Briefly, does the Parliamentary Secretary anticipate a significant increase in pressure on the Crown courts? The possibility has been raised on many occasions in the House and I want to know whether any research has been carried out or evidence taken on whether the sort of appeals that might flow from the procedure would increase the burden on the Crown courts. There is sometimes said to be a significant shortage of judge power in the Crown courts.
That is a legitimate point and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising it. We do not anticipate a large number of appeals. At this stage we can only make a guesstimate, but we anticipate that appeals will not generate a vast amount of business for the courts. Lord Justice Auld is carrying out a review and the exact range of work to be undertaken in the Crown courts and other venues is a matter on which, to use a terrible pun, the jury is out. At this stage we cannot state confidently how much capacity will be necessary in the Crown courts, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that appeals are not expected to generate a large amount of business. However, the appropriate number of court days, judges and courtrooms required by the small amount of business that will be generated by the Bill will be factored into my Department's planning.
I am grateful to the Minister for his response, but it begs some of the questions raised by the Government in the House yesterday when my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) said that the Government were rushing ahead with further plans without waiting for the response of Lord Justice Auld and his review. I shall not go down that route now, Mr. Gale, because you would call me to order. The Parliamentary Secretary has acknowledged that there is a point and I am partly reassured by his comment that a large number of appeals is not anticipated.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 26 ordered to stand part of the Bill