HC Deb 17 July 1995 vol 263 c1345

Lords amendment: No. 5, in page 16, line 31, after ("out") insert

("(otherwise than under a direction or in response to a request)")

Mr. Andrew Mitchell

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendment No. 6.

Mr. Mitchell

Clause 21 provides for the Secretary of State to recover DNA test fees that he has paid in connection with a paternity dispute when the alleged parent either admits paternity or is adjudged to be the father by a court. Lords amendments Nos. 5 and 6 restrict that power so that, when a court has ordered or requested that the test should be taken, the Secretary of State must apply to the court for the fees to be included in costs awarded to him if he is successful in establishing paternity.

The Government introduced the amendments in another place, because we recognised that it would not be right for officials acting for the Secretary of State to be able to recover DNA test fees when a judge also has discretion to award those fees as part of the court costs. Lords amendment No. 5 acknowledges the important principle that officials should not be able to bypass the courts' discretion to award costs, and I commend it to the House.

Mr. Bradley

We welcome the concession made by the Government. Although the Minister said that they introduced the measure in another place, I think that it relied on an amendment that we tabled in Committee to alter the original Bill. Despite his apparent unwillingness to commend the Opposition's approach, however, we welcome the Government's belated recognition that this is a sensible approach to the recovery of fees.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 6 agreed to.

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