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Clause 37 - Designated officers and magistrates' courts

Part of Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 1st July 2003.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:30 pm, 1st July 2003

I do not think that that was the clearest explanation I have ever heard. I am still puzzled by the fact that the Bill already contains a definition of the functions of a single justice of the peace as being those of a court, or, in the case of a justices clerk or assistant clerk, as being those of a magistrates court. It therefore seems that the term ''magistrates court'' includes any potential reference to a justice of the peace acting alone. I still find it difficult to understand how an officer of the court could act for a justice of the peace, but not for the court through which the justice of the peace exercises his functions. That is an important distinction about the way in which a designated officer would work.

I am sure that the Minister's advice is proper, and that it is too difficult to ensure that there is no reference to a justice of the peace somewhere in statute, but I would have thought that a watertight change in definition of what comprises a court for this purpose could include the actions of a justice of the peace. That would be a rather better way of dealing with the problem in statute so that we do not have to keep on inserting phrases that will be repeated in Bill after Bill, year after year and century after century for no reason other than to confuse those who want to interpret legislation. Will the Minister confer with his officials to consider whether there is a better solution other than an anomalous reference in a clause? I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 37 ordered to stand part of the Bill

Clauses 38 to 40 ordered to stand part of the Bill.