HC Deb 25 April 1968 vol 763 cc630-1

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

10.12 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I must protest, as I did on Second Reading, at the inclusion of Clause 47. It is a clause which repeals itself on 1st October next. It deals with legal aid, which is only remotely within the long title to the Bill, and it deals with a part of that subject which will become obsolete on 1st October, exactly one month after the Bill comes into operation.

The whole subject is dealt with very fully in Part IV of the Criminal Justice Act, 1967, which could have been brought into operation by the Minister before, or simultaneously with, this Consolidation Bill. I can see no reason whatever for delay in bringing Part IV of the 1967 Act into operation so that it coincides with the Bill and makes this long Clause 47 quite unnecessary. To include a Clause which has a subsection repealing the whole Clause one month after the Bill comes into operation makes a farce of consolidation.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Arthur Irvine)

The hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) has previously referred to this point. Out of courtesy to him and to the Committee I should mention again—and there must be an element of repetition in this from the observations I have made earlier on the point—our reasons for Clause 47 appearing in the Bill. It re-enacts the provisions about legal aid before the Court of Appeal and before the House of Lords on appeal. These provisions basically stem from Section 10 of the 1907 Act and Section 10 of the 1951 Act, both of which were modified by Section 8 of the Administration of Justice Act, 1960. The table of derivations at the end of the Bill show the other provisions concerned.

The position, as the hon. Member for Crosby fully appreciates, is that Part IV of the Criminal Justice Act, 1967, rewrote the whole of the existing law about legal aid in criminal cases, including criminal appeals, and the Act repeals all the provisions re-enacted in Clause 47 of the Bill. Part IV of the Act of 1967, however, does not come into operation by an Order under Section 106(5) of that Act until 1st October, 1968. This is one month after the coming into force of the other provisions of the Act of 1967 which are reproduced in the Bill. Accordingly, it is necessary to preserve the existing provisions about legal aid for that period. That is the explanation I offer, not for the first time, and I hope the Committee will accept it.

Mr. Graham Page

What the Solicitor-General has not explained is why it is necessary to postpone for one month the coming into operation of Part IV of the Criminal Justice Act 1967. Why could not all the legal aid provisions have been brought in on 1st September, and thus obviated the necessity of putting into the Bill a Clause which repeals itself in one month?

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 48 to 54 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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