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Clause 30 - Places, dates and times of sittings

Part of Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 1st July 2003.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:00 pm, 1st July 2003

The Minister is right; it does. Let us not repeat the arguments. I draw his attention to the fact that subsection (2) contains the words:

''In exercising his powers under subsection (1)''.

We are talking about matters of listing, which do not appear in subsection (1). That is precisely the point I was trying to get through to the Minister the other day. It is all very well saying that the Lord Chancellor will have regard to the places where courts will sit, but not the cases that are presented before them; accessibility is still an issue in interpreting the rest of the clause, let alone in the rest of the Bill. However, that is a matter for another day.

I hear what the Minister says about his intentions in terms of subsection (5)(d), and they are laudable. I do not disagree for one moment that where there is a need for enhanced security provision, interpretation or video linking—which the hon. Member for Surrey Heath and I had reason to discuss in the Standing Committee considering the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill only a couple of weeks ago—there are good reasons for sitting elsewhere.

However, that is not what the paragraph currently states. My reading is that

''a place where other cases raising similar issues are being dealt with''

refers to the legal issues arising from the case—in other words, the type of case it is, rather than ancillary issues such as the provision of security or interpretation facilities. That is a reasonable reading of that paragraph.