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.