Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:51 pm on 16th July 2019.

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Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 2:51 pm, 16th July 2019

It is one of the theoretical principles of governance that the moment we set up a committee, everyone thinks of extra people who should be on it. I hear the hon. Gentleman’s point. There is nothing in the Bill that prevents the composition of the membership from changing over time, as the online procedures that the committee is considering change. In addition, it can set up sub-committees to look at separate specific areas. The Bill is an enabling measure. As what we do changes, I am sure that the composition of the membership will also change, to include differing skillsets, but I hear what he says and thank him for his intervention.

The committee’s combined expertise will ensure that our rules framework supports online services, while offering a straightforward, accessible and proportionate experience to those who are accessing justice. These powers mirror and do not exceed those provided in respect of the civil, family and tribunal procedure rules.

On Third Reading of the Bill in the other place, peers expressed their support for and enthusiasm about the Bill and for the Government amendments made throughout its passage. We have listened to and taken on board many of the points raised during the Bill’s passage through the Lords and have amended the Bill accordingly. In particular, the Bill now reflects the Government’s renewed commitment on two subjects.

First, people who may need support to participate online will be offered it. The Bill now makes explicit the duty to provide appropriate and proportionate digital support. The Bill also makes it clear that, before rules are made, the Lord Chancellor and the committee will have regard to the needs of those who will require digital assistance. This makes clear the Government’s commitment to an accessible justice system that supports the needs of all our users.