I listened carefully to Mr. Bellingham and I heard much background history of the events that led to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, but I did not hear a convincing argument in favour of his new clauses. I will address the issues that he raised, but I am not yet convinced that I should advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to support his new clauses- [ Interruption. ] It is indeed sad that he was unable to persuade me, but perhaps I can demonstrate the holes in his argument.
I start from the basis that the constitutional reforms to which the hon. Gentleman referred were, as he correctly said, a hurried and, in many ways, botched job. I was part of the Committee that dealt with those legislative changes and it was clear that, to a large extent, they had been written on the back of an envelope and were not subject to prior consultation. Indeed, they appeared as a complete surprise to most practitioners in the law, who quickly had to respond to what was being proposed and insist-properly-on certain conditions that were eventually part of the protocol that was decided with the Lord Chief Justice.
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