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Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, those of us who have practised in jurisdictions where jury trials have been abolished know that it is the first step of an authoritarian regime to reduce the participation of members of the community in trials involving freedom and liberty. Consequently, the struggle for the principle for which we on these Benches have fought throughout the Bill, in conjunction with noble Lords from the Official Opposition, has been one that we have enjoyed waging.

In one court in Chester, where I spent 10 years as a junior barrister, there is a window with stained glass depicting the crest of Cheshire. Underneath it is a motto which states:


I hope that, although we on these Benches have striven mightily along with our friends from other parties and from all over the House, we shall still eat and drink as friends with those on the Government Front Bench and those who have supported them from the Government Back Benches.

I add my tribute to the enormous amount of work carried out by the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, on this Bill. Most certainly we found her to be a person to whom we could talk with confidence and trust. She has always been open and honest with this House. Although we have had our differences, and perhaps at times I have been in the forefront in emphasising some of those differences, I regard her contribution to improving the criminal justice system of this country as extremely important. I also add my thanks to the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General—again, with whom I have had conflict but, again, on the basis that we have striven mightily but we shall eat and drink as friends in the future.

Therefore, we come to the end of what has been an over-long Bill. I hope that the Government learn the lesson that, when it comes to the criminal justice system, trying to eat in one whole a Bill of this size is not the way to proceed and that next time proposals for improving the criminal justice system come before us, we should have something a little more digestible. I am very happy that we have come to the conclusions reached today.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I believe that it would be appropriate to respond to the very generous comments and compliments that have been made. I shall not say that they are deserved but I am grateful for them none the less. I can certainly reassure the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, that we shall strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends. It is right for me to respond to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and to remind him that we on these Benches have loved

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and supported jurors as valiantly as he. In moving our provisions in the Bill we have secured the maintenance of justice and jury trial by ensuring that those who would seek to diminish it by intimidation, by threat and by bribery will not succeed.

We have also taken steps to ensure that those who see themselves in the financial sense as being untouchable as a result of their dealings in fraud also will not succeed. I hear what the noble Lord has said. I thank him for the concession that has been made in relation to those matters because we have changed the system, but we have changed it for the better and we have preserved it. I endorse the comments made by my honourable friend Vera Baird in the other place who I believe succinctly expressed the good that we have done. I take this opportunity to commend, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary who, with me, has striven to do justice and we have prevailed.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

121Leave out Clause 96 The Commons insist on their disagreement to Amendments Nos. 114 to 119 and 121 to 131 but propose the following amendments to the words so restored to the Bill—


121AThe Commons insist on their disagreement with the Lords in their amendment but propose the following amendment to the words restored to the Bill by that disagreement:—
121B Page 63, line 19, at end insert:— '(1A) Where subsection (1)(a) applies, a defendant's propensity to commit offences of the kind with which he is charged may (without prejudice to any other way of doing so) be established by evidence that he has been convicted of—


(a) an offence of the same description as the one with which he is charged, or
(b) an offence of the same category as the one with which he is charged. (1B) Subsection (1A) does not apply in the case of a particular defendant if the court is satisfied, by reason of the length of time since the conviction or for any other reason, that it would be unjust for it to apply in his case.


    (1C) For the purposes of subsection (1A)—


(a) two offences are of the same description as each other if the statement of the offence in a written charge or indictment would, in each case, be in the same terms;
(b) two offences are of the same category as each other if they belong to the same category of offences prescribed for the purposes of this section by an order made by the Secretary of State. (1D) A category prescribed by an order under subsection (1C)(b) must consist of offences of the same type.'.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 121 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 121B. I have already spoken to the amendment.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 121 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 121B.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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LORDS AMENDMENT

126Leave out Clause 101
126AThe Commons insist on their disagreement with the Lords in their amendment, do not insist on their Amendment No. 131H to which the Lords have disagreed, and propose the following amendment to the words restored to the Bill by the disagreement insisted upon—
126B Page 65, line 47, at end insert:— '(2) In proceedings for an offence committed or alleged to have been committed by the defendant when aged 21 or over, evidence of his conviction for an offence when under the age of 14 is not admissible unless—


(a) both of the offences are triable only on indictment, and
(b) the court is satisfied that the interests of justice require the evidence to be admissible. (3) Subsection (2) applies in addition to section 93.'.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 126 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 126B. I have already spoken to this amendment.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 126 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 126B.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, having striven mightily in the interests of young people who find themselves in trouble with the justice system, I take this opportunity to thank the Government and, in particular, the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, for the concession on Clause 101. A cross-party consensus in your Lordships' House has tried to improve the Bill on behalf of young people. I believe that that concession presages a very constructive way forward. After the Queen's Speech and in the new Session I believe that we shall look at issues that relate to youth justice. I look forward to the constructive consultation that we shall undertake in your Lordships' House with the Minister and noble Lords on all Benches. I thank the Government very much, as I believe that the concession is a step in the right direction.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I have one thank you to make, but it is one that I really wish to express. The staff who have served us have done so brilliantly and extremely well. On behalf of the whole House I thank them: the Whips officers, the Doorkeepers and all those who have kept us sane as the Bill has made its way through the House.

Lord Hunt of Wirral: My Lords, I endorse every word that the noble Baroness has said. If I did not make it clear before, I stress that the workload that she assumes is enormous—it is too high a level of work. I hope that she may receive more support from her colleagues in the coming Session. I thank her and I join with her in thanking all the staff.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Adjournment

8.30 p.m.

Lord Grocott: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure until 8.50 p.m. to await the Royal Commission. The thanks have already been made, but I particularly want to thank the Public Bill Office, which has been quite heroic in its work today. I am sure that the House will allow me to say that—we do not often do this, but I intend to set a precedent—special thanks are due to those 27 per cent who are proud to hold the title of Labour Members of this House, who, day-in, day-out, have managed by a miracle of the British constitution to sustain the legislative programme of a democratically elected government in the other House. My very special thanks are due to them.

Moved, that the House do adjourn during pleasure until 8.50 p.m.—(Lord Grocott.)

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, first, I should like to make clear to the House that the Motion to adjourn the House has on this occasion been agreed by the usual channels. It is not always so, but is so in this case. Secondly, I should like to associate my side of the House with the thanks expressed by the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms to the Public Bill Office and to the others who have helped us in these particularly difficult last couple of days, as we have struggled to reach agreement and to get it all incorporated in these amazing pieces of paper that come before us. I am sure that there are lawyers who understand it all, but to most of us it is a major task and we appreciate the work done.

The Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms paid tribute to his supporters in this House. I should like to do the same to mine. We have during this Bill, and on certain other Bills in the course of this Session, had great support, not only from Members of my party but from Members of the Liberal Democrat Party, from a considerable number of Cross-Benchers—even in the Lobbies today—and, indeed, from a number of Labour Members.


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