Clause 1

Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:00 am on 15th March 2007.

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Independence of tribunal judiciary

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

The purpose of the clause is manifest. It puts beyond doubt the fact that the tribunal judiciary are independent of the Executive. It does so by ensuring that the duty on the Lord Chancellor and other Ministers of the Crown to uphold the continued judicial independence of the judiciary, which is enshrined in section 3 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, extends to all the tribunals for which the Lord Chancellor is responsible. That includes the employment tribunals in Scotland and criminal injuries compensation appeal panel adjudicators appointed by Scottish Ministers under section 5 of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995. The guarantee also covers non-legal members of tribunals, as well as the legally qualified ones.

It is right that the Bill begins by making it clear that tribunals have the same constitutional and legal guarantee of independence as the courts, and I ask that the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Attorney General, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

Are there any tribunals for which the Lord Chancellor does not have responsibility and which therefore will not be covered by the clause?

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

Yes, there are a number. The competition tribunal, for example, will not be covered either by that provision or by the Bill in any other way. All the tribunals that are dealt with by the Bill have this guarantee of independence enshrined in the clause.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Attorney General, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

If, at a later stage, the Minister were to be kind enough to let us have a note detailing the other tribunals that are not covered and to tell us whether they are protected by any similar independence provision, it would be helpful. I do not intend to press the matter further now.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.