Clause 3

Part of Legal Services Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:45 pm on 12th June 2007.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Attorney General, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats 6:45 pm, 12th June 2007

I will be brief, but I want to say a few words about the new clauses that have been mentioned and to correct the hon. Member for Huntingdon: I think that he referred to new clauses 11 and 12, but new clauses 10 and 11 are under discussion.

The new clauses are almost self-explanatory. We are in a section on the general functions of the Legal Services Board and its duty to promote the regulatory objectives. It is always a question of degree and of how much ought to be put in the Bill, and so we propose:

“The Board must make and maintain effective arrangements for consulting representatives of practitioners and consumers on the extent to which its general policies and practices are consistent with its duty under section 3”,

and the other proposes that arrangements should include consultation in advance of setting the work, not least to obtain the views of the consultees of the targeting of specific interest in the board, and getting a view of what people think are the big issues on which the board should be concentrating and whether its work has some proportionality. That starts to open the question of the balance between the second-tier regulator and the board and the extent to which the board has a light or heavy touch.

I am not pretending that the drafting is perfect, but I should be interested to hear the Minister’s general response. The new clauses are an attempt to see how much we need to include the board’s duties, particularly its consultation duties, in the Bill.