Clause 13
Legal Services Bill [Lords]
2:30 pm

Entitlement to carry on a reserved legal activity

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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Simon Hughes (Party President, Cross-Portfolio and Non-Portfolio Responsibilities, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice & Shadow Attorney General, Ministry of Justice; North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I have one question apart from the observation that, if we lived in a world in which we had the responsibility of tracking down the party Whips, we might be much happier.

Will the Minister address my earlier question andsay whether she is satisfied that the Bill makes it clear when and where people can represent themselves, and therefore the circumstances in which they would not need to operate under a regulatory regime?

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Henry Bellingham (Shadow Minister, Constitutional Affairs; North West Norfolk, Conservative)

I have a question on clause 13(4), which states:

“Nothing in this section or section 23 affects section 84 ofthe Immigration and Asylum Act 1999...which prohibits the provision of immigration advice and immigration services except by certain persons.”

Section 23 will concern

“transitional protection for non-commercial bodies”.

Why does that mention the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and not, for example, the relevant housing, employment or agricultural holdings legislation, which also give certain persons the power and authority to provide advice in certain circumstances? I am bemused why the measure applies to only one piece of legislation.

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Bridget Prentice (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice; Lewisham East, Labour)

First, I apologise to the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey. He is right that an individual acting on his own behalf would not have to be regulated when conducting legal activities.

The reasoning behind clause 13(4) is that, as thehon. Member for North-West Norfolk might remember, there were some horrific examples of dubious characters giving appallingly bad advice to people regarding immigration and asylum. The Government considered those examples and are now trying to ensure that people who give advice are properly qualified to do so. That is why such matters have been specified.

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Simon Hughes (Party President, Cross-Portfolio and Non-Portfolio Responsibilities, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice & Shadow Attorney General, Ministry of Justice; North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I am grateful to the Minister. Does the Bill actually say that, if people want to represent themselves in such activities, they do not have tohave authority? I want to ensure that the Bill is clear. Clause 13 states:

“The question whether a person is entitled to carry on an activity which is a reserved legal activity is to be determined solely in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”

There should be a sentence after that saying that nothing in the Bill will prevent an individual from acting for himself in any of the reserved activities, when the law permits.

2:45 pm
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Bridget Prentice (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice; Lewisham East, Labour)

Paragraph 1(6) of schedule 3 covers such matters. It sets out a list of people who are exempt and will deal with the hon. Gentleman’s worry about whether the individual can conduct activity on his own behalf. Paragraph 1(10) might give more details.

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Simon Hughes (Party President, Cross-Portfolio and Non-Portfolio Responsibilities, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice & Shadow Attorney General, Ministry of Justice; North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I am happy to look more carefully at the schedule and to come back to the Minister, if necessary, but whether going to schedule 3 to discover the answer to my question rather than finding it up front under clause 13 is right, I do not know.

Photo of Bridget Prentice

Bridget Prentice (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice; Lewisham East, Labour)

The provision “E is an individual” under paragraph 3(3)(a) of schedule 3 might provide the information that the hon. Gentleman needs.

Photo of Simon Hughes

Simon Hughes (Party President, Cross-Portfolio and Non-Portfolio Responsibilities, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice & Shadow Attorney General, Ministry of Justice; North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)

I am grateful to the Minister. It seems fine. However, it might have been better to have said up front rather than under the schedule that individuals who do their own thing are exempt from the regulations. It would make matters clear for those who wonder whether they have to go through regulatory control. However, I leave it to the hon. Lady to reflect on the matter.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 13 ordered to stand part of the Bill.