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Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills First Report



The Committee has considered the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Bill [H.L.] which was referred to it, together with a Report of the Law Commissions on the Bill (Cm. 4626). The Committee has heard evidence on the Bill and has made amendments to it (set out in the annex to this Report) to improve its form. The Committee is of the opinion that, apart from those parts of the Bill which are the subject of Law Commission recommendations, the Bill is pure consolidation and represents the existing law. The Committee is satisfied that the recommendations are necessary for the purpose of producing a satisfactory consolidation of the law and that the amendments which the Bill proposes to make to the existing law give effect to those recommendations.

The Committee draws the attention of Parliament to the fact that the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill, which has recently been introduced into Parliament, amends this Bill in a number of respects. Although we recognise that it is often difficult to select the right time to consolidate, particularly those areas of the law which are the subject of current political debate, we deeply regret the fact that the law consolidated in this Bill will almost immediately again become fragmented. This reduces the value of the consolidation process.

We also wish to draw attention to the question of the Bill's compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights. This is the first instance of a consolidation bill being brought forward after the passage of the Human Rights Act 1998, and in accordance with that Act the Lord Chancellor has made a statement that in his view the Bill is compatible with the Convention rights. We considered this point with the assistance of officials from the Home Office, recorded in the Minutes of Proceedings printed with this report, and draw attention to the concerns expressed about the compatibility of clause 90 of the Bill. As this is a consolidation bill, any non-compatibility cannot be rectified in the Bill itself. However we understand that the issue is likely to be addressed in amendments which the Government intend to table to the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill.

There is no other point to which the special attention of Parliament should be drawn.

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Prepared 11 April 2000