My Lords, the Prime Minister announced in May 2005 that we would assume responsibility for coroners and local government elections. In April 2006, an independent judicial appointments commission and a judicial complaints commission will be established. At the same time, the new tribunal service will be launched. The implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in April 2007 will create the new role of the Public Guardian alongside a new court of protection.
But, my Lords, does the Minister recall that two years ago the Prime Minister announced the abolition of the post of Lord Chancellor? Is she aware how pleased we are on these Benches that we still have a Lord Chancellor?
Will she also accept my very best wishes for every possible success with her new brief on compensation? Does she foresee a place in the forthcoming compensation Bill for rapid and effective rehabilitation right at the heart of a streamlined and improved compensation system whose priority is making people well and fit again, rather than putting an arbitrary price tag on human inconvenience or pain? Will she therefore put in place the right structure to ensure that, properly funded in partnership with the compensator, the National Health Service has a leading role to play in such a partnership?
My Lords, I note the noble Lord's comments on the Lord Chancellor. We have debated that many times in your Lordships' House.
I am grateful for the noble Lord's congratulations, if I may put it like that, on my work on the compensation culture. There is an interdepartmental working group of Ministers, including my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. One issue being considered between Ministers from the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions is precisely the question of rehabilitation, for reasons that the noble Lord knows extremely well, which is critical to ensuring that we get people back to work and deal with those issues accordingly.
My Lords, why do not the Government transfer the responsibility for criminal justice to the DCA and thereby constitute a proper ministry of justice?
My Lords, which department has responsibility for ensuring that proper consideration is given to the creation of new statutory offences? I have the impression that, since 1997, we have had one or two of those and I wonder what effect, if any, that has had on provision for the courts—which is, of course, the responsibility of the DCA.
My Lords, I am unable to give the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, details of exactly how the structure works, because it is not an area specifically covered in the Question. I can tell him that the relations that I have described between the Attorney-General's office and the Home Office ensure that when we consider statutory offences and their impact on the courts, that is done collectively and collaboratively.
My Lords, I am not sure that there is a great deal of public confusion—as much as the public, I am sure, spend time deliberating that question. However, the question has been raised with me in your Lordships' House. I shall refer it to my noble and learned friend to see whether he wishes to indicate further, perhaps in writing to the noble Lord, his personal view.
My Lords, how could I be other than happy with my noble and learned friend?
My Lords, the joy of being in government is perhaps never to look back. However, I have a great deal of nostalgia for many noble Lords who have served in all kinds of capacities. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that they have all done a wonderful job.
My Lords, I was not going to write to my noble and learned friend; I was going to talk to him and ask him to write to the noble Lord who raised the question. I will ensure that noble Lords' views are brought to his attention but it will be for him to decide.