13 Mar 2013 : Column 369

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. You will recall that Wellingborough prison was closed without any notification to me, and that I learned about it through the media. I have just been contacted by my local press and learned that Wellingborough prison has been sold. I have received no notification whatever from the Ministry of Justice, and there is no written statement in the Library. Can you advise me of how I might get some more information about what seems a very unfortunate situation?

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): What I can tell the hon. Gentleman is that the Chair has not been advised of such a sale, but his point is now on the record, and I am sure that since he has raised it, the Prisons Minister will get in touch with him to say whether it has been sold. I look to the Government Front Bench as I say that I presume that has been taken on board.

New Schedule 2

Proceeds of crime provisions: Northern Ireland

Part 1

Civil recovery provisions

Meaning of “relevant civil recovery provision”

1 For the purposes of this Part of this Schedule, each of the following is a “relevant civil recovery provision”—

(a) section 33(2), (3), (5) and (6);

(b) section 33(7) so far as it relates to amendments made by section 33(2), (3) and (5) and Part 2 of Schedule 17;

(c) each provision in Schedule 17;

(d) each amendment or repeal made by the provisions mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (c).

Relevant civil recovery provisions not to extend to Northern Ireland unless order made

2 (1) The relevant civil recovery provisions do not extend to Northern Ireland.

(2) But that is subject to paragraph 3.

Power to provide for relevant civil recovery provisions to extend to Northern Ireland

3 The Secretary of State may, by order, provide for one or more of the relevant civil recovery provisions to extend to Northern Ireland.

Relevant civil recovery provision extending to Northern Ireland

4 (1) The Secretary of State may, by order, make such provision as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in consequence of, or in connection with, a relevant civil recovery provision extending to Northern Ireland.

(2) An order under this paragraph may, in particular—

(a) provide for section 282A of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to have effect in relation to orders made by the High Court in Northern Ireland;

(b) provide for an enforcement authority in relation to Northern Ireland to make requests for assistance under section 282B of that Act;

(c) provide for a receiver appointed under an order made by the High Court in Northern Ireland to make requests for assistance under section 282C of that Act;

(d) provide for the High Court in Northern Ireland or a receiver appointed by an order made by that court to make requests for assistance under section 282D of that Act;

(e) provide for an enforcement authority or trustee for civil recovery to make a request for assistance under section 282F of that Act where a recovery order has been made by the High Court in Northern Ireland;

13 Mar 2013 : Column 370

(f) provide for section 316(8B) of that Act to have effect in relation to an enforcement authority in relation to Northern Ireland.

Relevant civil recovery provision not extending to Northern Ireland

5 The Secretary of State may, by order, make such provision as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in consequence of, or in connection with, a relevant civil recovery provision not extending to Northern Ireland.

Consent of Northern Ireland Assembly to transferred provision

6 (1) The Secretary of State may not make an order under this Part of this Schedule which makes transferred provision unless the Northern Ireland Assembly consents to the making of that provision.

(2) In this paragraph “transferred provision” means provision which, if it were contained in an Act of the Northern Ireland Assembly—

(a) would be within the legislative competence of the Assembly, and

(b) would deal with a transferred matter without being ancillary to other provision (whether in the Act or previously enacted) which deals with an excepted or reserved matter.

(3) In sub-paragraph (2)—

“ancillary” has the meaning given in section 6(3) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998;

“excepted matter”, “reserved matter” and “transferred matter” have the meanings given by section 4(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Orders under this Part of this Schedule: particular provision

7 (1) The provision that may be made by an order under paragraph 3, 4 or 5 (whether by virtue of that paragraph or section 43(12)) includes—

(a) provision conferring, removing or otherwise modifying a function (whether or not exercisable in, or in relation to, Northern Ireland);

(b) provision amending, repealing, revoking or otherwise modifying any enactment (including an enactment contained in, or amended by, this Act).

(2) Such an order may provide for provision amending, repealing or otherwise modifying Chapter 2 or 4 of Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to have retrospective effect.

(3) The making of an order under any provision of this Part of this Schedule does not prevent—

(a) a further order from being made under that provision, or

(b) an order from being made under any other provision of this Part of this Schedule.

(4) An order under paragraph 3 or 4 may modify or reverse the effects of an order made under paragraph 5.

(5) Sub-paragraphs (1) to (4) do not limit the powers conferred by paragraphs 3, 4 and 5.

(6) In this paragraph—

“enactment” means any enactment, whenever passed or made, contained in—

(a) an Act of Parliament;(b) an Act of the Scottish Parliament;(c) Northern Ireland legislation;(d) a Measure or Act of the National Assembly for Wales;(e) an instrument made under any such Act, legislation or Measure;(f) any other subordinate legislation (within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978);

“function” means a function of any description, including a power or duty (whether conferred by an enactment or arising otherwise).

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Part 2

Investigation provisions

Meaning of “relevant investigation provision”

8 For the purposes of this Part of this Schedule, each of the following is a “relevant investigation provision”—

(a) each provision in paragraphs 2 to 13, 25 to 27, 29 and 30 of Schedule 18 (including each amendment or repeal made by those provisions), and

(b) section 34 so far as it relates to each of those provisions.

Relevant investigation provisions not to extend to Northern Ireland unless order made

9 (1) The relevant investigation provisions do not extend to Northern Ireland.

(2) But that is subject to paragraph 10.

Power to provide for relevant investigation provisions to extend to Northern Ireland

10 The Secretary of State may, by order, provide for one or more of the relevant investigation provisions to extend to Northern Ireland.

Relevant investigation provision extending to Northern Ireland

11 The Secretary of State may, by order, make such provision as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in consequence of, or in connection with, a relevant investigation provision extending to Northern Ireland.

Relevant investigation provision not extending to Northern Ireland

12 The Secretary of State may, by order, make such provision as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in consequence of, or in connection with, a relevant investigation provision not extending to Northern Ireland.

Consent of Northern Ireland Assembly to transferred provision

13 (1) The Secretary of State may not make an order under this Part of this Schedule which makes transferred provision unless the Northern Ireland Assembly consents to the making of that provision.

(2) In this paragraph “transferred provision” means provision which, if it were contained in an Act of the Northern Ireland Assembly—

(a) would be within the legislative competence of the Assembly, and

(b) would deal with a transferred matter without being ancillary to other provision (whether in the Act or previously enacted) which deals with an excepted matter or a reserved matter.

(3) In sub-paragraph (2)—

“ancillary” has the meaning given in section 6(3) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998;

“excepted matter”, “reserved matter” and “transferred matter” have the meanings given by section 4(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Orders under this Part of this Schedule: particular provision

14 (1) The provision that may be made by an order under paragraph 10, 11 or 12 (whether by virtue of that paragraph or section 43(12)) includes—

(a) provision conferring, removing or otherwise modifying a function (whether or not exercisable in, or in relation to, Northern Ireland);

(b) provision amending, repealing, revoking or otherwise modifying any enactment (including an enactment contained in, or amended by, this Act).

(2) The making of an order under any provision of this Part of this Schedule does not prevent—

(a) a further order from being made under that provision, or

(b) an order from being made under any other provision of this Part of this Schedule.

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(3) An order under paragraph 10 or 11 may modify or reverse the effects of an order made under paragraph 12.

(4) Sub-paragraphs (1) to (3) do not limit the powers conferred by paragraphs 10, 11 and 12.

(5) In this paragraph—

“enactment” means any enactment, whenever passed or made, contained in—

(a) an Act of Parliament;(b) an Act of the Scottish Parliament;(c) Northern Ireland legislation;(d) a Measure or Act of the National Assembly for Wales;(e) an instrument made under any such Act, legislation or Measure;(f) any other subordinate legislation (within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978);

“function” means a function of any description, including a power or duty (whether conferred by an enactment or arising otherwise).’.—(Mr Jeremy Browne.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr Jeremy Browne: I beg to move, That the schedule be read a Second time.

Mr Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 61 to 71, 75, 86 and 88.

Mr Browne: I do not propose to detain the House long on the new schedule and amendments. In essence, they deal with the consequences of the failure to agree a legislative consent motion in Northern Ireland for the proceeds of crime provisions in the Bill, just as similar amendments in the previous group dealt with the consequences of not securing an LCM for the NCA provisions. As I have already explained the context of the amendments and it has been given an extensive airing, I do not propose to cover the same ground again.

The amendments made to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in Committee to remedy the effects of the Perry judgment will operate UK-wide, but as with the NCA provisions, which we have just discussed, in the absence of an LCM it is necessary that we amend those provisions so that they do not extend to Northern Ireland. In new schedule 2, a similar approach is adopted in respect of the proceeds of crime provisions to that taken in new schedule 1 in respect of the NCA. It provides that “relevant civil recovery provisions” and “relevant investigation provisions” do not extend to Northern Ireland.

The primary outcome of the new schedule and the associated amendments to clause 33 and schedule 17 is that the High Court of England and Wales will be able to make a civil recovery order against property located outside the UK where there is, or has been, a connection between the case in question and the relevant part of the UK, and the Court of Session will have similar powers in Scotland, but the High Court of Northern Ireland will not be able to make such an order. If the unlawful conduct occurred in Northern Ireland but the property was located outside Northern Ireland, the High Court of Northern Ireland would have no power to make an order over that property.

Like new schedule 1, however, which we considered in the last group of amendments, new schedule 2 contains a number of order-making powers that will enable the Secretary of State to extend certain civil recovery and

13 Mar 2013 : Column 373

investigation provisions to Northern Ireland at a later date. In respect of matters falling within the legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Secretary of State must secure the Assembly’s consent before doing so. As I have indicated, we will continue to work with the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice to secure all-party agreement to the full application of the Bill’s proceeds of crime provisions to Northern Ireland, but for now we must ensure that the Bill respects the Sewel convention.

Mr Hanson: I say again to the Minister that this is a really difficult issue for Northern Ireland. It is a big hole in the Bill. He has just said that because we do not have agreement with the Northern Ireland Assembly, from Royal Assent Northern Ireland will not have asset recovery powers, because of judgments that have been made in relation to the UK as a whole. Because Northern Ireland’s jurisdiction has not agreed to the provisions in the Bill, we will face difficulties.

Sammy Wilson: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. It is a great pity that the Minister would not give way on this point earlier.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that crime barons in Northern Ireland who are reaping hundreds of millions of pounds a year will now be able to invest those proceeds across the border in the Irish Republic with impunity and without any danger of those assets being seized? I know that that is a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly, but it will create a serious hole in the pursuit of such criminals and will cause great difficulty in recovering assets from them.

Mr Hanson: It does indeed; it creates a tremendous hole in asset recovery provisions. In effect it means—the Minister has accepted this—that a criminal in Taunton could buy a property in the Republic of Ireland and have those assets confiscated by the High Court, but a criminal in Belfast, for example, with a property in the Republic of Ireland, could not. There is also a perverse incentive for people to move to Northern Ireland to pursue their criminal activities. At the moment, unless an order is introduced urgently, the provision will not allow assets abroad to be confiscated from those in the north of Ireland.

4.15 pm

Ian Paisley: I am sure the shadow Minister will agree that the situation gives gangsters and criminals in Northern Ireland who are involved in serious and organised crime a free rein in part of the United Kingdom, and that must be addressed. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is a test and that people want to see the rule of law operating against people such as Mr Murphy and Mr Hughes in South Armagh, just as it does against serious and organised criminals in Manchester, Birmingham and other parts of the United Kingdom?

Mr Hanson: This is an extremely serious issue, and I want the Minister to say not just that there is a problem—he has done that—but what the solution is in relation to getting parties around the table to discuss the Executive

13 Mar 2013 : Column 374

agreeing to provisions on asset recovery. This is not a hypothetical issue. On 6 March a British newspaper stated:

“Briton hunted as police crack IRA and Mafia fraud scheme…A British man…is being sought by detectives investigating the £390m fraud which was based around a development on the…coast of…Southern Italy.”

Italian authorities arrested people in dawn raids and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of an individual from Belfast whom I shall not name. If that individual is convicted of fraud in Italy, his Italian assets cannot be confiscated because he is resident in Belfast. If he was resident in our constituencies of Delyn, Darlington, Walthamstow, Taunton or Middlesbrough, however, he could be taken to court and his assets taken from him.

There is a massive incentive for criminals to relocate to Northern Ireland, and for those operating criminal activities across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to continue doing so. I know there are issues in some political parties about the provisions and the legislative consent motion, but I appeal to the Northern Ireland Executive to consider the matter again because it is undermining action against criminal activity in Northern Ireland.

In the few minutes remaining I would welcome the Minister outlining a clear road map and stating how he intends to resolve this problem. It is not simply about bringing an order forward in the future, but about how we can reach an agreement where such an order can be effected to close this appalling loophole.

Mr Jeremy Browne: In a way, points or lines of difference are being drawn between the two Front Benches that do not exist. The right hon. Gentleman described the situation correctly because the status of a criminal from Taunton—that was his example—would be different from that of a criminal from Belfast when it came to the seizure of assets. The Government of the United Kingdom do not want that to be the case and wish the arrangements to apply universally across the United Kingdom. That is partly because measures to rectify the offence of illegally acquired assets and to address that wrong should apply regardless of where in the United Kingdom it took place, but also because, as the right hon. Gentleman said, this situation creates an extremely worrying incentive for people wishing to perpetrate organised crime and acquire financial assets to base themselves in Northern Ireland. That is an extremely worrying development, I would have thought, for any Member who represents a Northern Ireland constituency, but it is also a concern for the United Kingdom Government as a whole, because we do not want such perverse and malign incentives to result from decisions made by politicians.

Paul Goggins rose

Ian Paisley rose

Mr Browne: One second.

Our position is clear. In a way, this is a strange debate, in that I am explaining the reality as it stands, but it is not the reality as I would like it to be. The British Government would like the NCA to apply in Northern Ireland in the way I have been describing throughout this afternoon. At the same time, we cannot have a system of devolution that applies only when the United Kingdom Government approve of the decisions

13 Mar 2013 : Column 375

made by the politicians in the devolved Executive and legislature. For devolution to mean anything, where the politicians in the devolved Executive and legislature—in this case in Northern Ireland—are not willing to endorse the preferred option of the United Kingdom Government, there obviously has to be a sense of discretion among those politicians. I want the politicians in Northern Ireland to arrive at the outcome that the United Kingdom Government seek, because I think it would be in the interests of the people in Northern Ireland.

Ian Paisley: That analysis might come back to bite the Minister under another set of circumstances. All I would say is that the First Minister of Northern Ireland said in evidence to a Select Committee in this House that, because of the disagreement, this sovereign Parliament should rule on it. That is the test for the Minister. Rule on it! He should make the sovereign decision if there has been no agreement. Let us remember that the majority of the Assembly has voted in favour of this proposal and the majority of the Executive is for it, but it is being held to ransom by a tiny, tiny minority.

Mr Browne: The point I am making is that the proposal is not being held to ransom by the UK Government. I agree with the hon. Gentleman; indeed, if I may say so, the tone of his intervention would rather imply to anybody who had not followed our deliberations carefully that he and I are on different sides of the argument. I agree with what he has said: I want people in Northern Ireland to have just as much protection under the NCA as people in my constituency of Taunton Deane, but I also recognise that the constitutional settlement in Northern Ireland is different from that in Somerset. Therefore, different considerations apply.

Sammy Wilson: Does the Minister not accept, however, that on this issue there is a big difference? The inability to seize assets that criminals who operate from Northern Ireland might have outside Northern Ireland is a UK-wide problem, in so far as criminals currently involved in activities here in Great Britain could relocate to Northern Ireland and thereby escape losing their ill-gotten gains. From that point of view, this is not simply a Northern Ireland issue or an issue for the Government of Northern Ireland; rather, it becomes an issue for the Government of the United Kingdom. At least on this issue, he could override the views in Northern Ireland.

Mr Browne rose—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order.

4.23 pm

Three and a half hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the programme motion, the debate was interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed form the Chair (Standing Order No. 83E), That the schedule be read a Second time.

Question agreed to.

New schedule 2 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

The Deputy Speaker then put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

13 Mar 2013 : Column 376

Clause 2

Strategic priorities

Amendment made: 4, page 2, line 42, leave out ‘may’ and insert ‘must’.—(Mr Jeremy Browne.)

Clause 12

NCA officers with operational powers: labour relations

Amendment proposed: 95, page 10, line 15, leave out Clause 12.—(John McDonnell.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 19, Noes 288.

Division No. 187]


4.24 pm


Cryer, John

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Havard, Mr Dai

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Lucas, Caroline

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Williams, Hywel

Winnick, Mr David

Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr Elfyn Llwyd


Jeremy Corbyn


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Birtwistle, Gordon

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burns, Conor

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, rh Mr Edward

Davies, Glyn

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hermon, Lady

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Lee, Jessica

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Mr Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Long, Naomi

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Patrick

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, Richard

Paisley, Ian

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, rh Hugh

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Shapps, rh Grant

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Iain

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stunell, rh Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Teather, Sarah

Thornton, Mike

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr Robert Syms


Mark Hunter

Question accordingly negatived.

13 Mar 2013 : Column 377

13 Mar 2013 : Column 378

Schedule 8

Abolition of SOCA and NPIA

Amendments made: 5, page 115, line 37, at end insert—

‘( ) In section 195S (Codes of practice: Secretary of State), in subsection (1)(c), for “members of staff of SOCA” substitute “NCA officers”.’.

Amendment 6, page 117, line 3, at end insert—

‘( ) In section 339ZA (disclosures to SOCA)—

(a) in the title, for “” substitute “”;

(b) for “Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency” substitute “Director General of the National Crime Agency”.’.

Amendment 7, page 118, line 38, at end insert—

‘( ) In subsection (6)—

(a) for “a member of SOCA’s staff” substitute “an NCA officer”;

(b) for “SOCA” substitute “the Director General of the NCA”.’.

Amendment 8, page 121, line 30, leave out ‘officer’ and insert ‘agency’.

Amendment 9, page 121, line 32, leave out from beginning to end of line 34 and insert—

(a) the National Crime Agency;”.’.—

(Mr Syms.)

Schedule 22

Super-affirmative procedure

Amendment made: 76, page 336, line 26, leave out ‘2’ and insert ‘[Modification of NCA functions]’.—(Mr Syms.)

13 Mar 2013 : Column 379

Clause 33

Civil recovery of the proceeds etc of unlawfl conduct

Amendments made: 61, page 33, line 33, after ‘High Court’ insert ‘in England and Wales’.

Amendment 62, page 34, line 2, after ‘High Court’ insert ‘in England and Wales’.

Amendment 63, page 34, line 14, leave out from beginning to ‘and’ in line 15.

Amendment 64, page 36, line 10, leave out

‘a part of the United Kingdom’

and insert

‘England and Wales or Scotland’.—(Mr Syms.)

Schedule 17

Proceeds of crime: civil recovery of the proceeds etc of unlawful conduct

Amendments made: 65, page 290, line 5, after ‘authority’ insert

‘in relation to England and Wales or Scotland’.

Amendment 66, page 290, line 8, leave out ‘and Northern Ireland’.

Amendment 67, page 290, line 29, after ‘order’ insert

‘made by the High Court in England and Wales’.

Amendment 68, page 290, line 35, leave out ‘or’ and insert

‘made by the High Court in England and Wales or an’.

Amendment 69, page 291, line 8, leave out ‘or’ and insert

‘made by the High Court in England and Wales or an’.

Amendment 70, page 291, line 17, after ‘High Court’ insert ‘in England and Wales’.

Amendment 71, page 292, line 40, after ‘order’ insert

‘made by the High Court in England and Wales or the Court of Session’.—(Mr Syms.)

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): I now have to announce the result of today’s deferred Divisions. In the deferred Division on the draft Conditional Fee Agreements Order 2013, the Ayes were 288 and the Noes 225, so the Ayes have it.

In the deferred Division on the draft Non-Domestic Rating (Levy and Safety Net) Regulations 2013, the Ayes were 286, the Noes 223, so the Ayes have it.

In the deferred Division on the draft Tax Credits Up-rating, etc. Regulations 2013, the Ayes were 286, the Noes 228, so the Ayes have it.

In the deferred Division on the draft Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations (Amendment) Order 2013, the Ayes were 289, the Noes were 224, so the Ayes have it.

[The Division lists are published at the end of today’s debates.]

New Clause 18

Sanction for and trial in relation to drink driving

‘Schedule 2 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 is amended such that the time period stipulated as punishment for an offence under section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit) is two years and such that the said offence shall be triable either way.’.—(Mr Burrowes.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

13 Mar 2013 : Column 380

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

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 120, in clause 41, page 45, line 44, in clause 41, at end insert—

‘(3A) In section 3ZB of the 1988 Act (causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers), after (c) insert—

“(d) section 5A of this Act (driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with concentration of specified controlled drug above specified limit).”.’.

Amendment 2, page 46, line 31, in clause 41, at end add—

‘(8) The Secretary of State shall have responsibility to ensure that within 12 months of Royal Assent an assessment has been made by the Home Office on the impact of this section on equipment, training and resources with particular regard to published impact assessments from the Home Office, Department for Transport, Department of Justice and the Crown Prosecution Service.’.

Amendment 89, page 46, line 34, in clause 42, at end insert—

‘(1A) In section 4(1) (“Fear or provocation of violence”) for “abusive or insulting” in the two places where it occurs substitute “or abusive”.

(1B) In section 4A(1) (“Intentional harassment, alarm or distress”) for “abusive or insulting” in the two places where it occurs substitute “or abusive”.’.

Amendment 90, page 46, line 36, in clause 42, at end insert—

‘(6) In section 6(3) (“mental element: miscellaneous”) for “abusive or insulting” in the two places where it occurs substitute “or abusive”.’.

Government amendment 84.

Mr Burrowes: Both new clause 18 and amendment 120 concern sentences for driving over the prescribed limits for drugs and alcohol and both seek to fill a gap in sentencing. There are 220 traffic cases each year in which individuals die on our roads owing to a driver who has been impaired through drink or drugs.

On the subject of filling gaps, I pay tribute to the Government for filling the gap in drug-driving offences. The new offence will not require proof of impairment. Owing to the imminent arrival of roadside drugalysers, it will become an offence that sits alongside drink-driving. It will be possible to rely on proof that someone is over the prescribed limit, whether for alcohol or drugs, rather than relying solely on proof of impairment.

Here I must declare an interest as a criminal defence solicitor. I must confess that I recall many prosecutions that did not succeed because of ambiguities and complexities relating to proof of impairment. The filling of that gap might not have been welcome to some of my clients of old, but it will be welcome to victims of offences of this kind, and it will be welcome to those who believe that it is in the public interest to ensure that drink and drug-driving offences are prosecuted properly.

However, I am also concerned about another gap. The purpose of new clause 18 and amendment 120 is to draw attention to it, and to ensure that, in one way or another, we fill it. Without the new clause, the maximum custodial sentence for driving after consuming excess alcohol, or indeed drugs over the prescribed limit, will still be six months’ imprisonment. Statute has properly

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provided that, if carelessness or dangerousness is proved, greater penalties will follow. The last Conservative Government recognised the need to ensure that drivers who caused death while under the influence of drugs or drink should be more heavily penalised. We now have on the statute book the offence of death caused by careless driving while the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which attracts a maximum sentence of 14 years.

In 2011, the number of drivers tried for causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs was 27, and the number of those convicted was zero. Rather than relying on the good work of the last Conservative Government, we need to ensure that it is followed through in practice. When it comes to the sad and tragic cases of people who die as a result of the actions of drivers, particularly drivers who are under the influence of drink or drugs, there must be a penalty that exceeds the fairly minimum penalty of a six-month sentence.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I believe that in Northern Ireland there are already rules, regulations and laws that address this issue specifically. There has also been a campaign aimed at dealing with drink and drugs. Does the hon. Gentleman think that it might help the Government to contact the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland, where policing and justice are a devolved matter? Might they learn something about how these matters can be handled?

Mr Burrowes: The amendments are intended to enable the Government to conduct a proactive review, which should, indeed, involve looking at what happens on the opposite shore. We all want to tackle the profound consequences of death caused by drivers under the influence, and ensure that they receive the appropriate penalty.

Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con): I, too, must make a declaration. I was a criminal barrister who both prosecuted and defended.

As my hon. Friend says, the maximum custodial sentence for a first offence of drinking and driving is six months. It is the same for a second, third and fourth offence. Does he agree that drink-drivers who pose a threat on our roads should receive longer sentences, and that their cases should be sent to the Crown court where there can be multiple convictions?

Mr Burrowes: I remember briefing my hon. Friend on many occasions. He was a great advocate in courts in Enfield and Haringey, and he continues that advocacy in the House. He has made an important point. There is a parallel between dealing with drink-driving cases and dealing with, for example, cases of criminal damage. Where there is a succession of criminal damage cases, later cases can receive a higher penalty and can be committed to the Crown court; indeed, there are categories of criminal damage that attract a higher penalty and the attention of the Crown court. The Government should look at whether that principle, which is already in statute, should be applied to drink-drive cases that have the most serious consequences.

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We have already crossed the Rubicon in terms of culpability and consequences in death by careless driving and dangerous driving. We have recognised that there needs to be a particular way of dealing with penalties that is aligned to the consequences, rather than looking at culpability alone. My amendments seek to take that a stage further.

My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell) would be here in the Chamber supporting me if he were not in a Committee. He has fought a valiant and successful campaign as a result of the tragic case of one of his constituents who died as a result of someone driving carelessly. The issue of impairment must be dealt with properly and that will now happen. He and I share the concern that the new offence of drug-driving needs to address the issue of fatalities, which was where the campaign that led to the new offence began. It would therefore be ironic if we were left with a Bill that does not deal with cases where dangerous driving cannot be proved independently but people who are plainly under the influence of drugs or drink have killed someone, and they can—perhaps through the hard work in years gone by of my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham and Rainham (Rehman Chishti) and myself as defence solicitors and barristers—get to the point where there is a lesser plea of drink-drive with a six-month penalty.

Sadly, that has already happened. We have heard that 27 people were tried and nil were convicted on this charge. I am concerned that in those cases there was a plea bargain to the lesser charge of drink-drive.

The explanatory notes to the Bill make another important point. It is stated about schedule 18:

Paragraph 2 amends section 3A of the 1988 Act so that if the person had a controlled drug in the blood or urine in excess of the specified limit for that drug, the person could be charged with the more serious offence in that section of causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs.”

I was proud to serve on the Bill Committee, and I sought clarity from the Minister about this point, which had been raised in correspondence with the Department for Transport and the Ministry of Justice dating back to March 2012 and in the campaign I mentioned earlier that sought a higher penalty in cases where it was not possible to prove careless driving. Unfortunately, now, a year after that correspondence began, we are in the final throes of the passage of the Bill.

This point has been made not just by me; this was not just a hobby-horse of mine—it is not about me wanting to make a point and send out a press release. It was made by Chief Superintendent David Snelling, who was an excellent commander of the Met traffic division, and it also came to the fore as a result of the campaigning efforts of my constituents, the Galli-Atkinson family, who lost their daughter as a result of dangerous driving and who saw a gap involving fatalities in drink and drug cases that are not prosecuted as they should be, so we do not end up with the sentences that the dead victims and their families deserve. They make their point based on the practical reality of cases that actually arise, and that is also the basis of my amendments.

The gap is in hit-and-run cases where a driver who is over the limit on drink or drugs crashes into another car or a pedestrian and kills, and then leaves the scene. In situations where fatalities occur, such cases are not infrequent, as—it will not surprise Members to learn—many

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people who know they are over the limit will do their best to evade prosecution, so they will leave the scene. They get hunted down and arrested, and when they are found to be over the limit the prosecution begins and the investigation continues. A prosecution for a failure to stop carries a limited penalty that does not reflect the gravity of the situation, and I have previously sought amendments to extend the penalties in that regard.

The prosecutor is left with the option of prosecuting for death by careless driving, but the problem is that there is no witness. In these cases, often the only witness is dead; there is nobody left. The steps are then traced back and the scene is marked out. The marks on the road might allow people to come up with a prosecution that shows that careless driving took place, because there are signs of speed, swerving, braking and so on. But it may well be that none of that is available, as perhaps it was a wet day and very little could be shown. Little corroborative evidence may be available beyond the fact that the person has died because of that vehicle and that driver, and all we have left is the fact that the driver was over the limit.

Sadly, all the prosecutor can perhaps do is prosecute for driving with excess alcohol or driving over the prescribed limit for drugs, which carries a maximum sentence of six months. Clearly that is not acceptable, given the gravity of the situation. Over the years, Parliament has recognised that where a death occurs as a result of driving it needs to be dealt with, and quite properly so. So that sets out the gap I am seeking to fill through my proposals.

The issue is whether there can be independent proof of careless driving and whether that must be sought out. In Committee, I asked the Minister what he thought of the situation and asked him for clarification. I said:

“I want it to be made clear…that it will not be necessary for the prosecutor to independently prove careless driving as the standard of driving, and that the effect is that someone’s being over the prescribed limit for drugs or alcohol will be sufficient for the prosecutor to be able to make the decision to charge them with a serious offence.”

He replied:

“My understanding is that it will not be necessary. I hope that I have clarified the point.”––[Official Report, Crime and Courts Public Bill Committee, 7 February 2013; c. 394-95.]

I would settle for that and move on. Indeed, I would probably have a press release saying, “I welcome the fact that the Minister has recognised that drivers who are over the limit and kill will get a higher penalty, which amounts to a maximum 14 years.” I would rest easy that the campaign has been successful, the victim’s voice has been heard, and the chief superintendent and police on the ground have recognised that gap and say, ”That is good. That has been dealt with.”

However, I then received correspondence from the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), in what we might term “Yes Minister” language, saying that there “may be confusion”. That is what has led me to table new clause 18 and amendment 120. It was clear in the Bill Committee that we would have confusion, so today the Minister has an opportunity to be brave and to fill the gaps that I have had a go at filling through a couple of options.

One option, new clause 18, would make drink-driving or driving over the prescribed drug limit an either-way offence—one capable of being committed to the Crown

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court and then attracting a maximum sentence of two years. The other option is amendment 120, whereby those on licence, disqualified drivers and uninsured drivers who kill in this way will face a heavy penalty of two years. That simply adds to the list in respect of drink-driving.

I have to put my lawyer’s hat on, because I appreciate that people may have concerns about new clause 18 opening up all drink-driving cases to a Crown court trial; I recognise the expense and the vagaries of jury trials, and that that is not wholly satisfactory in itself. I am perhaps being generous in how I am presenting new clause 18 and it perhaps needs to be refined. Perhaps it should be simply specified in relation to fatalities. My hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham and Rainham suggests making specific provision about repeat drink-driving offenders. There is certainly a role for making only those high-end cases liable for a committal to Crown court, in a similar way to what happens in the criminal damages cases I referred to earlier.

Another way around that would be to deal with magistrates’ maximum sentencing powers. Perhaps the Government will respond to the calls from the Magistrates Association to extend their powers to a maximum of two years. Youth courts have a two-year custodial sentence power, so perhaps we should have equity for adult courts. That would be much more cost-effective and would avoid cases all going to the Crown court and we lawyers being paid more up there—although we must appreciate the legal aid restrictions in that regard. The issue could then be dealt with in a magistrates court in a proportionate manner. That option is also open to the Government.

I recognise that there are reservations about amendment 120. As a lawyer, I am not keen on extending strict liability cases too readily and the amendment would certainly effectively extend a strict liability scenario to drink and drug-driving-related cases. Nevertheless, my amendment is clean cut. It does not extend the powers of the Crown court to all drink-driving cases but relates specifically to fatalities. It deals with the issues that have motivated my amendments and merely adds to the list of offences. Members of the public might ask what the difference is: if someone takes the risk of driving while uninsured, disqualified or without a licence, they are pretty careless to do that and should accept the consequences, and the same applies to those who are over the prescribed limits. My amendment would retain the statutory defence for drink-drive cases and would therefore have less of a strict liability nature.

The Government need to fill the gap. I am trying my best to do that and have provided two options. There might be more and I have no doubt that the Minister can tell us about any others. I look forward to seeing how the Government will do it as this is a real problem that should not be ignored. The fact that there were 220 deaths in a year but only 27 people were charged with causing death by dangerous driving while impaired in the same period makes the point very clearly. Large numbers of impaired drivers who kill are, for one reason or another, avoiding prosecution for the more serious offence and are probably ending up being charged with the lesser drink-drive offence.

In conclusion, I spoke to Ministers before tabling the amendments. I welcome the commitment from Transport Ministers that if I can provide evidence that proving

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carelessness is problematic, the Department will review the case for amending legislation. The statistics I have given are evidence and I put the burden of proof on the Government. I ask them to review the issue and seek to prove the point. We are very much in the end game on this Bill. Some might say we should have done that earlier to avoid getting into such a situation, but I urge the Government to recognise that we have a problem and to fix it. I look forward to hearing from the Minister.

Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab): It is a great pleasure to contribute, albeit briefly, to the debate. It is also a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes), who made an extremely powerful case about the complexities of the situation. At the heart of the matter is the fact that, as we all know, people kill other people on the roads yet seem to receive remarkably light sentences. His points about people abusing drugs and alcohol before going on to kill someone were powerful.

There was a case in my constituency that was not drug or alcohol-related but demonstrated an anomaly. Many other people are trying find a solution to this, and I shall introduce a ten-minute rule Bill on the subject later in the spring, but today, in the light of what the hon. Gentleman said, I want to ask the Minister a couple of questions.

5 pm

In relation to drug-driving, what drugs can we test for on the roadside today, in the aftermath of incidents like those that the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate described? I would also like to quiz the Minister a little about the drugalyser. When I first heard the idea, I thought it sounded exactly right and would make a difference, but my fear is that if it is seen as part of forensics, it comes under a back-office function of the police, and could be subject to fairly serious cuts. I cannot see the point of having lots of police legitimately checking people for drug-driving if we cannot get the results of the tests and get the guilty people put in jail to serve the necessary sentence.

Those are my quick points. I urge the Minister to take seriously the thoughtful issues that the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate raised. Across the House, in all parties, people are sick of the fact that people can receive such light sentences for one of the most serious offences imaginable, which causes immense heartbreak to so many families across the country.

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): I thank the hon. Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones) for her brief but to-the-point contribution on the new clause so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes). Many people throughout the country will have sympathy with it, and even if it is not added to the Bill today, they will be listening and watching for future developments.

Amendments 89 and 90 deal with an entirely different matter. As Members are aware, the Bill is wide ranging. Clause 42 was inserted during the Bill’s passage through the other place. Its effect is to remove the word “insulting” from section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. We could debate that for many days, and I do not propose to

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rehearse all the arguments, which were well made in the other place, but it is perhaps worth noting that, notwithstanding the Government’s indication that they did not support the amendment in the other place, it was agreed to on a Division by 150 votes to only 54. I think it is fair to say that there was overwhelming support for the removal of the word.

The very minor amendments that I am proposing would bring the wording of the offences set out in sections 4 and 4A of the 1986 Act in line with section 5. Those amendments are in line with the findings of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which stated in its report issued in October 2011:

“We also support the amendment of the Public Order Act 1986 to remove all reference to offences based on insulting words or behaviour. This would enhance human rights and remove a possible incompatibility with the right to freedom of expression.”

I stress that the report states, “remove all reference” to offences based on the use of insulting words or behaviour, not just the reference in section 5 of the Public Order Act. I entirely accept that most of the publicity and the campaign on the offence of using insulting words or behaviour centred on the need to reform section 5, but if, as the other place has voted, and as the Government have accepted, it is deemed sensible and appropriate to amend section 5, it must follow that the phrase, “insulting words or behaviour”, should be removed from other provisions in the 1986 Act that make an identical reference.

Section 4 of the 1986 Act deals with the fear or provocation of violence and states that someone

“is guilty of an offence if he…uses towards another person threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or…distributes or displays to another person any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, with intent to cause that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used against him or another by any person, or to provoke the immediate use of unlawful violence by that person or another, or whereby that person is likely to believe that such violence will be used or it is likely that such violence will be provoked.”

Section 4A, which deals with intentional harassment, alarm or distress, states:

“A person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he…uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or…displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.”

If my amendments are accepted, the offences would remain completely unchanged, apart from the fact that the word “insulting” would be removed. If those offences are allowed to remain on the statute book unamended there is a serious danger that people who would have been charged under section 5 will simply be charged under section 4 or section 4A, and all the campaigners who have been celebrating the insertion of clause 42 and the removal of “insulting words or behaviour” from section 5 will be disappointed.

A leading campaigner for the removal of the word “insulting” from section 5 is Mr Peter Tatchell. I suspect that I may disagree with him on other issues, but I hope he will not mind my praying in aid of my argument words of his that appeared on TheHuffington Post website in January 2012:

“Section 4A of the Public Order Act is sufficient to cover any exceptional circumstances requiring prosecution, although its criminalisation of mere insults should also be repealed”.

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It is obvious that Mr Tatchell has looked at this whole field and recognised that there is a need wider than just amending section 5—that it is necessary to amend other provisions in the Public Order Act.

Our country rightly values and defends the right of individuals to freedom of speech and freedom of expression. It is wholly wrong to retain any reference to the term “insulting” in any criminal offences on our statute book. The people of this country are fed up with political correctness. If the House supports these minor amendments, it would be one small step towards restoring the public’s faith in this House and in our country as a place where the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression are cherished.

Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) (Lab/Co-op): I speak on behalf of the Opposition on this collection of amendments. The Bill has been called a Christmas tree because of the number of different issues that have been tacked on to it. This selection of amendments feels a little like a series of tinsels and baubles and some fairy lights, but when those are all put together, they create the Crime and Courts Bill.

Before turning to our amendment 2, I shall make a few brief comments on new clause 18 and amendment 120 tabled by the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes). All of us have sympathy for the concerns that he raises, and we will have seen cases in our own constituencies where people’s lives and families have been devastated by drink-driving. It is disappointing that these amendments were not tabled in Committee. The hon. Gentleman and I spoke at length about various issues, and it would have been good to get some guidance from the Government about the implications of the discussion that he had with them. There are issues that merit further examination, but I am not sure whether Report stage is the right time for that. No doubt we will hear from the Minister about the implications of implementation.

Some issues will need to be taken into account in respect of the powers of magistrates. We all understand and have sympathy with the idea of flexibility in sentencing, but there may be concerns about what that might mean for the sentences handed out. I am not clear what the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate seeks to achieve with amendment 120. He might inadvertently remove the offence of careless driving and I am sure he would not wish to do that. Somebody who gets behind the wheel and is already over the limit through medication would drive carelessly in any case—

Mr Burrowes: The prosecution may want to push forward a prosecution for careless driving with limited independent evidence of standard driving, but the CPS guidance is clear that being over the limit does not in itself amount to carelessness. Relying on that to prosecute for carelessness is not good enough. That is the reason for my amendment, which expresses a concern that the Government need to hear.

Stella Creasy: I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman makes. That is exactly why we needed to test in Committee the consequences of the changes that his amendment would make. That would have allowed us to hear a fuller explanation from the Government of the consequences. I hope I am proved wrong by the Minister and that he will give us an extensive explanation of the potential impact of the amendments. I would

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want clarification of the consequences where an individual involved in an accident might be over the limit through medication but would not be at fault for the accident itself. I welcome rather belatedly the bauble that the hon. Gentleman wishes to add to the Bill and I look forward to the Minister’s response to it.

Amendment 2 reflects the Opposition’s concerns about the implications of the Bill for the laws on drug-driving. We welcome the proposals to make driving while under the influence of illegal drugs against the law. I am disappointed not to see in the Chamber the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell), given the work that he has done on the issue on behalf of his constituent, Lillian Groves. We know that drug-driving will be a substantial offence. We know from the Government’s impact assessment that more than 2,000 people will be affected by the new provision.

As the Minister told the Committee, although it may not be on a scale comparable to drink-driving, it is important that we close the gap that drug-driving has created. However, there is no point in having a power if one cannot put it into practice. Amendment 2 requires the Government to ensure, through an impact assessment, that the clause can be enacted across the country. That will entail looking at the equipment, training and resources that the Home Office, the Department for Transport, the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Prosecution Service have to enable them to implement the law.

Those concerns reflect the debates we had in Committee, when the Government were simply unable to explain what work they had done to ensure that the potential new offence could in fact be prosecuted. We had a number of questions about the logistics of rolling out this policy across the country. With that in mind, I want to ask the Minister a series of questions, which I hope he will answer when he responds.

5.15 pm

First and foremost, the key issue is how well equipped our police forces are to address that new crime. The Home Office’s own briefing states:

“For the most effective enforcement of the new offence, the police will be assisted by the availability of reliable drug testing devices.”

We certainly concur. We all know that the provision of breathalysers makes drink-driving a much clearer and simpler offence to prosecute because evidence can be gathered. The hon. Member for Croydon Central argued strongly in Committee about the importance of the police having the appropriate equipment to deal with the crime.

However, alcohol testing is very different from drug substance testing; alcohol testing requires a test for a single substance, but drug testing will inevitably involve tests for a range of substances, and indeed of a range of substances to find the substance. We already know that the testing equipment will have to be approved by the Home Office. At present, only one item, which tests for cannabis use via an oral saliva swab, has been approved. Indeed, several police forces have reported that they do not have that technology at the moment. When my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) went to see the new machinery in her constituency, she found that they had only one machine, that it needed a full room and that police officers had to wait a full hour before they could access it.

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We already know that police forces do not necessarily have the technology to deal with just one aspect of drug-driving. If there is more than one substance they need to test for, do they have all the equipment they need to be able to test for that wide range of substances? Fortunately, the Policing and Criminal Justice Minister, in response to a parliamentary question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), proved otherwise when he said:

“Once manufactured and type approved, decisions on the number and type of devices to purchase are also operational decisions for chief officers as they will know what best meets their individual force needs.”—[Official Report, 25 February 2013; Vol. 559, c. 116W.]

We have recently seen the expert panel report, which details the sorts of tests the police would be expected to perform and the types of substances they would be expected to test for. It is clear that it is much more complex than testing for drink-driving, so the types of machinery and equipment that the police will need will be much more complex. Indeed, the question of whether a single machine, such as a breathalyser, could be produced to test for every drug that the expert panel has suggested should be tested for is one that I hope the Minister will answer.

Above all, that raises a series of questions about the cost implications for our police forces. We know that police forces are investing in some of that technology. For example, Essex police are investing in the tests for cannabis, but whether they will be able to buy a machine that tests for all drugs is clearly a question of value for money. For the Home Office simply to say that that is a matter for the police to decide is not an appropriate way to proceed, given the importance of getting the offence right.

For example, will the police be able to test for legal highs? I am aware that the expert panel does not think that there is sufficient evidence at present on the impairment generated for a driver, but were that evidence test to change, would the police then have to buy a subsequent set of equipment to be able to deal with that, and what would be the consequences for their budgets? I think that the Minister needs to give us much more information about what he has done to ensure that when this becomes law our police have the equipment they need to deal with every drug that might impair driving. As the Institute of Advanced Motorists has pointed out, unlike alcohol, which is just one drug, the number and range of drugs that can impair someone’s driving is almost incalculable. Designing a piece of machinery that will deal with all of them will prove extremely difficult.

The Opposition want more evidence that the Government have really thought that through so that we do not see people being let down by the inability of the police to deal with particular substances. Indeed, it is not just about being able to test for difference substances; the way different substances are metabolised within people’s systems will also play a part in the effectiveness of the offence. As my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Steve McCabe) argued in Committee, we need to know the level of drugs that will be likely to result in a prosecution. Will it be equivalent to current levels for alcohol and drink-driving offences? What work has been done to show that comparable tests can be achieved?

We welcome the belated publication of the expert panel document, which gives some detail on that, but the question of the ways in which different individuals

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metabolise different drugs will be key to the success of the offence. In particular, we know that co-codamol, which we discussed at length in Committee, can, like heroin, be metabolised in some people’s systems. Questions about how different drugs will be treated and tested are key to the Bill’s enactment, but the Minister admitted in Committee:

“At the moment, I cannot give the Committee the relevant levels. It is difficult for me to defend work that does not yet exist and it is difficult for us to debate it”.––[Official Report, Crime and Courts Public Bill Committee, 7 February 2013; c. 389.]

Ministers have admitted that they do not know what they will be testing for, we do not know whether the police have the necessary equipment to test for it, and the expert panel has set out a wide range of potential tests that might need to be taken.

That leads us to the question of whether the police will be able to gather the appropriate evidence. A response to another parliamentary question tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn revealed that no assessment has been made of the training required by police forces to be able to undertake roadside drug testing. This is a critical issue, because the expert panel itself has pointed out that the most effective evidence on drug offences is gathered at the roadside. The question of whether blood and urine samples will be tested at the roadside will also be a key issue for how the police manage the system. As the expert panel points out, it is widely acknowledged that blood and, to a lesser degree, oral fluids are most likely to give the most accurate measurement of drugs active in the system. Potential prosecutions may rest on whether a substance was in somebody’s system at the time an offence was committed, so accurate evidence is vital.

This is a problem, therefore, not just for our police, but for our courts. As a result of my right hon. Friend’s sterling work in asking parliamentary questions, we have uncovered the fact that the courts do not have the relevant training to deal with questions about differences in metabolism and equipment or to interpret the evidence. That is why we have tabled the amendment to push the Government to be much clearer on how we can all make sure that this particular offence is dealt with successfully. We do not know how the equipment will be developed, how much it will cost or its source. We do not know whether police budgets will be able to extend to the range of equipment they will need, or whether the police will be given appropriate training to collect the necessary samples in the right manner to secure a successful prosecution. It is not unreasonable for Parliament to continue to ask those questions.

I hope that the Minister will not only say that he supports our amendment and the intention behind it, but provide much more detail. In particular, will the Government accept in full the guidelines suggested by the expert panel? Have the Government made provision to ensure that police forces throughout the country are able to purchase the necessary equipment and that they will be able to future-test those purchases when new evidence becomes available about the impact of different drugs as our experience and understanding of issues such as legal highs develops? The amendment seeks to probe the Government to ensure that, at this late stage, they have done more of the homework that we all want to see so that the offence is recognised and families of people such as Lillian Groves can take comfort that Parliament is listening to their concerns.

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In conclusion, I want to speak briefly to amendments 89 and 90. We all enjoyed the opportunity provided in Committee to discuss our favourite insults—whether they be the work of Nye Bevan or Winston Churchill—and, naturally, to repeat them and direct them at each other. However, I want to put on record that the amendments and our concerns about section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 are based on serious worries about its potential impact, particularly on minority communities. We agreed with the Government’s decision not to overturn the other place’s decision to remove the word “insulting” from section 5 on the basis of evidence provided by the Director of Public Prosecutions that all the cases brought so far could have been prosecuted without taking that word into consideration. Nevertheless, concerns have been raised by a number of groups, particularly Stonewall, which points out that 88% of incidents of homophobic abuse that many of the people it represents have experienced involved insults, abuse and harassment. Many of us are also concerned about the Government’s management of debates such as that on the “Innocence of Muslims” film.

There is no such evidence for the changes that the hon. Member for Bury North (Mr Nuttall) wishes to make. I urge him to look again at the distinctions between sections 4 and 4A and section 5 of the 1986 Act, particularly with regard to the role that insults may play in incitement to violence. Given the distinction identified by the Crown Prosecution Service, we are not convinced that the same sort of evidence exists to remove the word “insulting” from sections 4 and 4A as that to remove it from section 5. The Crown Prosecution Service is clear that these are two very different elements of offence. There are different conditions under which sections 4 and 4A of the 1986 Act would be brought forward. I note in particular the number of prosecutions that involve racial or religious harassment that have been brought forward under section 4A.

I urge caution on the hon. Member for Bury North in believing that the issues with the use of the word “insulting” in section 5, which clearly precludes disruptive behaviour, can be translated into sections 4 and 4A in the way that he has tried to do. I urge the Government to exercise extreme caution in considering whether to make such a move and in responding to amendments 89 and 90.

I look forward to the Minister’s response and to a full explanation of just how he will make the offence of drug-driving a reality in this country in the years ahead.

Mr Jeremy Browne: I will talk mainly about drug-driving because that has been the largest part of our debate, but I will pick up on the points that have been made in relation to other amendments.

On drug-driving, it is important that we consider carefully any extra burdens that we place on the police, the Crown prosecutors and the Courts Service when introducing a new offence. The Government published an impact assessment in May last year that considered those issues. It shows that removing the requirement to prove that a driver is impaired will make it easier to enforce the law against drug-drivers.

In 2010, about 40% of the proceedings in magistrates courts for driving while impaired through drugs were withdrawn or dismissed. The comparable figure for exceeding the drink-drive limit is just 3%. In addition, research for Sir Peter North’s review of drink and

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drug-driving law found that in one police force, only 35% of positive preliminary impairment tests led to findings of guilt at court in 2008 and 2009. It is clear, therefore, that the existing law on drug-driving is unsatisfactory, resulting in costs being incurred unnecessarily by the police, the CPS and the courts.

The new offence will reduce the wasted time, expense and effort involved when prosecutions under the existing impairment offence fail. It is not surprising, therefore, that the new offence is supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers. ACPO has been fully involved in the development of the proposal and is fully aware of the resource implications for the police.

Depending on the level at which specified limits are set and on the drugs specified for the offence, it is possible that introducing the new offence, which does not require proof of impairment, will increase the number of proceedings against drug-drivers. However, based on the Government’s estimates, those costs will be more than offset by savings from fewer road deaths and serious injuries. Indeed, the impact assessment published in May 2012 records an overall net saving of some £86 million over a 10-year period.

I acknowledge that, as the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) said, there is still work to be done and that getting the technical details right is difficult and important. Although she said that this work is being done at the last moment, we do not envisage the offence coming into effect until the later part of next year, so there is time to get the details right. The Department for Transport and, where relevant, the Home Office will be concerned to ensure that the details are in place.

The hon. Lady asked about police equipment and training to support the enforcement of the new offence. Equipment was also mentioned by the hon. Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones). We have already granted type approval for the first station-based drug screening device for use in enforcing the existing impairment offence. We are also committed to type approving roadside devices for use in enforcing the new offence. Work on that will be taken forward once we have determined the drugs to be covered by the new offence and the specified limit for each drug. Our aim is to have approved roadside devices available as soon as practicable after the commencement of the new offence. As hon. Members will know, training on the use of new equipment is an operational matter for chief officers in consultation with roadside drug-testing device manufacturers. I acknowledge the validity of the observation made by the hon. Member for Walthamstow that the Government do not have the answers to every question, but I hope that I can reassure the House that the work is ongoing.

Stella Creasy: Will the Minister respond to the question that I asked him about the expert panel, which has set out a series of substances that should be tested for? Will the Government accept its recommendations in full and ensure that every police force can test for all the substances that it has outlined?

5.30 pm

Mr Browne: No final decision has been made on the precise list of what will be tested for. We are grateful for the contributions and representations that have been

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made, and when we are in a position to provide the details we will do so. We obviously want to ensure that a wide range of drugs whose consumption could lead to increased risk on our roads are covered, but the line will need to be drawn somewhere and there will be practical considerations to take into account. We will obviously want to ensure that we inform everybody once the deliberations have run their course.

On new clause 18 and amendment 120, my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes) has explained that he is concerned about the penalty regimes for drink and drug-driving. That is the issue that has exercised people the most, so I think it will be helpful if I dwell on it for a while. The new drug-driving offence created in clause 41 will be subject to the same penalty regime as the existing drink-driving offence of driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit. The penalties available are mandatory disqualification from driving for at least a year, and a fine of up to £5,000, and/or imprisonment for up to six months. In addition, there is the offence in section 3A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, which carries a penalty of up to 14 years’ imprisonment. It is necessary for the prosecution to show that a person’s driving was careless to secure a conviction for that offence.

Section 3ZB of the 1988 Act makes it a criminal offence to cause death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured. The maximum penalty is two years’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both. Amendment 120 would amend that section to include people who were driving with a specified controlled drug in their body in excess of a specified limit. Importantly for my hon. Friend, carelessness does not have to be proved to secure a conviction under that section. I know that he is concerned that requiring the prosecution to prove carelessness puts too great a burden on it, but the Government are not aware of any recent cases in which that has proved problematic. The hon. Member for Walthamstow made that point.

The test for carelessness is broad, and CPS guidance suggests that a wide variety of circumstances should be considered as carelessness. Indeed, in the case of Lillian Groves, which has been raised by the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell)—although he is in another debate now, he has been extremely vigilant in pursuing the case on behalf of his constituents—the driver was convicted of causing death by careless driving. It therefore seems likely that if the new offence had been in force when the tragedy took place, the defendant would have been tried under the section 3A offence, provided that the prosecution could also show that he had a specified controlled drug in his body in excess of the specified limit.

However, if my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate or interested groups can provide evidence that prosecutors are failing to prosecute drivers for the section 3A offence because they cannot show that the driver was careless, the Department for Transport has undertaken to review the case for amending legislation. The changes in the Bill will make a difference, but the carelessness provision already stands and we have no reason to believe that it will prevent prosecutions, as the

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hon. Member for Walthamstow suggested. However, if evidence of that is brought to our attention we will of course consider it properly.

My hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate also proposed new clause 18 that would increase the maximum sentence for the prescribed limit drink-driving offence to two years’ imprisonment. The United Kingdom already has the toughest drink-driving penalties in Europe. Sir Peter North’s 2010 review of drink and drug-driving law examined the penalty regime and did not identify any evidence that would support that increase in the maximum sentence. The Government are not aware of any new evidence that has come to light since the North report was published.

The Government consider that the existing offence framework is sufficient and appropriate, and ensures that those who ought not to be on the roads are removed from them. Where more serious offences are committed—such as where others are hurt or killed—other relevant offences could be pursued. I do not want to suggest in any way that the Government are complacent about or insufficiently vigilant in the face of such matters. We want to make our roads as safe as possible, but it is worth noting that Britain has some of the safest roads anywhere in Europe and the western world. That is due to responsible social attitudes but also the fact that the legal framework in place has been shown to be effective. I understand, however, why people involved in each individual case and each individual tragedy would feel strongly about these matters.

Amendments 89 and 90 in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (Mr Nuttall) bring me to the subject of public order offences. I suggest that the amendments would limit the police’s ability to deal with those who can be shown to be intentionally provoking violence, causing others to fear violence, or causing harassment, alarm or distress to others. They would do that by removing the word “insulting” from the offences under sections 4 and 4A of the Public Order Act 1986.

My hon. Friend may see the amendments as a helpful intervention to bring those sections of the 1986 Act into line with the amendment to section 5 of that Act set out in clause 42, but that would be a mistake as it would ignore the thorough consideration, consultation and debate undertaken by the Government, both here and in the other place, before agreeing to reform section 5. It would also ignore the significant differences between the section 5 offence and the more serious offences described in sections 4 and 4A. This is not just a tidying-up exercise; sections 4 and 4A are materially different from section 5. Offences under sections 4 and 4A require proof of intent to cause harm to another person, and proof that harassment, alarm or distress was both intended and actually caused to another person. The intent and harm caused are the differentiating features of those offences, rather than the likely effect of the words used or behaviour involved.

Using insulting words that cause someone to fear violence against them, or that have the deliberate intention of causing harassment, alarm or distress, is a far more serious matter than the section 5 offence in which the perpetrator might not intend to cause harassment, alarm or distress, and indeed none might have been caused. In the Government’s view, using insulting words or behaviour in the context of sections 4 or 4A oversteps the line between freedom of speech and the freedom of someone

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to live in peace and safety. The line must be drawn somewhere, and the Government believe it right to draw it between sections 4A and 5.

Furthermore, during the long-running campaign that culminated in clause 42, one key argument put forward by those seeking to remove “insulting” from section 5 of the 1986 Act was that removal would not have a negative impact on minority groups. The reasoning behind that was that the police have more appropriate powers available to deal with such unacceptable behaviour under sections 4 and 4A of the 1986 Act. Having accepted that argument as part of the reasoning behind the removal of “insulting” from section 5, it seems perverse to remove the protections for minorities provided by the “insulting” limb in sections 4 and 4A.

In summary, for reasons that I hope I have explained to the satisfaction of the House, the Government are not persuaded of the case for making the same change to section 4 and 4A offences that clause 42 makes to the section 5 offence.

Finally, I ought to speak briefly to the single Government amendment in this group, amendment 84, which provides for the enhanced householder defence provisions in clause 30 to come into force on Royal Assent. Clause 30 is designed to give householders greater latitude to protect themselves in those terrifying circumstances when they are confronted by intruders in their homes. We recognise that it is unusual, although not unprecedented, to commence provisions of this nature on Royal Assent. We would usually allow a gap of at least two months between Royal Assent and commencement, to allow the enforcement agencies time to prepare. However, in this case we are anxious to avoid any unnecessary delay in delivering a coalition commitment and, more important, a tangible enhancement of the protection that householders have to defend themselves. The Government have discussed the amendment with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, which are content with clause 30 being commenced on Royal Assent. We think the public would find it difficult to understand why commencement had been delayed beyond Royal Assent, particularly if a householder was attacked by an intruder in the intervening period while acting to protect themselves or family members, but could not rely on the heightened householder defence.

For all the reasons I have set out, I would invite Opposition Members and my hon. Friends the Members for Enfield, Southgate and for Bury North not to press their amendments. I recognise that I cannot provide the House with all the practical details of the methods that police forces will use to test for drug-driving, but we are at the broad legislative phase, not the practical implementation phase. I can assure the House that we will no doubt discuss such practical considerations in due course, but they are not necessary to approve the proposed legislation before us.

Stella Creasy: Given the Minister’s open, earnest and welcome admission that he cannot answer the questions raised today and that the spirit of our amendment 2 is precisely to get at that information, will he tell the House when we will have that information about the implementation of the offence and the ability of our police forces and courts to deal with it? After all, our amendment calls for information one year after the introduction of the offence, which seems a reasonable

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amount of time to expect police forces to deal with it, so can he explicitly set out for the House when he expects to report back on these issues?

Mr Browne: The Government will publish a revised impact assessment alongside our consultation on the drugs to be covered by the new offence and the limit for each, and we will revise it again, if required, before the draft regulations are laid before Parliament. As the regulations are subject to the affirmative procedure, they will need to be debated and approved by each House before they can be made and come into force. Given the requirement to consult on the draft regulations and then to have them approved, we are working on the basis that the new offence will come into force in the latter half of 2014, as I said a few moments ago.

On that basis, I would suggest that requiring a full evaluation of the impact of the new offence just 12 months after Royal Assent would be premature. However, I can assure the House that the Government will commission research to evaluate the effectiveness of the new offence once it is in operation. The research will take account of the impact of the new offence on the police, prosecutors and the courts. The results of such research will be published on the Department for Transport’s website. A lot of the responsibility sits with the Department for Transport rather than the Home Office, but I am not in a position to give the hon. Lady a definitive date when these matters can be considered in detail. All I can give is an assurance that this work is being undertaken and that opportunities will exist to consider such matters. I say this entirely in a spirit of openness, but I see no reason why we would not wish to give Members in all parts of the House an opportunity to consider the progress the Government have made when we are in a position to bring forward proposals that will stimulate a debate and consideration of that type.

With that, I hope that Members will see fit not to press their amendments, and I commend Government amendment 84 to the House.

Mr Burrowes: I welcome the debate on new clause 18. The hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) referred to the proposals as a “bauble”, but this is a serious matter and I am not sure that the victims, the police and the road safety charities behind the new clause would appreciate it being referred to as a bauble. However, I appreciate that her comments were being made in the general context of the Bill.

5.45 pm

I have received some criticism for tabling the new clause and amendment 120 at a rather late stage in the proceedings. However, the issue was raised last year with the Department for Transport, and hon. Members will recall that my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell) and I raised the matter on Second Reading. My hon. Friend has rightly been lauded for his excellent campaign on the issue. We relied at the time on the explanatory notes to the Bill, and we received assurances that a person who killed someone when driving while over the limit in relation to drugs or alcohol would face the prospect of being charged with the offence of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, which carries a heavy penalty. On the basis of those assurances, we

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proceeded to the Bill Committee, where my hon. Friend the Minister gave further clarification and assurances that the gap that I have described had already been filled. Subsequently, however, we have realised that there is a need for further clarity.

I welcome the Minister’s response to the new clause. I also welcome the fact that he and the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond), recognise that this is an important issue. I appreciate the Minister’s openness in saying that if the necessary evidence were to come to light, an undertaking would be made to review the case for amending the legislation. That is a welcome commitment.

Only 27 people were charged with causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, even though 220 deaths were classified as having that as a contributory factor, which suggests that there is a gap. I invite the Government to work with me to get beneath those figures and find out why that difference exists between those two numbers. There is also a difference between the number of people tried for the offence, which was 27, and the number of people convicted, which was zero. Is there perhaps an over-reliance on the simple offence of driving with excess alcohol or while over the limit in relation to drugs?

I will seek to meet the Minister’s challenge to me and others to bring any additional evidence to the Government’s attention. I hope that there will then be a joint investigation into that evidence that will culminate in the Government fulfilling their obligation to amend the legislation appropriately. In the light of the Minister’s assurances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 18

Judicial appointments

The Solicitor-General (Oliver Heald): I beg to move amendment 22, page 17, line 21, at end insert—

‘Part 4A amends the selection procedure for certain senior judicial appointments until Part 4 of the Schedule is in force,’.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendments 10 to 21.

Amendment 100, page 224, line 42, schedule 13, at end insert—

‘Each of the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice must at all times engage in a programme of action which is designed—

(a) to secure, so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so, that appointments to listed judicial offices are such that those holding such offices are reflective of the community in England and Wales;

(b) to require the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so, to secure that a range of persons reflective of the community in England and Wales is available for consideration by the Judicial Appointments Commission whenever it is required to select a person to be appointed, or recommended for appointment, to a listed judicial office.’.

Government amendments 23 to 59.

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New clause 7—Enforcement services

‘(1) The Legal Services Act 2007 is amended as follows.

(2) After section 125 insert—

125A (1) For the purposes of this Part (and sections 1, 21 and 27 as they apply in relation to this Part)—

(a) the Bailiffs and Enforcement Agents Council is to be treated as an approved regulator;

(b) enforcement services are to be treated as a reserved legal activity;

(c) a person authorised under sections 63 and 64 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act services is to be treated as an authorised person in relation to that activity;

(d) the Bailiffs and Enforcement Agents Council is to be treated as a relevant authorising body in relation to such a person, and

(e) regulations under the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and the National Standards for Enforcement Agents are to be treated as regulatory arrangements of the Bailiffs and Enforcement Agents Council as an approved regulator.

(2) For the purposes of sections 112 and 145 (as extended by this section), a person authorised under sections 63 and 64 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act, is to be treated as a “relevant authorised person” in relation to the Regulator.”.’.

New clause 17—Protection of vulnerable debtors

‘(1) At any time after a notice required under paragraph 7, Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 is served on a debtor, the debtor may apply to the court to stay or suspend the notice on terms on either of the following grounds—

(a) the enforcement action being taken is disproportionate to the debt and circumstances involved; and

(b) the debtor’s goods may be insufficient in value to satisfy the debt involved.

(2) The court may, in its discretion and if satisfied with the above grounds, suspend or stay any judgment or order given or made in prior proceedings for such time and on such terms as the court thinks fit.

(3) Enforcement proceedings under Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 are proceedings for the purposes of section 71(2) and section 88 of the County Court Act 1984.

(4) Subject to the regulations under section 64 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 complaints against holders of certificates shall be considered by a designated judge and may include both complaints regarding compliance with the terms of certification as well as the exercise of legal powers under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. Further to which—

(a) the designated judge may, on consideration of a complaint, exercise powers under section 64 to suspend or cancel a holder’s certificate; and

(b) the designated judge shall publish an annual report.

(5) The Lord Chancellor shall periodically review data concerning complaints against holders of certificates, update guidance where evidence of bad practice arises and respond to any recommendations set out in a report under subsection 2 within six months.’.

Government new clause 5—Supreme Court chief executive, officers and staff.

Government new clause 6—Making and use of recordings of Supreme Court proceedings.

Government amendments 60, 77 to 80, 82 and 83.

The Solicitor-General: I shall start by speaking to the Government amendments, but I should also like to hear the comments of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw), the hon. Member for Darlington (Jenny

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Chapman) and my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Mr Buckland), if he arrives. I shall start with amendments 22, 57 and 58.

As hon. Members will be aware, the Government are making a number of changes to the judicial appointments process, including to the selection process for the Lord Chief Justice and the heads of division. As part of the changes, the details of the selection process that are currently in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 will move into secondary legislation. There are many reasons for doing that, and many improvements are being made. There is an urgency to this, however, because the Lord Chief Justice is about to retire and we hope that it will be possible to deal with the new appointment and any consequential appointment of a head of division under the new system rather than the old. The amendments aim to achieve that by briefly inserting the new selection process into the 2005 Act, so that it applies to the appointment of Lord Judge’s successor. I must stress that it will be a transitory measure and will cease to have effect after the appointment of the next Lord Chief Justice and any consequent head of division. It is then intended that the secondary legislation will follow.

Amendments 25 to 55 deal with the technical aspects of the change to the Lord Chancellor’s role in the judicial appointments process, including the transfer to the Lord Chief Justice or the Senior President of Tribunals, as appropriate, of the power to decide upon selections made by the Judicial Appointments Commission for certain judicial offices below the High Court. The Government intend to retain the Lord Chancellor’s role in all other aspects of these appointments, particularly terms and conditions for fixed-term judicial appointments where a fee is paid. However, the Bill currently transfers the power to renew, or to refuse to renew, fixed-term judicial appointments to the Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of Tribunals. Amendments 25 to 55 therefore amend schedule 13 so that that power is retained with the Lord Chancellor. They ensure that, in exercising that role, the Lord Chancellor must, as now, if deciding not to renew a fixed-term appointment, comply with any requirement to secure the consent of the Lord Chief Justice or Senior President of Tribunals.

Amendments 23 and 24 also deal with the selection process for judicial appointments and the move from primary to secondary legislation. As part of these changes, the original idea was to move the requirement for there to be on the commission a commissioner with special knowledge of Wales into secondary legislation, but on further consideration, the Government decided that it was important to retain an appropriate level of input by a lay member of the commission with a special knowledge of Wales and that that requirement should remain in primary legislation. The amendments therefore reinstate the requirement in the 2005 Act that those selecting persons for appointment as commissioners should ensure, as far as practicable, that there is at least one lay commissioner with special knowledge of Wales.

Amendment 59 relates to the judicial deployment provisions in schedule 14. The objective is to give the Lord Chief Justice more flexibility in deploying judges to different courts and tribunals. That supports an important objective for the Government because it means that judges can be used efficiently. Individual judges will also benefit, if they have a wider breadth of experience and can develop their judicial careers as a result. The

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policy was brought forward in partnership with the judiciary and the aim has always been to move forward collectively in the delivery of our shared aims and objectives. After further consultation with the judiciary and further thought, it has been decided that the particular skills and experience needed in the Crown court mean that it should be removed from the flexible deployment provisions. Those matters should be dealt with by Crown court judges, as happens now.

Amendments 10 to 21 are technical and minor amendments dealing with the single family court provisions. I can be brief, because there is only one point of substance. At the moment, magistrates courts can vary maintenance orders registered with them, but because in future the family courts will be able to issue those orders, it is necessary to provide that magistrates will no longer have that variation power, which will lie with the family courts—a victory for the Committee, the other place and, of course, the Government.

New clause 5 relates to the appointment of the chief executive of the UK Supreme Court. I am confident it will be welcomed. A new clause along similar lines was tabled in the other place and again here in Committee. The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice said at the time that we were going to discuss the matter with the powers that be. The appointments process for the chief executive of the UK Supreme Court has been discussed with the president of the Court, and I am pleased to report that those discussions have been successfully concluded, and the Government have therefore tabled the new clause with the Court’s agreement. Thus the president of the UK Supreme Court, not the Lord Chancellor, is responsible for the appointment of the chief executive. It is no longer necessary for the chief executive to agree the staffing structure with the Lord Chancellor, and the provision also clarifies that the Court’s officers and staff will be civil servants—something that needed to be done.

New clause 6 deals with broadcasting in the Supreme Court. To clarify matters, clause 28 expressly disapplies section 9 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, which prohibits sound recordings in court, to facilitate court broadcasting below the UK Supreme Court. It looks odd not to confirm at the same time that the Supreme Court is able to be exempt, so new clause 6 achieves that. Let me be clear that this is about clarifying the matter; there is no question that this has caused any problem in the past.

Amendments 60, 77, 78 and 82 make consequential amendments. I now reach the point where I can say that I am looking forward to hearing the right hon. Member for Blackburn and other colleagues presenting their new clauses and amendments.

Jenny Chapman (Darlington) (Lab): I shall address my remarks to the Government amendments, but also to new clause 7, which deals with bailiffs, and amendment 100 on judicial diversity.

Let me start with a positive. We are pleased that the Government have seen fit to include new clause 5. These provisions were debated favourably in the other place and were introduced by the Opposition in Committee. The creation of the Supreme Court was, I think, an excellent achievement of the previous Government and it is right that Ministers have accepted the argument put to them by the Opposition and many in the profession

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for a further transfer of powers to strengthen the Court’s independence. We welcome the Government’s agreement with the recommendations and their decision to include in the Bill these important changes.

Continuing on a positive note, we completely accept the other Government new clauses and I am sure that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, will be pleased that a member of the Judicial Appointments Commission will have special knowledge of Wales in the future.

Amendment 100 was tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw). I have not heard what he is about to say, but I feel confident that I should agree with it. The Opposition are strongly in favour of that amendment. My noble Friend Baroness Hale gave a lecture a few weeks ago, in which she stated she was going to

“start by taking it for granted that judicial diversity is a good thing.”

For the purposes of this debate, I shall use a few more words to echo the arguments that will be put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, but I think the House will agree that my noble Friend also speaks with considerable expertise on this issue.

The Government have recognised in the Bill that diversity in our judiciary is desirable, and unless we hold with the idea that talent is innately concentrated in one social group, we must acknowledge that for every exceptional judge we have, we are losing out on able candidates because we do not do enough to find them. Measures to support diversity seek not to give credit where it is not due, but to encourage ability wherever it may be found. We have seen many instances where it has been argued that merit and diversity are mutually exclusive, but we have argued that a diverse judiciary is not artificial or missing out on talent—it is quite the other way round. Diversity matters in both principle and practice. A judiciary that incorporates a range of voices, backgrounds and experiences brings more to the table. The differences, as Baroness Hale put it,

“add variety and depth to all decision-making.”

6 pm

The amendment confers a duty on the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice

“as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so”

—that is important—to encourage the establishment of a judiciary that better reflects the society that it serves. That brings many obvious and stated benefits, not least public confidence in the courts.

One of the major strengths of the amendment is that it has a precedent. It is modelled directly on a law in Northern Ireland that was implemented to ensure that all sections of society were respected in judicial appointments. It is popular across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland, and has met with considerable success there. I understand that it is reasonably uncontroversial. A second strength of the amendment is that it is in the spirit of the diversity provisions that are already in the Bill. It does not specify process or demand the filling of quotas, and it is in keeping with the aim to bring about a long-term shift in the present culture. It asks for awareness, intelligent decision making, and encouragement for the best from every

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background to enter the profession. We are rightly proud of our judiciary, and we want that pride to continue.

The Government have taken some welcome steps in the Bill, not least the introduction of flexible working conditions and the tipping-point provision, and I commend them for that. As I am sure they recognise, however, the limit of the tipping point is that it requires a candidate to reach that point in the first place. We need a good pool from which to recruit. Opening up the possibilities of recruitment and promotion in the profession is vital if we are to gain the best and the brightest young people from the length and breadth of our constituencies. I do not know how many of my constituents have become judges. I assume that some have, but probably not as many as I would wish.

The amendment is a proven and highly desirable provision. It proposes a small change in the law that would present opportunities for many more talented individuals to prove their ability to guard and interpret the law as members of the judiciary. It represents welcome progress, although it is long overdue. Should my right hon. Friend wish to press it to a vote, he will have our support.

New clause 7, entitled “Enforcement services”, deals with the issue of an independent complaints procedure for bailiff practice. It allows a complainant against a bailiff redress through an ombudsman. The issue has some history in relation to the Bill, in which this important provision has previously been included. I am grateful for the opportunity to bring it back to the House, but it is more than a little disappointing to have to argue yet again for its inclusion in the face of Government opposition.

The new clause amends the Legal Services Act 2007 to provide for enforcement services to be treated as a reserved legal activity, which means that the Office for Legal Complaints would have jurisdiction to deal with complaints about bailiffs. It was first introduced as an amendment by Baroness Meacher, who said that it

“seeks to provide some protection for vulnerable people who have suffered unacceptably at the hands of a bailiff.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 18 December 2012; Vol. 741, c. 1475.]

It was supported by a majority of the Lords, who passed it in a Government defeat.

The fact that aggressive and unlawful bailiff action is a problem that is both serious and too widespread is not in contention. The Government’s consultation has acknowledged the unacceptable occurrence of intimidating, aggressive and threatening behaviour by some in the bailiff industry. Citizens advice bureaux report receiving over 24,000 complaints against private bailiff practice in 2011 and 2012. After too many months of silence following their consultation, the Government have made a great deal over the past few weeks of their intention to transform bailiff action, but their proposal is to implement part 3 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 introduced by the previous Government, which codified over 800 years of enforcement law and paved the way for extensive reform to challenge bad practice. Part 3 sets out improved procedures and rules for the seizure of goods, including scope for regulations to be brought forward on a clear fee structure.

Credit is due on both sides of the House for recognising that problem. Some of the Government’s proposals, in particular regarding banning the use of force against

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the person, are to be commended, but, unfortunately, that is where the congratulations should end. The previous Government laid out the foundations of the Act with the intention of building on them. It was, and remains, the Opposition’s position that the clarification of enforcement law should be backed by a robust independent system of regulation. The enhanced certification regime is a key thread of the Government’s package and was intended as an interim measure en route to this long-term goal. The Government have not only stopped, but settled halfway along that road and so are offering a bit of a half-hearted solution.

New clause 7 provides for one small but central element in an independent regulatory system: an independent grievance process. The Government’s position is that such a system is unnecessary, but we disagree, as did the majority of the advice sector respondents to the Department’s consultation. They do not believe that the in-house system of complaints in relation to enforcement firms is objective or adequate. Rather than building on the foundations of the Act, the Government chose in Committee to knock down the progress that had been made and to force the removal of the new clause.

In Committee, the Minister suggested that the vote on that provision in the Lords was born out of frustration that the Government had not yet responded to its consultation on bailiff action. I wonder whether he will now concede that support for the provision is born out of frustration that the Government have responded, but have done so disappointingly, and have prevented an effective and reasonable safeguard from being included.

The Minister centred his argument on the premise that the Government’s proposals will make a robust complaints procedure unnecessary. He said that things have “moved on” and that most of the reasons for current complaints will be removed. It is not good enough for the Government to say “We’ve dealt with this and there will be fewer problems next year”. We do not believe that.

Members across this House know what is facing families in the months to come. In the next year, hundreds of families, including many working households, will be hit by the 1% uprating of social security, the bedroom tax, cuts to working tax credit and many other austerity measures. I am not making a political point here; I am just observing that that is the case. We predict that many people will be pushed into tough times and will have to face bailiffs for the first time.

The Minister acknowledged in Committee that there will be cases where “things go wrong”. The Government’s consultation acknowledges that there is confusion over who should deal with complaints against bailiffs, not least among the victims. Citizens advice bureau guidance for victims of aggressive action has to navigate the variety of factors that govern what complaints can be taken where, including the unhelpful truth that a victim might have to ask the aggressive agent where they should register a complaint. We should not tolerate that.

We do not hold with the Government’s arguments for removing the new clause. The Minister has stated that he believes it subjects the industry to over-burdensome regulation, and that the Government’s proposals offer a more “measured and proportionate” response to concerns. We simply disagree with that. Ombudsmen are not extraordinary in public life. They are pretty much the norm, and we have them in the fields of health, housing, local government, financial services, legal services,

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telecommunications and prisons. Do we really believe it is disproportionate for a person who has redress to an ombudsman over a phone bill disagreement also to have redress to an ombudsman if their door is kicked down or their family are threatened by an aggressive bailiff?

The Minister also made the point in Committee that some bailiff practice is already subject to the jurisdiction of the local government ombudsman. If ombudsman action is appropriate for some complaints, why do the Government believe it is not appropriate for all complaints? In particular, why would they hold it disproportionate to ensure that the entire private bailiff sector, which generates the vast majority of complaints, is covered, rather than just the public sector work?

We believe that an independent complaints procedure is an important and necessary safeguard, and would like to see it re-included in the Bill. An ombudsman can provide objective redress, root out bad behaviour, publish data on good and bad practice, and suggest improvements. I should make it clear to the House, just as Baroness Meacher made it clear in another place, that the legal ombudsman is able and willing to take on that role, which is compatible with other responsibilities of that office. This is a volatile area, and we would like the Government to commit to a robust complaints procedure.

The Solicitor-General: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Jenny Chapman: I was about to finish, but I will give way.

The Solicitor-General: Under the Legal Services Act 2007, the legal ombudsman only investigates cases about the service provided to the customer; it deals only with legal services that have been badly provided. If we were to say, “Oh well, let’s include bailiff services”, that would be very nice for the creditor, who would be able to report to the legal services ombudsman, but it would not help the debtors. They are the people for whom the hon. Lady is speaking, but they would not be able to complain to the legal services ombudsman because a service is not being provided to them.

Jenny Chapman: It was not me who made that suggestion; it came from the legal services ombudsman. So clearly there is a way around this matter and the Minister may wish to explore that a bit further. His intervention shows that the Government are not going to do this, but we would like them to commit to a robust complaints procedure to sort out the problems that our constituents face. They deserve access to a robust complaints procedure when things go wrong, as they too often do, so we hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will support our proposal.

Mr Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con): I shall speak briefly in support of a probing proposal, my new clause 17. I listened carefully to the speech made by the hon. Member for Darlington (Jenny Chapman), and I entirely share and sympathise with the thrust of her argument: we do need to make sure that the regulation of the behaviour of bailiffs is not just about certification; and the continuing behaviour of individual bailiffs does need to be monitored, tracked and adequately assessed, so that regulations are adjusted to keep pace with changing practices in debt collection.

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We all know that debt collection is a sad fact of life that affects a large number of our constituents. We have all, in our case loads, doubtless come across worrying stories about abuses of power. It is right to acknowledge that the Government are moving, with their transformative agenda, to address large parts of the concerns that Members rightly have. Using the existing legislation to create new regulations is a good step forward. Importantly, the strengthening of the certification process, in the form of training and the like, is a valuable way forward, as is the creation of the new fixed-fee system. As I have already said, that deals only with the point of certification and not with practice. We must be realistic and we must acknowledge that taking a snapshot of the behaviour of individual bailiffs will not deal with many of the problems that beset people who are in debt but still deserve to be treated with respect.

6.15 pm

My new clause takes a slightly different course from the Opposition amendment. It seeks to build on existing structures in Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service and to use those mechanisms to create a system whereby individuals who have been wronged can make complaints and seek redress of grievance. The grounds I have set out relate to behaviour that is disproportionate to the debt and circumstances involved and to a situation where the debtor’s goods are insufficient in value to satisfy the debt. Giving the court the discretion to stay orders made in prior proceedings is, I submit, a cost-effective, streamlined and appropriate way of building in the extra check and balance that is needed in the system of regulation.

My new clause does not stop there but goes on to deal in subsection (2) with the discretion of the court. Importantly, subsection (5) would give power to the Lord Chancellor to review data on complaints and allow the regulatory framework to be updated when, as a result of that review, a body of evidence demonstrates that change is needed. There are some concerns that the creation of such a system could lead to a flood of applications that would mean that the debt enforcement system fell into some form of disrepute. I do not accept that. I believe that the creation of such systems incentivises the behaviour of bailiffs so that their standard of conduct becomes even better. That is the thrust of the Government’s reforms and, I think, the combined will of Parliament. We want to see a change of culture and a constant striving for improvement.

My proposal would create a more streamlined procedure than the ombudsman path. It is simple, clear and allows individuals to have proper redress against bad bailiff behaviour. I agree that challenging the certification of bailiffs is important, but that path is hardly ever used. Unless there is a concomitant increase in the number of challenges to certification, I am worried that the system will not keep pace, however well intentioned the reforms are, with the change that so many of our constituents quite rightly demand.

As I have said, my new clause is a probing amendment. I look forward to hearing the comments of my hon. Friend the Solicitor-General in response to the arguments outlined by me and others.

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Mr Jack Straw (Blackburn) (Lab): I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Jenny Chapman) for her remarks in support of amendment 100, which we have tabled along with other hon. Friends, and to the Solicitor-General for what he had to say in anticipation of my remarks. I look forward to his acceptance of my amendment and to the other changes, which I broadly endorse, to the 2005 arrangements for judicial appointments.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has 12 justices. Just one has been a woman—Baroness Hale. Towards the end of last year, three vacancies on the Supreme Court bench arose. A special panel, as provided by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, was established to fill those vacancies. I am quite sure that the panel applied itself to the highest standards for the selection process. The candidates who were successful are all jurists of the highest quality. Their names were announced last month. All three are men. So this country’s highest court will, for the foreseeable future, continue to be composed of 11 men and one woman. Therein lies the problem.

As the President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, said last year in evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee,

“if…women are not less good judges than men, why are 80% or 90% of judges male? It suggests, purely on a statistical basis, that we do not have the best people because there must be some women out there who are better than the less good men who are judges.”

The figures are stark: the further up the judicial ladder you go, the fewer and fewer women there are to be found.

My hon. Friend the Member for Darlington referred to the important lecture that Baroness Hale gave recently. Baroness Hale set out the figures:

“22.5% of the judges in the ordinary courts…are women and 4.2% are British minority ethnic…Only 26.6% of the upper tribunal judiciary are women, though 11% are BME.”

When we get to the High Court, just 15% are women and 4.5% BME; 10% of Court of Appeal judges are women; none is black or Asian. She said that

“none of the five heads of division is a woman or BME; and in the Supreme Court there is still only me and the only ethnic minorities we have are the Scots and the Irish…The average”—

for judiciaries—

“across the countries in the Council of Europe is 52% men and 48% women. At 23% England and Wales is fourth from the bottom, followed only by Azerbaijan, Scotland and Armenia.”

These days everyone—more or less—agrees with Lord Neuberger’s sentiment that women are just as qualified to do any job, including the top jobs, as are men. The problem is that, for the judiciary, the system is simply not delivering the equality of outcome that we all seek. It was supposed to do so. When the current statutory system of judicial appointments was established in 2005, one of the arguments advanced for the new, independent Judicial Appointments Commission was that it would be able to advance the diversity of the judiciary in terms both of gender and of ethnicity.

Initially, progress with that commission was frustratingly slow, as both I, as Lord Chancellor, and my permanent secretary, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, repeatedly made clear to its then chair. I happily concede that there have been some more recent improvements, and I know of the personal commitment of the new chair, Chris Stephens,

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to see the commission do better, and of the steps he is taking. Those steps are necessary but, with respect to Mr Stephens, they are not in my view sufficient.

Part of the problem has been the wording of the 2005 Act, which requires the Judicial Appointments Commission to select solely “on merit”. I will come back to that loaded concept in a moment. The Bill seeks to qualify “on merit” by a provision in part 2 of schedule 13 which essentially allows the commission, where it judges that there are

“two persons of equal merit”,

to choose the woman, or the black or Asian candidate.

I am not cavilling, and that provision may help a little, but some of this country’s much better legal brains than me tell me that it can only help a little, since “merit” is likely to be narrowly defined for these purposes. Indeed, one of Lady Hale’s colleagues on the Supreme Court, Lord Sumption, has challenged the whole idea of equal merit. He was formerly a member of the Judicial Appointments Commission, and he said that at the

“upper end of the ability range there is usually clear water between every candidate once one looks at them in detail.”

He went on:

“If you dilute the principle of selecting only the most talented candidates by introducing criteria other than individual merit, you will by definition end up with a bench on which there are fewer outstanding people. But there is a more serious problem even than that. It is the impact that the change would have on applications.”

Happily, Lord Sumption’s view is not shared by Lady Hale, as her recent lecture made clear, nor, it would seem, by the president of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, who, I believe, is on the side of light and whose frustration with the present outcomes shone through in a recent interview he gave to The Guardian in which he dissected the concept of merit—that is my gloss, not his words—and discussed how loaded it could be in practice. He said of the appointment process:

“I’m not saying there is a subconscious bias…what worries me is that we may all be suffering from a subconscious bias which by definition may be difficult to show or to prove.”

It might, he suggested, be a subconscious expectation of

“having an image of a judge with…male-type qualities and a male appearance. I’m not saying we do have that but there’s a risk that we do and it’s difficult to know how to cater for it.”

I agree entirely.

When I joined the House 34 years ago, just 19 Members—less than 3%—were women. Today, there are 143 women MPs, or 22% of the 650—seven times the proportion when I became an MP. The Labour party has managed to increase its proportion of women MPs to over a third; the Conservatives are now up to 15%. The proportion of black and Asian MPs is now up to 4.2%. For the first time in my parliamentary career, the House of Commons is beginning to look more like the society it represents, but the numbers are still not good enough.

We know two things. First, progress could not have been achieved without the special measures for women’s selection pioneered by my party, and commendably adopted in modified form by the Conservative party. Secondly, there is absolutely no evidence that the quality of women MPs, or of black and Asian MPs, is any less than that of white men. I do not at this stage suggest

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that we adopt similar measures of explicit positive discrimination for the judiciary, although it may come to that if we continue to trail badly in the league tables. Canada adopted positive discrimination measures, which made a big difference to representation on the bench, and it has certainly not affected the quality of the Canadian judiciary.

Instead, the amendments that I have tabled with my hon. Friends would put on the statute book provisions that have been law in part of the United Kingdom for nine years, and which are plainly working, as my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington set out. Amendment 100 is a direct lift from provisions of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004. The Minister may say in his reply that the Government are doing quite a lot, and urge us to look, for example, at paragraph 11 of schedule 13 on page 224 of the Bill. The problem—although that measure is better than other provisions—is that it requires the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice to