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Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): The Government have today published the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. The Bill includes the following reforms, to:

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The Civil Service

Place the Civil Service and Civil Service Commissioners on a statutory footing, and enshrine the Civil Service's core values in statute.


Enshrine in statute the procedure for pre-ratification scrutiny of treaties by Parliament, and give legal effect to a vote against ratification.

House of Lords

Phase out the hereditary principle in the House of Lords, by ending by-elections for hereditary peers; provide for the disqualification from the House of Lords of peers convicted of a serious crime or subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order; enable the House of Lords to expel or suspend its Members in certain circumstances; and provide for peers to resign and disclaim their peerages.

Demonstrations around Parliament

Repeal sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, removing the requirement to give notice of demonstrations around Parliament, as well as the offence of holding a demonstration without the authorisation of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The Bill will instead enable the police to be given proportionate, alternative powers to maintain access to Parliament.

Human Rights-"Somerville"

Reconcile the time limit for human rights claims under the Northern Ireland Act 1988 and the Government of Wales Act 2006 with that in the Human Rights Act 1998. Due to the interface between this Bill and parallel provision for Scotland in an Act of the Scottish Parliament which has yet to receive Royal Assent, the same provision for Scotland will be introduced by amendment at the appropriate time.

Judicial Appointments

Remove the Prime Minister from the process of making appointments to the new Supreme Court (this complements non-legislative measures ending his involvement in the appointment of other Members of the senior judiciary of England and Wales); and remove the provision enabling the Judicial Appointments Commission to assume responsibility for magistrates' appointments.

National Audit Office

Provide a modern governance arrangement for the National Audit Office, and change the tenure of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Transparency in accounting for NDPBs

Align the spending mechanisms of non-departmental public bodies with the existing budgetary treatment.

The Bill follows the proposals in the Governance of Britain Green Paper of July 2007 (CM 7170) and the publication of a draft Bill (published in March 2008, Cm 7342-11).

The issues covered in the draft Bill were the subject of examination by three Select Committees:

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The Government are very grateful indeed for the work of these Committees, and are publishing, today, their response to these reports.

On 3 July 2007, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made a major statement on the case for constitutional reform. Alongside this, more detail was given in the governance of Britain Green Paper. A number of subsequent separate consultation papers were published, including on the role of the Attorney-General (CM 7192), judicial appointments (CM 7210), war powers and treaties (CM7239) and protest around Parliament (CM 7235). The draft Constitutional Renewal Bill was published on 25 March 2008 (CM 73423-2) and a Joint Committee of both Houses set up to consider the draft Bill.

The Government have taken full account of the responses to the consultation and the reports of the Select Committees in finalising the proposals in the Bill.

A fundamental aim of the governance of Britain agenda has been to reduce the power of the executive, including by ending the use of relevant royal prerogative powers, and to enhance the role of Parliament. The provisions in respect of the civil service and treaties mark a major move in that direction. The Government have already announced that it would ensure that the Commons will have a pivotal position in determining whether the United Kingdom goes to war, by means of a war powers resolution. Drafts of this have already been published and will go before Parliament in the autumn.

House of Lords

Detailed work on the reform of the Lords had been undertaken in parallel with the governance of Britain agenda. A White Paper was published last July (2008, CM) building on the decisions of the Commons in February 2007 in favour of an 80 per cent. or 100 per cent. elected House of Lords. No proposals in respect of the Lords were therefore included in the draft Constitutional Renewal Bill.

However, in view of recent events and increased interest in the Lords' reform agenda, the Government have decided to include in the Bill reforms to:

The Government are fully committed to comprehensive reform of the Lords, based on four principles, all of which were endorsed by the cross-party group (see White Paper, An Elected Second Chamber, July 2008, Cm 7438):

There remain outstanding questions, which the Government will seek to answer in final proposals after the summer, with draft legislation for pre-legislative
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scrutiny as soon as possible. The two key issues are the electoral system and the size of the elected element (80 per cent. or 100 per cent.). The Government are giving careful and active consideration to resolving these questions in such a way as to make best use of a transitional period.


The Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill contained provisions in respect of the office of Attorney-General, following the governance of Britain Green Paper, which set out the Government's commitment to enhancing public confidence and trust in the office, and the Government said that they would listen to the views of all those with an interest. A consultation paper was subsequently published on 25 July 2007. Of all the matters covered in the draft Bill, this has been the subject of most extensive comment, with bespoke reports from the Justice Committee and the Select Committee on the Constitution and extensive treatment-including minority views, with support from across all three main political parties-from the Joint Committee on the draft Bill.

Those reports disclosed a wide range of views on the direction that reform of the office might take. For example, the Justice Committee favoured separating the Attorney's legal and political functions; a majority of the Joint Committee disagreed; and the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution noted that 'there are a number of different ways in which the post of Attorney might evolve', providing an overview of the different options and arguments.

In the event, the significant, necessary reforms to the role of Attorney-General are being achieved without the need for legislation. For example, the Attorney has reached a new settlement with the Directors of Public Prosecutions, the Serious Fraud Office and Revenue and Customs Prosecutions to improve relationships, guarantee prosecutorial independence while ensuring an appropriate degree of accountability and to improve transparency about the relationship, as reflected in the new protocol setting out the respective responsibilities of the Attorney and the Directors. This builds on the Prime Minister's statement in July 2007, that the Attorney-General has herself decided, except if the law or national security requires it, not to make key prosecution decisions in individual criminal cases. Furthermore, the new protocol makes it clear that the Attorney General will not be consulted in any case which concerns an MP or peer or where there is a personal or professional conflict of interest, other than where her decision is required by law. This protocol will be published by the Attorney very shortly. Furthermore, the Attorney-General now only attends Cabinet when matters affecting her responsibilities are on the agenda.

Given that it has been possible to make these reforms to the office of Attorney-General without legislation, the Government have concluded that it is not necessary to include legislative changes in respect of the Attorney-General.

Parole Board

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): Since its creation in 1968, the role of the Parole Board has changed significantly, from an advisory body to a court-like decision-making body.
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It has evolved in light of legislative changes, court judgments and changing caseloads, but its functions, status and resources have not been systematically considered in light of these changes.

I am today therefore announcing a consultation on options for the future of the Parole Board. The consultation period will last from 20 July 2009 until 20 November 2009.

Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. They are also available at: The Ministry's website also gives details of how to respond to the consultation exercise.

Family Legal Aid

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Lord Bach, has made the following written ministerial statement:

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Legal Aid Reform

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Lord Bach, has made the following written ministerial statement:

Northern Ireland

Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): I have today placed a copy of the Boundary Commission's annual report for the period 2008-2009 in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available on the Boundary Commission website at:


Government Olympic Executive Quarterly Economic Report

The Minister for the Olympics, (Tessa Jowell): I am publishing today the Government Olympic Executive's quarterly economic report, "London 2012 Olympic and
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Paralympic Games Quarterly Economic Report July 2009". This report explains the latest budget position as at 30 June 2009, and outlines some of the many wider economic benefits to the UK.

The Olympic project remains on time and within budget. The overall £9.325 billion public sector funding package for the London 2012 games remains unchanged and the anticipated final cost of the Olympic Delivery Authority's (ODA) programme is the same as it was at the end of March 2009 at £7.234 billion.

On the eve of our three years to go celebrations, the ODA continue to make good progress on the Olympic park, recently announcing that they had hit all of their ten milestones. Good progress is being made on all of the principal venues and on 16 July the ODA announced that the outer shell roof structure of the Olympic stadium had been completed just 14 months after construction started.

The report also confirms that the London 2012 games are providing business and employment opportunities around the UK in challenging times. There are now over 4,000 workers on site. Of these, 10 per cent. were previously unemployed. To date £3.5 billion worth of contracts have been directly awarded by the ODA, 98 per cent. of these to UK companies.

I would like to commend this report to the members of both Houses and thank them for their continued interest and support of the London 2012 games.

Copies of the quarterly economic report July 2009 are available at and will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

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