Schedule 7

Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 15th March 2007.

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Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Shadow Minister (Justice)

I beg to move amendment No. 71, in schedule 7, page 146, line 37, at end insert ‘or insolvency, or—

(a) that the member has been absent from meetings of the Council for a period longer than 6 months without permission,

(b) that the member has been convicted of a criminal offence, or

(c) that the member is otherwise unstable or unfit to discharge the functions of a member of the Council.’.

Paragraph 3 of schedule 7 is entitled:

“Term of office of appointed members of Council”.

Sub-paragraph (1) says:

“Subject to the following provisions of this paragraph, a person appointed under paragraph 1(2) is to hold and vacate office in accordance with the terms of his appointment.”

Sub-paragraph (5) says:

“The Lord Chancellor may remove a person appointed under paragraph 1(2) on the ground of inability or misbehaviour.”

The amendment would add the words, “or insolvency”, which it seems to me would make sense; the tribunals council should not contain members who have been made insolvent, though maybe that would fall within “inability or misbehaviour”. It also covers certain other matters. The first is absence from council meetings for longer than six months without permission, which is a serious dereliction of duty. The second is conviction for a criminal offence. The third is instability or lack of fitness to discharge a council member’s functions.

I hope that the Committee will consider accepting the amendment because it would be nice to end the day with a minor triumph. We are being reasonable; we are giving the Minister the opportunity to clarify the meaning of “inability” and “misbehaviour”. It might be that one would be considered to have misbehaved if one had been convicted of a criminal offence, and it might be that one would be considered unable if one had been declared insolvent, but making it explicit would be a good idea.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

The same amendment was withdrawn in Grand Committee in the other place. As the hon. Gentleman has said, schedule 7 provides for the removal of appointees on the grounds of inability and misbehaviour. That is in line with the criteria for removing judges, so we think that it is the right approach. If it is deemed necessary to make explicit reference to specific kinds of misbehaviour or inability, that can be covered in the terms of appointment, for which provision is made in paragraph 3(1).

I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Gentleman that we do not accept the amendment, but let me reassure him that he has triumphed time and time again in the Committee by the clarity of his argument.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Shadow Minister (Justice)

I thank the Minister for those courteous words. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 7 agreed to.

Clauses 45 to 48 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 8 and 9 agreed to.

Clauses 49 and 50 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 10 agreed to.