Third Reading

Part of Deregulation Bill – in the House of Lords at 8:00 pm on 4th March 2015.

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Photo of Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 8:00 pm, 4th March 2015

My Lords, I rise briefly to support these amendments, to which I have added my name. As the Minister said, they rather improve the wording which was accepted in principle in my amendments on Report. They are important because they take forward the intention in the Legal Services Act to increase the availability of legal services. As the Minister said, the CLC—an approved regulator for reserved activities, probate and the administration of oaths—has now been accepted to be the regulator for a wider range of legal services. However, it became apparent a bit belatedly that the Act which created the CLC and set out its powers actually restricts it from the enlarged role which it, the Legal Services Board and the MoJ had envisaged. It was then found that the powers in the Legal Services Act were also not sufficient to make the changes. Without these amendments, the CLC would be able to regulate only conveyancers, which means that a lawyer would have first to train as a conveyancer before being regulated by the CLC for other activities.

The other changes which have been mentioned are to simplify appeals so that any appeals against the CLC’s appeals and discipline committee can be heard by the First-tier Tribunal rather than the High Court, and to allow the CLC itself to appeal against determinations. There is also a provision to allow the CLC to suspend the licences of practitioners to protect the public while they await the outcome of disciplinary actions.

As for the CLC’s own governing council, the current requirement is that the number of lay members must exceed the number of professional members by exactly one. That means that if one of the professional members leaves for any reason, the council cannot continue its work. The amendments would allow for the lay majority to be at least one, which will get over that hurdle. Finally, instead of putting the time that the CLC has to determine applications in statute, in future it will be in regulatory rules. These are sensible and welcome changes. I thank the Government for bringing them forward and their work on this excellent drafting.

Amendment 23 agreed.

Amendments 24 to 26

Moved by Lord Wallace of Saltaire

24: After Clause 84, insert the following new Clause—

“Licensed CLC practitioners

(1) Section 53 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 (the Council for Licensed Conveyancers: authorisation of individuals to carry on reserved legal activities) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2), omit “only if the person is a licensed conveyancer”.

(3) In subsection (3)—

(a) for “a licensed conveyancer” substitute “a person”;

(b) for “the licensed conveyancer” substitute “the person in respect of that activity”.

(4) In subsection (4), for “Any such” substitute “If the person granted a licence under this section is a licensed conveyancer, the”.

(5) After subsection (4) insert—

“(4A) If the person granted a licence under this section is not a licensed conveyancer, the licence may be granted as a separate licence or as part of a composite licence comprising that and any other licence under this section which the Council may grant to the person.

(4B) A licence under this section granted to a person who is not a licensed conveyancer ceases to have effect if the person becomes a licensed conveyancer.”

(6) In subsection (9)—

(a) in the opening words, after “respect to” insert “persons who apply for, or hold, an advocacy, litigation or probate licence and”;

(b) in paragraph (c), for “licensed conveyancer” substitute “person”;

(c) after paragraph (d) insert—

“(da) any case of an individual who describes himself or herself, or holds himself or herself out, as a licensed CLC practitioner without holding a licence in force under this section;”;

(d) in the words following paragraph (f), after “respect to” insert “persons who apply for, or hold, a licence under Part 2 of the Act of 1985 and”.

(7) After subsection (9) insert—

“(9A) The modifications mentioned in subsection (9) may differ depending on whether the person applying for, or holding, an advocacy, litigation or probate licence is or is not a licensed conveyancer.

(9B) Subsection (9) does not apply to section 34 of the Act of 1985 (modification of existing enactments relating to conveyancing etc).”

(8) After subsection (10) insert—

“(11) In this section—

“advocacy licence” means a licence issued under this section by which the Council authorises the person concerned to exercise a right of audience;

“CLC practitioner services” has the same meaning as in section 32B of the Act of 1985;

“licensed CLC practitioner” means a person, other than a licensed conveyancer, who holds a licence under this section;

“litigation licence” means a licence issued under this section by which the Council authorises the person concerned to carry on activities which constitute the conduct of litigation;

“the practice of a licensed CLC practitioner” means the provision by a person, as the holder of a licence under this section, of CLC practitioner services in accordance with the licence; and

“probate licence” means a licence issued under this section by which the Council authorises the person concerned to carry on activities that constitute probate activities.”

(9) In the italic heading preceding section 53, after “conveyancers” insert “and licensed CLC practitioners”.”

25: After Clause 84, insert the following new Clause—

“CLC practitioner services: consequential amendments

Schedule (CLC practitioner services: consequential amendments) contains consequential amendments relating to sections (CLC practitioner services bodies) and (Licensed CLC practitioners).”

26: After Clause 84, insert the following new Clause—

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers: other amendments

Schedule (The Council for Licensed Conveyancers: other amendments) contains other amendments relating to the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.”

Amendments 24 to 26 agreed.

Clause 88: Reduction in regulation of providers of social work services

Amendment 27

Moved by Lord Wallace of Saltaire

27: Clause 88, page 73, line 27, at end insert—

“section 30A(6)(f);”

Amendment 27 agreed.

Clause 103: Exercise of regulatory functions: economic growth

Amendment 28

Moved by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

28: Clause 103, page 81, line 41, at end insert—

“( ) This section does not apply to the following—

(a) Professional Standards Authority,

(b) Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and

(c) any persons exercising a regulatory function with respect to health and care service that the Secretary of State specifies by order.

( ) An order under this section must be made by statutory instrument.

( ) A statutory instrument containing an order under this section may not be made unless a draft has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”