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J2/S2/07/R1

1st Report, 2007 (Session 2)

Remit and membership  

Remit:

To consider and report on matters relating to the administration of civil and criminal justice, the reform of the civil and criminal law and such other matters as fall within the responsibility of the Minister for Justice, and the functions of the Lord Advocate other than as head of the systems of criminal prosecution and investigations of deaths in Scotland.

Membership:

Mr David Davidson (Convener)
Jackie Baillie
Bill Butler (Deputy Convener)
Colin Fox
Maureen Macmillan
Mr Michael Matheson
Jeremy Purvis

Committee Clerking Team:

Clerk to the Committee
Tracey Hawe

Senior Assistant Clerk
Anne Peat

Assistant Clerk
Steven Tallach

Legislative Consent Memorandum on the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill - LCM (S2) 10.1

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

Introduction

1. The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill is under consideration in the UK Parliament.  It was introduced in Westminster, in the House of Lords on 16 November 2006.  In accordance with Standing Orders Rule 9(B).3, a legislative consent memorandum in relation to this Bill was lodged by the Scottish Executive on 30 November 2006.  The Justice 2 Committee was designated as the lead Committee for the consideration of the memorandum.

2. The Bill amends court and enforcement procedures in England and Wales, establishes an Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council mainly concerning non-devolved tribunals, some of which operate in Scotland. It also makes provision for the giving of immunity from seizure, in the course of civil or criminal proceedings, for international works of art on loan to temporary exhibitions throughout the UK.

3. At its meeting on 9 January 2007 the Committee took oral evidence from Professor Alistair MacLeary, Chairman of the Scottish Committee of the Council on Tribunals and then from Johann Lamont, Deputy Minister for Justice, Paul Cackette, Justice Department, William Fox, Education Department, Jane McLeod and Beth Elliot, both of the Office of the Solicitor, Scottish Executive.  The Committee also received written evidence from the Scottish Committee of the Council on Tribunals, the National Galleries of Scotland, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities and the Law Society of Scotland.

Timetable

4. The first and second readings of this Bill took place in the House of Lords on 16 and 29 November 2006.  It is understood that the third (and final reading in the Lords) is expected to take place on 23 January 2007, before this Parliament has had an opportunity to debate the Legislative Consent Motion.  However, the Committee was given an assurance that it will be possible to amend the Bill in the House of Commons should this be necessary.

5. The Committee is grateful to the Executive for the early notice given of this legislative consent memorandum and the updates provided by officials during the formative stages of this legislation.

General Merits of the Policy

6. Part 1 of the Bill abolishes the Council on Tribunals and replaces it with an Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council which will have “symmetrical and complementary powers in relation to both reserved and devolved tribunals.”1  The appeals jurisdiction of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel (a cross-border public authority) will be brought within the new administrative Tribunals Service. 

7. The evidence received by the Committee was supportive of these proposals.  However, the Committee would draw attention to the comments of the Scottish Committee of the Council on Tribunals in its annual report expressing its concern that Scottish-only tribunals (not part of the new Tribunals Service) should not be left behind.2  The Committee welcomes the fact that a mapping exercise of the operation in Scotland of all tribunals and areas of administrative justice is to be undertaken. 

8. Although the Bill gives the new Council further responsibilities, for example, to promote research, no new resources will automatically be made available, as savings are expected to accrue from the economies of scale of the new arrangements.  The Committee notes that the Deputy Minister for Justice has recognised the need to ensure that appropriate resources are in place and expressed a willingness to engage in continued dialogue with the Scottish Committee on Tribunals (and its successor) in this regard.3  

9. Part 6 of the Bill provides for immunity from seizure to works of art loaned to temporary exhibitions in the UK.  The Committee noted the evidence received from both the National Galleries of Scotland and the Deputy Minister for Justice in favour of the provisions and the evidence from the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities expressing concerns regarding the proposals.  The Committee notes that the provisions in the Bill are supported by the existing due diligence guidelines for museums, libraries and archives on collecting and borrowing cultural material4 and that the provisions in the Bill will only apply to institutions approved for this purpose by the Secretary of State.  In this regard, the Committee welcomes the intention to lodge a Government amendment at Westminster to provide for Scottish institutions to be approved by the Scottish Ministers.5

10. The Committee is therefore content with the merits of the Bill’s policies as they apply to Scotland.

Subordinate Legislation Committee Consideration

11. At its meeting on 19 December 2006, the Subordinate Legislation Committee considered the provision delegating powers to Scottish Ministers.  The Committee noted that the only power delegated to Scottish Ministers was contained in section 42, enabling Scottish ministers to list by order the names of tribunals to be supervised by the new Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council.  The order-making power is subject to the negative procedure.  The Subordinate Legislation Committee was content with the terms and scope of the power and had no comments to make.

Justification for using the Sewel Procedure

12. The Committee is content with the use of the Sewel convention for the relevant provisions in the Bill.

The draft Legislative Consent Motion

13. The Committee is content with the wording of the draft motion as set out in the legislative consent memorandum.

Recommendation to the Parliament

14. The Committee is content to recommend that legislative consent be granted by the Parliament.


Footnotes:


1 Paragraph 16 Legislative consent memorandum

2 Annual Report 2005/ 06 http://www.council-on-tribunals.gov.uk/scottish/scot_pubs.htm

3 Official Report, 9 January 2007, col 3110

4 Published in October 2005 by the Cultural Property Unit, Department of Culture, Media and Sport

5 Official Report, 9 January 2007, col 3116