Access to Justice Bill [Lords] — Principles applicable to Part I — 22 Jun 1999
As amended in the Standing Committee, considered.
(2) The objectives are:
(a) that persons have access to legal services and the machinery of justice which they would otherwise be unable to obtain on account of their means;
(b) that such access is not to be impaired on account of racial grounds, gender, sexual orientation or disability (within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) or the place in England and Wales where any legal services are sought;
(c) that legal services and facilities of high quality be available such that disputes may be resolved, and proceedings determined, expeditiously, fairly and with the parties placed on an equal footing;
(d) that persons obtaining access to legal services under this part shall have the widest possible choice of provider or services.'.-- [Mr. Garnier.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
I declare an interest to the House. I am a practising barrister. My name on the amendment paper has been marked [R], as have those of my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) and my right hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hampshire (Mr. Arbuthnot).
I thank the Minister for his kind remarks. That will not be said again on Third Reading, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not ascribe the various promotions of my right hon. and hon. Friends to the reasons that the Minister cited, but one does not look askance at kind words from the Government, as they do not come often. I am grateful to my parliamentary neighbour for the kindness that he has just demonstrated.
While we are in that mood, may I briefly pay tribute to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell), whose shadow office I now hold. He is the longest-serving Law Officer this century, and certainly the longest continuous serving Law Officer. He has given signal service to the House, the law and to the Attorney's chambers over 10 years, and he was in government two years before that in the Department of Social Security. He will be missed on the Front Bench, although his absence today is only temporary, and before long we shall hear much from him from the Back Benches. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath on his promotion.
I hope to persuade the House that the purpose and intent of new clause 13 is entirely proper and to be welcomed. It was introduced in the other place by Lord Lloyd of Berwick, with cross-party support. It was not an Opposition ambush. The Bill was amended in the other place by new clause 1, as it was at that stage, introduced by a retired Law Lord, a man of great wisdom and humanity. The new clause received all-party support because it was a good thing.
22 Jun 1999 : Column 983
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--
The House divided: Ayes 146, Noes 313.
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