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House of Commons
Session 2005 - 06
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Standing Committee Debates

Seventh Standing Committee
on Delegated Legislation




 
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Seventh Standing Committee
on Delegated Legislation

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman:

Mr. Bill Olner

Bellingham, Mr. Henry (North-West Norfolk) (Con)
†Brennan, Kevin (Cardiff, West) (Lab)
†Burrowes, Mr. David (Enfield, Southgate) (Con)
†Chapman, Ben (Wirral, South) (Lab)
†Devine, Mr. Jim (Livingston) (Lab)
†Gibson, Dr. Ian (Norwich, North) (Lab)
†Harman, Ms Harriet (Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs)
†Heath, Mr. David (Somerton and Frome) (LD)
†Linton, Martin (Battersea) (Lab)
†Moran, Margaret (Luton, South) (Lab)
†Simon, Mr. Siôn (Birmingham, Erdington) (Lab)
†Stoate, Dr. Howard (Dartford) (Lab)
†Stuart, Mr. Graham (Beverley and Holderness) (Con)
†Stunell, Andrew (Hazel Grove) (LD)
Taylor, Mr. Ian (Esher and Walton) (Con)
†Vaizey, Mr. Edward (Wantage) (Con)
Alan Sandall, Committee Clerk
† attended the Committee


The following also attended, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(2):

Heald, Mr. Oliver (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con)

 
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Wednesday 16 November 2005

[Mr. Bill Olner in the Chair]

Draft Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2005

2.30 pm

The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): I beg to move,

    That the Committee has considered the draft Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2005.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to consider the draft Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2005 and the revised funding code prepared by the Legal Services Commission.

Ms Harman: Let me say at the outset that the orders and the revisions to the code are minor definitional changes to facilitate the implementation of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004, both of which come into force in December. The orders are the Department for Constitutional Affairs’ only two statutory instruments under the affirmative procedure relating to the implementation of the 2002 Act. They provide for the continuity of current provisions as we move from the soon-to-be repealed Adoption Act 1976 to the 2002 Act. Alongside the orders, we are considering the revised funding code prepared by the Legal Services Commission. The changes simply add the 2002 Act and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to the list of legislation covered by the code.

On the effect of the orders, the draft Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2005 will enable family proceedings courts to continue to issue witness summonses; that was previously provided for in section 97(1)(a) and (2) of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1980. The Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2005 allows appeals on adoption matters to continue to be heard by the courts to which they are currently assigned. Appeals would otherwise go directly to the Court of Appeal in almost every case, and that is neither time nor cost effective.

Both orders are needed to ensure a smooth transition from the old to the new rules. They underpin the adoption policy of the Department for Education and Skills, which has already been approved by Parliament, including in debate under affirmative procedure on two statutory instruments introduced by Lord Adonis on 8 June. All other strands of the DCA’s court rules have been consulted on and approved by the family procedure rules committee. In addition, the Lord Chancellor has consulted the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, the president of the Queen’s
 
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bench division, the president of the family division, and the chancellor of the High Court on the destination of appeals order. No comments were made in respect of that order.

On the funding code, the amendments are all minor, non-controversial changes that essentially update the funding code to capture the new proceedings that are being introduced by the Adoption and Children Act 2002 on 30 December 2005 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 on 5 December 2005. The legal professions have been informed of those proposals and have not raised any concerns.

I stand ready with more detail of the sections and orders should the Committee require it—I hope that you will not regard that as a threat, Mr. Olner—but I think that the Committee can see that these are necessary and technical amendments that make no practical change, either to legislation or to the daily business of practitioners or the general public. I commend the orders and the revised funding code to the Committee.

Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): It is a great pleasure to serve under you, Mr. Olner, but it could be fairly brief, because we consider these orders non-controversial and sensible.

The draft Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2005 simply preserves the status quo under the Supreme Court of Judicature and county court rules once the Adoption and Children Act 2002 comes into force at the end of the year. The draft Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2005 allows for an arrest warrant instead of a witness summons. That facilitates the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and will minimise delays in the court process. On the Legal Services Commission funding code, references have to be changed to modernise the code in accordance with changes made to the law. In the circumstances, we do not ask for all those further details that the Minister kindly offered.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): I, too, welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Olner. I see nothing in the Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2005 or the Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2005 with which I wish to argue.

There are many issues associated with the Legal Services Commission funding code. I am at variation with the Minister on many issues, but not on the proposed amendments to that code. I have no problem with noting these orders today.

Ms Harman: I have nothing to add, but I thank hon. Members for their comments.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

    That the Committee has considered the draft Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2005.


 
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Draft Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2005Resolved,

    That the Committee has considered the draft Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2005.—[Ms Harman.]


 
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Revised Funding Code prepared by the Legal Services CommissionResolved,

    That the Committee has considered the revised funding code prepared by the Legal Services Commission.—[Ms Harman.]

Committee rose at twenty-four minutes to Three o’clock.

 
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