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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I support the amendment. When I sat as a magistrate on the North West Surrey Bench I sat in a community where 15 per cent of the population had come to this country as primary migrants. Not only are they a part of the community, but they are a valuable part. About 11 or 12 per cent of the population of the Woking area come from one particular area in Pakistan and the rest of the overseas population come from China and Italy. We have a vibrant Sicilian culture in a part of Woking close to where I live.

I find it extraordinary that such people should be discriminated against. The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, has made a cogent case. Section 3 refers to "English parents". When I looked at this I considered it in its broader sense and I was shocked that I had not realised that they were disqualified. In my area I am sure that we would welcome such people onto the magistrates' Bench because they have a valuable part to play in dispensing justice.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, while we have every sympathy with the intention of the amendment we believe that it is inappropriate for this Bill. This is an amendment to Clause 37 which has not previously been tabled. It seeks to avert the effect of Section 3 of the Act of Settlement, thus enabling my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor to appoint foreign nationals as lay magistrates.

The Government plan to introduce a new Bill, the Crown Employment (Nationality) Bill, that will initiate changes designed to alter nationality requirements for certain holders of offices under the Crown. Both the professional judiciary and the lay magistracy are included in the ambit of that Bill. If the amendment were accepted as it stands, it would have the effect of creating an anomaly between the lay magistracy and the

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professional judiciary to whom the nationality requirements would still apply. Furthermore, it would create presentational difficulties—if I can put it that way—for the Crown Employment (Nationality) Bill.

We would prefer that this amendment be remitted so that we can consult with those handling the Crown Employment (Nationality) Bill and clarify whether it will cause presentational difficulties for them before addressing the meat of this amendment. Should that not be the case, we can revisit the amendment at a later date and consider how best it could be introduced into the Bill. I hope that that is a satisfactory response to the plea that has been made by the noble Baroness and by the noble Lord.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I am absolutely astounded by the revelation that Sir Michael Kerr, who, as I said, was one of the most distinguished judges of the past 50 years, never actually qualified for appointment to the Bench.

However, I hear what the noble Baroness says about this matter. I am glad that the Government intend to take the point in hand. But that could presumably take some time. Clearly, the Bill will not be passed in this Session of Parliament. No doubt it will have to fight its way onto the list for the next Session. In the absence of any undertaking, which clearly the Minister cannot give, as to the date when it is to be introduced, it seems that there is a great deal to be said for dealing with this very simple and obvious point now rather than waiting.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, my noble friend said that she would want to consider this matter again at a later stage while we are considering this Bill. What is wrong with that?

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I do not think that the noble Baroness has gone far enough. Unless there is a clear intention to bring a more far-reaching change on to the statute book, either in this Session or, as is more likely, the next Session of Parliament, I think that we should press for the amendment to be incorporated into this Bill.

I should be interested to know how and why this point came to be raised in the first place—whose opinion it was and how the question was ever raised. However, I shall of course consider what the noble Baroness has said and whether this matter should be brought back at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 40 [Power to make rulings at pre-trial hearings]:

[Amendment No. 89 not moved.]

Schedule 3 [Pre-trial hearings in magistrates' courts]:

[Amendment No. 90 not moved.]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 91:

    Page 68, leave out lines 30 to 32 and insert "—

(a) the magistrates' court commits or sends him to the Crown Court for trial for the offence charged in the information, or
(b) a count charging him with the offence is included in an indictment by virtue of section 40 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this clause and schedule set out the provision for making pre-trial binding rulings in the magistrates' court. This is an important new power in the context of the integrated court structure that this Bill will introduce and the wider criminal justice reform programme, which will improve the preparation and progression of cases through the criminal justice system.

Under this clause and schedule, a pre-trial ruling can be made by a judge or magistrates at a pre-trial hearing in a criminal case that is to be tried summarily in the magistrates' court, as to issues of substantive law and admissibility of evidence which have been identified by the parties and would benefit from early resolution.

Since the noble Lord has not moved Amendments Nos. 89 and 90 I shall not explore the matter further unless any noble Lord indicates that that would prove helpful.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 92:

    Page 68, line 34, leave out from "section" to end of line 39 and insert "no report of matters falling within subsection (2) may be published in England and Wales."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I wish to speak to this extensive group of amendments en bloc. Schedule 3 sets out the provision for making pre-trial binding rulings in the magistrates' court. Under the schedule, a pre-trial ruling can be made by a judge or magistrate at a pre-trial hearing in a criminal case that is to be tried in the magistrates' court. Pre-trial rulings will encompass issues of substantive law and admissibility of evidence that has been identified by the parties and would benefit from early resolution.

Amendments Nos. 92 to 100 deal with the restrictions on the reporting of pre-trial hearings in magistrates' courts. Although there is no jury in a magistrates' court, reporting restrictions have been included to ensure that defendants, or defendants in linked proceedings in the Crown Court, are protected from possible adverse publicity. Such publicity might jeopardise the fairness of the trial should the case be heard ultimately in the Crown Court.

Amendment No. 92 deals with the territorial extent of the restrictions on reporting. The reporting restrictions in the Bill extend only to England and Wales, rather than to the entire United Kingdom, as do the restrictions in the Criminal Justice Bill. The narrower territorial extent is considered adequate for the purposes of the power that we are introducing to the magistrates' courts, which will generally be applicable to cases unlikely to attract widespread press interest.

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Amendment No. 94 allows reporting of basic factual matters and is intended to ensure that a defendant's right to a fair trial is adequately balanced against the public interest in maintaining free and open reporting of court proceedings.

Amendments Nos. 95 to 100 would extend reporting restrictions and the offences associated with breach to cover electronic communications, including publication on the Internet. Those amendments also make the reporting restrictions in the Bill consistent with the provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill.

Amendment No. 100 extends liability to prosecution for offences in connection with reporting committed by a corporate body to specified officers of the corporate body in question. We consider that the modern methods of electronic communication present a greater threat of the dissemination of adverse publicity, which might jeopardise the fairness of a trial. We have therefore strengthened protection against that risk by extending liability to specified officers of a corporate body. Those provisions are consistent with the measures in the Criminal Justice Bill. There are safeguards in that an offence must be proved to have been committed with the officers' consent or connivance, or to be attributable to their neglect. I beg to move.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I wish to ask a question as a layman, as I may have misunderstood the Minister's explanation. On the precautions that she said were being taken against the publication of information relating to pre-trial hearings, the Minister said that she did not think it a problem that something could be published in Scotland, for example, as it is unlikely to be the kind of information that people would know about, so it would not be reported there anyway. In certain headline cases, such as Soham, information on a pre-trial review might be published in Scotland. Scottish publications are readily sold throughout England; therefore, it is not just a matter of it being irrelevant whether the limited audience in Scotland could get hold of information because nobody here would hear about it. Scottish newspapers are in the House of Lords Library and are sold throughout the country. Have the Government thought through how information could be made available in a particular area? A magistrate hearing a case could see the information in a newspaper, or, if the case goes to the Crown Court, the jury there might see it.

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