Select Committee on Constitution Third Report


16 JANUARY 2003

By the Select Committee appointed to examine the constitutional implications of all public bills coming before the House; and to keep under review the operation of the constitution.



1.  A bill has been introduced into this House to make provision about the courts and their procedure and practice; about judges and magistrates; about fines and the enforcement processes of the courts; about periodical payments of damages; and for connected purposes.

2.  We consider that aspects of the bill raise questions of principle about principal parts of the constitution.[1] We therefore wrote to the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Irvine of Lairg, the Minister in charge of the bill, noting in particular that the potential constitutional significance of the bill was difficult to establish, as the framework document that will govern the proposed Court Administration Councils was not available.

3.  In his reply, the Lord Chancellor agreed that the administration of the courts is a matter of constitutional significance. We note that, while some of our concerns were addressed, our question about the proposed number of Court Administration Councils remains unanswered. Our correspondence is appended.

  1. We draw these matters to the attention of the House as raising questions of principle about principal parts of the constitution.

1   We set out our approach to scrutiny in our First Report, Session 2001-02, HL Paper 11, Chapter 3. Back

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