§ 11.53 a.m.
§ Lord Filkin rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 10 June be approved [21st Report from the Joint Committee].
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, as the House will recall, following the Auld review, the Lord Chancellor initiated a project to establish a statutory Criminal Procedure Rule Committee in partnership with the Home Secretary and the Attorney-General. The aim was to simplify the criminal trial process and to establish one set of rules for all criminal courts in England and Wales. The purpose was to ensure better case management techniques and to introduce streamlined 452 and more modern procedures, making it easy for the public to understand what is happening, leading to the more efficient proceedings of justice.
§ The same argument is also being applied to the family justice system, whereby with the imminent arrival of a unified administration of the courts within the Court Service there is now the potential to regard the court system as a totality. We should therefore ensure that the court rules reflect that.
§ This order will complete the necessary amendments and repeals to primary legislation that are consequential on the establishment of the new Criminal Procedure Rule Committee and the Family Procedure Rule Committee. Accordingly the order is consequential on a policy laid before and agreed by Parliament during the passage of the Courts Bill last year. We are now ready to establish the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee and we are in the process of recruiting the members of the Family Procedure Rule Committee. When fully functioning, the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee will provide a single forum in England and Wales for the development of rules determining the practice and procedures to be used in all criminal courts. Similarly, the Family Procedure Rule Committee will make rules applying to all family proceedings in England and Wales.
§ The order will be made under the general power in Section 109(4) and (5) of the Courts Act 2003, which allows the Lord Chancellor to make any supplementary, incidental or consequential provisions for the purposes of giving full effect to the provisions in the Act. That includes powers to amend or revoke primary legislation. The legislative changes do not put forward any new policy, nor will they effect any change in policy.
§ The combined effect of the legislative changes in the Courts Act and this order will enable criminal procedure rules to be developed with a more strategic purpose. The Criminal Procedure Rule Committee will have overarching responsibility for rules governing the practice and procedure of the criminal courts, embracing magistrates' courts, the Crown Court and the Court of Appeal Criminal Division. The Lord Chancellor has now approved the appointment of members to the committee, which will take up the baton from the advance working group that established and prepared the way.
§ Similarly, the Family Procedure Rule Committee is intended to have overarching responsibility for rules governing family proceedings. The arrangements for the recruitment of that committee are under way, and the committee will promote the modernisation and harmonisation of the family procedure rules, again contributing to the promotion of the more effective handling of cases.
§ It is proposed that this order should come into force on 1 September 2004, but it will not affect the general operation of the enactments amended where they relate to criminal procedure rules until the first of those rules come into force, and where they relate to family procedure rules, until the first of those come into force. I hope that this makes it clear that until the new rules 453 come into force, the existing rule-making bodies will continue to have the power to make the rules affecting criminal and family business.
§ The coming into force of the first criminal procedure rule will be the trigger for the cessation of the power of the Crown Court Rule Committee to make rules for criminal cases in the Crown Court and for appeals to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division. In addition, the Lord Chancellor will no longer have power to make rules governing the procedure in the Crown Court for indictments. Similarly, the coming into force of the first family procedure rules will be the trigger for the cessation of the Lord Chancellor's power to make rules of court in respect of adoption matters.
§ This statutory instrument is an essential step in the modernisation and streamlining of our court procedures. I commend the order to the House.
§ Moved, that the draft order laid before the House on 10 June be approved [21st Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Filkin.)
§ Lord Goodhart: My Lords, no fewer than 16 statutes are amended by this order and therefore it is clear that it needs full explanation and vetting. I have to say that I am satisfied with the explanation set out in the Explanatory Memorandum of the reason for all these amendments, but the process plainly justifies what is now the accepted practice following the recommendations made a couple of years ago by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that powers in any statute to amend other primary legislation by secondary legislation should be exercisable only under the affirmative resolution procedure.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.