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The Crime and Courts Bill was introduced in the Lords in May 2012 and was passed to the Commons in December 2012. The Public Bill Committee had 13 sittings between 22 January 2013 and 12 February 2013.

There were a number of substantive amendments made in Committee:

• The Government introduced a series of amendments to reform bailiff powers (‘enforcement by taking control of goods’), to replace a new clause which had been added in the Lords at Third Reading. This follows a consultation paper Transforming bailiff action, which was published on 17 February 2012.

• A Government amendment to the provisions on broadcasting court proceedings would strengthen the judiciary’s veto over filming or broadcasting proceedings so that this could apply where any person might suffer undue prejudice.

• A Government amendment reversed a defeat in the Lords which would have required probation trusts to make appropriate provision for female offenders, for example regarding unpaid work and rehabilitative programmes.

• The Government introduced a series of amendments on proceeds of crime to deal with a Supreme Court judgement.

• Two new measures on extradition were introduced. One was a new “forum bar”, to allow a judge to bar extradition where two or more courts from different countries have jurisdiction over the case, if the extradition would not be in the interests of justice. The other would mean that decisions on whether extradition would amount to a breach of a suspect’s human rights would now be left to the judiciary.

• A Government new clause was introduced which seeks to restrict the availability of in-country appeal rights in national security deportation cases.

While there were only technical amendments made to the provisions on the National Crime Agency, there were a number of controversial issues, including the lack of a statutory board; the role of Police and Crime Commissioners in tasking arrangements; and whether or not the Agency’s resources would be adequate. An order making power which could have allowed counter-terrorism functions to be transferred to the NCA had been dropped following a Government defeat in the Lords, and there was heated debate about the fact that the Government were not ruling out reintroducing this on Report. The Committee also debated the implications of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s rejection of the Legislative Competence Motion on the Bill.

Other controversial areas included the contracting out of the functions of fines officers; the new test for determining whether a householder had acted lawfully in using force in self defence; the provisions on restorative justice at the pre-sentence stage of dealing with offenders; and the removal of the full right of appeal in family visitor visa cases.

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