Clause 59

Part of Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:45 pm ar 22 Tachwedd 2007.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 3:45, 22 Tachwedd 2007

I hope that I can reassure the hon. Gentleman. The purpose of clause 59 is primarily to speed cases up by granting representation at an earlier stage in appropriate instances. Things can move faster if a delay to enable the defence to obtain legal aid is avoided.

Thought needs to be given to the specific conditions that govern provisional representation orders, including the possible triggers, the type of work, the appropriate level of representation, the authority to undertake such work, and the correct fee structure. Those matters have not yet been decided on. An order might be particularly helpful in certain types of case such as fraud cases, in which considerable work has to be undertaken before charges can be brought. It might speed cases through the court process, and that, rather than sneaking people into existing fee structures, is the aim of the clause. It will increase the defence’s capacity to deal with the case by ensuring earlier representation.

The information gateways are about trying to improve the existing arrangements to ensure that the application process can highlight those on passported  benefits swiftly and speedily. The intention is the same: to try to speed court processes. There have been instances in which delay has resulted from, for example, someone being remanded in custody without knowing their national insurance number. Many people can remember their national insurance number, but not everyone. That can cause delay that would be avoided if the gateways work as we envisage. The gateways are not rocket science. We are not inventing some entirely new way of doing things, so they should be workable. Obviously, the relevant data protection safeguards would be needed.

The hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate said that the Government are addicted to pilots. That is because we believe in evidence-based policy making rather than prejudice-based policy making, or in hoping that what one thinks will work will actually work in practice. It is after 3.30 in the afternoon now, so I am waking up again!

Clause 61 deals simply with a slight problem in the existing power that allows for pilots. We want to make it a bit clearer that pilots can be localised rather than having to relate to the entire system. Pilots are about learning the lessons more effectively by trying out policy change first, instead of implementing it across the entire piece, crossing one’s fingers and hoping that it will work because one thinks that it will. I hope that that reassures the hon. Gentleman and that he is therefore content for the three clauses to stand part of the Bill.