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Lord Kingsland: My Lords, the Opposition are also happy to support the order. As the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said, an important part of the Access to Justice Bill was to alter the basis on which appeals were entertained; but, as he also said, it was one of the least controversial parts of the Bill.

I note that the noble Lord, Lord Bach, stated that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has certified that the order is in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights. As he also said, the opportunity to appeal must be proportionate to the grounds of complaint. No doubt if the Government have got the question of conforming with the convention wrong, somebody will make an appropriate challenge.

At the time of the adoption of the order increasing the number of High Court judges, I asked the noble Lord, Lord Bach, whether there were any signs of similar pressures on the Court of Appeal that might lead the Government to increase that court's membership. Would it be fair to say that this order is an alternative way of dealing with such pressures?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am very grateful to both noble Lords for their general support for the order, support which is not entirely unexpected. I shall try briefly to answer the questions that they properly raised.

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My reply to one of the questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, is that the appeal will be to a single High Court judge, sitting on his own or her own.

As regards a second appeal going only to the Court of Appeal, and not via a High Court judge, appeals are now limited to two levels of appeal. Section 55 of the Act introduces a stricter test for permission, and second appeals will be restricted to those that merit the attention of the Court of Appeal. That is why the order is phrased as it is.

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I turn to the concerns expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland. The order deals with appeals going to the correct level, not with judicial resources. I wrote to the noble Lord about the position of the Court of Appeal. I do not have the letter in front of me and I suspect that he does not either. However, the comments he made today will be noted and if there is more up-to-date information I shall ensure that he has it. He should not link this order with that issue. I commend the order to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at five minutes past four o'clock.

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