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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to the Minister for his response. He referred to the fact that the Select Committee was content with the provisions. I did not intend by my amendment to signal that we were not content with the Select Committee's decision. It was just a tool to elicit the helpful answer given by the noble Lord.

It is useful to have on the record that the Government would make these changes only after—I believe the Minister said—extensive consultation and having achieved consensus across the criminal justice system. Perhaps another matter which the Government would need to take into account is having the budgets to put in place the IT system. Perhaps that would be part of the consultation process. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 29 agreed to.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 78:

(1) This section applies for the purposes of sections 30 and 31.
(2) Before a person gives evidence he shall be informed in ordinary language of—
(a) whether or not he is compelled to give evidence (and if so in what circumstances), and
(b) the uses to which his evidence (or the fact of his failure to give evidence) may be put by the court in a country outside the United Kingdom before which the proceedings are carried on."

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 78 seeks to clarify the position under Clauses 30 and 31 when witnesses are giving evidence to courts abroad from a court in the UK through a television or telephone link. I seek to elicit by way of clarity what rules on compellability will apply and what rules on the right to silence will apply. To what use will witnesses' evidence be put by the foreign court? Would there be, for example, protection against self-incrimination, or would that be a matter for the law of the foreign state in question on a case-by-case basis? Will the witness be informed of those rules before giving evidence?

I return to a comment I made on the previous amendment. What will be the facilities for this to be carried out? Where will they be placed? Will they be part of the ordinary provision of IT for courts here or will there be special courts which will be particularly well provided with the right kind of IT back-up? I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The purpose of this new clause is to increase the protection of witnesses summoned to give evidence via television link. While the Government understand the concerns behind the

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amendment relating to rights of silence, compellability, use of evidence, and so forth, we believe that proper safeguards are already provided.

In the case of TV evidence, witnesses may be compelled to give evidence. In the case of telephone evidence, they may not. Schedule 2 makes clear that there is a significant difference between the two types of hearing. Paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 2, which relates to television links, and is entitled "Securing attendance of witnesses", states that the nominated court has powers for securing attendance of a witness as it does for proceedings before that court.

By contrast, paragraph 11 of Part 2 of Schedule 2, relating to telephone links, is headed "notification of witness" and gives the court the power only to inform a witness of when the hearing will take place. It goes on to state that the,

    "court must be satisfied that the witness is willingly giving evidence by telephone".

Schedule 2 sets out the circumstances in which a witness cannot be compelled to give evidence by television link; namely, if he or she,

    "could not be compelled to give [it] in criminal proceedings in . . . the United Kingdom",

if participating in a domestic proceeding; if giving evidence,

    "would be prejudicial to the security of the United Kingdom";


    "in his capacity as an officer or servant of the Crown".

The first point ensures that the witness is granted at least the same protections as in domestic proceedings.

The usual domestic summons procedures will apply in relation to television hearings under Schedule 2. The summons will be issued by the domestic court in accordance with our law under Section 97 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980. Summonses set out when and where the witness should appear, the consequences of failure to comply and details of whom to contact for more information. We consider the existing summons procedure to be sufficient and robust.

The second requirement—that the witness be informed about the uses to which the evidence may be put—is unnecessary. Witnesses summoned to provide evidence by virtue of a summons issued under Clause 15 are not provided with information about the uses to which their evidence may be put, although they will obviously be aware of the context if they are being called as witnesses.

A witness giving evidence in domestic proceedings would similarly be aware of the context, but would not necessarily be informed of the detailed uses to which the evidence might be put. It is extremely unlikely that the domestic authority would be able to provide the witness with such information. The overseas authority conducting the hearing will inform the witness of as much as is necessary under its law regarding the use of evidence and the implications of failure to comply, but, as the hearing will be conducted under the

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supervision of that authority—as is made clear in paragraph 6 of Schedule 2—we would not include that condition in the Bill.

The noble Baroness asked about the circumstances in which TV hearings might take place. I am advised by the Lord Chancellor's Department that some 154 magistrates' courts have already been set up for remand links and that these would generally be the ones used. These links currently operate only between courts and prisons for use in remand hearings. I am sure that the noble Baroness is familiar with those. The technology is in place and merely requires refinement by the responsible contractors in order to provide the link services to the courts.

The witness would be present in the UK court. The camera would be linked up to the court in the requesting country. Those facilities would enjoy the benefits of existing security controls in our court buildings. I can provide some examples of where we have seen such systems used in other countries. It is starting to be an established process and procedure and we are becoming increasingly familiar with it. I hope that that assists.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: One of the most important points was made at the very end of the noble Lord's remarks. He said that we are becoming more accustomed to these systems as they become more established. I should expect "we" to mean those who are involved daily in the criminal justice system.

As a magistrate, I presided over a case where evidence was rightly given by television link. Of course, a witness—or possibly a defendant, although we are dealing here with witnesses—is not necessarily accustomed to such links. It may be the one and only occasion when a witness has come into contact with the court system, and certainly with television links. Therefore, I am sensitive as regards the amount of information that should properly be given to a witness. He may be an expert witness. The way in which the television links are set up, and the way in which split screens are used, may strongly govern the effectiveness of the evidence.

I am grateful to the noble Lord for setting out the general background. In particular, I am grateful to him for placing on record the Government's intention to use the magistrates' courts. We look forward to seeing how the resourcing goes in terms of making sure that it will work. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 79:

    After Clause 29, insert the following new clause—

(1) This section applies for the purposes of sections 30 and 31.
(2) For the avoidance of doubt, proceedings before a nominated court are not to be treated as proceedings before a court of any country other than the United Kingdom, and nothing in sections 30 and 31 confers any jurisdiction on a court of any country other than the United Kingdom in respect of anything done in the United Kingdom."

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The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 79 seeks to probe the position in respect of jurisdiction, especially in relation to contempt. Could a witness giving evidence from the United Kingdom be proceeded against for contempt in a foreign state even though his conduct was not a contempt under UK law and thus no action was taken under Clause 30(4)? I beg to move.

Lord Renton: I support the amendment, although I have a confession to make: I have not kept in mind the detail of the Bill sufficiently to know whether the purpose of the clause has already been stated in any other way in the Bill. I hope it has not—because in that case my noble friend's suggestion is rather desirable.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for sparking this discussion, as it will enable us to clarify the situation. Other than for the purposes of contempt of court and perjury, television and telephone hearings are not proceedings before the domestic (UK) court. The Bill simply enables witnesses to be heard as part of proceedings before the overseas court.

Under the Mutual Legal Assistance Convention we, as the home authority, are obliged to ensure that perjury and contempt of court in such circumstances are subject to domestic sanctions. That is necessary because the overseas court which is conducting the hearing will be unable to take any direct action itself. I hope that that provides the clarity sought by the noble Baroness.

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