Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill consideration of Lords Amendments

18 April 2012

The House of Commons considered Lords amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing of Offenders Bill on Tuesday 17 April. The House of Lords will now consider Commons reasons for disagreeing with their amendments

Summary of the Bill

The Bill covers a wide range of issues. It comprises four parts and 16 schedules. Part 1 makes provisions on legal aid, Part 2 deals with litigation funding and costs, and Part 3 covers sentencing and the punishment of offenders.

Key areas

  • reverses the position under the Access to Justice Act 1999, whereby civil legal aid is available for any matter not specifically excluded. The Bill takes some types of case out of scope for legal aid funding and provides that cases would not be eligible for funding unless of a type specified in the Bill
  • abolishes the Legal Services Commission
  • makes various provisions in respect of civil litigation funding and costs, taking forward the recommendations of the Jackson Review and the Government’s response to that review
  • makes changes to sentencing provisions, including 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
  • 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.

Progress of the Bill

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 21 June 2011 and received second reading on 29 June 2011. The Bill was considered in a Public Bill Committee between 12 July and 13 October 2011. The report stage took place over three days between Monday 31 October and Wednesday 2 November 2011. Third reading took place on Wednesday 2 November.

The Bill was sent to the House of Lords for consideration. The Lords made amendments to the Bill and these were considered by the Commons on 17 April 2012. The House of Lords will now consider Commons reasons for disagreeing with their amendments.

Keep up to date with all the proceedings and documentation, including amendment papers, on the Legal Aid, Sentencing of Offenders Bill and find out how a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

Proceedings on Lords amendments

MPs considered Lords Amendments 1-326. Proceedings on each amendment can be found in the Lords Amendment proceedings. 

Committee of Reason

The Commons appointed a Committee of Reason to draw up reasons to be assigned to the Lords as to why the Commons disagreed to their Amendments 1, 2, 24, 31, 32, 168, 170, 171, 172, 192, 194 and 196. The House of Lords will now consider the Reasons. A full account of the Reasons can be found in the Votes and Proceedings for 17 April 2012.

Watch and read the proceedings on Lords amendments and the views expressed by MPs on Parliament TV and in Commons Hansard.

Lords Amendments

When a Bill has passed through third reading in both Houses it is returned to the first House (where it started) for the second House's amendments (proposals for change) to be considered.

Both Houses must agree on the exact wording of the Bill. There is no set time period between the third reading of a Bill and consideration of any Commons or Lords amendments.

'Ping Pong'

If the Commons makes amendments to the Bill, the Lords must consider them and either agree or disagree to the amendments or make alternative proposals.

If the Lords disagrees with any Commons amendments, or makes alternative proposals, then the Bill is sent back to the Commons.

A Bill may go back and forth between each House (‘Ping Pong’) until both Houses reach agreement.

What happens after consideration of amendments?

Once the Commons and Lords agree on the final version of the Bill, it can receive Royal Assent and become an Act of Parliament (the proposals of the Bill now become law).

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