HC Deb 20 October 1972 vol 843 cc704-21

Lords Amendment: No. 20, in page 24, line 28, at end insert new Clause "G"—

10 (b) having been informed of his right to apply for legal aid and had the opportunity to do so, he refused or failed to apply.
15 (2) For purposes of this section a person is to be treated as legally represented in a court if, but only if, he has the assistance of counsel or a solicitor to represent him in the proceedings in that court at some time after he is found guilty and before he is sentenced, and in subsection (1)(a) and (b) above "legal aid" means legal aid for the purposes of proceedings in that court, whether the whole proceedings or the proceedings on or in relation to sentence; but in the case of a person committed to the Crown Court for sentence or trial, it is immaterial whether he applied for legal aid in the Crown Court to, or was informed of his right to apply by, that court or the court which committed him.
25 (3) In this section "previously sentenced" means previously 25 sentenced by a court in any part of the United Kingdom, but for the purposes of this section a person shall not be treated as having been previously sentenced to imprisonment by reason only of a sentence of imprisonment which has been suspended and which has not taken effect under section 40 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 or section 19 of the Treatment of Offenders Act (Northern Ireland) 1968; and "detention centre" means in relation to Northern Ireland young offenders centre."

Read a Second time.

2.0 p.m.

Mr. S. C. Silkin

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Lords Amendment:

In line 5, leave out 'and has not been previously sentenced to that punishment'.

Mr. Speaker

I hope that with this Amendment we may also deal with the following Amendments as Amendments to the Lords Amendment:

In line 5, leave out 'been previously' and insert 'during the previous five years been'. In line 5, leave out 'been previously' and insert 'during the previous ten years been'. In line 20, after 'sentence', insert 'and "informed" means informed by the court'. In line 24, leave out subsection (3) and insert: '(3) In this section "detention centre" means in relation to Northern Ireland young offenders centre'.

Mr. Silkin

Lords Amendment No. 20 is important since it is an improvement in the law which was introduced in consequence of the considerable pressure in this House and the other place for extension of the facilities for legal aid and knowledge of entitlement among those who may obtain it.

The general effect of the Clause is that a court is not to sentence a man to imprisonment or other custodial treat- ment unless he has applied for legal aid and the application is refused on the grounds of means or has been informed of his right to apply for legal aid and has not taken advantage of it. In addition to those qualifications a further qualification was introduced in the other place; namely, that the man has not been previously sentenced to that punishment.

We oppose the inclusion of the qualification on two grounds. First, we believe it to be inherently wrong. We hold that view because it is precisely those people who have been previously sentenced who are in the greatest danger of a heavy sentence of imprisonment or other custodial treatment. In our view, it is those people who are most in need of legal aid and who should not be sentenced to a form of penalty of that kind unless they have been made clearly aware of their right to obtain legal aid. The person with the previous custodial sentence is the man who is in much greater need of protection than the person in respect of whom this may be a first offence and in respect of whom a likelihood of a custodial sentence is much more remote.

We think it wrong in principle to include this provision. I do not understand on what logical basis one should exclude the need to inform a man of his rights to legal aid merely because he has previously been sentenced to a form of punishment. That is our objection in principle.

Our second objection is that the way in which this qualification has been framed appears to lead to absurd anomalies. The qualification is that the man has not been previously sentenced to that punishment. That punishment has three possibilities, imprisonment, borstal training or a sentence of detention in a detention centre. The court is required not to sentence him in that way without the man possessing knowledge of his rights to legal aid, unless he had previously been sentenced to the same punishment. In other words, the qualification will apply where somebody has been sentenced to a period in a detention centre and the court is minded to send him to such a centre again. The Minister appears to disagree with that interpretation, but that is how I read the matter.

Mr. Carlisle

I think the hon. and learned Gentleman has it the wrong way round. It relates to the representation of somebody who is being sent to prison and who has previously been in detention or in borstal.

Mr. Silkin

The provision, as I understand it, provides that the magistrates' court or the Crown Court is not to sentence a person to imprisonment, borstal training or detention if that person is not legally represented and if he has not previously been sentenced to that punishment. In other words—and I hope that I have got it right—if he has been previously sentenced to that punishment, the Clause will not apply. As I understand the situation, if a person has previously been sentenced to serve a term in a detention centre the Clause will apply to his benefit if he is to be sentenced to imprisonment, but not if he is to be sentenced to another period in a detention centre. I hoped that that was what I said but, if I did not, I apologise for not making the matter clear.

That seems to me to produce an anomalous situation, the purpose of which is not clear to me. I do not see why there should be a distinction between three types of custodial sentence. If we accept the fact that a person has been previously sentenced to a custodial sentence, and if we take this as the key which enables escape to be made from the provisions of the Clause dealing with legal aid, I should have thought that it would not matter to what form of custodial sentences he was sentenced previously and what form of custodial sentence the court then has in mind. That there should be this difference in treatment, which arises purely from the fact that the custodial sentence now in mind is different, is an anomaly the explanation of which I do not understand. I hope that the Under-Secretary will be able to explain this anomaly.

Leaving aside the anomaly created by the wording of the new Clause, we attach great importance to the principle to which I have already referred. We think the right should not be diminished because a person has previously been sentenced to the particular punishment in question. We feel that these words should be removed from a new Clause which otherwise we fully support.

Mr. Dell

This is a very interesting Lords Amendment, and the Amendment moved by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin) gives us an opportunity of probing why the Government have at last decided to handle the matter in this way.

The Lords Amendment has both positive and negative aspects. It is fair to start by considering what might be called the Widgery aspects of the Lords Amendment. I think we are confronted with something which will become famous, at any rate in the legal profession, as the Carlisle progression. We start this progression with the statement frequently made by the Minister of State that it is completely unnecessary to do anything about the Widgery criteria because the courts know what they are and are getting on with them very happily.

During the course of the Bill we reached the second stage in this progression when the Minister of State said that it was not appropriate to legislate on the Widgery criteria, but he would issue a circular to the courts drawing their attention to the criteria so that if any courts were not properly applying them they would have this further encouragement.

We have now reached the end of the progression. Apparently it is appropriate to legislate part of the Widgery criteria, but only in this very narrow area, contrary to my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment which was debated on Report and subsequently on two occasions in the other place. The Government are now saying that they will not accept my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment, but they will legislate in this very narrow area.

Why? According to what principle are the Government now operating? If legislation is appropriate for the Widgery criteria, why do not the Government do my hon. and learned Friend the honour of accepting his Amendment and writing it into the Bill? The Minister of State, as I expected, shakes his head. I suppose he cannot do it at this stage. However, he should tell us on what principle the Government are acting, why they have decided to legislate only for this small category, and why it is not being done more widely.

There are negative aspects to the Amendment, to some of which I will draw attention. The Amendment is contrary to the Widgery Report in several respects. It is contrary to what the Widgery Committee said in paragraph 163 were it came to the conclusion that this sort of division in the course of a case as to where legal aid was necessary and where it was not could not be made.

The Amendment is contrary, too, in that the Widgery Committee emphasised that it was important for a person in jeopardy to have the assistance of a lawyer at the stage when deciding how to plead, which is a most important moment, to ensure that he understands the charge and does not plead guilty under a misapprehension about the implications of the charge; and, indeed, throughout the trial.

2.15 p.m.

Why should the Government decide that only at the moment when the magistrates have decided that a man may be sentenced to imprisonment should legal aid be statutorily required?

Another negative aspect is that the Lords Amendment downgrades the circular which the Minister of State said he would send out. I take it that he will still send out the circular. The hon. and learned Gentleman promised me on an earlier occasion that, when he does, he will put it in the Library of the House so that we can read it. Already there is considerable doubt about the value of circulars, what happens to them when they arrive, and whether magistrates ever see them. In practice, it depends very much on the view of the clerk to the magistrates whether he shows it to them or regards it as important.

We shall have a situation where a circular will come out recommending certain things to the magistrates, but one small element in the Widgery criteria will be law and they will have to take account of it. I suggest the effect will be to reduce the impact that this circular would otherwise have.

What happens at the point at which the decision is made that imprisonment might be the sentence and it is discovered that the man is not legally represented? Will he be remanded in custody at that point, or will some lawyer be dredged up from the body of the court to consult with him for five minutes before making a plea in mitigation? That would be an extremely unsatisfactory position. How will it be handled? It could lead to an increased number of remands in custody. It is well known that when magistrates are thinking of sentencing anyone to imprisonment and for some reason wish to defer sentence, they usually remand in custody. I should be glad to hear the Minister of State comment on whether this could lead to an increased number of remands in custody.

Throughout the debates on the Bill one question which I repeatedly put to the Government concerned what they knew about the impact of their various proposals. Yesterday I had a Question down about the impact of the imprisonment proposals of this amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that he did not have information available in the form I requested. It seemed to me to be a form which was very relevant to the wording of this Amendment. In a sense I was relieved. This enables me to maintain my 100 per cent. record as there has been no occasion when I have asked a Question of the Home Office about the impact of their proposals when it has known the answer.

Mr. Carlisle

It might be that the right hon. Gentleman has been able to maintain his record because he always asks Questions in such a form that it is impossible to answer them.

Mr. Dell

That immediately leads me to anticipate that there will be an answer from the hon. and learned Gentleman which will be in a form which the Home Office can give.

According to the 1969 figures, the last published figures, only 28 per cent. of persons sentenced to imprisonment had not previously been sent to prison. So, of those actually going to prison, this will cover about 28 per cent. on the 1969 figures. If that is wrong, no doubt the Minister of State will tell me. However, that is the estimate which I have made on the basis of the 1969 figures. If the hon. and learned Gentleman has better information, I should be grateful for it. That is one reason why I warmly support the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich. At any rate, his Amendment would succeed in multiplying the coverage of the Lords Amendment by a figure of four, which would have a radical effect. I do not see why the hon. and learned Gentleman should worry about that when he has told the House so many times that it is the fact that all these people are legally represented anyhow. The hon. and learned Gentleman is saying that the Amendment will not have any effect, so let us make sure that what has already been achieved is written into the legislation. Those are the Widgery aspects and those are the reasons why I point out that the Lords Amendment, which is rightly welcomed, has certain negative aspects. I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will comment on that point.

Another aspect to the Amendment is that of suspended sentences. Although the New Statesman recently announced that I had been called to the Bar and immediately given silk, that is not true and I may be wrong on law. However, I take it that it is right that the Lords Amendment applies to the imposition of a suspended sentence.

Mr. Carlisle

indicated assent.

Mr. Dell

As that is the case, certain matters follow. Many of the people who will be protected by the Amendment would have been protected by the mandatory provision. The hon. and learned Gentleman will be pleased to know that that is the only reference I shall make to that provision. It is in this area that the Lords Amendment will bite, in the area of considering whether a person should be subjected to a suspended sentence. According to the now famous memorandum on suspended sentences which was published by the Home Office, 61 per cent. of those who are given suspended sentences will be covered by the Amendment, as they have had no previous custodial sentence. That is a very much higher percentage than the 28 per cent. which is applicable in the other area of immediate imprisonment. That is 61 per cent. of a comparable number of people.

It is here, to start with, that the Lords Amendment will bite. It also bites at the point which is relevant when one is considering the imposition of a suspended sentence. It may be valuable for a lawyer to be present and to say to the magistrates, "This is not a case for a suspended sentence in place of a fine or a probation order which he might have been given in this sort of case before suspended sentences were introduced." The real object and effect of the Lords Amendment is to discourage the use of suspended sentences instead of probation orders or fines.

Consequently, it could have an effect in reducing that area of imprisonment where people go to prison on a further offence when they are subject to a suspended sentence. That is an important and valuable effect. In the Bill we have the famous Clause 10(3), the enactment of O'Keefe. I was amused, when reading the debates in another place, to see how frequently the noble Lord, Viscount Colville of Culross, referred to the O'Keefe Amendment, saying how valuable it is, how it affords great protection, and how essential it is that it should be in the Bill. When I remember the fight which we had in Committee to get the hon. and learned Gentleman to commit himself to consider that proposal, I rejoice at how valuable the Home Office now regards the O'Keefe Amendment.

But what will be the effect of the Lords Amendment? The effect will be that the lawyer who is in court at the stage when the magistrates are considering whether a suspended sentence shall be given, will refer to Clause 10(3), remind them of O'Keefe and say, "You must not sentence this man to a suspended sentence unless you have satisfied yourselves in accordance with the relevant Clause of the 1972 Criminal Justice Act." So from this point of view I do not have any reservations about the Lords Amendment except that I should like to see the additional coverage which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich proposes.

I shall next refer to the meaning of "informed" which appears in Amendment 14. The hon. and learned Gentleman will appreciate that "informed" is of vital importance. The man has to be legally represented unless, having been informed of his right to apply for legal aid and having had the opportunity to do so, he refuses or fails to apply. The meaning of "informed" is crucial. In the debates in another place it seemed that "informed" was interpreted as meaning that after conviction, and when the magistrates or the court were considering whether there should be a sentence of imprisonment, they would say to the offender if he was not legally represented, "Do you want to be legally represented?" At column 1552 of the proceedings in the House of Lords Viscount Colville of Culross says: All that we want to do is to make certain that before the magistrates sentence, if the man or the woman is not already represented he or she should be told. 'We have it in mind that you may have to go to prison for this offence. We are not allowed by law to sentence you to prison until we have had the assistance of listening to counsel or a solicitor on your behalf, if it is your wish to have one'".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th October, 1972: Vol. 335. c. 1552.] At that stage they offer him legal aid. That may be the intention, but I do not see it in the Clause. I shall be pleased if the hon. and learned Gentleman can say that is what is meant, but the Clause says that he has been "informed". He might have been informed about the availability of legal aid by a leaflet or from the charge sheet. There are several places and ways in which he may have been informed. Can the hon. and learned Gentleman say that "informed" means what the noble lord Viscount Colville of Culross said it meant in the House of Lords? If he can, there is no further worry, but I should like him to clear up that point.

Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 are moderate Amendments which slightly extend the coverage of the Lords Amendment as it stands. In effect, they say, "You are excluding people who have previous custodial sentences from benefit under the Clause, but let us have a cut- off period." For example, if a man has been going steady for five years—I am generous enough to give the Government the choice, they can have five or 10 years—or a substantial period, and the offender has not committed an offence recently which has led to a custodial sentence, then let that man also have the benefit of the Clause. That is a mild and moderate proposal. I do not know how far it would extend the coverage but, whether or not it would extend it very much, it appears to me that a man who has not offended for 20 years, but who 20 years ago did offend and received a sentence, should benefit from the Clause. I am saying, "Let him benefit" and I am giving the Government the choice of five or 10 years. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will comment on these points and questions. In particular, I hope that he will tell us why the Government have changed their minds and according to what principle they now believe they are acting.

2.30 p.m.

Mr. Carlisle

I hope that the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) and the hon. and learned Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin) will forgive me if I say that we have been over this ground on a great number of occasions since Second Reading. But I will try to explain the effect of the Lords Amendment. I will explain why we decided to implement it in the House of Lords and why I find the Opposition's proposed Amendment to it unacceptable.

The hon. and learned Member for Dulwich talked a lot about how necessary it is for a person to know and to be informed of his rights. The effect of the Lords Amendment is not to ensure that a person knows or is informed of his rights, but to say that he cannot be sent to prison if he has not been in prison before, that he cannot be sent to Borstal if he has not been in Borstal before, and that he cannot be sent to a detention centre if he has not been there before, unless he is legally represented, other than in two circumstances—first, that he was offered legal aid and refused or failed to accept it, and, second, that he is found by the court to be clearly of such substance as not financially to require legal aid. Otherwise, the person must be represented before the court before he can be sent to prison, or to Borstal, or to a detention centre, if he has not been there before.

The hon. and learned Gentleman may say, "Why specify the type of punishment?". He may ask why we should not specify a person who has never been to custodial sentence before. But that would assume that if a boy of 14, say, has been to a detention centre and appears before a higher court at a much later age—perhaps many years later—the higher court may say that it will send him to prison and that he is not bound to be represented because he has had a previous custodial sentence. The effect of limiting the provision to the type of punishment is to say that Borstal is graver than a detention centre, and that even if a person has been to a detention centre he should not be sent to Borstal unless he is represented and heard, and that, equally, if he has been to Borstal he should not be sent to prison for the first time until he has had the opportunity to be heard.

I am asked on what principle we distinguish between the person who has not been to prison before and the person who has been to prison before. The best advice I can get at the moment is that the figure of those going to prison for the first time is substantially higher than that which the hon. and learned Gentleman gave. It is likely to be between 40 and 45 per cent.

We make the distinction for the very simple reason that it is consistent with the principle, used in other parts of the Bill, that there should be a particular safeguard around the individual who has not been in prison before but who is likely to go to prison as a result of an offence—namely, that he cannot be sent to prison unless the court is satisfied that no other means is appropriate. Equally, when considering possibly sending to prison a person who has never been there before, it is particularly important for him to have the opportunity of expressing, and having expressed on his behalf, that which he wishes to express.

I have been asked on what basis of principle the Govearnment bring in this Lords Amendment. It is because it is consistent with other parts of the Bill, designed to highlight the situation of the man who has not been to prison before. The hon. and learned Gentleman, how- ever, asks why, having gone that far, we should not go the whole way and say that no one should ever be sent to prison unless he is represented before the court. The right hon. Gentleman wishes to have the argument both ways. He says that we should do that but also asks, since we have always said that it was not necessary to tell the courts other matters, why it is necessary to tell them about the case of the first offender.

I said at an earlier stage, and I repeat, that I believe that there is substantial evidence in the figures for my belief that the Widgery criteria are to a large extent being implemented today. Of those committed to quarter sessions, 95 per cent. were represented, while in the magistrates' courts legal aid was granted to 79,000 persons, although only 18,000 persons appearing in the magistrates' courts were sentenced to terms of imprisonment. I said that it was obvious from the growing use of legal aid that the Widgery criteria were being implemented and I was prepared to accept the argument and recommend to the courts that they should be used.

The right hon. Member was a distinguished member of the last Government, and I point out to him that both the Labour Home Secretaries—the right hon. Members for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) and for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan)—never at any stage went so far as to commend the Widgery criteria to the courts. But not only did we say that we commended the Widgery criteria to the courts. We also said that we would send out a circular to that effect. That is being done. It is only being held up for slight alteration to take account of the Lords Amendment.

Mr. Clinton Davis

Why, in view of the argument he has ventilated so proudly, does the hon. and learned Gentleman think it even necessary to send out the circular?

Mr. Carlisle

Because, perhaps unwisely, I listened to the hon. Gentleman's arguments and the arguments of others like him, who always say, "That may be your view but I do not accept it." I told him and others in the end that although my belief was that the Widgery criteria were very largely being operated, I accepted the weight of the argument that they were not. I said that the Government would therefore do what the last Government did not do—send out a circular recommending the Widgery criteria. The circular points out that a case where a person is liable to go to prison is clearly a strong prima facie ground for granting him legal aid.

Where a person's liberty is likely to be at stake, the courts will have drawn to their attention the view of the Widgery Committee that this is a strong prima facie for granting legal aid, together with the additional statutory requirement that if that individual has not been to prison before, and the court is thinking of sending him down the steps for the first time, he must be given the opportunity to be represented. That is right and it highlights the situation of the person who has not been to prison before. I accept that in the higher courts people were not sent to prison unless they were represented but we think that we should put it in statutory form.

I do not want to speak any longer, but I would just point out that, to distinguish between recommending Widgery and the proposals of the hon. and learned Gentleman, to say that in every single case, if anybody is sent to prison, he must be offered opportunity of legal aid, is to remove, as his party always seems to wish to remove, any form of discretion left to the courts at all. Let us just take the sort of example which he was giving. I give him two examples, of the concurrent sentence and the breach of probation. Let us take the case of a person who is put on probation by a higher court, perhaps after a considerable record of imprisonment. If he is warned fully and adequately, without being represented, that if he in any way breaks the probation or commits another offence he will go to prison for nine months, and then he breaks into a house and is brought back before the same court, is the hon. and learned Gentleman saying that the court should have no discretion whatsoever in deciding whether or not it would be appropriate that public funds should be provided to defend that man before the court gives him a sentence of nine months, after the court has warned him specifically the day before?

Mr. Sandelson

Would the hon. and learned Gentleman not agree that each case of sentencing has to be considered on the immediately relevant and determining factors which led to the commission of the later offence? Would he not also agree that those factors may be entirely new as between the sentence for the previous offence and the commission of the later one, and that it is, therefore, absolutely vital that these new and possibly highly relevant factors which led to the commission of the later offence should be fully considered by the sentencing judge and that they should be considered with the assistance and through the agency of counsel?

Mr. Carlisle

In the circumstances I gave, no, I would not agree.

The other example I would give is this. A man gets five years' imprisonment and is brought before the same or another court for some other offence, along with someone else, and the court gives him three months to be served concurrently. Is there anything to be said for granting him the presence of counsel—

Mr. S. C. Silkin


Mr. Carlisle

The hon. and learned Member says yes. I find it difficult to see why, in that type of case, the court should not, having the Widgery criteria, having the strong prima facie argument that they proposed to send to prison, should not be left discretion to say that there are certain cases where representation will achieve no object whatsoever. I have attempted to give two such.

I am almost driven to the conclusion, having listened to the hon. Gentlemen opposite a great deal on this Bill, that really they lack all willingness to give any discretion whatsoever to the courts in deciding in appropriate cases the type of sentence or the grant of legal aid or bail, and that they must have some very deep distrust of the conduct of the courts. For goodness sake, surely in an issue of this kind it is appropriate that the Government should remind the courts of the recommendations of the Lord Chief Justice of the circumstances in which legal aid should be given, and then to leave it to the courts to exercise their discretion to decide in any particular case whether it is given.

I believe that the Amendment to the Lords Amendment would lead to a situation where, whatever the facts, on every single occasion, where a court adjourned a case, and adjourned in custody—and as the hon. Gentleman said, more and more people are being remanded in custody—the accused would have to be represented before that court in the circumstances which I gave—not when a person has not been in prison before, but to widen it further is unnecessary—

Mr. Clinton Davis

On the question of remand in custody, with which the hon. and learned Gentleman dealt very superficially, I thought, is it his view that the Home Office will send out a circular dealing with the way in which persons should be represented? What does he have in mind in that respect? Does he think that in the circumstances adumbrated in the Lords Amendment as it stands persons will be remanded for seven days or 14 days within this category, or does he think that the provision of the Legal Aid and Advice Act will come into operation whereby a lawyer is appointed on the spot—which is also grotesquely inadequate in certain circumstances?

Mr. Carlisle

In some cases lawyers will be available and under the new Act will be asked to represent persons in such cases as the right hon. Gentleman has pointed out, in an argument I used against him on many occasions in Committee. The case will have to be adjourned before the person is sentenced to prison and the court might grant legal aid, so there would be no need for an additional adjournment. Sometimes there will be an adjournment.

Finally I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that I am indeed satisfied that the court will have to satisfy itself that the persons were informed. If he looks at the last words of the paragraph he will see that it is immaterial whether they are informed by the Crown Court or the magistrates' court. I think it is clear from that that it is the clear duty of the court to inform them and not give the information merely by leaflet.

Mr. S. C. Silkin

By leave of the House. I listened with care to the Minister of State, as I always do, and the more he spoke the more, it seemed to me, he emphasised that the only results which we are going to have from passing into law this new Clause, if passed in its unamended form, is complication of matters, so far as the Widgery criteria are concerned, and creation of a situation in which the courts would have the Widgery criteria before them by way of circular warning them that it is undesirable for people who are unlikely to be sent to prison or some other form of custodial sentence to be granted legal aid.

At the same time they would have before them this new Clause which says to them in effect, "Never mind what Widgery says. That only arises if the person has not been sentenced to some form of custodial sentence before." The Minister shakes his head, but I really do not see how one can escape from that situation, if we make specific and limited provision in an Act of Parliament whilst at the same time sending out by way of advice from the Home Office a recommendation which does not bear that limitation. I think any court is likely in those circumstances to take the view that what Parliament intended is what is to be followed, rather than what appears by way of guidance.

I am coming very much to the view, having heard the Minister, and also the very pertinent points which my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) made, that it would be better not to have this new Clause at all and to rely solely on Widgery, rather than have it unamended to create the possibility of confusion. When we put forward the Widgery proposals in statutory form we put them in that form; we did not select one, as the Government have, by way of a sop to opinion in this place or another place. Putting it forward in this way is only going to cause the courts to be ignorant as to the real intentions of the legislature, certainly unless the Amendment which I have proposed to the Lords Amendments is passed to delete the wording from the new Clause which produces a contradiction between it and the Widgery criteria.

In these circumstances I certainly would not wish to withdraw my Amendment to the Lords Amendment and I would invite the House to support it in the Division Lobby.

Question put: That the Amendment to the Lords Amendment be made:—

Amendment to the Lords Amendment accordingly negatived.

Lords Amendment agreed to.