HL Deb 30 June 1994 vol 556 cc888-90

49 Clause 53, page 40, line 47, leave out from beginning to end of line 11 on page 41.

50 After Clause 53, insert the following clause:

Magistrates' courts, justices of the peace etc

''.— (1) The Lord Chancellor may ' by order make, with respect to any matters mentioned in subsection (2), such incidental, consequential, transitional or supplemental provision as he thinks necessary or expedient in consequence of any of the provisions of this Act.

(2) The matters are—

  1. (a) the functions or areas of jurisdiction of any justice of the peace, stipendiary magistrate, magistrates' court or keeper of the rolls for a commission area (within the meaning of the Justices of the Peace Act 1979); and
  2. (b) commission areas, petty sessions areas and areas to which magistrates' courts committees relate.

(3) The Lord Chancellor may by order alter, in such manner as appears to him expedient in connection with the alteration in any local government area made by this Act, any of—

  1. (a) the commission areas in Wales specified in section 1 of the Act of 1979,
  2. (b) the areas in Wales which constitute petty sessions areas under section 4 of that Act, or
  3. (c) the areas in Wales to which magistrates' courts committees relate under section 19 of that Act.

(4) Any order under this section may, in particular—

  1. (a) make provision with respect to the costs and expenses of any persons with respect to whom provision is made by the order;
  2. (b) apply (with or without modifications) or amend or repeal or revoke (with or without savings) any provision of an Act passed before this Act or in the same Session, or an instrument made under such an Act before 1st April 1996.

(5) Subsections (7) and (9) of section 53 apply in relation to this section as they apply in relation to that section.'.

51 Clause 55, page 42, line 19, after ' 53' insert 'or (Magistrates' courts, justices of the peace etc.)'.

52 Clause 56, page 43, line 11, after ' 53' insert 'or (Magistrates' courts, justices of the peace etc.) (a "modifying order")'.

53 Page 43, line 12, leave out 'section 53' and insert 'modifying'.

54 Page 43, line 33, after ' 53,' insert '(Magistrates' courts, justices of the peace etc.)'.

55 Page 43, line 44, leave out 'an order under section 53' and insert 'a modifying order'.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 49 to 55 en bloc. At the same time, I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 59.

The amendments clarify provisions in respect of the Lord Chancellor and functions in connection with magistrates' courts, justices of the peace, and so on, in order to take account of the provisions of the Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill currently being considered in Committee in another place.

The current provisions in relation to the Lord Chancellor and related functions are found in Clause 53(4) and (5) together with paragraph 10 to Schedule 2. The effect of the amendments is to take subsections (4) and (5) out of Clause 53 and to provide a separate clause in respect of the Lord Chancellor. Noble Lords will also have noted that Schedule 2 will also be expanded. The new Clause 13 provides the Lord Chancellor with the equivalent powers that the Secretary of State has in Clause 53—subsection (3) of the new clause will provide the Lord Chancellor with the ability to make future orders with respect to commission areas, petty sessions areas, and magistrates courts' committees as a consequence of any alterations made in local government areas by the Bill. I must stress the fact that it is only in consequence of those alterations in local government areas.

The need for the provision was identified by parliamentary counsel who felt that specific provision was necessary because of the provision which is now made clear in Schedule 2; namely, that the status quo is, by and large, to be preserved. In order to make clear that, despite the general policy of maintaining the status quo, there could, where necessary, be alterations by order, it was thought desirable to separate it in that way.

Moved, that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 49 to 55 en bloc.—(Lord Rodgers of Earlsferry.)

Lord Prys-Davies

My Lords, I have a few words to say about Amendment No. 50 and one question to put to the Minister. The noble and learned Lord will know mat the amendment, especially subsection (2) (a), caused a great deal of anxiety on Report in another place. I believe that the noble and learned Lord has explained how it is that that power is to be found in this Bill rather than in the Criminal Justice Bill. However, perhaps he will be good enough to give the House about half a dozen examples of the functions that can be effected by the exercise of the power in Amendment No. 53. That would be most helpful.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry

My Lords, the noble Lord was kind enough to raise the matter with me yesterday when he indicated that he would like half a dozen examples. However, I am not sure mat I shall be able to oblige him in quite that way. The reason why the provision is in its present form is to some extent, one might say, a belt-and-braces operation. As noble Lords will see—and, indeed, as I have already stressed—the power is one which is concerned with the making of incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provision by the Lord Chancellor in relation to the purposes of the legislation.

As noble Lords will see, the matters in question are the functions or areas of jurisdiction of any justice of the peace, stipendiary magistrate, and so on. It is stated that the Lord Chancellor may "by order" alter such matters. It is not intended that the Lord Chancellor should, so to speak, change the functions of the magistrates' courts in a wide sense. It is designed to ensure that the Lord Chancellor has all the necessary powers to adjust-purely as a result of the change in local boundary areas —the functions and areas of jurisdiction of the justices of the peace.

Your Lordships can see, for example, that it may be required to redraw the boundary so that one area which was formerly in one area of jurisdiction of a justice of the peace is now in the area of another justice of the peace. All that is desired by that is to make sure—it is not known exactly how this will work out—that when the area of jurisdiction is changed, at the same time the order will transfer the functions of these magistrates, justices of the peace, and so on, in respect of that area. It is not a case of changing functions but simply altering them in the sense of transferring them from one magistrate to another. That is all that is desired. This is in some respects simply part of the same question of jurisdiction; it is not intended to go further than that.

On Question, Motion agreed to.