Legal Aid: Committee days seven and eight

07 February 2012

The House of Lords continues line by line scrutiny of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill during committee stage day eight today (Tuesday 7 February).

The day's discussions start with amendments to Clause 61 which look at 'duty to give reasons for and to explain effect of sentence'. Lords are expected to push for new clauses which cover 'aggravation related to transgender identity' and short prison sentences.

Further amendments discuss alcohol monitoring requirement and the length of time needed for alcohol treatment.

Read all members' suggestions for changes to the bill in the eighth marshalled list of amendments.

Catch up on committee stage day seven

The debate began with amendments to Clause 45 which look at 'recovery of insurance premiums by way of costs', moved by Lord Thomas of Gresford (Liberal Democrat).

After agreement on Clause 45, Lord Thomas presented Amendment 163, discussing 'third party litigation funding. He withdrew the amendment, after reassurance from the minister, Lord McNally (Labour), that 'the Lord Chancellor...will carefully study the debate'.

Lord Beecham (Labour) tabled a group of amendments about referral fees to improve the 'working of the bill'. In Amendment 164A he focused on not-for-profit organisations: 'Amendment 164A would exempt not-for-profit organisations from the operation of the ban on referral fees. It would take them outside the category of regulated person for the purposes of the ban.'

He withdrew the amendment saying: 'We will clearly have to return to the matter on report (stage)'.

The bill's progress so far

The previous stage of this bill to be completed in the Lords was the second reading, which took place on 21 November 2011.

Some key areas of the bill:

  • The bill takes certain types of case out of scope for legal aid funding and provides that cases would not be eligible for funding unless specified in the bill.
  • It abolishes the Legal Services Commission.
  • It makes various provisions in respect of civil litigation funding and costs, taking forward the recommendations of the Jackson Review.
  • It makes changes to sentencing provisions, giving courts an express duty (rather than the current power) to consider making compensation orders where victims have suffered harm or loss, reducing the detailed requirements on courts when they give reasons for a sentence, allowing courts to suspend sentences of up to two years rather than 12 months and amending the court’s power to suspend a prison sentence.
  • It introduces new powers to allow curfews to be imposed for more hours in the day and for up to 12 months rather than the current six.

What is the committee stage?

During committee stage, detailed line-by-line examination of separate clauses and schedules of the bill takes place. Any member of the Lords can take part. It can last for one or two days to eight or more. This stage usually starts no fewer than two weeks after the second reading.

The day before committee stage starts, amendments (proposals for change) are published in order in a Marshalled List. Amendments on related subjects are grouped together and a 'groupings of amendments' is published on the day. Lords must agree to every clause of the bill and vote on the amendments. All proposed amendments can be discussed and there is no time limit for discussion.

After the committee stage, the bill is reprinted with all the agreed amendments and is moved to report stage for further examination.

Further information

 Image: iStock photo

More news on: Parliament, government and politics, Crime, civil law, justice and rights, Civil law, Parliament, House of Lords news, Members of the Lords, Lords news, Bill news, Legal aid

Share this page