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Lord Clinton-Davis: I find my noble friend's explanation rather unconvincing. I think that the least he can do is to say that he will take what has been said back and reconsider the situation. There is no point in including unnecessary provisions in legislation. Not only is it confusing for the advocates, but, more importantly, it is confusing to those who are charged with offences. I do not want to reach a hard and fast conclusion now because I believe that it is possible that on reflection my noble friend will be advised in another way, but I think that we should return to the situation on further consideration of the Bill.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: It seems extraordinary that it is necessary to say that no appeal is brought if

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it has not been brought within the time allowed. However, if it is the convention to say that, I suggest it might be changed.

Lord Goodhart: I reluctantly get involved in this argument. I feel that the problem may be slightly the other way round. For example, if a month has been given during which time a convicted person can decide whether to make an appeal and he does not decide to appeal for three weeks, how within that three weeks can one say that an appeal is outstanding in the ordinary sense of the word because no appeal has been brought? So, it may be that this wording intends to make sure that a disqualification order cannot come into effect in the UK during a period while an appeal can still be brought within the time limits, but no appeal has in fact been brought.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I add my six pennyworth. I had problems with this subsection, but with paragraph (b). I could understand why paragraph (a) inserted time limits, but (b) refers to when,

    "proceedings on appeal are finally concluded",

which seems not to refer to time limits as such. Therefore, I should be grateful if the Minister could reflect on the matter between now and Report.

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: Like the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, I am not totally convinced by the Minister's explanation of why the words are necessary. I hope that he will look at the matter again because I believe that the principle that we should not put in unnecessary clauses and subsections is a valid one.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I do not disagree with that argument. That would not be sensible. We all want matters to be brief, clear, plain and simple. The answer to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, is that his understanding fits into the category of "as well". So, it adds something. We are always willing to look at whether wording can be improved, but I say that without giving a commitment. We should all try to keep legislation as brief and to the point as we possibly can.

Clause 55 agreed to.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clause 56 [Duty to give notice to foreign authorities of driving disqualification of a non-UK resident]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 139ZA:

    Page 36, line 5, at end insert—

"(g) state that there is written evidence that the offender has had adequate opportunity to defend himself and to gain access to legal advice"

The noble Baroness said: I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 139ZB, 139ZC, 139ZD and 139ZF. They are probing amendments that invite the Government to clarify the part of the provision dealing with driving disqualification. I seek to ensure that a defendant in disqualification proceedings is dealt with in a clear and proper manner. We wish to ensure that

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an individual has access to the proper legal advice and that he receives proper written notice of notification of proceedings against him.

We seek to probe the drafting of some of the subsections relating to driving, which appear so vague that at some stages I was unsure of their purpose. I refer back to what my noble friend Lord Carlisle said in his clause stand part argument.

I hope the Government accept that an accused person should have proper legal advice in whatever country the proceedings commence. Would that not be especially important in a country where English is not the first language and a motorist has problems understanding what is happening? Will the Minister make provision in the Bill for fairness in legal proceedings and provide the legal help that should be available? Of course there will be many questions about how it can be taken up and the costs that might be involved and who should bear them.

Beyond the initial encounter with the police and after the hearing, the Bill states that, where the offender did not take part in the proceedings, a notice informing the foreign authorities of a driving disqualification of a non-UK resident would be accompanied by evidence that the offender was duly notified.

I am curious as to how that evidence would be presented. Would it merely be a copy of any correspondence that had been sent to the individual? If so, how do we know that the individual had actually received it; that there was good service?

Finally, I must admit that I was puzzled by some of the subsections in the clause. For example, subsection (3) states:

    "A notice under this section may contain such other information as the appropriate Minister considers appropriate".

That is not the most felicitous drafting. The term seems rather vague. I should be grateful if the Minister could give us a fuller flavour of its meaning. What other information does the Minister envisage would come under that subsection? When will the other information be necessary, and which Minister would intervene in such proceedings? I beg to move.

Lord Renton: Amendment No. 139ZB would leave out subsection (3). I think that it should be left out. It gives rise to uncertainty as to whether the information referred to is to be considered as appropriate by the appropriate Minister without his giving any reasons for it. In any event, it is an excess of zeal to invite the opinion of the appropriate Minister.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: I support what the noble Lord, Lord Renton, and my noble friend Lady Anelay have said. Presumably, Clause 56 deals with offences, including careless driving, set out in Schedule 3.

If a Frenchman were stopped in this country by the police and charged with careless driving, one could state whether or not the offender took part in the proceedings during which the disqualification was

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imposed. But how could one confirm that an offender who was moving around the country had been duly notified? Out of genuine ignorance I seek clarification. Normally, service of the notice would be effected by registered post and would be deemed to have occurred on its acceptance. Could one state with certainty that an offender travelling about the country on holiday had been duly notified of the proceedings?

Lord Clinton-Davis: Uncharacteristically, the noble Lord has misinformed himself. As I understand it, the authorities must only give notice by registered post where it is prescribed. Notice can be effected by other means. If the authorities cannot find someone who is travelling about the country—by caravan, for example—the service of notice is effected by registered post or whatever means the statute confers. It is not important that the individual should always be found.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Committee Members have asked several questions. In setting out the thinking behind Clause 56, I hope that I can answer them.

In general, the amendments would place additional evidential requirements on the notification and recognition of driving disqualifications between the United Kingdom and member states. They would also restrict the information that the UK could provide to a foreign authority or a disqualified driver resident in the UK.

As is plain, our starting point for this part of the Bill is the EU Convention on Driving Disqualifications and what it says should be required to recognise a foreign disqualification. The convention requires us to notify a driver's state of residence of a disqualification covered by the convention. The notification and driver's licence must be accompanied by information to locate the driver; the original or certified copy of the order of disqualification; a brief statement of the circumstances of the offence and the legal provisions that gave rise to the disqualification; details of the disqualification; and a statement that no appeal is outstanding.

If the offender did not take part in the proceedings that resulted in disqualification, the convention requires that the notification should also include evidence that the offender was duly notified of the proceedings. That is the information that the convention has determined will normally be sufficient to allow the driver's state of residence to satisfy itself that the offender had an adequate opportunity to defend himself, and to allow it to give effect to the disqualification. If it is not satisfied that the offender had an adequate opportunity to defend himself, it may ask for additional information, and, ultimately, it could refuse to recognise the disqualification. Those are comprehensive and very equitable arrangements to allow the recognition of a driving disqualification in another member state.

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Amendment No. 139ZA would require a notice of disqualification given to another member state to include a statement to the effect that there is,

    "written evidence that the offender has had adequate opportunity to defend himself and to gain access to legal advice".

At first glance, the amendment is perfectly sensible and reasonable. But it would take the requirements for what is to be included in the notification sent to a driver's state of residence beyond the factual information required by the convention. It would also introduce a test concerning access to legal advice, which is not covered by the convention.

The convention rightly leaves it to the driver's state of residence to form a view on whether someone has had an adequate opportunity to defend himself, based on the factual information provided by the state of the offence. The Bill provides for the information to include either confirmation that the offender took part in the proceedings resulting in disqualification or, if he did not participate, evidence of notification and that he had the opportunity to participate. Amendment No. 139ZA would require the UK to make a statement that written evidence exists of the adequacy of the driver's opportunity to defend himself and to gain access to legal advice. That statement would involve a subjective assessment of the fairness of the court proceedings. Without the evidence itself being transmitted, it would add nothing of value to the procedure.

Likewise, Amendment No. 139ZD, which deals with the recognition of foreign disqualifications in the UK, goes beyond what is required for the purposes of the convention to confirm that an offender has had an adequate opportunity to defend himself. It would make it a condition of recognition of a foreign disqualification in the UK that there is written evidence that the offender has had adequate opportunity to defend himself and to gain access to legal advice. The Bill already makes the recognition of a foreign disqualification conditional on the offender's having been duly notified of, and entitled to take part in, the proceedings. This is a less subjective test than that envisaged by the amendment. It also reflects, in line with the general application of the principle of mutual recognition of criminal decisions in the EU, that all member states are signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair hearing.

Amendment No. 139ZB would restrict the content of a notice of a disqualification given to another member state to only those details specified in Clause 56(2) and no other information. That would impede the effective operation of the notification procedures by preventing the UK from including additional information that would assist the driver's state of residence in executing the disqualification. It might include information relating to the court proceedings, or to the period of the disqualification already served in the UK, which the driver's state of residence must take into account. Member states may also have particular information requirements in order to give effect to a disqualification. Those will become apparent only during our concluding agreements for

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the bilateral implementation of the convention. Amendment No. 139ZB would prevent us from doing that.

Amendment No. 139ZC, which requires that evidence should be "written", is unnecessary and potentially restrictive, particularly at a time when steps are being taken to introduce electronic transmission. Although the notification sent to the driver's state of residence is likely to rely on written evidence to show that he was duly notified of the proceedings against him, the convention requirement is only for "evidence". To go beyond that could create problems with other states.

Amendment No. 139ZF concerns the notice given to a driver resident in the United Kingdom that a foreign disqualification is to be recognised here. It would restrict the content of that notice to only those details specified in Clause 59(1). It would be unduly restrictive, preventing the appropriate Minister from including additional information, as he considers appropriate, in a notice of disqualification sent to a UK resident disqualified abroad. That would not be terribly helpful in those circumstances. Information would be included in the notice only where it was relevant to the offender in respect of the disqualification imposed on him. The offender may, for example, be required to surrender his licence where it has not been seized by the state in which the offence was committed. Information on how to reapply for a licence might also be usefully included. It is helpful to ensure that that takes place.

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