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Clause 28 - Functions

Part of Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 1st July 2003.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs) 2:45 pm, 1st July 2003

There was a famous occasion when the former American President, Bill Clinton, spent hours discussing the meaning of the word ''is''. I know that we do not wish to open up some of those matters.

The Parliamentary Private Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Laura Moffatt), has suggested sotto voce that ''stuff'' could also easily be used as a replacement word. I do not think that either that or ''matters'' would be better than ''things'' in this instance. However, perhaps I should stick to the points that it has been suggested sorrythat I raise.

Clause 28 sets out the functions of a justices' clerk and empowers the Lord Chancellor to make rules allowing a justices' clerk or an assistant to a clerk to perform the functions of a single justice of the peace. The clause remodels section 45 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997, which is to be repealed under the Bill. The clause introduces no new powers and no significant changes are anticipated to the advisory or judicial functions of the justices' clerks.

Amendments Nos. 40 and 42 change

''things authorised to be done''

to

''matters currently authorised to be done''

in subsection (1) and subsection (2). I am told that that adds little to the clarity of those subsections.

I hear what the hon. Member for Surrey Heath says about the need to use appropriate wording. I am advised that the word ''things'' has been transposed from section 45 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997, although I cannot remember exactly which political party may have helped in drafting that.