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Lord Gisborough: There were three points of note in that reply, one of which related to the unified Bench. It seems to me that if there is a stipendiary magistrate and a lot of other magistrates, that is a unified Bench,

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but a judge and other magistrates is hardly a unified Bench. "Modernisation", which is the key word, must not be confused with change for the sake of change.

When "clients", as I think they are now called, come before the court and find that they are in front of a judge instead of a magistrate, I believe they will be much more fearful. We know that the district judge can give only the same punishment as a magistrate, but I am sure that the clients will not know that.

This amendment is obviously well supported and I may well wish to bring it back on Report. However, at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 301 to 317 not moved.]

Clause 52 agreed to.

Schedule 8 [Unification and renaming of stipendiary bench]:

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 317A:


Page 78, line 22, leave out from ("for") to end of line 28 and insert (""any one of the police magistrates at any of the Metropolitan Police Courts" substitute "two justices of the peace", and
(b) omit the words from "or if the offence,", in the first place, to "the county;".").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 317B:


Page 82, line 38, leave out from ("for") to end of line 40 and insert (""chief metropolitan stipendiary magistrate or a designated metropolitan magistrate" substitute "Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) or another District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) designated by him".").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 317B, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 317C to 317G, and 330K and 330L.

The purpose of these amendments is to give the senior district judge (magistrates' court) the authority to designate which district judge (magistrates' court) should deal with cases under the Extradition Act 1989. This will ensure that only those district judges (magistrates' courts) with the appropriate knowledge and expertise in extradition law will hear cases brought before the courts.

In moving this amendment, as I have said I am speaking also to Amendments Nos. 330K to 330L in Schedule 11 which address minor changes to the wording of the Extradition Act to reflect the limitation of jurisdiction in extradition cases to district judges (magistrates' courts) designated by the senior district judge (magistrates' court). I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

28 Jan 1999 : Column 1258

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 317C to 317G:


Page 82, leave out lines 41 to 43 and insert--
("35.--(1) Section 9 (proceedings for committal) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1) (person arrested in pursuance of a warrant under section 8 to be brought before a court consisting of a metropolitan magistrate or a sheriff), omit the words from "consisting" to the end.
(3) In subsection (2) (court of committal in England and Wales), after "Wales" insert "shall consist of the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) or another District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) designated by him and".
(4) In subsection (3) (court of committal in Scotland), after "Scotland" insert "shall consist of the sheriff of Lothian and Borders and".").
Page 83, leave out line 3 and insert ("In paragraphs 1(2)(b), 6(2), 7(1) and (2), 8(1) and 11, for "metropolitan magistrate"").
Page 83, line 4, at end insert--
("( ) In paragraph 4(2) (order of Secretary of State for issue of warrant), for "a metropolitan magistrate" substitute "the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) or another District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) designated by him".
( ) In paragraph 5 (issue of warrant for apprehension on receipt of order by metropolitan magistrate)--
(a) in sub-paragraphs (1)(a) and (3), for "a metropolitan magistrate" substitute "the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate), or another District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) designated by him,", and
(b) in sub-paragraph (4), for "metropolitan magistrate, unless the metropolitan magistrate" substitute "District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) unless he".
( ) In paragraph 6(1) (hearing of case), for "metropolitan magistrate, the metropolitan magistrate" substitute "District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) he".").
Page 83, line 6, at end insert ("references to the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) or another District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) designated by him were to any District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) and those references and the").
Page 83, line 9, leave out from ("Ireland;",") to end of line 11 and insert--
("(b) in sub-paragraph (1)(c), for "the stipendiary magistrate," substitute "any District Judge (Magistrates' Courts), or the", and
(c) omit sub-paragraph (2).").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 53 and 54 agreed to.

11. 45 p.m.

Clause 55 [Areas outside Greater London]:

Lord Gisborough moved Amendment No. 318:


Page 30, line 44, at end insert ("; and
(c) such functions relating to matters of an administrative character or a non-judicial character as they may be authorised to undertake.").

The noble Lord said: Clause 55 changes significantly the role of the magistrates' courts committees. Hitherto, committees have been responsible for the efficient and effective administration of magistrates' courts.

That remit does not extend to the organisation of the local Benches. Advisory committees recommend the appointment of justices, and the local Benches elect their chairmen and deputy chairmen, and constitute

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panels and committees. The Benches are responsible for all judicial actions which include the listing of cases. The distinction between the role of the Bench and that of the committee is important. It establishes the divide between the judiciary and the administration. The courts exercise a judicial discretion in respect of individual cases and the committees do so in respect of the management of resources. To maintain that delicate balance, Clause 55 should make it abundantly clear that any functions which are conferred or imposed on the committees should be of an administrative or non-judicial character.

The fact that non-magistrate members of the committees may become a majority, some of whom could be local politicians, may compromise the magistrates and the Benches if the organisation of Benches becomes a responsibility of the magistrates' courts committees. It is therefore important that the committees' remit is clearly defined within acceptable limits. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I fully recognise the seriousness of the issue to which the noble Lord refers in this amendment and I do not want to do anything other than take the amendment seriously, but it is unnecessary.

The definitions of the functions of MCCs outside Greater London, as set out in Section 27(1) of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997, are unchanged by Clause 55. That reflects the position since the Police and Magistrates' Courts Act 1994. The 1997 Act was the consolidation Act. The position is working well.

Clause 55 merely splits the old Section 27(1) into new Sections 27A and 27B. The substantive changes to Section 27 are to replace the provisions of Section 27(2) onwards with new Sections 27A and 27B. There are two reasons for that. I am going outside the literal terms of the noble Lord's amendment because the issue is important. First, that is consequential with the establishment under the Bill of a Greater London magistrates' court authority. Secondly, MCCs are currently defined in terms of local government areas such as counties and metropolitan districts. Continuing amalgamations mean that the definition of the committee area in primary legislation is no longer reflected by the reality on the ground. Committees now increasingly comprise more than one defined area and the area definition in Section 27 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997 is becoming obsolete.

I understand the concern behind the proposed amendments: that MCCs should not encroach upon judicial functions. The independence of legal advice provided by justices' clerks, and the duties and responsibilities of magistrates, are protected by Section 48 of the Justices of the Peace Act. The MCC has no locus in the judicial process. This clause does not change that.

The primary purpose of this clause is to ensure the easy identification of MCCs in England and Wales. The clause removes the definition of MCCs in terms of local government areas and replaces it with one where MCCs are defined by order. It does not amend the procedure

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for reorganising an MCC or the definition of its function as established under the 1994 Act. There will continue to be statutory consultation on proposed local changes. On that basis, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.


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