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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 14:40 GMT
Peers reject limits to jury trial
Jury plans are contentious
Peers have again rejected plans for limiting the right to jury trial.

The plans, part of the Criminal Justice Bill, mean some judge-only trials would be introduced for fraud cases, or where a jury may be "nobbled".

The Bill now returns to the Commons, where MPs are expected to again vote to reinsert the measure in the Bill and send it back to the Lords.

Ministers say the Commons will sit for extra days to avoid the Bill being lost at the end of the parliamentary year.

Key policy

Mr Blunkett has made it clear that he would not compromise on the substance of his plans, although he did say he was prepared to make some small changes.

The Queen's Speech
The end of the Parliamentary session could jeopardise government Bills
The House of Lords has raised a series of concerns about the Criminal Justice Bill.

Peers have also expressed criticism of proposals to end the "double-jeopardy" rule, when someone found not guilty of a particular crime cannot be tried again for it.

The government wants this rule not to apply where compelling new evidence has subsequently emerged.


Other measures including proposals for an EU-wide arrest warrant and the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill have also run into opposition in the Lords.

Apart from very rare exceptions a Bill has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before it can gain Royal Assent and be placed on the statute book.

Normally there is a compromise reached at the end of the parliamentary session, as the government drops parts of Bills the Lords disagree with to ensure at least some measures become law.

However both sides have yet refused to blink first on the Criminal Justice measures.

The parliamentary year was due to end on Thursday, but Commons Leader Peter Hain says MPs will have to sit on Friday, Monday and Tuesday if necessary to try and force the measures through.

If it becomes a marathon ping-pong battle the government hopes that the Lords opponents lose their resolve before MPs backing the Bill do.

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