HL Deb 21 March 2000 vol 611 cc145-6
The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

I am always pleased to bring consolidation Bills before your Lordships. It is important that access to our legislation should be made easier and that judges, lawyers and people with an interest should not have to go on a paper chase through half a dozen enactments or more to find out what the law is.

This consolidation Bill is particularly valuable. It brings together all the main legislation governing the powers of the courts in sentencing. It will be in daily use in the criminal courts. The last consolidation Bill on sentencing was the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973. This Bill repeals that Act and also consolidates provisions in 13 other Acts. To ensure that the Bill will work satisfactorily, it gives effect to a small number of recommendations by the Law Commissions to correct errors and omissions, and to remove inconsistencies, in the Acts being consolidated.

The courts have emphasised on a number of occasions the need for consolidation of judicial sentencing powers. In R v Governor of Brockhill Prison ex parte Evans [1997] QB 443, the Lord Chief Justice, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bingham of Cornhill, and other members of the Divisional Court expressed the hope that the task would be given a high degree of priority.

Sentencing powers are always controversial, but I remind your Lordships that, apart from the minor modifications to which I have referred, this Bill does not change the law and it is not open to either House to seek to amend it in order to do so.

Members of the judiciary and other interested people who have been consulted by the Home Office about the Bill have raised no objections. I am sure that your Lordships will be grateful to the Law Commissions, the Home Office and the draftsman for producing the Bill. It is a substantial and impressive piece of work.

If your Lordships are content to give the Bill a Second Reading, it will be referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills in the usual way.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read a second time, and referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidated Bills.