I tabled this amendment after receiving representation from the Magistrates' Association. The clause would re-establish local consultation between the probation service and magistrates. The statutory probation liaison committees were killed off following the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. The amendment also introduces an obligation for local probation areas to consult local committees, which are generally considered not too well informed about the work of the probation service.
When this new clause was tabled in another place by one of the Ministers' honourable friends, Mr Graham Allen, we considered carefully whether the duty needed to be put on a statutory footing. The Minister's answer in another place persuaded us that Mr Allen was right to table this new clause and seek a statutory basis for the re-establishment of this local consultation. The Minister at that time referred to guidance which was issued last year. However, the Magistrates' Association has pointed out to us that their experience is that this new clause is still needed despite the well meaning nature of the guidance. I beg to move.