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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Lord Chief Justice will not consider practice directions on his own. The whole purpose of setting up the criminal procedure rule committee is to enable all those operating within the system to be heard, in order that they can make specific recommendations in relation to proposed rules. As now, from time to time there will be occasions when the Lord Chief Justice must give a practice direction which may be within or without these rules. Presently, rules apply and practice directions are given. There is no change in terms of the nature of the rules and the directions. We hope that there will be a greater degree of consistency from the rule committee which will go right across the piece.

Lord Hunt of Wirral: I am grateful to the Minister for the interesting question and answer session on the respective merits of the civil procedure rule committee

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recommending changes in rules. As I understand it, the intention is for the Lord Chief Justice to chair the criminal procedure rule committee. However, I see—

Lord Thomas of Gresford: Under Clause 69, the Lord Chief Justice is acting on his own.

Lord Hunt of Wirral: I am not sure that the Minister has answered the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford; namely, that in Clause 69(1) there appears to be a conflicting provision. It provides that the Lord Chief Justice,

    "who chairs the committee",

may, without the committee agreeing such procedure, make directions himself with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor as to the practice and procedure of the criminal courts.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, but there is a question as to why there are two separate provisions. There is, on the one hand, the criminal procedure rule committee chaired by the Lord Chief Justice. It has a clear role to play in the evolution of procedure. There is also the provision in Clause 69(1).

I am sure that there is a simple answer to the question and I have been talking away in case a simple answer is suddenly found. I hope that it will be.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: At present, there is no statutory provision on practice directions for magistrates' courts. The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, referred to Clause 69. That clause rectifies the position in respect of criminal proceedings, while Clause 76 makes similar provision for family proceedings. Clause 69 provides that no other person may give directions without the approval of the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor. In practice, that power might be exercised by another senior member of the judiciary, such as the senior presiding judge.

The clause also provides that in giving directions which contain guidance as to law or in making judicial decisions, the Lord Chief Justice does not require the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor. Therefore, directions under subsection (4) may cover guidance to the judiciary on such matters as sentencing where it would be inappropriate to require the Lord Chief Justice to obtain the Lord Chancellor's concurrence.

There are therefore the criminal procedure rules and then the directions which may be given by the Lord Chief Justice. Of course we know that recently such a direction in relation to criminal sentencing procedures caused some—I am tempted to say "notoriety"—speculation and comment.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: There is a difference between giving sentencing guidelines, the recent controversy to which the noble Baroness referred, and practice directions. I should have thought that practice directions were within the compass of the new procedure rule committee.

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I shall read what the noble Baroness has said and if I understand it I shall not return to the matter.

Lord Hunt of Wirral: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, for continuing to press for clarification. I, too, want to reflect on what the Minister has said. She need have no concerns; we shall be dealing fully with the whole question of sentencing guidelines in Amendment No. 122. We shall deal with these important issues at a future time in Committee, but I am grateful to the Minister for having clarified the position so comprehensively. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 90 not moved.]

Lord Hunt of Wirral moved Amendment No. 91:

    Page 30, line 38, leave out "may" and insert "shall"

The noble Lord said: The amendments in this group relate to the criminal procedure rule committee and the family procedure rule committee. Amendment No. 91 would insert in line 31 the word "shall" in place of the word "may". Amendment No. 92 would add after "Committee" in line 40 the words,

    "necessarily incurred in the course of their work as members of the Committee".

Similar provisions are to be made in Amendments Nos. 104 and 105 on page 34.

The amendments simply seek to ensure that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will take steps to ensure that those involved in the important work of the committees will not be out of pocket as a result. We would welcome the Government's assurance that the members of the committees will receive proper expenses. I beg to move.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I am grateful to the noble Lord for his explanation of these proposals. Amendments Nos. 91 and 104 would restrict the discretion of the Lord Chancellor in paying expenses for those working on or supporting the work of the committees. It is important that the discretion is retained in order that officials may monitor expenditure and ensure that payments are made in accordance with departmental financial controls. It is entirely reasonable for claims to be subject to scrutiny when payments are to be met from the public purse.

The provisions of the Bill are identical to the Lord Chancellor's power in relation to the Civil Procedure Rule Committee. The members of that committee are reimbursed routinely for travelling and out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the course of their work on the committee and it is intended that that would be the case for members of the criminal and family procedure rule committees. The discretionary power for the Lord Chancellor to reimburse members of the rule committee has worked well in the past and there is no need to alter this.

I turn now to Amendments Nos. 92 and 105 which seek further to define out-of-pocket expenses. I believe that the amendments would add unnecessary detail. The context is clear from the current provision. The

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discretion to pay expenses of itself will ensure that such payments will be confined to those necessarily arising from the work of the committee.

I hope that, with that clarification, the noble Lord will feel content and able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Hunt of Wirral: I am grateful to the noble Baroness. I was a little concerned that one of the consequences of what the Minister has stated is that if there is no money in the budget then people will not be paid. However, that may be too trite an observation and so I shall take time to consider the matter further. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 92 not moved.]

Lord Hunt of Wirral moved Amendment No. 93:

    Page 30, line 43, at end insert—

"( ) Persons appointed under subsection (2) shall serve as members of the Committee for a maximum of three years."

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 93 and 106 suggest that those appointed to the committees should serve for a maximum of three years, but the purpose of the amendments is simply to probe how long the Minister believes that a person would serve. Are there any reasons for removing a person? What are the criteria for selection on to the committees? I believe that we need some clarification on these matters and I look forward to the Minister's response. I beg to move.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I should say straight away that I rather doubt that the insertion of a statutory maximum period of appointment is necessary. It may have a detrimental impact on the progression of the committee's work. A statutory limitation could remove unnecessarily valuable experience from the committee and could cause considerable problems for the progression of its work. I am grateful to the noble Lord for saying that he does not propose that a three-year period should be maintained, but that he was using it more as a form of stalking-horse to look at the position.

The appointments process will be developed and carefully monitored to ensure compliance with Nolan procedures and guidance from the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. The membership arrangements will adhere to agreed standards.

I do not have a pat answer in regard to the defined period. So far the period has been flexible, responding in relation to the nature of the rules under consideration and the experience of the individuals involved so that the committee has had the balance and the acuity required to deal with the specific areas of law under consideration. I shall certainly seek a clear answer from our officials as regards our provisional thinking, but I am not able to say to noble Lords that we have a fixed period in mind. We intend to take a flexible approach and to meet the needs of the committee.

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I hope that the noble Lord will be content with that response. Obviously if I have further and better information, I shall write to him.

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