Legal Services Bill [Lords]

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Clause 122

Appointment of the Chief Ombudsman and assistant ombudsmen
John Mann: I beg to move amendment No. 287, in clause 122, page 63, line 32, at end insert—
‘(2A) The majority of persons appointed under paragraph 1(b) must be lay persons.’.
I seek the Minister’s views on this appropriate amendment.
Bridget Prentice: I shall do my best to be brief, like my hon. Friend. I understand where he is coming from. I am equally of the view that neither the Bill, the OLC nor the LSB must become too lawyer focused. The amendment would be unduly restrictive. The OLC must be able to appoint the most qualified and able people as ombudsmen. Assistant ombudsmen will not be acting as a group and therefore according to the views or influence of the majority. Throughout the Bill, there are sufficient safeguards to ensure that the scheme is not, and does not appear to be, biased in favour of the legal profession.
John Mann: The Minister has made it clear, pretty much explicitly and certainly implicitly, that capable people are outwith the legal profession as well as within it, and she nods in concurrence. The point has been made. It is an important principle that such things are seen to be objective. I am sure that the various bodies will take that on board. Therefore, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 122 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 123 to 132 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Michael Foster.]
Adjourned accordingly at twenty-one minutes toFour o’clock till Tuesday 26 June at half-pastTen o’clock.
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