§ The Solicitor-General
I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 15, line 40, at end insert— 840`(4A) The magistrates' court inquiring into an offence as examining justices is also competent, before it decides whether or not to commit the person for trial, as respects any proceedings before the Crown Court on his trial.'.The amendment inserts in the Bill what is currently provided for under section 2(1) of the Legal Aid Act 1982. It allows magistrates courts to make only one legal aid order at committal proceedings, which will cover both those proceedings and the defendant's trial in the Crown court, should the magistrates court decide to commit him there.
Those "through" legal aid orders as they are known were introduced to assist early preparation of cases by solicitors and to enable counsel's advice to be taken early where necessary. That is advantageous to the solicitor and the client. It also assists the court, it reduces administrative work in the magistrates court, and preparation should lead to improvements in the reliability of the information supplied to the Crown court for listing purposes and reduce the number of wasteful late changes of plea.
For those reasons, the Government seek to retain the provision and I commend the amendment to the House.
§ Amendment agreed to.