Schedule 2

Part of Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:15 pm on 25th October 2007.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 1:15 pm, 25th October 2007

I hope to reassure the hon. and learned Gentleman that I am relaxed about discussing any aspect of the Bill. If he wishes to spend time on schedule 2, that is fine by me. The point of my intervention was that if even moderate drafting changes are to be made, the purpose of the Government and the Opposition is to ensure that those changes make good legislation. As part of that process, we must consider the potential legislative impact of drafting changes with parliamentary counsel outside Committee. I know that he will understand that, but I am genuinely relaxed and willing to go at whatever pace the Committee wishes. We do not have any knives in the process. I am content for us to consider anything.

I shall read Hansard when it is published for the hon. and learned Gentleman’s points. If he has made valid points about the detailed aspects of potential amendments, we are always willing to consider them if they will improve the Bill. The purpose of Committee is to have political arguments, but also to ensure that the Bill is clear and usable and achieves the desired objectives. I did not mean to criticise him. I am sure that we will get on as far as possible within the constraints of Opposition politics.

I shall respond to a couple of the hon. and learned Gentleman’s points. To reiterate my point about warnings given directly to young people by the officer responsible  for the order, I confirm that it would be appropriate for the responsible officer to make an internal record of any warnings and normally to confirm those warnings in writing for the individual. That is in line with the current good practice of the Youth Justice Board’s national standards for the enforcement of orders and will provide a balance between the need for compliance with an order and the individual’s circumstances, as well as ensuring that the individual understands the message. I hope that that reassures him.

The hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned the danger that combining provisions to cover magistrates and Crown courts could lead to more complex provisions. The schedule’s merits lie in setting out separate provisions for each court. For example, magistrates will need to digest only those provisions relating to youth courts. We are trying not to over-complicate the schedule, which is why we have drafted it as we have. The separate provisions will assist each court in turn.

The hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned bench warrants. I take on board his points. I accept that such warrants must be executed quickly, and I hope that that will be the normal practice.

I am happy to reflect on the points that the hon. and learned Gentleman made. In general, he mentioned a number of drafting points. I am happy to consider them in light of his comments. Different drafting styles impact legislation differently. If hon. Members prefer that the detail should be settled in a broad order-making process, perhaps we can do that next time around rather than this time. I will consider the hon. and learned Gentleman’s points, because there are details that need reflection. However, given those brief comments and the assurances I have offered on a couple of his substantive points, I hope that the Committee will agree to the schedule.