HC Deb 08 June 1857 vol 145 cc1323-4

asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether any and what steps have been taken by the Government towards carrying out the recommendations contained in the last Report of the Statute Law Commission, and the views of the several witnesses examined before the Committee of this House, appointed to consider the propositions in that Report; and whether an officer with a competent staff has been appointed, as proposed by the said Committee, for the purpose of attending to all Bills referred to that officer, and reporting exactly to Parliament the state of the existing law, and how it would be affected by the proposed alterations, and especially after a Bill has passed through a Committee to examine it and report immediately to the House what has been done by the Committee, and whether that Committee is to be reappointed?


, in reply, said the Select Committee to which the hon. and learned Gentleman alluded had been appointed last Session for the purpose of considering the recommendations of the Statute Law Commission as to how far the adoption of such recommendations was advisable. He (Mr. Baines) had the honour of being chairman of that Committee. They examined a number of witnesses, from some of whom they obtained much valuable and instructive information. But when the dissolution of the late Parliament was determined upon, they had not completed their inquiry. They therefore made no recommendation, but simply reported the nature of the evidence they had received. He begged further to state that the Government, after mature consideration, did not think it advisable to renew that Committee again in the present Session, because, in the first place, there was a great number of Members who had given great attention to the subject, and whose assistance in the prosecution was most valuable, but who were already fully engaged upon other Committees; and in the next place, because of the great number of Committees that must be appointed upon election petitions and other matters. Under such circumstances, the Government thought it impossible to enlist in the present Session the assistance of those who were best qualified for the prosecution of such an inquiry as the one in question. There was a further reason for their coming to that Resolution—namely, the fact mentioned by the noble Lord at the head of the Government the other night, when he said that Her Majesty's Ministers had under their consideration the question relative to the establishment of the department of a Minister of Justice. If such a measure were ultimately determined upon, the supervision of current legislation, with a view to its correction and improvement, would doubtless be included in the functions of the proposed department. For those reasons, therefore, it was not the intention of the Government to renew the Committee referred to.

On Motion, That the House go into a Committee of Supply,