Second Reading

Part of Law Commission Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 1:41 pm on 24th April 2009.

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Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Government Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 1:41 pm, 24th April 2009

My Lords, I congratulate the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, on securing a slot for this Second Reading and for bringing forward this important matter.

It is a great privilege for my department to be associated with the Law Commission. The commission, as has been said on all sides, makes a significant contribution to law reform, which is greatly valued by the Government, those in the legal and judicial world and beyond. For example, recently the Justice Secretary announced new proposals on the law against bribery that were drawn heavily from the Law Commission's work. As has already been referred to, the Perpetuities and Accumulations Bill, which I was privileged to introduce into the House at the beginning of April, again derived almost completely from the Law Commission. As the noble and learned Lord said, that Bill is to be dealt with by way of a new procedure in your Lordships' House, aimed at ensuring that more such Bills reach the statute book. Indeed, he was too modest to say that he has kindly agreed to chair the committee under the new procedure for that Bill. I look forward, as I know do other noble Lords who have spoken, to working with him, starting next week.

We need to make sure that the valuable work from the Law Commission results in implementation. Noble Lords might be slightly surprised to hear that the most recent figures for Law Commission reports that have actually been implemented—and these figures are accurate from about two years ago—is around 70 per cent of Law Commission proposals. What that does not say is whether they are the most important or not so important parts of law that need to be changed. We need to improve on those figures and we want to ensure that Law Commission reports are implemented in a timely fashion. I confess—this is probably true of Governments of both colours—that this has not always been the case.

I, too, would like to praise Sir Terence Etherton, the chairman of the Law Commission. I am sure that much more will be said about him nearer his retirement from that very important position, but he has been a force in bringing these matters to the attention of the House.

I was going to give the same quote as did the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. I will forgive him for using the quote; it is such good one. However, but the House will be relieved that I am not going to repeat it. Nor am I going to repeat the details set out by the noble and learned Lord' Bill in Clauses 1 and 2. I just say that these measure are key to delivering the Government's objective to strengthen the role of the Law Commission. We value the Law Commission's contribution to law reform. It was one of the finest legal reforms of the second part of the 20th century. In addition, we are very pleased to support the Bill.