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Clause 1

Part of Law Commission Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 8th July 2009.

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Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Shadow Minister (Justice) 10:00 am, 8th July 2009

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dr. McCrea. I am proud to declare that I am a lawyer, practising as a criminal solicitor. I also declare a family relationship in the same way as my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury in that our sons go to the same school. However, an interest in the Bill has brought me here.

I am particularly interested as a practising solicitor. My hon. Friend expressed concern about the number of statutes on the book and the need to ensure proper codification and consolidation. I have seen for myself in the youth court in Enfield how we are often trying to straddle years of legislation to make sense of a sentence for a young person, and the Law Commission’s work of consolidation and codification is broadly welcomed. Its reports are non-political and non-party in nature, and it is in that spirit that we support the Bill.

It is important to consider how we can respond practically to the concerns of the Law Commission about securing the implementation of its reports. Clause 1 deals with implementation. However, it is also important to recognise that the commission’s success is measured not just by the implementation of its reports, but by its contribution to academic discussion and research, to clarification and development of the law by the courts, and to public debate in Parliament and outside.

We must recognise the concern expressed by Sir Terence Etherton and others about the need to look at how implementation can take place in the context of the amount of legislation going through Parliament. Looking at how much legislation has gone through over the past 12 years, I think that we must be up to the 500 mark in the number of Acts, and close to 40,000 statutory instruments. It is important that the Government—and any future Government—recognise the pace of legislative change and the need to make proper provision for the considered judgment of the Law Commission when they wish to propose legislation.