Clause 4

Part of Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 25th October 2007.

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Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Shadow Minister (Justice) 1:30 pm, 25th October 2007

As you can see, Sir Nicholas, subsections (3) and (4) give the Secretary of State the power to amend legislation. However, they do not give him the power to amend only secondary legislation or even the Bill; he is being given the power to amend other primary criminal justice legislation. It is rather more than interesting that the Act that he is being given the power to amend—the Criminal Justice Act 2003—is, in terms of its implementation, the most ridiculous piece of legislation that it is possible to imagine.

In written questions, I have asked the Home Secretary how much of the 2003 Act is in force, how much has been repealed before even coming into force and how much is not yet in force. Although it is a big fat Act, it is incredible how many of its provisions are not in effect, have not been implemented, or have been repealed before being brought into force.

That point is reinforced, or at least I like to think that my arguments are reinforced, by a quick glance at schedules 4 and 23 of the Bill, in which great reams of amendments to recent legislation are identified. There is a constant cascade of legislation that is being amended before it is even brought into force, yet here we are giving the Secretary of State power to effect amendment by the writing of his name, rather than by any fully scrutinised legislative process.

I tabled amendments Nos. 3 and 4 because I believe that Parliament should amend the criminal law; Parliament should amend the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Parliament, not the Executive, should make the decisions on how we frame our criminal law, which deals with the removal of people’s liberties and the conduct of our police, courts and criminal justice system more widely.