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Division No. 143
[2.7 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baker, Norman
Balls, Ed
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brake, Tom
Brennan, Kevin
Brooke, Annette
Brown, Lyn
Browne, rh Mr. Des
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Butler, Ms Dawn
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cousins, Jim
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davey, Mr. Edward
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, Mr. David
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Heath, Mr. David
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Holmes, Paul
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Love, Mr. Andrew
MacDougall, Mr. John
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh Mr. John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Merron, Gillian
Miliband, rh Mr. David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morley, Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Öpik, Lembit
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. John Heppell and
Mr. Vernon Coaker


Afriyie, Adam
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Bercow, John
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bottomley, Peter
Brokenshire, James
Burrowes, Mr. David
Clappison, Mr. James
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, Philip
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Gale, Mr. Roger
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Greening, Justine
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Herbert, Nick
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Horam, Mr. John
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Luff, Peter
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Scott, Mr. Lee
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Tredinnick, David
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Williams, Hywel
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Eric Forth and
Mark Pritchard

Question accordingly agreed to.

26 Jan 2006 : Column 1560

26 Jan 2006 : Column 1561

Criminal Defence Service Bill [Lords]

[Relevant documents: The Fifth Report from the Constitutional Affairs Committee, Session 2003–04, on the Draft Criminal Defence Service Bill, HC 746, and the Government's response thereto, Cm 6410.]

As amended in the Standing Committee, considered.

New Clause 1

Power of Court to grant a representation order

'(1)   Notwithstanding powers conferred on the Legal Services Commission by section 1, the Court shall retain the power to grant a representation order upon oral application to the Court under circumstances in which it would not be practicable to refer the matter to the Commission.

(2)   Paragraph 3B of Schedule 3 to the Access to Justice Act 1999 (c. 22) (financial eligibility) applies to the power in subsection (1) as if it were a power under that Schedule.'. —[Mr. Burrowes.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

2.19 pm

Mr. David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) (Con): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I am grateful for the opportunity to present the new clause, having heard the earlier debate on the programme motion in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) put properly in context what are important measures in the Bill. The new clause is of great importance in terms both of principle and practice. It is its importance in terms of practice that I wish to concentrate on in the next few minutes.

The context is important. The Government announced their intentions in respect of improving the criminal justice system and legal aid by titling their documentation, "Delivering a fairer deal: swifter and more effective criminal justice". I am sure all hon. Members would sign up to such a laudable aim. Indeed, the new clause seeks to achieve in practice a swifter, more effective criminal justice system. At this stage I must declare an interest as a criminal solicitor of 11 years, a criminal advocate and consultant at a local firm in Enfield.

When one tries to put the legislation that is passed with great intentions by the House into practice in court, there is often a gap. It is that gap that I seek to plug today with the assistance of the House. I seek to avoid the vacuum that we can sometimes fall into when debating criminal legal aid and to look at the reality of the situation.

The new clause properly reflects the need for means-testing and the financial requirements that are the essence of the Bill. It recognises the concerns of the Government in relation to consistency in granting representation orders. It also properly seeks to deal with concerns that have been raised by practitioners local to me and by a chief clerk of a local magistrates court about issues that have arisen as a result of the Bill: primarily, the fact that it would effectively prevent an oral application from being made to the court. An important principle has been put forward by the Government in the Bill: to confer powers on the Legal Services Commission that are presently before the court. While the Government would no doubt say that those powers are being devolved back to court staff and that,
26 Jan 2006 : Column 1562
for all intents and purposes, in practice, the court staff who grant legal aid on administrative applications now will do the same after the Bill becomes law, there is still the prospect of that being removed from court staff. Even if it is devolved to court staff, as is proposed, within regulations, there is a fundamental gap in terms of preventing an oral application from being made to the court.

It is important to look at the practical context. On the nature of the court process, a magistrates court hearing is not always as we would imagine. There is often a full court list as a result of perhaps operations that have taken place in the locality involving a number of members of the public being arrested for particular practices. It may involve a number of people who have been arrested and need interpretation skills. It may involve a number of people who are in the cells and who need other assistance. They may often be vulnerable. They may be mentally ill and need other assistance. They may require assistance and legal advice from an early stage.

A magistrates court may have occasional court sittings on a Saturday or at holiday times. Those often involve just one magistrate and one court clerk dealing with what can be a very busy list. They have to deal with what we are discussing today, which is a fundamental change in relation to the process of criminal legal aid.

We also have to be aware of the context in relation to the applicant. The applicant is not the straightforward applicant one can describe. The applicant could be illiterate, have learning difficulties, be unable to read or write. There are occasions when the applicant is mute and one has to deal with that situation. In all those circumstances, the option is available to the court to allow the matter to come before the court by way of an oral application, rather than through the administrative route of filling out a legal aid application. That option would not be available if we do not accept the new clause.

I want to look at the example of someone who is mentally ill. It is the case that, increasingly, sadly, many people come before the courts who suffer from mental illness. The provision for them is often patchy and inappropriate. Often, a mentally ill person comes before the court without having any legal representation, despite the fact that under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 there is the right to have an appropriate adult to direct them to the need for legal advice. For one reason or another, they come before the court having been charged with an offence, they are    before the magistrates and they need legal representation. The magistrates can see it clearly; indeed they can probably see on the basis of the charge that it is in the interests of justice that they receive legal aid.

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