible enough. If I were any more flexible I would come apart at the seams. This amendment is so reasonable.

We have to remember that the Government are taking into the embrace of a unified courts administration the whole magistrates' courts system. Although it is, as the Minister says, just one part, it is important that the whole reflects the needs of all parts. I agree with that. That is why we should insert into this Bill a reminder that when the courts boards are set up to deliver justice, we should keep them local wherever it is possible and appropriate to do so. On that basis, I seek the opinion of the House on Amendment No. 1, which is a paving amendment for Amendment No. 3.

3.30 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 136; Not-Contents, 115.

Division No. 1

CONTENTS

Aberdare, L.
Ackner, L.
Addington, L.
Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Avebury, L.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Blatch, B.
Bowness, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chadlington, L.
Chalfont, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Clement-Jones, L.
Cockfield, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Cuckney, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Ezra, L.
Falkland, V.
Fearn, L.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fowler, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Goodhart, L. [Teller]
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanham, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Higgins, L.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Home, E.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Jacobs, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Maclennan of Rogart, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Newby, L.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patten, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plumb, L.
Pym, L.
Rawlings, B.
Razzall, L.
Reay, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Saatchi, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandberg, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Sheppard of Didgemere, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Thatcher, B.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tordoff, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walmsley, B.
Wilcox, B.
Windlesham, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alli, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L. [Teller]
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brightman, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Colville of Culross, V.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Erroll, E.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Jeger, B.
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Layard, L.
Levy, L.
Lipsey, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Marsh, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan of Huyton, B.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Palmer, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rooker, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Slim, V.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Strange, B.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Varley, L.
Weatherill, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

19 May 2003 : Column 506

3.41 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 2:


    Page 3, line 23, at end insert—


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