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Earl Peel: My Lords, I apologise to the Minister for intervening. I have not taken part in the debate. We

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discussed the important aspect of surveillance equipment during the course of the Animal Health Bill. I accept that increasing penalties will have a deterrent effect, but surely the key is catching people.

Sophisticated surveillance equipment is available but I wonder whether it will be made available to those whose job it is to try to catch these people.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I am sure that the wildlife unit which I have detailed will be examining the most effective means of developing its work to counter such trade. If I can provide further information, I shall write to the noble Earl.

I apologise for running over my time. In conclusion, I thank my noble friend Lord Hoyle for initiating the debate. I have not had time to discuss in sufficient detail the COTES proposal and I hope the House will understand why I said initially that I should be delighted to write to all noble Lords who have taken part. I welcome the support we have been given.

In answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, the consultation is definitely not a means of delay. Quite the contrary: it is a means of achieving consensus for action. My noble friend has ensured that we have a good base on which to build that consensus and during the consultation period we must all press to ensure that not only is there agreement and consensus but a will to act with best speed to protect animals and species about which noble Lords have spoken with such passion.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.30 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.25 to 8.30 p.m.]

Courts Bill [HL]

House again in Committee on Clause 4.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 18:

    Page 2, line 40, at end insert—

"( ) Before appointing the members of a court administration council, the Lord Chancellor shall consult judges, lay justices and local authorities serving in the area."

The noble Lord said: At this stage we are dealing not so much with what the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, said are the Government's intentions but with what is written on the face of the Bill—that is, with the unrestrained power of the Lord Chancellor. I believe the noble Baroness when she says that, in practice, we shall be considering something rather different, but, in part, the amendments are addressed to that issue.

Clause 4(3) states baldly that members of the court administration council,

    "are to be appointed by the Lord Chancellor".

Presumably that is a complete and factual statement of the intended position. But, with the Bill as drafted, the Lord Chancellor can appoint who he pleases, as he pleases, subject only to Clause 4(4).

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Amendment No. 18 in this group requires the Lord Chancellor to consult judges and magistrates before appointing members of a court administration council for a particular area. From what has been said, I am sure that that is the Government's intention, but it is not apparent from looking at the Bill.

I know that there is an issue as to the significance of what is said on the Floor of this House and on the Floor of another place and its validity in law, but, for the life of me, I cannot understand why, if the things we say on the Floor of the House have meaning, we cannot put them on the face of the Bill where everyone can read them and people outside the House can understand what is going on.

That is a particularly pertinent consideration in regard to Amendments Nos. 19, 20 and 21. Clause 4(4) states what each council "must" have. We discussed the word "must" before the adjournment. The subsection states that each council must have one member who is a judge—not two or three or five, but one. It states that each council must have one member who is a lay justice—again, not three or six—and so on. Amendment No. 21 relates to paragraph (d), which refers to,

    "two more members who are persons appearing to the Lord Chancellor to be representatives of people living in that area".

The subsection goes on to say that each council "may" have other members. "May" is not an instruction; "may" is a possibility.

We had an interesting discussion on the size of the areas pertinent to the functions of court administration councils. The point was made by my noble friend Lord Waddington and others that the size of an area is relevant to the size of the councils.

The Minister says that Clause 4(4) merely sets out the minimum requirement. It may do—and I am happy to take her word for it. But that is not what is on the face of the Bill. The Bill as drafted states:

    "Each council must have . . . one member who is a judge . . . one member who is a lay justice . . . two other members",

and so on.

Bearing in mind that we do not know the areas for which the councils will be responsible—even if we did, I suggest that one such member would not be sufficient—I propose that each council must have,

    "a minimum of 2 members who are judges . . . a minimum of five members who are lay justices",

and, in subsection (4)(d),

    "four members chosen from among those who are elected representatives of the people living in the area",

as opposed to the designation in the provision as drafted.

The Minister has often spoken fulsomely—and I am grateful to her for it—of the need to involve local people and to make sure that the local community is fully committed to what is going on. I submit that, given the way in which the clause is worded, she has not fulfilled that ambition. I ask her to give serious consideration to this series of amendments. They go

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much further in committing the Government to the pledges made by the Minister than does the wording in the Bill as drafted. I beg to move.

Lord Borrie: The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is perhaps at a disadvantage in having to propose these amendments after the Minister has commented on the provisions. Clarity was provided in her indication that the number of members in the different groups listed were minima, which many of us understood to be the case anyway, because that is what has to happen. In addition, Clause 4(4) concludes with the statement that each council "may have other members". The Minister indicated that, because in all probability there will be local areas of different sizes, the provision would be suitable for court administration councils of different sizes.

There are further strong objections to the amendments. Amendment No. 18 is surely unnecessary. Why should anyone—unless he or she has a perverse attitude towards the Bill—imagine that the Lord Chancellor would not consult appropriately in making the appointments? There is even greater objection to the other three amendments. Amendment No. 19 refers to judges being,

    "chosen by the judges serving in the area".

Amendment No. 20 refers to lay justices being,

    "chosen by the lay justices serving in the area".

In other words, they would be representatives rather than people appointed by the Lord Chancellor to do right by their own individual judgment, which is surely what we would want. Amendment No. 21 is even worse. It refers to,

    "four members chosen from among those who are elected representatives",

without saying how they are to be chosen. I ask the Committee to reject the amendments.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith has given us an important opportunity to try to get some picture of how the Government expect the council to be composed. My approach shall be from that point of view.

First, I have concerns about the mechanics. As my noble friend pointed out, the council must have,

    "one member who is a judge"


    "one member who is a lay justice".

But human frailty being as it is, what happens if, sadly, one of those members dies? If the council does not have a member who is a judge, does that invalidate its proceedings, or will provision be made for such circumstances in subsection (5)?

Secondly, my noble friend refers to the way in which the representatives will be selected or elected. Subsection (4)(d) states that each council must have,

    "two more members who are persons appearing to the Lord Chancellor to be representative of people living in that area".

Can the Minister give the Committee some idea of what the Lord Chancellor may base that decision on? Will it be on socio-economic profile, for example? What kind of

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language will the Lord Chancellor seek to adopt in defining how people may be representative? Obviously, that is pertinent with regard to the Government's statements on the future composition of your Lordships' House.

It is important that we have had this short debate because, as my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew of Twysden and my noble friend Lord Waddington commented before the dinner break, we are being asked to put the seal on something whose real shape and form we know not.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: At present, magistrates' courts committees are elected by other magistrates in the same division. It is right in principle that those appointed to the new councils should be representative in the sense that they have gained the respect and support of their colleagues. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate, whatever their number, that members be elected—magistrates from among magistrates, judges from among other judges, and elected representatives who at least have the support of the population who elected them to their local authorities.

There are elements in your Lordships' House who like appointment; but, so far as I am concerned, legitimacy and accountability come through election. I support the amendments.

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