The Crown Prosecution Service: Gatekeeper of the Criminal Justice System: Government Response to the Committee's Ninth Report of Session 2008-09 - Justice Committee Contents

Special Report

1. The Justice Committee published its Ninth Report of Session 2008-09, the Crown Prosecution Service: gatekeeper of the criminal justice system, on 6th of August 2009 (HC 186).

2. We received a response from the Government on 6th January 2010.

3. We made the following comments about the performance of the Attorney General's Office in this regard in our report of our work in Session 2008-09:

  "...we wish to record our dissatisfaction with the timeliness of replies to our reports from the Attorney General's Office. We reported on certain provisions within the draft Constitutional Renewal Bill in June 2008 but did not receive a substantive response until July 2009, more than 12 months later. We recognise that some Government responses to select committee reports are sensibly deferred if they relate to major initiatives or proposals which are being finalised within a reasonable timeframe. However, in this instance we see no case for delaying a substantive response for over a year.

As an isolated incident this might not have drawn comment but our concerns have been exacerbated by another delay; this time in the Attorney General's response to our report on the work of the Crown Prosecution Service, published in August 2009, to which a reply was not received until 6 January 2010. Moreover, in the intervening period the Attorney General asked us to hold a pre-appointment hearing for a new HM Chief Inspector of the CPS, a task we are prevented from undertaking as effectively as we would wish without the Government's response to our report in this area. The absence of a Government response also reduces the value of debate on a report in the Chamber or Westminster Hall and makes it more difficult to secure time on the floor of the House to follow-up these important issues. The Attorney General should bear in mind that, by long-standing convention, government departments have agreed that replies to select committee reports should be made within two months of publication. The performance of the Attorney General's Office in replying to our reports has been poor and has hindered our work."[1]

4. We welcome the thorough response we have now received from the Government to our conclusions and recommendations on the Crown Prosecution Service. That response, and a letter from the Solicitor General relating to its submission, are appended below.

1   Justice Committee, 2nd Report, 2009-10, Work of the Committee in 2008-09, HC 233, paragraphs 12-13. Back

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