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(a) a charge substituted by the prosecuting authority; and (b) where a charge is amended by the prosecuting authority before the accused is arraigned in respect of it, the charge as so amended. (a) omit subsection (1); (b) in subsection (2) for “notice under this section” substitute “summons issued in accordance with rules under section 58”.

The noble Lord said: As noble Lords will be aware, and as we have discussed at the briefings, the implementation of this Bill will be a huge task. It is not one that we undertake lightly, and it is one that the department has put a little thought into. We are determined to ensure that the transition from the current to the new military criminal justice system will be as smooth as possible.

To that end, we have sought to identify areas where the current systems under the service discipline Acts may be suitable for early change. We want to avoid on the one hand a single step implementation, which might for certain key stakeholders be unmanageable and, on the other hand, to have a period of constant change leading up to full implementation. But of course where the Bill would introduce improvements to the operation of the military criminal justice system and can be introduced early, we should take the opportunity to do so.

Amendments Nos. 203A to 203C introduce a carefully developed package of alignment measures designed to move the current system closer to the post-Bill system to make an important start to this process. These measures will allow us to bring early and significant improvements to current practices in the relatively short term.

I shall be happy to go into detail if noble Lords wish it. Perhaps I can draw attention to just a couple of the provisions. First, we are introducing a power to arraign an accused before a judge advocate sitting alone, and for the judge advocate to make preliminary rulings, including the taking of binding pleas. We are confident that this will help streamline procedures, thereby reducing delay.

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Secondly, it amends the Naval Discipline Act 1957 to provide for the Judge Advocate General to subsume all of the functions of the Judge Advocate of the Fleet before full implementation of the Bill. Noble Lords will know that the post of the Judge Advocate of the Fleet, which has existed since 1663 and has

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served the Royal Navy so very well, is to lapse. His Honour Judge John Sessions, who has been Judge Advocate of the Fleet since 1995, will therefore be the last Judge Advocate of the Fleet. I am sure noble Lords will wish to thank Judge Sessions for his excellent support to the Royal Navy which has maintained the highest tradition of service set by all of his illustrious predecessors.

Amendment No. 203D to Schedule 17 simply adds those parts of the service discipline Acts amended by Schedule 16 to the primary and secondary legislation which is repealed or revoked by the Bill. The power created by Amendment No. 205 will permit us to continue to identify opportunities for alignment. We will use it in a structured way and where two tests are met: first, the services should consider whether there is, in their view, a strong business case for any aligning step; secondly, whether the step they propose is feasible to introduce, taking into account the drafting load within the overall implementation programme. Any extra work cannot prejudice full implementation.

We will focus, in particular, on steps which will bring benefits to the efficiency and fairness of the military criminal justice system and which will particularly benefit the key stakeholders in it: commanding officers, discipline staff and the service police. I remind the Committee that orders made under the alignment power will require the affirmative resolution procedure.

In view of this explanation, I hope that noble Lords will support these amendments. I beg to move.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: I welcome the provisions for preliminary hearings as to plea, which is very important in saving time. It will be appreciated that courts martial do not come into existence until they are convened. It has therefore been very difficult to take a binding plea before that step. We now more closely approach the procedures of the civil court and Crown Court. There are considerable advantages to all sides from this step.

I also associate these Benches with the goodwill and thanks transmitted to Judge John Sessions on his retirement from being Judge Advocate of Her Majesty’s Fleet. I said earlier that there is too much tradition in military law and procedure, and here we see an example of it disappearing. From 1663 to now is a pretty good time span for the position of Judge Advocate of Her Majesty’s Fleet. It has a wonderful sound to it and takes us back to the three-masted vessels of that time—almost to Elizabethan times. No doubt there have been many illustrious forebears to the current Judge Advocate of the Fleet, and we remember them at this minute.

Lord Astor of Hever: From these Benches, I associate myself with the warm comments of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, about the Judge Advocate of Her Majesty’s Fleet.

Lord Garden: I am sorry to come back to earth; there is a small amendment of mine tucked in this grouping. Amendment No. 204 is separate from the

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various government amendments. It looks like a remarkably simple amendment—just to add the word “not”—but I am afraid it changes the sense of what the Government are trying to achieve.

Clause 373 deals with transitional arrangements. Clause 373(6) allows the Armed Forces Act to work in anticipation of the coming into force of Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. I am seeking to find out why this should be done, particularly with regard to the under-21s and custodial sentences. The Explanatory Notes, which have been remarkably useful and are very clear compared with those for some Bills, state that it is to allow the current procedures for the imprisonment of 18-to-20 year-olds under the service discipline Acts, but Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 has still not been brought in after six years. The Ministry of Defence is not usually in the vanguard of advances in public law and the like, and the aim of my amendment is to question why we should use the Bill as a vehicle for achieving something in the military that we have not yet managed to achieve on the civil side.

Lord Drayson: I am grateful to the noble Lord for his positive comments on the Explanatory Notes, and I echo the sentiments he expressed about the work done by the Bill team.

I am sure that the noble Lord will not be surprised that I cannot support Amendment No. 204 although it proposes inserting only one small word. It would prevent transitory arrangements being available to the services in respect of custodial sentences for persons over 18 but under 21 years of age. The sentencing provisions of the Bill have been drafted in the anticipation that the various changes in the civilian criminal justice system, introduced by earlier Acts of Parliament, will have been commenced by the time the Bill comes into force. In particular, it is anticipated that Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 will have been commenced. That section abolishes sentences of detention in young offender institutions and sentences of custody for life. It also prohibits a court sentencing a person who is aged at least 18 but under 21 years of age to detention under Section 108 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 for certain matters, such as default of payment of a fine or contempt, or making an order fixing a term of detention under that provision.

However, if Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 has not been commenced, we will need to provide for the service system to reflect the current civilian system and to align with Section 108 of the Powers of the Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act. This amendment would not allow us to make that provision, and the services sentencing regime would therefore be at odds with its civilian counterpart.

Lord Garden: I am most grateful to the Minister for that explanation. It appears that what I am after is going to be achieved anyway, but it will not be implemented before the civilian Section 61 is brought

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in. The Minister is obviously a great optimist to believe that, after six years, that will happen in the next couple of months—but I am entirely content with the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Drayson moved Amendments Nos. 203B and 203C:

“Coroners Act (Northern Ireland) 1959 (c. 15) ““(g) in section 6E as it applies by virtue of paragraph (c) above, subsection (2) were omitted and the reference in subsection (1) to any place were to- (i) service living accommodation (as defined by section 96 of the Armed Forces Act 2006), or (ii) premises occupied as a residence (alone or with other persons) by the person on whom the requirement is to be imposed or the person to be arrested.””

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 16, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 17 [Repeals and Revocations]:

Lord Drayson moved Amendment No. 203D:

“Armed Forces Act 2006

In Schedule 16, paragraphs 19A to 19S and 158.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 17, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 372 agreed to.

Clause 373 [Power to make transitional and transitory provision]:

[Amendment No. 204 not moved.]

Clause 373 agreed to.

Lord Drayson moved Amendment No. 205:

(a) the Army Act 1955 (3 & 4 Eliz. 2 c. 18); (b) the Air Force Act 1955 (3 & 4 Eliz. 2 c. 19); (c) the Naval Discipline Act 1957 (c. 53); (d) the Army and Air Force Act 1961 (c. 52); (e) the Armed Forces Act 1966 (c. 45);

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(f) such provisions of the following Acts as are repealed by this Act- (i) the Armed Forces Act 1976 (c. 52); (ii) the Reserve Forces Act 1980 (c. 9); (iii) the Armed Forces Act 1981 (c. 55); (iv) the Armed Forces Act 1991 (c. 62); (v) the Reserve Forces Act 1996 (c. 14); (vi) the Armed Forces Act 2001 (c. 19).”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 374 [Duration of SDAs and this Act]:

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 206:

The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No. 206, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 207. When I first read the Bill, I was unaware that it had already been amended in another place to provide for the annual continuation order that we enjoy with the current service discipline Acts. When I read Clause 374, I found it difficult to understand. I thought that it said one thing when actually it said something else.

I believe that the transitional arrangements should be in the back of the Bill where they belong. In my amendment, I have separated the transitional arrangements from the ongoing ones. I believe that the ongoing provisions—the requirement for the annual continuation order, as described in Amendment No. 207—should be in Clause 1, or Section 1 when the Bill is passed. I was advised not to table an amendment drafted “Before Clause 1”, but that was my intention.

I have two reasons for believing that the continuation order should be in Section 1. The first is to remind our Armed Forces that they are under full parliamentary and political control. Nearly all officers understand that, but I have found one or two who need a little prompting. The second reason is that we are rightly engaged in defence diplomacy; we are proud that our Armed Forces are under parliamentary and political control. I think that it would be useful for our people when engaged on defence diplomacy to be able to point to a Section 1 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 that clearly states that our Armed Forces are under full parliamentary and political control. I beg to move.

Lord Drayson: I will be brief. We are all agreed that the Armed Forces Bill, once enacted, should be subject to the same renewal provisions as the current service discipline Acts. Parliamentary oversight and approval of these provisions is important. I have absolutely no doubt of the good intentions of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, but I believe that the amendments achieve no more than the current wording. I will reflect on what he said about the need to emphasise these matters in certain quarters. In reality, however, it makes no difference whether these provisions are in one or two clauses and whether they come at the start or, as is the custom, at the end of the Bill. The important thing is that they are there. It may be helpful if I make it clear that, as the provisions of the new Act are brought into force, the related provisions of the existing Acts will be repealed. I hope that the noble Earl will agree to withdraw his amendment.

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Earl Attlee: I absolutely agree that the drafting of my amendments makes no difference whatever to how the Act will work. My concern was presentational: Section 1 straight away, in your face, would say that the Armed Forces are under parliamentary and political control, whereas Clause 374, as drafted, is unintelligible. It does not matter technically. We all know that we need a continuation order, but my view is that it would be better put in Section 1. Perhaps the Minister would give that a little consideration. It is entirely up to him, of course. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 374 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 207 not moved.]

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Clause 375 [Commencement]:

Lord Drayson moved Amendment No. 207A:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 208 not moved.]

Clause 375, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 376 to 378 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

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