Criminal Justice

Oral Answers to Questions — Lord Chancellor's Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 22nd October 2002.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 2:30 pm, 22nd October 2002

What representations and submissions his Department has received in response to the criminal justice White Paper of July 2002.

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department)

The Government published the criminal justice White Paper, XJustice for All" on 17 July. Since then, the Lord Chancellor's Department has received 39 responses, the Home Office has received 64 and the Crown Prosecution Service has received four. A wide range of interested parties has responded.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Will the Minister ensure that the responses are published as a matter of urgency by placing them in the Library? Will she undertake that there will be time for the Home Office to consider them properly and, possibly, to respond to them—accepting the good ones and giving some public argument about why it rejects the poor ones, a bit like the way in which Select Committee reports are responded to?

Finally, does the Minister accept that we have not yet heard a good argument for changing the present rule under which previous convictions are not normally before a court because such evidence would prejudice a trial? Will the Government ensure that no such proposal is made unless there is a much better argument for changing the law than anyone has heard so far?

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department)

I will certainly engage in further discussions about the responses that we have received—many from individual magistrates replying to letters we have sent them giving details. On previous convictions, the hon. Gentleman will know what was said in the White Paper. The Home Office has been leading a series of consultations and discussions with a range of stakeholders and will report to the House in due course.