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Schedule 1 - Constitution and procedure of courts boards

Part of Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 26th June 2003.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs) 3:00 pm, 26th June 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 24, in

schedule 1, page 60, line 9, leave out 'who are assigned' and insert

', each of whom is assigned'.

This amendment makes drafting changes to an amendment made on Report in another place. The effect of the amendment tabled by Lord Phillips of Sudbury was to increase the minimum number of magistrates on each courts board from one to two. I shall explain why we resisted that in the Lords. In short, we wanted the Bill to set out a framework, so that that the constitution of courts boards could vary between local areas. The regional discussion groups, to which I referred earlier, have unanimously agreed that one size does not fit all.

We have listened to magistrates' concerns that a minimum of one magistrate would not be sufficient, and we shall not try to defeat an amendment that increases the minimum number of magistrates to two. However, we want to amend the amendment that was accepted in another place. It would require all magistrates appointed to a courts board to be assigned to the same local justice area. Courts boards are likely to cover areas that include more than one local justice area. Amendment No. 24 therefore clarifies that each magistrate member should be assigned to one of the local justice areas that are in whole or part covered by the relevant courts board area, hence the better turn of phrase,

''each of whom is assigned''.

I hope that that necessary drafting change does not in any way change the spirit of what we accepted in another place.