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Lord Simon of Glaisdale had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 32:

Page 3, line 14, leave out ("and guidance").

The noble and learned Lord said: Amendment No. 32 is grouped with Amendment No. 29, which was designed to leave out subsections (2) and (3) of Clause 4. The object was to try to clarify the relationship between directions, guidance and matters to be taken into account. Your Lordships discussed this matter yesterday, as the noble Lord, Lord Borrie, will remember. I believe that this is too big and amorphous a subject to be discussed at this stage. Again, I propose to enter into correspondence with the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, who replied yesterday. I believe that is the more satisfactory method of trying to clarify our minds. Unless your Lordships would like me to do so, I do not propose to move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 32 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 33 not moved.]

Lord Kingsland moved Amendment No. 34:

Page 3, line 15, at end insert ("or group actions").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 34 has the simple purpose of seeking to establish whether or not the phrase "individual cases" includes group actions.

The Lord Chancellor: My noble friend Lord Kingsland was commendably brief. I shall not quite match his brevity, but I shall seek to approach it.

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The purpose of the amendment is to add the phrase "or group actions" at the end of Clause 4(3). At present, Clause 4(3) prohibits the Lord Chancellor, as we discussed in the course of our previous debate, from issuing guidance or directions to the commission in relation to individual cases. In this country, group actions have largely centred around mass disasters, either in the form of incidents like the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, the Kings Cross fire or product liability claims. However, a group action, as far as the commission is concerned, is no more than a collection of individual cases where the issues and the defendant are the same, or substantially the same. In my view, individual cases in context would include group actions. The Lord Chancellor would not give directions or guidance to the commission about them, but would act in accordance with Clause 4(3). Therefore, in my view, the addition of the words proposed by the amendment is unnecessary and I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Kingsland: I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord for his response. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 35 to 37 not moved.]

6.30 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I have one brief point on Clause 4 and it relates to subsection (5), which says:

    "Directions under this section may be varied or revoked".
I wonder whether that is necessary. I should have thought that common sense would determine that they certainly can be varied and revoked. It is quite unnecessary to say so. The reason why it is in the Bill is that it comes up on the computer in the draftsman's office, but if we can get rid of it we shall have achieved more than one line of elimination.

There is one other question relating to the wording that directions,

    "may be varied or revoked".
Does that not imply that guidance may not be varied or revoked? Would it not be better in every way to get rid of subsection (5)?

The Lord Chancellor: I sometimes wonder in what direction I should turn. I dare say that there might be circumstances in which the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, would argue that directions are of such an important legislative character that they should be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. Indeed, he might further argue that for such directions to be varied they should equally be subject to such parliamentary procedure. Therefore, I do not accept that the variation of a direction is something for which the statute should not provide. Nevertheless, in the contrast drawn by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, between the power to vary or revoke directions and

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silence about guidance, it is possible that he has a point. I am not sure that he does, however, and I should like to think about it and write to him on the matter.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Lord Kingsland moved Amendment No. 38:

After Clause 4, insert the following new clause--

Community Legal Service and Criminal Defence Service Review Body

(".--(1) There shall be a body known as the Community Legal Services and Criminal Defence Service Review Body (in this section referred to as "the Review Body").
(2) The Review Body's functions shall be--
(a) to advise the Lord Chancellor as to appropriate target incomes for those providing services under the Community Legal Service or the Criminal Defence Service;
(b) to advise the Lord Chancellor as to the pricing of contracts so as to secure those target levels.
(3) In advising the Lord Chancellor, the Review Body shall suggest target levels which enable those receiving services from the Commission to obtain good quality services, and subject to that, provide the best value for money.
(4) The Commission shall consist of--
(a) not fewer than seven members, and
(b) not more than twelve members;
but the Lord Chancellor may by order substitute for either or both of the numbers for the time being specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) such other number or numbers as he thinks appropriate.
(5) The members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Lord Chancellor, and the Lord Chancellor shall appoint one of the members to chair the Commission.
(6) In appointing persons to be members of the Commission the Lord Chancellor shall have regard to the desirability of securing that the Commission includes persons with experience in or knowledge of--
(a) the provision of services which the Commission can fund as part of the Community Legal Service or Criminal Defence Service,
(b) the work of the courts,
(c) social conditions, and
(d) management.").

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this proposed new clause is to establish a review body along the lines of the review body covering doctors and dentists. It would advise on the level of fees necessary to ensure that the community legal service provides a good quality service which is available throughout the country. It is designed to reduce the risk that low payment for contracted work might lead to inadequate quality or to there being an insufficient number of contractors in some parts of the country. I beg to move.

Lord Borrie: Sometimes the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, surprises us because he sits down so rapidly. However, I know that it is highly appreciated in this Chamber if speeches are made as short as possible. I find the amendment somewhat difficult to follow both in substance and in wording. As far as concerns the wording, which is perhaps not the most important thing, it talks about a review body but in fact it is simply concerned with reviewing incomes. Subsections (4), (5) and (6) refer to "the Commission", but the wording

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looks remarkably similar to that to be found in Clause 1 of the Bill. However, perhaps the reference to "the Commission" is meant to refer to "the Review Body".

We are accustomed on matters of substance to consult salary review bodies, such as those which deal with doctors and dentists and, indeed, others who work for the health service like nurses. There is also the well-known Top Salaries Review Body which deals with generals, air vice-marshals and judges. They are all in the public sector and are concerned to ensure that salaries in the public sector do not get behind those in the private sector. Indeed, inflation, which the private sector seems to be capable of coping with better than the public sector, has often led the latter to need a review body in order to ensure that its salaries do not slip behind inflation. That also applies to the standard of living of those in the private sector, which has often improved at an even better rate than inflation.

The amendment seems to be designed to assist those who are in the private sector; that is, those who are in the business of offering their legal services in competition with others--presumably competition both on the basis of price and in terms of quality of service. It seems as if this is some sort of attempt to obtain for lawyers the combined advantage of being in the free market economy and yet also having the benefit of secure or more secure incomes.

Finally, this proposed new clause is intended to follow Clause 4. It would form part of Part I of the Bill, the purpose of which, as my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has repeated more than once, is to provide access to justice for those who seek to pursue claims of various kinds. It is meant to be for the users and not the providers; in other words, it is meant to provide facilities for the users of legal services rather than to provide succour for the providers.

Baroness Crawley: The effect of the amendment would be to create a review body for the community legal service and/or for the criminal defence service. I share the concern of my noble friend Lord Borrie in the matter. Current review bodies are there to represent the interests of the public sector. It seems to me that, at best, this is an inappropriate amendment. The public, who are familiar with the culture of review bodies which protect those in the public sector, would not understand the proposal for such a body designed to protect those who are obviously very much in the private sector. Like my noble friend Lord Borrie, I cannot support the amendment.

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