Clause 16

Legal Services Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 19th June 2007.

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Offence to carry on reserved legal activity through person not entitled

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Attorney General, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats 11:45 am, 19th June 2007

I have chosen to make the point now, rather than on the previous clause. Clause 16, like clause 15, is drafted, as has increasingly frequently been the case in recent years, using letters for a category, once it has been defined. That is fine; among other things it makes the text shorter. It reminds me of questions in law exams that are put in terms such as, “If A does this, then B does that, describe the relationship between A and B in law.” Has the Minister’s Department taken the innovative approach to this Bill that it has taken to some of its draft legislation, including the draft coroners bill, which it has proof-read for readability by common women and common men? I am keen—it is a recurrent theme with me—that we should take that approach, because the more complex the subject, the more important it is to ensure that the Bill is readable. I ask the question now, because this is the obvious point at which to ask it. Has this Bill been subjected to that sort of process?

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice

No, not yet. I will take the matter forward. Like the hon. Gentleman, I am keen that wording should be as close to plain English as is humanly possible. The measure has not yet been subjected to that particular scrutiny.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Attorney General, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

I thought that that was probably the answer. Can I make a plea that, as soon as we can, we make a point of having regular plain English readability checks? During the passage of the Bill, we are going to go on to talk about consumer panels. Logically, somebody other than us should look at draft legislation, because we see measures like this all the time and might become immune to them. My plea is that the Ministry of Justice, in its present life and its life after next Wednesday, view that as a high priority.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill.