Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Twenty-Seventh Report

Annex 1


Letter from Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC, Minister of State at the Home Office, to the Chairman

I am writing about certain Government amendments to Part 8 of the Criminal Justice Bill on prosecution appeals that were tabled on 22 October for consideration at Lords Report Stage and which include proposals for a delegated power.

I enclose a copy of a letter and annexes sent to the Opposition by the Attorney General on 14 October[2] which explain the background to the amendments together with a supplementary memorandum giving details of the provision that includes the delegated powers and the reasons for including this.

27 October 2003

Supplementary Memorandum by the Home Office

This supplementary memorandum relates to amendments to part 8 of the Criminal Justice Bill which are being tabled today and which include a new delegated power. Copies of the amendments are attached.2

Part 8 of the Bill provides for prosecution right of appeal against judicial terminating rulings in the Crown Court. Amendment 32 - new clause "Appeals in respect of evidentiary rulings"- provides for a right of appeal against an additional category of rulings - evidential rulings that are not terminating but significantly undermine the prosecution case. This right of appeal is limited to qualifying offences (subsection (3)) and the list of offences is specified in new Schedule (subsection (9)). Subsection (10) provides that the list of qualifying offences may be amended by delegated powers.

Power conferred on:     The Secretary of State

Power conferred by:     Order made by Statutory Instrument

Parliamentary procedure:   Negative Resolution

The purpose of restricting the offences qualifying for the prosecution right of appeal is to impose a limit on the number of potential appeals in order to ensure that the Court of Appeal is not overburdened. It is envisaged that in time the Government may wish to add to this list in the light of practical experience of operating this provision. The power to amend the list of qualifying offences by delegated powers is analogous to the Secretary of State's powers in s35(4) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 to specify by order triable either way offences that may be subject to the Attorney General's right of appeal against unduly lenient sentences. As in the case of the 1988 Act powers, this concerns an administrative matter rather than a substantive issue. Therefore we consider that the negative resolution procedure provides an appropriate level of scrutiny.

27 October 2003

2   Not printed in this Report. Back

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