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Lord Windlesham: My Lords, perhaps I may comment on Amendment No. 85. During the debate on the first day of Committee I asked the Minister for information about the services provided to victims and witnesses in Scotland and the way in which they compared with the practice in Crown Courts in England and Wales. I was unable to be in the Chamber on the

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second day of Committee when the Minister replied; the amendments were taken in a different sequence and he did not reply until then.

However, he gave a considered reply, for which I thank him. It appears at cols. 466 and 467 of the Official Report of 16th January 1995. He explained that court-based social workers in Scotland were required to provide information, advice and support to victims of crime. He went on to explain that there were in place standards which emphasise certain matters; for instance, that the victims appearing are often under severe stress and so forth. The Minister's comments ended with a resounding assertion that he hoped that what he had said would reassure me. He said:

    "we respond quite as vigorously north of the Border as is done south of the Border to the needs of victims as they come to court".—[Official Report, 16/1/95; col. 467.]

I wish to press the noble and learned Lord and to ask for further information. However, first, I repeat my interest as President of Victim Support for England and Wales. That is the reason why I intervene in a Scottish debate. The principles are the same. I think we can all agree that the way victims and witnesses are treated in our criminal courts should be the same north or south of the Border.

In the past year or two a formal new additional service has been provided in the Crown Courts of England and Wales. I refer to the Crown Court witness service—I have the descriptive leaflet in my hand—which now exists in 50 of the courts. The number was initially 30. The service is directly funded by the Home Office for the purpose of providing enhanced services for victims and witnesses. Before that court-based probation officers had certain responsibilities for witnesses who came to court. They could help with witnesses, whether or not they were victims. They were already there as part of the existing services in the Crown Courts. The witness service is an additional new service of trained, salaried people with a specific responsibility and with accommodation in court for victim witnesses who appear in the court. Those people are assisted by a rota of volunteers. I did not detect from the Minister of State's answer whether what is happening in Scotland is comparable with that or whether these responsibilities, which are described in cols. 466 and 467 of the Official Report of 16th January, of the court-based social workers are in place already. If the Minister is not in a position to elucidate further now, perhaps he can do so at a later stage and inform me and the House of the outcome.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, I hope that I can give my noble friend something of a response. In short, we do not have the same system in place that he indicates is in place in a number of courts, but not all courts, in England at the present time.

Lord Windlesham: It is more than half.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, as I sought to set out in my opening remarks on the amendment, we envisage that a number of different agencies have to participate. It may be the police at an early stage; it may

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be the procurator fiscal; in some circumstances it will be the clerk of the court; and in some circumstances it may be the social worker. The report of the work undertaken at Hamilton Sheriff Court revealed that if the system were to be effective it would be necessary to ensure that all those different agencies at different stages played their part. Our view is that that is the best way to develop the system in Scotland, although we watch with great interest how the system is developing in England. We shall watch to see what difficulties are encountered and how they are resolved.

I should like to make it clear that we do, as is the case south of the Border, offer very significant support to Victim Support (Scotland). Some £878,000 is being paid in the current year. Additionally—this is important with regard to the way victims are treated—my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate is proposing to set up a working party to monitor the way in which civilian witness statements are taken. He hopes that Victim Support (Scotland) will agree to participate in that group.

I hope that my noble friend will be reassured that we are well aware of the importance of ensuring that there is proper regard for the rights and dignity of victims and that we are approaching the matter on a broad basis.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their support for these amendments and the noble and learned Lord the Minister for his reply. I agree that the amendments need considerable tidying up. They were inadequately drafted. Services to victims in Scotland need to be publicised more. The way ahead to redress the balance between care for offenders and care for victims could be through publicity. I am glad that noble Lords accept the principle of our case. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 [Lists of potential jurors]:

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 5, line 14, leave out ("for") and insert ("after").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if I speak also to Amendment No. 4. The two amendments are interrelated. We have discussed this issue at earlier stages of the Bill and indeed on other occasions. I have put down the amendments once more in the hope that the Government will think again about interfering with the present method of selecting jurors and objecting to jurors in criminal trials in Scotland. I had the opportunity to have a brief word with the Minister. I understand that the Government are not prepared to alter their views at this stage.

The occupation of prospective jurors is a useful guide to the defence in deciding which jurors should be challenged. In a variety of cases and variety of circumstances in the courts it may be that certain people should not be on a jury. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate said during the Committee stage that the beauty—he did not use that word but that is how I interpreted it—of the system is that it is random. A random system which leads to imbalance in the composition of a jury is a bad system.

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The removal of the occupation of jurors from the list means that the selection will be completely at random and imbalances might arise—for example, as has already been said, in major cases involving fraud or even murder. Logically, if the clause is to go through, the address of a prospective juror should be removed as well. We know only too well from major murder cases in Scotland that certain areas, unfortunately, in major cities in Scotland—and no doubt in England and Wales—are designated as areas of high crime and areas from which people might or might not want people for their juries. There are areas of perceived high respectability at the other end of the scale.

The system of selecting juries in Scotland has worked well to date and is a quick and effective way of selecting jurors. The Government's proposals could lead us down the road of the American system of jury selection under which, as I understand it, potential jurors are investigated and interrogated on almost every aspect not only of their own lives but of their families' lives. In the current O.J. Simpson trial I have had the advantage of seeing a questionnaire which was sent to every prospective juror. It was to be filled in without consulting anyone and on the basis that the juror was on oath (although the document was sent to him) and that anything said would be investigated and if it were found to be incorrect the juror could be charged with perjury. The number of questions in that document was just short of 300.

I know that that situation is a long way down the road but I pose the question and say that any temptation to follow that system would be ill advised. The investigation of potential jurors in Scotland by such means would be ridiculously expensive, time consuming and unnecessarily intrusive. The present system is basically fair and inexpensive and should be retained.

This clause is to some extent linked with the amendment on peremptory challenge of three jurors which is available to the defence in the criminal courts. Amendment No. 5 has been linked with an amendment in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey. The problem is that the Crown has great facilities for knowing who the prospective jurors are. For example, it knows who a particular person living in a particular area is; it knows whether he has a criminal record; it knows this and it knows that. It can easily object to jurors on cause shown by a nod and a wink to the defence. As I have said, the defence normally go along with the Crown on these matters. The defence have no access to that information. It has no way of knowing the occupation, if any, of prospective jurors.

This leads to a system which I believe is unfair. At Committee stage I posed the question whether, as a logical consequence to the passing of this amendment moved by the Government, the defence would be allowed an early list of jurors. In any high court or solemn proceedings in Scotland a list of jurors who are to be allocated to a case, whether or not it proceeds, is provided so that those advising the accused can see from where the jury members come, who they may be and whether or not they may be worthy of investigation (or such investigation as may be proper without annoying prospective jurors). They may advise the accused that

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certain jurors should not be on the jury. The proposed omission by the Government is completely unfair, unnecessary and is not called for by any substantial movement in the legal process in Scotland. I beg to move.

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