Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2005

– in the House of Lords at 7:42 pm on 8 November 2005.

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Photo of Lord Evans of Temple Guiting Lord Evans of Temple Guiting Government Whip, Government Whip 7:42, 8 November 2005

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 12 October be approved [5th Report from the Joint Committee].

Photo of Lord Evans of Temple Guiting Lord Evans of Temple Guiting Government Whip, Government Whip

My Lords, in moving that the draft Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2005 be approved, I shall speak also to the draft Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2005 and the draft Revised Legal Services Commission Funding Code 2005.

First, the orders and revisions to the code are minor definition changes to facilitate the implementation of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004, both of which come into force in December. The orders are the only two affirmative instruments tabled by the Department for Constitutional Affairs relating to the implementation of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. They provide continuity of current provisions as we move from the soon-to-be-repealed Adoption Act 1976 to the Adoption and Children Act 2002. For ease, we have tabled these with the revised funding code, prepared by the Legal Services Commission, which simply adds the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 to the list of legislation covered by the code.

I turn to the effect of the orders. The Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2005 will enable family proceedings courts to continue to issue witness summons, which has previously been provided by Sections 97(1)(a) and (2) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980. The Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2005 allows appeals in adoption matters to continue to be heard by the courts to which they are currently assigned. Appeals would otherwise lie directly to the Court of Appeal in almost every case, which is neither time nor cost-effective.

Both those orders are needed to ensure a smooth transition from the old to the new rules. They underpin the adoption policy of the Department for Education and Skills, which has already been approved by Parliament—including by affirmative debate on two instruments moved by my noble friend Lord Adonis on 8 June. All other strands of DCA's court rules have been consulted on and approved by the Family Procedure Rules Committee. In addition, the Lord Chancellor has consulted the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Queen's Bench Division, the President of the Family Division and the Chancellor of the High Court on the destination of appeals order. No comments were made on that order.

On the funding code, the amendments are all minor, non-controversial changes that essentially update the funding code to capture the new proceedings being introduced by the Adoption and Children Act 2002 on 30 December 2005 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 on 5 December 2005. The legal profession has been informed of the proposals and has not raised any concerns.

I stand ready with more detail of the sections and orders, should noble Lords require, but I think that your Lordships will understand that these are necessary and technical amendments that make no practical change to legislation, the daily business of practitioners or the general public. I commend the order to the House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 12 October be approved [5th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Evans of Temple Guiting.)

Photo of Lord Goodhart Lord Goodhart Shadow Lord Chancellor, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

My Lords, when I first looked at the Forthcoming Business and saw that these three orders were expected to take 45 minutes to debate, I thought that some serious issues would arise from them. I was therefore a little surprised, having read the draft orders and the helpful accompanying Explanatory Memoranda, that there was nothing to argue about. That now seems to be the case.

It is plain that these amendments are minor ones consequential mainly on the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and, to a lesser extent, on the Civil Partnership Act 2004. In the circumstances, I am happy to see them go through.

Photo of Lord Kingsland Lord Kingsland Shadow Lord Chancellor, House of Lords, Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assist the Home Affairs Team)

My Lords, I share entirely the view of the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, that these orders are both uncontroversial and desirable.

The Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2005 serves two purposes. First, it enables a justice of the peace, at the hearing of an application under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, to issue a witness summons. Secondly, it ensures that in such applications a warrant of arrest cannot be issued instead of a witness summons. It is clear that in so doing this order will facilitate the purpose of the Adoption and Children Act 2002; namely, to minimise delay in the court process, thus putting the interests of the child first. These aims were supported by the Opposition and by Liberal Democrat Members during the passage of the Act through both Houses.

The Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2005 is also uncontroversial. It sets out the route of appeal in adoption proceedings, providing for two routes. Appeals against a decision by a district judge in a county court shall lie to a county court judge. Appeals against a decision of a district judge which go to the High Court, the Principal Registry of the Family Division or a costs judge will lie to a judge of the High Court. This order is necessary to preserve the status quo under the RSC 1965 and CCRs, once the Adoption and Children Act 2002 comes into force on 30 December 2005.

On the amendments to the criteria underlying the Legal Services Commission Funding Code, the first amendment at Section 2.2 includes, in the definition of "family proceedings", references to proceedings under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004. The second amendment includes in the definition of "other public law children cases" applications for a placement order. This new order will be available once the 2002 Act comes into force on 30 December. The final amendments are to the introductory paragraphs and simply reflect the fact that it is a revised code that will come into force only when approved by the Lord Chancellor and by Parliament. These amendments are non-controversial and bring the LSC Funding Code up to date with primary legislation that comes into force at the end of the year.

Photo of Lord Evans of Temple Guiting Lord Evans of Temple Guiting Government Whip, Government Whip

My Lords, I am most grateful to both noble Lords not only for the brevity of their speeches, but also for the fact that they welcome the orders. I commend them to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.