Daniel Bentley - Parliamentary Correspondent
The government has been forced to remove controversial proposals to allow trial without jury in complex fraud cases from a Bill aimed at simplifying fraud prosecutions.
The move was to avoid delaying the whole package of anti-fraud measures contained in the Fraud Bill, which includes a single offence of fraud.
The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, revealed that a new Bill would be introduced at a later date to deal exclusively with the implementation of Section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act.
This would allow judges to sit without a jury for what Lord Goldsmith insists would be a "small number" of complex fraud cases.
His decision to decouple the proposal for non-jury trials from the Fraud Bill is a tacit admission that the government faces serious difficulties in getting the measure through Parliament.
Lord Goldsmith said: "It is clear that there is no immediate prospect of those discussions bearing fruit and leading to a compromise position which delivers the necessary improvements to the efficacy of fraud trials.
"In those circumstances, it cannot be right to delay this modest but desirable [Fraud] Bill any longer."
A new Bill implementing Section 43 would be brought forward "as soon as Parliamentary time allows", he said.
But if the House of Lords - where the government has no majority - remains steadfast in its opposition, the legislation could be held up for as long as two years.