‘(1) Section 10 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1), after “(4)” insert “or (7).”
(3) After subsection (6), insert—
“(7) This subsection is satisfied where—
(a) The services consist of advocacy at an inquest where the individual is an Interested Person pursuant to section 47(2)(a), (b), or (m) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 because of their relationship to the deceased; and
(b) One or more public authorities are Interested Persons in relation to the inquest pursuant to section 47(2) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 or are likely to be designated as such.
(8) For the purposes of this section “public authority” has the meaning given by section 6(3) of the Human Rights Act 1998.”’—
This new clause would ensure that bereaved people (such as family members) are entitled to publicly funded legal representation in inquests where public bodies (such as the police or a hospital trust) are legally represented.
On a point of order, Mr Rosindell. Before we conclude our proceedings on the Bill, I wonder whether it might be appropriate to offer my thanks, on behalf of me and my colleagues, to everyone who has contributed to making this, certainly compared with other Bills that I have done in the past, a smooth-running and not unenjoyable process, if I may put it that way. I will not take up a lot of time, but I would particularly like to thank you, Mr Rosindell, and Sir Mark for the efficient and not indulgent, but certainly sympathetic, way in which you have chaired these proceedings. I know that that has been difficult, particularly today, because we had Sir David Amess’s memorial service this morning. We all respect the fact that you and Sir Mark have chaired the Committee with your usual great skill and attentiveness.
I thank the Clerks, who have given us extraordinary assistance on technical matters relating to the Bill, for the way in which they have helped us, and helped me, with my rustiness, to get through the first Bill that I have done in this capacity for a number of years. I also thank everyone else who makes this a smooth-running process. That includes the Doorkeepers, Hansard and everyone else on whom we rely to ensure that these things go as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
May I say thank you to a few other people? I thank the Minister and his colleagues for the way in which they have approached the Bill. There are some fundamental differences between us. We voted against the Bill’s Second Reading and, sadly, we have not managed to carry many votes here to improve the Bill. There are a number of improvements and amendments within the changes to the courts procedure that we would fully support, but there is, at the heart of the Bill, something that we find worrying, which is a further attempt by the Executive to encroach on the discretion of the judiciary, which is one of the great sacred parts of our constitution, so I am glad that at least we have resisted today any further attempts to do that.
Notwithstanding that, this Committee has undertaken a good-natured, but at the same time thorough, investigation of the provisions. I thank all my colleagues for their assistance and prompting—even when I go on for a long time—but I would particularly like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton North, who, seeing me just beginning my role and being thrown in at the deep end with the Bill, stepped up, notwithstanding having just been a shadow Minister on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, to carry the burden of dealing with the substantial bulk of the provisions here. Sadly, he is not with us today because he has tested positive for covid. Therefore, I have been told to go off and get a PCR test as well; we probably all have as a consequence of that. I gather that my hon. Friend is tired but otherwise in good spirits. He is an extremely kind and courteous gentleman at all times, and I am sure that we all wish him a speedy recovery.
We have come almost to time on the Bill. We thought that we might go short; we have taken our time, but we have not taken more time. All I will say in conclusion is that there has been a culinary theme to the Bill. We had cherries on the first day, and ended with curries on the last, but I hope that, in looking at the transcripts, those who scrutinise us will not think we have made too much of a meal of it.
Further to that point of order, Mr Rosindell. May I echo the remarks made by the hon. Member for Hammersmith, particularly in thanking you and Sir Mark for your dual chairmanship, which has operated effectively and efficiently, together with your officials and the Clerks? May I particularly thank the Doorkeepers? As I said earlier—I really meant it—what we saw from them today, walking behind Sir David’s coffin, was incredibly moving.
I thank all members of the Committee, on both sides. No one goes into proceedings expecting that we will all agree on all points, but that does not matter; conduct is different from that. I think we have seen effective debate, proceeding at reasonable speed most of the time, but with that combination of depth and rigour that is important in a Bill Committee. That is the point: we are going through a Bill line by line. I am grateful to SNP and Labour colleagues. I particularly thank those on my side of the Committee. We heard many excellent speeches and contributions, but they also knew when to keep their own counsel, so that we could keep the ship of the Bill sailing in the right direction.
This is an important Bill. The context is difficult. The post-pandemic situation is challenging, with a significant backlog of cases, and we are doing everything we can to deal with that. The Bill contains some significant measures on that front. It also contains the important reform of judicial review—more for another time.
It remains only for me to thank everybody for their participation. I am grateful that we have managed to move to this stage, and that we now move onwards and upwards.
Further to that point of order, Mr Rosindell. On behalf of the Back-Bench Members on this side of the Committee—and I hope others too—I thank the Minister and the shadow Minister. I served as a shadow Minister and a Minister for 19 years and I know how hard it is, particularly from the other side of the Committee, to maintain the progress of debate and to retain the calibre and character of scrutiny.
I thank the Minister for the way he has gone about his business, and the shadow team for the way they have gone about theirs. I wish the hon. Member for Stockton North well, as he has now fallen ill. I also thank you, Mr Rosindell, and your fellow Chairman, and all others who have made the Bill proceedings possible.
Further to that point of order, Mr Rosindell. I want to reiterate what everybody else has said and thank everybody involved. I wish the hon. Member for Stockton North well and I hope that he recovers by a week today, St Andrew’s day, because he will be wanting to celebrate.
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark and Hamilton East—I have finally got the constituency name. That is not as great a constituency name as South Holland and The Deepings, however. I am going to visit, and I will let the right hon. Gentleman know when I do.
This has been a really interesting Bill Committee. I used to resist going on Bill Committees, but I came from the Nationality and Borders Bill Committee straight to this one, and they are the best bit of the job, because they are probably the only time we really get an in-depth understanding of what we are doing. A lot of the time, we have to skim through things because there is so much to consider. I look forward to the next Bill Committee.
I thank the Clerks and everyone involved, including the Doorkeepers. For those who are not speaking and are not involved in the debates, it must be really boring having to sit there and listen to it all. There are no nods of agreement there, but I can pick the answer up telepathically. If I have missed anyone in my thanks, I am sorry—oh, the Chairs. Thank you very much; thank you again for your forbearance, Mr Rosindell, when I was injured. I am still injured, but am recovering.
Further to that point of order, Mr Rosindell. I did not mention the hon. Member for Stockton North; I hope he recovers. I also wish to thank my officials, who have been excellent—very high quality—for my first Bill Committee. I hope we keep up the good work as we move forward. I am grateful to everyone who has helped us to reach this point.
I add my thanks to the Committee for its deliberations over the past few weeks; to my colleague, Sir Mark, for co-chairing the Committee with me; and to Clerks, officials, Doorkeepers and all concerned in ensuring the passage of the Bill through Committee.