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The clause provides a statutorily backed protocol governing the working relations between the Law Commission and the Departments. We hope that it will ensure a more effective collaborative approach to desirable law reform and increase the likelihood of the commissions work being relevant and appropriately implemented.
I want to take up the important comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire about the protocol, which goes to the heart of the relationship between Government and the Law Commission. We support the clause, but ask why the opportunity was not taken to provide more detail about the current protocol and put it into statutory form, so that it could be subject to revision and would have more teeth. There is, for example, a need to ensure adequate departmental responsiveness to the commissions reports.
The clause might also have been an opportunity to accept Sir Terence Ethertons recommendation to avoid the battle that has been going on since 1963 over priorities for legislative timetabling: that per Session there should be at least one Law Commission Bill that has been accepted in principle by the Government. Perhaps those points could be passed on by the Member in charge of the Bill or the Minister.
We support the clause. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman also supports it and that he welcomes the protocol. That is an innovation we brought in as part of strengthening the role of the Law Commission. We are very interested in his views and would be happy to discuss them further, but I hope he recognises that this is a significant step forward. The effective working of the protocol, which we think is already making a difference to the relationship between the commission and the Government, will ensure that more of the commissions reports are put into statute.