Rules for an online procedure in courts and tribunals

Part of Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 23rd July 2019.

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Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 9:25 am, 23rd July 2019

I thank the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown for his observation about the new Government. I hope the Bill is not the first to fall victim to a catastrophic U-turn, because that would be a great disappointment to us all.

On the point about the reliability of technology, the Bill is an insurance policy against any unreliability, not because of any particular system being inherently unreliable, but because occasionally someone might not plug something in—it could be as simple as that. I recognise that it is important to have alternative means available.

We could put many provision in the Bill that do not necessarily need to be in the Bill. We cannot see where technology will take us in 10 to 20 years’ time. Who knows? Who foresaw the internet in the early ’80s, for example? The point is that whenever anyone engages with the online systems, the opportunity to use non-electronic means is a clearly advertised joined-up process. It does not need to be in the Bill. Indeed, such a provision might be outdated in a few years’ time.

Also, and more important, the Bill sets up an online procedure rules committee. I do not want to fetter the decision-making powers of that committee on the correct online procedures for every type of case that it deals with. It will have to deal with this question on a case-by-case basis. As much as I love Christmas trees, turning every Government Bill into a Christmas tree on which we hang our own individual baubles is equivalent to erecting a gravestone over our political efforts, so I once again ask that the amendment be withdrawn.