I beg to move amendment No. 67, in
page 46, line 32, leave out from beginning to 'and' in line 34.
Amendment No. 67 removes subsection 3(b), which would require the Lord Chancellor to make regulations to set out the procedure to be followed by authorities when appointing adjudicators. The Government recently announced their intention to create a new independent Judicial Appointments Commission, which will take over the Lord Chancellor's responsibility for the judicial appointments process. It is no longer appropriate for the Lord Chancellor to make such regulations; procedures for those responsibilities will be decided by the Judicial Appointments Commission. Events have overtaken us so we want to remove that part of the Bill.
Events have not quite overtaken us. They are coming up rapidly behind us, but there is still a Lord Chancellor. Until such time as the position has been done away with and a judicial arrangement is in place, the status quo remains. If the Bill becomes an Act, and provides for a judicial quango to have responsibilities, what will happen if that quango does not exist?
I listened to what the hon. Gentleman said, and perhaps I should have said more. The requirement for the Lord Chancellor's consent on appointments, which will also transfer to the commission, will be sufficient guarantee of the probity of the appointment of civil enforcement adjudicators, because that consent will depend on the normal requirements of fairness, transparency and openness. It is not necessary to prescribe the detailed procedures in regulations. I understand that matters are in hand so the amendment will be effective.
The Minister said that it would not matter if the amendment were made or not because one could fall back on reasonableness, or whatever word he used. If we agree to the Government amendment and the Lord Chancellor remains and a quango is not established, will the Government be able
to do what they like rather than having to refer matters to the Lord Chancellor? Is that what we are being asked to agree to? The only check and balance would be that someone behaved reasonably. The Government could do whatever they liked because there would be no sanctions in the Bill.
The simple answer is no. The magistrates court will deliberate over the issues in the case of police penalty charges, but the adjudicator will do so in the case that we are discussing. If the status quo outlined by the hon. Member for Spelthorne remains, the adjudicator would be appointed with the agreement of the Lord Chancellor.
This gets better and better. The Minister is now telling us that, having removed a reference to the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chancellor would still be responsible. I hate excessively long legislation, and I wonder why the provision was included in the first place if the Lord Chancellor would act in any case.