HL Deb 16 March 1992 vol 536 cc1567-8

11.24 a.m.

Lord Airedale asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will draw the attention of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice to fears expressed by lawyers that the Aggravated Vehicle-Taking Act 1992 may lead to miscarriages of justice.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

No, my Lords.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, I am grateful for that informative reply. While a Royal Commission on Criminal Justice is sitting and the Government have rushed through a Bill to change the criminal law in all its stages in a single day—not during the recent days of panic but before Christmas—and that Bill has been widely criticised, could there be a more suitable instance for the Government to take responsibility for placing the whole matter before the Royal Commission and seeking its advice in case it is possible that the Government made a mistake over the matter?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, said that the Bill was rushed through Parliament. It was not.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, perhaps I am not supposed to interrupt an answer, but I said that the Bill was rushed through all its stages in the House of Commons in a single day.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I do not need to tell the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, that before a Bill becomes law it has to pass through both Houses of Parliament. The Bill may have gone through another place in a day but it was introduced here on 10th December: it had a Second Reading on 17th January, more than a month later: Committee stage was on 11th February, three weeks later: Report stage was on 25th February, two weeks later: and Third Reading was on 3rd March, which was a week later. Therefore, there is no question of rush. I should add that the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, participated fully in all the stages of the Bill.

The noble Lord said that there is some doubt about the Bill. Of course there is always doubt about all Bills. The noble Lord retains a doubt about that Bill. However, Parliament has passed the Bill and I believe that the noble Lord is being excessively imaginative if he thinks that the Government will produce a Bill to Parliament, see Parliament pass it and then turn round to the Royal Commission and say: "It is such an awful Bill will you have a look at it?" That is not practical reality.

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