HC Deb 18 November 2003 vol 413 cc703-24

Lords amendment: No. 114.

Paul Goggins

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Lords amendment No. 115 and the Government motion to disagree thereto, Government amendment (a) to words restored; Lords amendment No. 116 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 117 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 118 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 119 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 120 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 121 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 122 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 123 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 124 and the Government motion to disagree thereto, Government amendment (a) to words restored; Lords amendment No. 125 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 126 and the Government motion to disagree thereto, Government amendment (a) to words restored; Lords amendment No. 127 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 128 and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 129 and the Government motion to disagree thereto, Government amendments (a) to (e) to words restored; Lords amendment No. 130 and the Government motion to disagree thereto, Government amendments (a) to (d) to words restored; Lords amendment No. 131and the Government motion to disagree thereto; Lords amendment No. 132 and the Government motion to disagree thereto, Government amendment (a) to words restored; Lords amendments Nos. 133 to 136.

Paul Goggins

We now come to the part of the Bill that deals with the admissibility of evidence, specifically evidence of bad character and hearsay evidence. These are highly important provisions.

Trials should be a search for the truth and the rules of evidence should help to ensure that that is the case. The present law in both of those areas has, however, been roundly criticized—from the royal commission on criminal justice in 1993 to the Law Commission's reports in 1997 and 2001 and Lord Justice Auld's review of the criminal courts. There is a wide consensus in favour of reform.

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Mr. Kidney

My hon. Friend mentions the Law Commission. The Lords amendment on bad character would import wholesale the Law Commission's draft legislation on bad character, which seeks to clarify and modernise the law. It is authoritative because it is based on the Law Commission's investigation, report and draft Bill. Why does my hon. Friend not just take what he has got and accept the Lords amendment?

Paul Goggins

I shall explain why we are not doing that. We give credit to the Law Commission for the work that it has done, but argue that we want to go further than it has recommended. I hope that during the next few minutes I shall be able to apprise my hon. Friend of why we want to go further than the Law Commission's initial recommendations.

This part of the Bill is intended to provide a new statutory framework for the admission of those two types of evidence. Amendments adopted in the other place would, however, reduce the efficacy of the reform that the Government propose. I shall deal first with the evidence of bad character. Amendments adopted by the other place would replace the Government's proposals with almost exactly the scheme drafted by the Law Commission, as my hon. Friend pointed out. We agree with much in that scheme. As my noble Friend the Minister of State made clear in the other place, the Government's proposals are based on the Law Commission's work and adopt many of its recommendations. However, we do not believe that those go far enough in rebalancing the system to ensure that the rules promote the admission of relevant evidence, subject, of course, to considerations of fairness. Without such rebalancing, courts and juries will continue to have withheld from them important evidence that could give them the full picture of a particular case.

In our view, a different approach is required—one of inclusion, which makes it clear that relevant evidence is admissible. It will of course be for the prosecution to demonstrate in the course of proceedings how the evidence relates to the particular case.

Mr. Grieve

Let us take just one example: previous convictions. It is accepted—I think that the Government would accept this—that if someone has a previous conviction, that in itself cannot show that they are guilty of anything, unless there is a link between the previous conviction and the crime for which they are currently being tried. That is the classic example that shows why such evidence should be excluded unless there is a reason to include—it not the other way around. That is what the Law Commission wanted to do, but for some reason the Government do not want to do that.

Paul Goggins

It is because we are persuaded of the need for an inclusive approach. We are making the presumption that that kind of information is admissible as evidence. Of course, the defence has the opportunity to argue that such evidence is not relevant, and it could argue that it was more prejudicial than probative in a particular case, so there are safeguards in place—but the information referred to by the hon. Gentleman in his example may be relevant in a particular case.

We have always said that we will listen to constructive suggestions for change to ensure that our proposals are cast in the best possible form. We are aware that a number of concerns have been expressed over the way in which the Bill's scheme will work in practice and we are prepared to make improvements to reflect those. I am therefore moving several amendments to make three changes. The first concerns the definition of evidence of bad character. The definition that the Government originally proposed was that recommended by the Law Commission, but concern was expressed that that was too vague and would enable the admission of evidence that was too remote. We recognise that it is important to be as clear and precise as possible, so we have redrafted the definition to tighten the wording while maintaining a fairly wide ambit.

The second change is to ensure that the defendant has clear notice of the prosecution's intention to rely on evidence of his bad character. That reflects a concern that a more inclusionary approach would lead to the admission of evidence where it was not appropriate or safe for it to be heard. That is not our intention. We believe that the system needs to be rebalanced to ensure that relevant evidence is admitted unless good reason is shown for excluding it, but we recognise that there must be a clear opportunity for a defendant to apply to exclude the evidence and for that issue to be decided by the court. That will be facilitated by having a formal requirement of notice.

The third change relates to the admissibility of juvenile convictions in adult proceedings. At present, no mention may be made of those convictions. That is too restrictive an approach and our proposals will lift that absolute prohibition, making such evidence admissible subject to the general scheme of the Bill. Concern has been expressed that that goes too far, that a person's record at that age will not have the relevance of later offending, and that particular considerations apply in the context of juvenile offending. We have some sympathy with the idea that such admission should take place on a more restricted basis, so we propose that those convictions should be admissible only where the interests of justice specifically require it. We intend that test to exclude a sporadic record for minor offences while ensuring that continual or persistent offending or convictions for very serious offences are capable of admission.

Hon. Members will notice that there are a number of other amendments in the name of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mr. Hogg

To what extent has the Minister addressed the following issue? He will understand that under existing law, a defendant will often refrain from attacking the character of a Crown witness for fear of his own character being disclosed. Under the Government's proposals, the presumption, broadly speaking, seems to be that the bad character of the defendant can be disclosed in any event. That being so, the restraint that operates at present on defendants not to attack the character of Crown witnesses will disappear.

Paul Goggins

I am becoming more familiar with some of those issues by the hour. I understand that the right hon. and learned Gentleman refers to "the shield". We believe that the shield should not be available with impunity to the defendant, and that he should not be allowed to make assertions without some accountability and responsibility for them.

Mr. Denham

On the question of bad character, does my hon. Friend agree that of all the provisions in the Bill that have caused concern—I share many of those concerns—this is where the risk of something going wrong is probably greatest, in terms of the import of particular evidence being misunderstood by the jury in the course of the trial? The case for moving in this direction is good, but how do the Government propose to examine how the law will work in operation to see whether any of the concerns that have been expressed are justified or whether it is working well?

Paul Goggins

It is good practice for the Government to examine the impact of their legislation in any sphere. Earlier today we discussed the Sexual Offences Bill, whose implementation we shall need to monitor carefully. The same will be true of this Bill. I accept what my right hon. Friend says about some of the dangers. We acknowledge that there would be dangers if the provisions were unrestrained, but I have already referred to the requirement for notice to be given and made the point that the defence has the opportunity, without the jury in the courtroom, to argue that a particular piece of evidence that the prosecution wants to bring forward is not relevant or is more prejudicial than probative. I think that we have put in place safeguards that will reassure my right hon. Friend, but I certainly note his concerns.

On hearsay evidence, the relevant amendment that we are discussing would remove clause 107. That clause is a key part of the new statutory scheme. It provides an overarching statement of the circumstances in which hearsay evidence is admissible, setting the context for the rest of that part of Bill. Those who opposed the clause in the other place did so for two very different reasons.

First, objections were raised in general to the scheme proposed in the Bill, to which clause 107 provides the gateway. We believe that those objections are misplaced. The Bill provides a clear scheme based on recognised and established categories of admissibility, but consolidates the current rules and restates them comprehensively and coherently. As the House will know, the Lord Chief Justice has suggested that something simpler is needed, akin to the civil rules of evidence. We have given that careful consideration, but do not believe that a complete relaxation of the hearsay rule, as in civil proceedings, would be appropriate for criminal cases where different concerns, such as the fairness of the proceedings, take precedence. In our view, it is important to provide a clear structure for the admission of hearsay evidence, and we consider that the best framework is based on clear and accepted categories of admissibility, with residual discretion to operate in the interests of justice.

That brings me to the second concern that has been expressed▀×the extent to which the courts should have discretion to admit evidence that does not fall within one of the recognised categories. That is dealt with in clause 107(1)(d). The Government remain firmly of the view that that is an important aspect of the scheme. Certainly, it was considered necessary by the Law Commission, which recommended a provision along those lines. It might be helpful if I give an example of why that sort of discretion is needed.

Let us take a case where a man is accused of murdering his ex-wife. His defence is that he was 200 miles away at the time of her death. He has only one alibi—a neighbour's seven-year-old child saw him when he popped out to walk his dog. The child gives a statement to the police the next day confirming the man's presence at home. She remembers the incident so well because he stopped to let her pet the dog. But by the time of the trial, she cannot remember anything about it at all. The jury cannot be told about her statement because it would be hearsay. Juries in other countries, such as Canada, are trusted to hear that type of evidence, so why can they not be trusted to do so in this country?

That example is not far-fetched—the Court of Appeal dealt with a similar problem in the case of Thomas, when it upheld the judge's ruling that the statement was inadmissible hearsay, but it allowed the appeal as a conviction obtained in such circumstances could not be regarded as safe. That illustrates the need for some form of discretion to admit evidence outside of the categories provided in the Bill.

We have listened carefully to the concerns that have been expressed about whether the discretion in subsection (1)(d) is insufficiently focused. Government amendment (a) to Lords amendment No. 132 will tighten that provision to ensure that evidence can be admitted only where doing so is in the interests of justice. That will allow other out-of-court statements to be used where they are cogent and reliable.

There is a wide consensus in favour of reforming those two areas of the law. This is not about securing convictions at the expense of defendants' rights. Clear safeguards have been built into the scheme to ensure that the burden of proof continues to rest on the prosecution and that trials are conducted fairly. However, this is about ensuring that the rules are clear and facilitate the admission of evidence of previous offending or other misconduct where doing so is appropriate and safe. Our proposals have drawn substantially on the excellent work undertaken by the Law Commission. We consider it important that the original proposals in the Bill, amended as I have outlined, are restored.

Mr. Grieve

Perhaps I can start in a conciliatory tone by dealing with hearsay evidence first, because the Government have gone a considerable distance towards meeting the anxieties about hearsay evidence that have been expressed in the House and in another place. There is general agreement that revisiting the hearsay rules is desirable and that there are good reasons why certain forms of hearsay should be admissible in front of a jury, who should be trusted with such information, with the judge providing guidance and explanation about the fact that it is not first-hand evidence and on how to approach it with caution.

As the Minister has rightly explained, the anxiety was that the safeguards were insufficient, particularly in relation to multiple hearsay. Government amendment (a) to Lords amendment No. 132, which relates to clause 107(1)(d), is very small, but it is of considerable significance. It goes a long way to meeting those objections, particularly as the anxiety in respect of subsection (1)(d) was that it clearly implied in its original form. as the Minister will appreciate, that such evidence would be withheld only in the most exceptional circumstances. It is clear that the interests of justice require a judge to weigh that on each occasion without pressure being put on him by the words: despite the difficulties there may be in challenging the statement". It is precisely the difficulties in challenging the statement that make hearsay such a dangerous tool if it is not handled with a great deal of care.

The Government have dealt with that issue, and although I obviously cannot be sure what will happen when the Bill returns, I am satisfied that they have handled this matter correctly. I am grateful to the Minister, even at the eleventh hour and 59 minutes—or perhaps even beyond the twelfth hour—for the fact that we have succeeded in getting that right. The Government have come up with a number of amendments in respect of bad character that appear to be worthy and certainly represent an improvement.

6.15 pm
Mr. Garnier

Perhaps this intervention comes about through slowness in my intellect. I have listened to what the Minister and my hon. Friend have said, but I am still not persuaded by their happy acceptance that Government amendment (a) to Lords amendment No. 132 will do what they think it is intended to do. I wonder whether my hon. Friend will be patient enough to explain to me in a little more detail why he thinks that that Government amendment will do what he hopes it will do.

Mr. Grieve

The Government intend that the amendment will provide far greater discretion to exclude such evidence where the judge considers that the interests of justice require that it should not be admitted, so the amendment will beef up judicial discretion. To that extent—I accept to that extent only—it represents a significant improvement, which may go some way to reassure those in the other place who were worried about the issue that the Government have taken their concerns on board.

There are other ways to approach that matter, and my hon. and learned Friend is right to suggest that substantial anxiety was expressed about hearsay evidence in Committee and in the other place. I am certainly not saying that the Government's proposal represents the panacea for all ills, but it is a significant improvement in the light of the previous criticisms. I do not think that I can go beyond that.

Mr. Gamier

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for saying that, but I want to try to project myself forward. How would I sum up to a jury—

Mr. Allen

Oh no.

Mr. Garnier

I know that the hon. Gentleman is not terribly interested in the practical consequences of such Bills, but we—[Interruption.] I do not think that he can intervene on an intervention. We have to be sure that the laws that we pass in the House are not only attractive to us as legislators but can be put into practical effect in the law courts. I am sorry for the hon. Gentleman, but the courts are where the law is applied when people are on trial for their liberty. I am not suggesting that my hon. Friend is getting this wrong, but perhaps I am being very dim about it. I just want him to be able to convince me that when we push the provision through into law and he and I have to apply it as either advocates or judges, it will do what we think it will do. I am yet to be convinced that it will do so.

Mr. Grieve

My hon. and learned Friend makes a perfectly good point. One of the anxieties consistently expressed about the Bill was that it would make judges' lives more difficult in summing up cases to juries. Some of the issues that will be presented become more complex. Perhaps, in fairness to the Government, I should say that the mischief might not lie entirely with them, because the argument that more hearsay evidence should be admitted is a pressure that has come from a number of areas outside Government as well. Indeed, I think that the Minister alluded to the fact that the Lord Chief Justice has expressed views about the desirability of admitting more hearsay evidence—the Minister may confirm that or correct what I say—and a belief that more hearsay evidence should be available to juries, but balanced, of course, by judicial explanation.

I have no doubt, however, that my hon. and learned Friend is right to suggest that judicial explanation puts more difficulty and pressure on judges and, of course, there is a greater of possibility of getting it wrong. If they get it wrong, there will be appeals. If there are appeals, verdicts may be overturned because judges failed to direct juries properly on the weight to be attached to certain evidence. My hon. and learned Friend is in no sense wrong in asking whether I have got it right. I have to accept that a bit of a wing and a prayer is involved.

Nevertheless, the point made by the Minister about the denial of hearsay evidence sometimes being greatly to the prejudice of a defendant is absolutely correct. It seems to me that that is a correct analysis of the current state of the law. In relation to saying that hearsay should be left squarely as it is, it has in fact been eroded in a number of directions, as my hon. and learned Friend knows, and practising in the criminal courts one notices how it creeps in almost by agreement between the prosecution and the defence with increasing regularity, when it is felt that, in the interests of justice, that should happen.

In response to my hon. and learned Friend, if this had been my Bill—or the Opposition in government's Bill—we would not have started from here. Having started from here, however, and having had some serious discussions with the Minister—we have never had disputes, and we have had remarkably good relations—I accept that the current drafting goes some way towards meeting the objections that have been raised previously. That is the best way that I can leave the matter.

To turn to the nub of the issue, bad character—I want to allow others to speak on the matter—their lordships read the clauses drafted by the Government, which are of some complexity, and concluded that they were seriously flawed. To see that, one needs only to read the debate in the House of Lords, in which the Minister acknowledged that the participation and level of the discussion had been of a very high quality. They were so exercised that they took the original proposals of the Law Commission and—to remind the Minister of what happened-the then Home Secretary, who is now the Leader of the Opposition, being concerned about the issues surrounding bad character, referred the matter to the Law Commission, which spent about four years taking evidence, discussing the issue and trying to come up with a satisfactory outcome that could codify the rules on admissibility of previous convictions and bad character. Having done that, it could try to ensure that a marked reluctance by judges, which is widely accepted, to admit such evidence—because of the absence of guidelines and the fear that it would be overturned on appeal if they did—might be alleviated to an extent and that more of this evidence could come in when it was relevant and helpful to achieving justice. That is why the Law Commission came up with its report. Having done so, it even came up with a model Bill that could be presented to the House and turned into law.

Those in the other place were concerned because the Government had departed radically from the Law Commission proposals. Above all, as the Minister has admitted, that was because the Law Commission always envisaged that the basic rule would normally be that such evidence is excluded unless there is a good reason to include it. The Government's view, for reasons that I have never found satisfactory, is that it should be included unless its exclusion can be justified. That is a very important difference, which, as I tried to take up with the Minister earlier, is nonsense. One has only to consider that that category of evidence is irrelevant unless it has a connection to recognise that saying that it should normally be included turns the whole argument on its head.

Mr. Hogg

Under clause 93(3), the evidence will be admitted unless the defendant can show that the admission of the evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness". Once statute provides for the admission of this evidence, however, it is difficult to see how it can ever be struck out under that subsection.

Mr. Grieve

My right hon. and learned Friend is right that it is put in a statutory form, although there is a caveat that enables a judge to exclude it in the interests of fairness. To return to my point, why should it be put down in statutory form that some forms of evidence should be admitted when the basic rule, and the obvious common-sense approach, is that it will be largely irrelevant to the matter at issue? It is on that matter that the Government and those in another place have drifted apart. That is why the Bill was amended to include the Law Commission's proposals and nothing but the Law Commission's proposals. If the Minister wants my opinion as to which is the better approach, I will say now, and over and over again, that the Law Commission proposals are infinitely superior to what the Government have done. I also think that they will achieve the Government's desired objective, which is to ensure that, where relevant, evidence is included.

The Law Commission's report is excellent, and the Government's approach is worrying because it seems to me that they have pushed much further than the Law Commission ever envisaged in setting out a principle that a person's past character and previous convictions should automatically go before a court. The distortion to the system of justice that that threatens to introduce, and the risks of miscarriage that are attendant on it, are very serious.

Mr. Gamier

It is much more serious than we might initially think. I am delighted that the Government are no longer suggesting that they should hold on to clause 90(1)(b), which refers to behaviour that might be viewed with disapproval by a reasonable person", which, for goodness' sake, could mean anything. They now think that they will improve matters with what is on page 3083 of the amendment paper: leave out from beginning to 'evidence' in line 2 … and insert: 'References in this Chapter to evidence of a person's bad character' are to evidence of, or of a disposition towards, misconduct on his part, other than'". "Misconduct" could be well short of criminal conduct, yet the Government think that that is an improvement on what the other place has removed. I find that extremely worrying, and I wish that the Government would come clean and admit that they want to drive a coach and horses through this aspect of the criminal law and produce very strange results.

Mr. Grieve

The Minister will have to answer as to what the Government's intentions are. Certainly, however, the practical consequences of the Government's intentions are an unhappy state of affairs.

To move on, we have always indicated to the Government that we accepted the principle of the Law Commission's recommendations and we were therefore willing to engage in a dialogue with the Government to try to resolve this matter. We have been trying to do that at frequent intervals. We have been helped by some Labour Back Benchers who have highlighted some areas that remain of great concern. I shall touch on two of them. First, at clause 93(1)(d), the dreadful entry remains: In criminal proceedings evidence of the defendant's bad character is admissible if, but only if … it is evidence of the defendant's conviction for an offence of the same description, or of the same category, as the one with which he is charged". That is a terrible clause. To say that bad character should be adduced from that in relation to the current trial has been a constant source of anxiety, unless it is important explanatory evidence, but in that instance it is kept totally separate from important explanatory evidence.

Mr. Hogg

It is worse than that, because there is no requirement that the previous offence should be in any way relevant or probative of the offence with which the defendant is charged at the relevant trial.

Mr. Grieve

Yes, indeed—perhaps I expressed myself badly. That is why I returned to the point about it not even having to be important explanatory evidence—important evidence of similar fact, which already happens, or something exceptional that provided a proper link between the previous convictions and the current matter. That is a serious issue.

Mr. Gamier

My hon. Friend is being very tolerant. Was it suggested in Committee or during other deliberations on the clause that no one should be convicted only on evidence of a previous conviction?

6.30 pm
Mr. Grieve

Yes, indeed; the Government told us that that would not happen, but it remains an area of anxiety.

I return to clause 96—"'Matter in issue between the defendant and the prosecution'". Subsection (1) says: For the purposes of section 93(1)(e)"— that is the bit that I read to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier)— "the matters in issue between the defendant and the prosecution include … the question whether the defendant has a propensity to commit offences of the kind with which he is charged, except where his having such a propensity makes it no more likely that he is guilty of the offence". That is a completely circular argument. How can a matter in issue between the defendant and the prosecution, when considering whether a person would burgle a house, be whether the person has a propensity to commit offences of that kind—unless, and this is where my colleagues are right, we are reaching a point at which the Government will tell us that people may be convicted in the future on the basis of propensity alone?

We have been trying to sort out these problems. I noted that when the matter came up in the other place on 4 November, Baroness Scotland of Asthal said: We recognise that concerns have been expressed both here and in another place about how the clause operates. We are therefore prepared to look further at the issue to see whether we might achieve our aims in another more acceptable way."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 4 November 2003; Vol. 654, c. 739.] I was waiting for the Government amendments to come through last night and I expected a radical approach and a response to what the hon. and learned Member for Redcar (Vera Baird) had said about the dreadful clause 93(1)(d). There was silence on that. I accept that the Government have addressed a few issues, with what I accept are more than minor changes, but the real nub of the concerns of one hon. Member after another since the earliest stage of the Bill has not been touched on.

I urge the Government to accept the Law Commission's proposals and find out how they work. If they do not work as the Government intend, because there is a continuing problem that evidence that should be admitted is not admitted, they can say, "Look, we need to do some more here." We are all sensible people who have a pragmatic approach, so I am sure that they would get a sensible response. Failing that, will the Minister and the Government please take on board representations that have been made on these important matters, if they really intend to restore the clauses in such a way? The situation remains unsatisfactory, so I tell the Minister with some regret, because I had hoped that we could resolve the problem sensibly, that we shall vote against the Government's motion to disagree to Lords amendment No. 114.

Mr. Kidney

I shall speak briefly about bad character. Evidence of bad character has been admissible under Acts of Parliament for more than 100 years. As the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) said, the Law Commission became involved because the application of previous statute law was unsatisfactory from case to case. There is certainly a good argument for reform. We are faced with a choice between the Government's reform and that of the Law Commission, which the hon. Gentleman strongly advocated, as I have done before and shall do today.

My hon. Friend the Minister announced three welcome alterations to the system. First, he announced greater caution when dealing with convictions of juveniles, which is very welcome. Secondly, he gave us the definition of bad character. The hon. Member for Beaconsfield said that the definition was unsatisfactory, but in fairness, the Law Commission had equally great difficulty finding an acceptable definition. I do not think that everyone would dance in the streets about its definition either, but people are prepared to support it. The third announcement was that the Government will require a prosecution intending to admit evidence of bad character to give notice so that a defendant may object and ask the judge to rule that such evidence should not be admitted. I have not seen the text of the amendment that will implement that, but I accept what he said.

Eight categories of evidence were admissible as evidence of bad character in the original clause 93, which the Government wish to restore to the Bill. However, the judge has the power to exclude the evidence on the defendant's objection for only three categories, so no such power applies to five categories. Two of those five categories would be admissible only with the defendant's agreement—if all parties agreed to the evidence being admissible, or if the defendant adduced the evidence. Therefore, there is no power for a defendant to stop evidence being admitted, no matter how unjust his or her legal representatives think that is, under three categories.

That brings us to the great divide on whether the basic rule should be either that evidence is admissible unless there is a reason to object to it, or that it is admissible only if the judge first gives leave for it. The Law Commission is mostly in the second camp, although, to correct the hon. Member for Beaconsfield slightly, it says that there are core issues for which evidence should be admissible without leave.

Mr. Hogg

I support what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Will he make the point, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield, that a draft Bill was attached to the Law Commission's report? The draft Bill was a form of pre-statutory consultation, and its provisions, which form the basis of the Lords amendment, received a wide welcome in the profession.

Mr. Kidney

I am happy to agree that there was wide consultation on the draft Bill and that many positive responses were made to it. That is one reason why I think that it would be acceptable legislation.

I prefer the Law Commission's formulation, because a judge should give leave for the admission of such evidence in circumstances outside the core situations to ensure that there is a fair trial and a link between bad character and the probative value of the case. The Bill provides for more pre-trial management of a case, such as the defence's requirement to provide more disclosure at an earlier stage, so a judge will intervene at early stages to ensure that evidence is in order. It is simple and convenient to sort out such issues before a trial to allow it to proceed smoothly, so the Law Commission's formulation is the more acceptable of the two.

Mr. Heath

The subject of the group of amendments is extremely important and has been one of the principal areas of contention during consideration of the Bill. However, that should not have happened, because if the Government had been more conciliatory and had approached the subject more constructively from the start, we could have secured agreement among all parties that there is a need for codification and reform of the present arrangements on bad character because they do not work well—that is common ground among us. We could have reached a satisfactory conclusion for all at an early stage. It is sad that the issue has been a major barrier between the Government and not only the Opposition in the House and the other place but other voices outside the House, because it was entirely unnecessary.

I do not want to repeat what the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) has said about hearsay evidence. We all treat hearsay evidence and its admissibility with much caution because of the inherent dangers of a witness giving a report of what someone else said to them as evidence in a court of law. The problems with that are manifest. There is no way of determining satisfactorily in court that a person said what a witness reported had been said or whether what was reported to have been said was based on truth. Although hearsay evidence can be valuable in some cases, it must be treated with caution.

I agree with the hon. Member for Beaconsfield that the Government's proposals are better than those that we have considered before, but I still have worries, which were amply expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Gamier). I remain to be convinced that the Government have proposed a watertight solution, but it is clear that movement has been made in the direction of the arguments that we put in Committee and on Report and that my noble Friend Lord Thomas of Gresford made in another place. I am content to leave things at that and to see how the measure works in practice. I am clear in my mind, however, that we must monitor it carefully and may have to return to it if the safeguards prove insufficient.

On the more serious issue of bad character evidence, Ministers need to do a better job of persuading us that their judgment is to be preferred to that of the Law Commission, which spent four years looking carefully at the issue, took a great deal of evidence and reasoned its conclusions in a way that satisfied most people who have a professional interest. Many of us think that its proposals were satisfactory for dealing with the current state of the law. For the Minister simply to assert that his approach is better is unlikely to win many friends in this House who are not already persuaded.

It is clear throughout the Law Commission's report that it took great care to consider the result of its proposals. It said: If we had taken the approach of recommending that previous convictions should, as a rule, be presented to the fact-finders, however marginally relevant they might be and regardless of how prejudicial they might be, or, conversely, of recommending that they should never be adduced save where it would be an affront to common sense to exclude them, then we might have been able to answer such a question"— whether it would increase the number of convictions— with confidence. It went on: In our view we would simply have been mistaken to take either of these approaches. Their apparent attractive simplicity ignores the complexity and variety of factual situations to which they would have to apply. That is evidence of the balanced view that the Law Commission took in making its proposals.

Our argument is not complex. The basic premise in British law is of a presumption of innocence. A person on trial for a specific crime should be judged on the basis of the evidence that pertains to that crime, not to previous circumstances, which are irrelevant. That is why we were cautious at an early stage about the definition of bad character. It is clear that the earlier definition was unacceptable. We could all think of people whom many reasonable people might view with disapproval but who do not have a higher propensity to commit criminal offences. The new definition of misconduct is also lax, which worries me.

The big issue relates to the exclusionary approach, favoured by the Law Commission, or the inclusionary approach, favoured by the Government. We differ on how to achieve a result that we share as a common objective. That is a foolish position to be in at this late stage of a protracted and complicated Bill. If we share the same objective, the Law Commission has provided us with an objective way of achieving it. In that case, why on earth are Ministers holding out for their own interpretation of the best way forward? They can adduce no particular evidence of superiority for that approach, which poses clear dangers as identified by the Law Commission in its evidence.

The Law Commission states in paragraph 6.65 of its report: Not all evidence of bad character is relevant to the issue of guilt. The admission of irrelevant bad character evidence might not matter if it were not prejudicial; but often it is. It can lead to a person being convicted on inadequate evidence, or where the fact-finders are not in fact sure that the charge has been made out. Therefore, bad character evidence which is not relevant should in our view be excluded as a matter of course, not merely as a matter of discretion. We agree with that approach, as do many people outside the House. The Minister has amendments from another place that are directly in line with the draft legislation. As I said, we are in the interesting position of having draft legislation prepared by the Law Commission. He wants to remove its recommendations and replace them with a much less satisfactory and less supported idea of the appropriate solution. It is not acceptable.

6.45 pm
Mr. Hogg

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if we were to rely on the Law Commission's language contained in the passage that he just read out, it would enable a defendant who faces evidence of previous convictions to contend that his trial cannot be fair? That brings into play article 6 considerations of human rights legislation.

Mr. Heath

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is much more expert in such matters than I am. I accept his contention that the sentiment behind the language could form the basis of a submission under human rights legislation. I have no way of knowing whether the words of the Law Commission's report would be held to be relevant, but the sentiment expressed is pertinent to the debate. I suspect it will not be long before such a matter is challenged in the courts. We would all prefer to avoid that, which we can do if we have the bedrock of a group of proposals from the Law Commission on which we can depend. That is why the Liberal Democrats support the opinion of the other place and will continue to reject the Minister's view unless he provides better arguments for what he proposes.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst):

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Given the Government's ridiculous and vicious timetabling of this part of our considerations, do you share my concern that we will almost certainly not reach proper consideration of Lords amendment No. 137, which I characterise as the Bishop of Chester provision, dealing as it does with controversial and sensitive matters? A large number of Christian folk are worried about the measure's implications. Can anything be done at this stage under your good offices, Mr. Speaker, to give us a chance at least to hear what the Minister has to say about the provision so that we can find out what is in the Government's mind and what they intend to do? The issue is sensitive and contemporary. I just hope that something can be done even at this late stage to allow us to deal with it properly.

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman knows that I serve the House. It has decided on a programme motion and I am bound by its terms.

Vera Baird

In the unhappy tussle between the Law Commission's proposals and the current proposals in the Bill, there is excellent room for compromise. Is it really critical whether the presumption of bad character is all admissible or all inadmissible so long as it is all within the ambit of clause 93(3), which allows the judge to exercise a decision on whether evidence is admitted or not? In particular, now that the Minister has said that there will be notice of every application to admit previous bad character, everyone has ample opportunity to prepare a case to argue that even if the bad character falls under the categories set out in 93(1)(a) to (h), none the less it should be excluded or included according to subsection (3). It does not matter which way around it is. All it is necessary to do—the Government give nothing away by doing it—is to allow the judge to exercise a decision over paragraphs (c) and (g).

Mr. Hogg

There may be merit in that approach, but surely it is the business of Parliament to set out the criteria that will enable the judge to determine the question of fairness.

Vera Baird

I appreciate the point but I believe that the judge would simply make up his mind about any application under clause 93(3). There would be no burden of proof either way; the judge would decide either that the evidence should be admitted or that it was unfair and should be excluded. That has everything to commend it as a compromise course that gives nothing away. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State are at pains to exhort us to trust the judges, not least to try issues of fact instead of juries. Why cannot they simply trust the judges in the case we are considering and allow them to make the decision about every application?

Mr. Gamier

The hon. and learned Lady knows that the relevant section of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984—it may be section 74—gives the judge discretion to exclude evidence. Has she applied her mind to the way in which the Bill will sit with that power? We appear to have two conflicting measures that deal with inclusion or exclusion of evidence, and the Government may not have tackled the matter. Can she help me?

Vera Baird

I believe that the hon. and learned Gentleman is thinking of section 78 of PACE, which is couched in similar terms to clause 93(3). If its criteria add anything to the test in section 78, it would be on top of the test. Section 78 applies across the board to all sorts of evidence and cannot be excluded by another provision.

Let me deal briefly with paragraph (d) of clause 93(1), because it is the nub of the issue. It allows evidence of previous convictions to be admitted simply because they are there. What is the provision for? If the convictions are probative—if they prove or tend to prove Something—they would be admitted under paragraph (f). If they are even slightly relevant to the case, they would be admitted under paragraph (e). What, therefore, is the purpose of paragraph (d)? It can only be to include them even though they are irrelevant and do not prove anything. That is unfair. I do not understand why the Government want to be in a position to do that.

How will the discretion be exercised? Opposition Members asked that question. Evidence that can currently be included under paragraph (d) is subject to the discretion. Clause 93(1) provides that evidence is admissible, and under paragraph (d) it is admissible simply because it exists. The court has to decide whether to exercise its discretion to exclude it if it is unfair, but it is always unfair to admit irrelevant and non-probative previous convictions. How will the judge exercise his discretion? He will have to say to himself, "Parliament says that it is admissible but it's obviously unfair so I must exclude what Parliament has said in statute must be included." That does not hold together. The paragraph is unnecessary. It is also bad, dangerous and pointless, and I urge Ministers to reconsider it.

Mr. Hogg

I agree with the analysis of the hon. and learned Member for Redcar (Vera Baird). Her points are correct. The clause already provides for admitting probative and relevant evidence. Paragraph (d) will have a simple effect: in cases where there are previous convictions, they will be admitted. Like her, I cannot understand how the trial judge can exclude something that Parliament has expressly authorised.

The effect will be twofold. First, many miscarriages of justice will occur because of the previous convictions. The second point is slightly different but the consequence is much the same: the police will arrest and charge many people simply because they know of similar previous offences. That will lead to considerable injustice. I suspect that the courts will eventually decide that the paragraph offends against article 6 of the European convention on human rights because it prevents an individual defendant from receiving a fair trial on the basis of the evidence for the single offence with which he is charged.

We have a choice between the Law Commission's proposals, which are incorporated substantially in the Lords amendments, and the Government's. The House should clearly prefer the Law Commission's proposals. They were the subject of considerable consultation and of a draft Bill, which was published and examined at great length. Many noble Lords, who know much about the subject, voted authoritatively for the proposals. I commend them to hon. Members. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Gamier) is anxious to speak and I shall therefore sit down to enable him to do so.

Mr. Gamier

I have a suspicion that anything I say may undo what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) and the hon. and learned Member for Redcar (Vera Baird) said. I could not agree more with their comments and I hope that the Government take them on board. Their points are self-evidently good and should have been accepted earlier.

There are two simple points about bad character evidence. It is said, first, that it suggests that the person is likely to have committed the crime with which he is currently charged, and secondly, that it tends to undermine his credit. I have never been convinced by either of the arguments, although I have ritualistically had to recite them when summing up evidence to juries. However, I am more dismayed by the Government's approach to bad character in the Bill. Nobody of sound mind could believe that the original drafting of clause 91, which dealt with behaviour that would be viewed with disapproval by a reasonable person, was sensible. Despite having the advantage of the advice of the other place and the Law Commission report, the Government devised an amendment that refers to "misconduct" on the part of the person who is alleged to have a bad character.

Misconduct means nothing in criminal legislation. Until the Government define it more seriously, the relevant part of the Bill, if not others, will be treated with great scepticism and, on my part, much contempt. I urge them to apply their mind to the matter with greater seriousness.

Paul Goggins:

I am grateful for the welcome that the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) gave to some of the movement that has happened through scrutiny in both Houses. During his remarks, there was an interesting discussion about the flexibility that interests of justice discretion provided. I was interested in his comments. Of course, safeguards are provided, but it is ultimately for the court to decide whether evidence is admissible. I believe that it is better to know about evidence that may be admissible and decide to exclude it than not to know about the existence of possibly relevant evidence.

We have debated at length the difference between the inclusive and exclusive approach to the matter. For most people outside the justice system, the difference between evidence that "is admissible if" and evidence that is "not admissible unless" is perhaps a rather fine point. However, it certainly does not mean that evidence is automatically included. Indeed, as I said to my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham) there are safeguards in place, and the defence can argue that certain evidence is irrelevant and could be more prejudicial than probative. It is for the court to decide.

7 pm

I do not agree with the view of the hon. Member for Beaconsfield that the inclusive approach tends to distort. It is important that we should send out a message from the House in our debates on the Bill that we want to encourage the admission of evidence that could be admitted even now, but sadly, all too often is not. There has been a great deal of debate on clause 93(1)(d), and that has continued here this evening. I return again to the safeguards that are in place, which I have mentioned on previous occasions. I would say to the hon. Member for Beaconsfield that there would be no conviction solely on the basis of bad character. It would be open for the defence to argue that evidence was more prejudicial than probative.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Kidney) asked which amendments I was referring to earlier. It was amendments (a) to (e) to Lords amendment No. 29—

It being four and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings, MR. SPEAKER proceeded to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [this day].

The House divided: Ayes 345, Noes 201.

Division No. 376] [7:01 pm

Abbott, Ms Diane Cooper, Yvette
Adams, Irene (Paisley N) Cousins, Jim
Ainger, Nick Cranston, Ross
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE) Crausby, David
Alexander, Douglas Cruddas, Jon
Allen, Graham Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E) Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Cummings, John
Darwen) Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary (Copeland)
Atherton, Ms Candy Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Atkins, Charlotte Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Austin, John Darling, rh Alistair
Bailey, Adrian Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Banks, Tony David, Wayne
Barnes, Harry Davidson, Ian
Barron, rh Kevin Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Battle, John Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Bayley, Hugh Davis, rh Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Beard, Nigel Dean, Mrs Janet
Beckett, rh Margaret Denham, rh John
Begg, Miss Anne Dismore, Andrew
Bell, Stuart Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Benn, rh Hilary Dobson, rh Frank
Bennett, Andrew Donohoe, Brian H.
Benton, Joe (Bootle) Doran, Frank
Berry, Roger Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Best, Harold Drew, David (Stroud)
Betts, Clive Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Blackman, Liz Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Blears, Ms Hazel Edwards, Huw
Blizzard, Bob Efford, Clive
Blunkett, rh David Ellman, Mrs Louise
Boateng, rh Paul Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
, David Farrelly, Paul
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington) Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Fisher, Mark
Bradshaw, Ben Fitzpatrick, Jim
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Wallsend) Flint, Caroline
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Browne, Desmond Follett, Barbara
Bryant, Chris Foster, rh Derek
Buck, Ms Karen Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Burden, Richard Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings
Burgon, Colin & Rye)
Byers, rh Stephen Francis, Dr. Hywel
Cairns, David Gapes, Mike (IlfordS)
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Gardiner, Barry Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) George, rh Bruce (WalsallS)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Gerrard, Neil
Caplin, Ivor Gilroy, Linda
Casale, Roger Godsiff, Roger
Caton, Martin Goggins, Paul
Challen, Colin Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Chapman, Ben (WirralS) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Chaytor, David Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clapham, Michael Grogan, John
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough) Hain, rh Peter
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Pentlands) Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S) Hanson, David
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Chryston) Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil &
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Rhymney)
Clelland, David Healey, John
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V) Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Coffey, Ms Ann Hendrick, Mark
Cohen, Harry Hepburn, Stephen
Coleman, Iain Heppell, John
Colman, Tony Hesford, Stephen
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston) Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Hodge, Margaret Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall) Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Hopkins, Kelvin Martlew, Eric
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E) Merron, Gillian
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E) Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Howells, Dr. Kim Miliband, David
Hoyle, Lindsay Miller, Andrew
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston) Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Humble, Mrs Joan Mole, Chris
Hutton, rh John Morgan, Julie
Ingram, rh Adam Morley, Elliot
Irranca-Davies, Huw Morris, rh Estelle
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Mountford, Kali
Jamieson, David Mudie, George
Jenkins, Brian Mullin, Chris
Johnson, Alan (Hull W) Munn, Ms Meg
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield) Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
Jowell, rh Tessa O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W) Olner, Bill
Keen, Alan (Feltham) O'Neill, Martin
Keen, Ann (Brentford) Organ, Diana
Kelly, Ruth (Bolton W) Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Kemp, Fraser Owen, Albert
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Palmer, Dr. Nick
Khabra, Piara S. Pearson, Ian
Kidney, David Perham, Linda
Kilfoyle, Peter Picking, Anne
King, Andy (Rugby) Pickthall, Colin
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow) Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Knight, Jim (S Dorset) Pollard, Kerry
Kumar, Dr. Ashok Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Lammy, David Pound, Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Lepper, David Primarolo, rh Dawn
Leslie, Christopher Prosser, Gwyn
Levitt, Tom (High Peak) Purchase, Ken
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Purnell, James
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen Quin, rh Joyce
Linton, Martin Quinn, Lawrie
Love, Andrew Rammell, Bill
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham) Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Luke, lain (Dundee E) Raynsford, rh Nick
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin) Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain Roche, Mrs Barbara
MacDonald, Calum Rooney, Terry
MacDougall, John Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
McFall, John Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
McGuire, Mrs Anne Ruane, Chris
McIsaac, Shona Ruddock, Joan
McKechin, Ann Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
MacShane, Denis Salter, Martin
Mactaggart, Fiona Sarwar, Mohammad
McWilliam, John Savidge, Malcolm
Mahmood, Khalid Sawford, Phil
Mahon, Mrs Alice Sedgemore, Brian
Mallaber, Judy Shaw, Jonathan
Mandelson, rh Peter Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Shipley, Ms Debra Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Short, rh Clare Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Singh, Marsha Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Skinner, Dennis Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E) Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Vis, Dr. Rudi
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch) Walley, Ms Joan
Smith, John (Glamorgan) Ward, Claire
Soley, Clive Wareing, Robert N.
Southworth, Helen Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Spellar, rh John Watts, David
Squire, Rachel White, Brian
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Steinberg, Gerry Wicks, Malcolm
Stevenson, George Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber) Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Stewart, Ian (Eccles) Winnick, David
Stoate, Dr. Howard Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham Wood, Mike (Batley)
Stuart, Ms Gisela Woodward, Shaun
Sutcliffe, Gerry Woolas, Phil
Tami, Mark (Alyn) Worthington, Tony
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury) Wray, James (Glasgow Baillieston)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics) Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W) Wright, David (Telford)
Timms, Stephen Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don (Islwyn) Tellers for the Ayes:
Trickett, Jon Vernon Coaker and
Truswell, Paul Margaret Moran
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Chidgey, David
Allan, Richard Chope, Christopher
Amess, David Clappison, James
Ancram, rh Michael Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Arbuthnot, rh James Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Collins, Tim
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Corbyn, Jeremy
Bacon, Richard Cormack, Sir Patrick
Baker, Norman Cotter, Brian
Barker, Gregory Curry, rh David
Baron, John (Billericay) Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Barrett, John Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Beith, rh A. J. Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John Djanogly, Jonathan
Blunt, Crispin Doughty, Sue
Boswell, Tim Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Evans, Nigel
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey) Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Brady, Graham Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brazier, Julian Flight, Howard
Breed, Colin Flook, Adrian
Brooke, Mrs Annette L Forth, rh Eric
Bruce, Malcolm Foster, Don (Bath)
Burnett, John Fox, Dr. Liam
Burns, Simon Francois, Mark
Burstow, Paul Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Burt, Alistair Garnier, Edward
Butterfill, John Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Cable, Dr. Vincent Gidley, Sandra
Calton, Mrs Patsy Goodman, Paul
Cameron, David Gray, James (N Wilts)
Carmichael, Alistair Grayling, Chris
Cash, William Green, Damian (Ashford)
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Gummer, rh John
Hammond, Philip Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon) Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Harvey, Nick Redwood, rh John
Hawkins, Nick Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Hayes, John (S Holland) Rendel, David
Heald, Oliver Robathan, Andrew
Heath, David Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Hermon, Lady Roe, Mrs Marion
Hoban, Mark (Fareham) Rosindell, Andrew
Hogg, rh Douglas Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Holmes, Paul Sanders, Adrian
Horam, John (Orpington) Sayeed, Jonathan
Howard, rh Michael Selous, Andrew
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot) Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N) Shepherd, Richard
Hurst, Alan (Braintree) Simmonds, Mark
Jack, rh Michael Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate) Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Jenkin, Bernard Spicer, Sir Michael
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Spring, Richard
Keetch, Paul Stanley, rh Sir John
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness) Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Key, Robert (Salisbury) Stunell, Andrew
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Syms, Robert
Kirkwood, Sir Archy Tapsell, Sir Peter
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Taylor, John (Solihull)
Lamb, Norman Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Lansley, Andrew Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Laws, David (Yeovil) Taylor, Sir Teddy
Letwin, rh Oliver Teather, Sarah
Liddell-Grainger, Ian Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Lidington, David Thurso, John
Lilley, rh Peter Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Llwyd, Elfyn Tredinnick, David
Loughton, Tim Trend, Michael
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs) Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
McIntosh, Miss Anne Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Mackay, rh Andrew Tyrie, Andrew
Maclean, rh David Viggers, Peter
McLoughlin, Patrick Walter, Robert
Malins, Humfrey Waterson, Nigel
Maples, John Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury & Atcham) Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Maude, rh Francis Wiggin, Bill
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian Wilkinson, John
May, Mrs Theresa Willetts, David
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield) Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Moore, Michael Willis, Phil
Moss, Malcolm Wilshire, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Oaten, Mark (Winchester) Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Osborne, George (Tatton) Young, rh Sir George
Ottaway, Richard Younger-Ross, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James Tellers for the Noes:
Paterson, Owen Angela Watkinson and
Pickles, Eric Sir Robert Smith

Question accordingly aereed to.

MR. SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of business to be concluded at that hour, pursuant to Order [this day].

Lords amendment No. 115 disagreed to.

Government amendment (a) to words restored agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 116 to 124 disagreed to.

Government amendment (a) to words restored by Lords amendment No. 124 agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 125 and 126 disagreed to.

Government amendment (a) to words restored by Lords amendment No. 126 agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 127 to 129 disagreed to.

Government amendments (a) to (e) to words restored by Lords amendment No. 129 agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 130 disagreed to.

Government amendments (a) to (d) to words restored by Lords amendment No. 130 agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 131 and 132 disagreed to.

Government amendment (a) to words restored agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 133 to 137 agreed to.

Forward to