Clause 22

Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 15th March 2007.

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Tribunal Procedure Rules

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

Photo of Brooks Newmark Brooks Newmark Conservative, Braintree

I shall try to be reasonably brief, because I appreciate that we have more to do. I have always felt that one of the benefits of coming into the House is that we can learn from each other. One thing that I have learned from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris), who I am sorry to see is not a member of the Committee, is to look at the explanatory notes, which I have done in detail as the debate has gone on. Paragraph 124 on page 21 states that the purpose of the “overriding objective” stated in clause 22(4) is

“to ensure that the Tribunal Procedural Committee observes certain fundamental principles when exercising its powers to make procedural rules, such as, securing that justice is done in proceedings before a tribunal and that the tribunal system is accessible and fair.”

The explanatory notes stop there, but subsection (4) goes on. Paragraphs (a) and (b) run in parallel with the construction of the explanatory notes, stating

“that, in proceedings before the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal, justice is done...that the tribunal system is accessible and fair”.

However, another phrase is then tagged on, saying

“that proceedings before the First-tier Tribunal or Upper Tribunal are handled quickly and efficiently”.

Paragraph (e) also uses the phrase

“are handled quickly and efficiently.”

How do we square the concept of “quickly and efficiently” with being “accessible and fair” in seeing that justice is done? The words “quickly and efficiently” suggest to me that there is not due care and consideration. I am trying to understand the language in the Bill. Perhaps it will happen later, when we have the further consultation that the Minister has talked  about, but how can we have inherent in that provision some concept of due care and consideration that fits in with the concept of something happening quickly and efficiently?

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

The explanatory notes make it clear—and they are right—that the important underlying principle is that the laws should be put together so that justice is done and the tribunal system is accessible and fair. It is a curious idea that if it can also be quick and efficient there is somehow a clash between the two. Justice delayed is well known to be justice denied, so we intend to deliver the process as speedily as is compatible with our obligations under the first two rules. To equate efficiency with not giving due care to justice seems an over-urgently arrived at elision. The word “and” and not “or” appears in all the provisions, which will need to be compatible with one another. There is no clash between them, and they are all very desirable.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Attorney General, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

The Minister said earlier that it was the Government’s intention that the division between primary and secondary legislation rules should roughly replicate what is done in relation to the court system. I do not need a reply now, but will she ask her officials to check that that is the case? I sense—I have not made the comparison—that this is quite a detailed legislative provision and it could be weeded out a little. I would be content to leave that for she and her officials to look at.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 22 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 5 agreed to.