HC Deb 04 December 2001 vol 376 cc197-8W
39. Mr. Stephen O'Brien

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on her proposed functions under the criminal justice review for Northern Ireland, indicating the changes from her present functions. [17528]

Ms Rosie Winterton

The Government's response to the Criminal Justice Review Report in Northern Ireland has been published in a detailed Implementation Plan and related draft Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill.

When the Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill receives parliamentary approval and the Government are satisfied that the devolved institutions are working effectively, those functions of the Lord Chancellor which relate to judicial appointments in Northern Ireland will pass to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and a new Judicial Appointments Commission. The most senior judicial appointments will be made on the advice of the Prime Minister. Other functions of the Lord Chancellor in relation to court sittings and membership of Court Rules Committees will be transferred to the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland. The Lord Chief Justice will also have a new role in relation to the handling of complaints against the judiciary. The Lord Chancellor is also currently responsible for the Northern Ireland Court Service. The Bill anticipates the abolition of the Court Service as a separate and distinct Civil Service and the transfer of its functions and staff, most probably to the Northern Ireland Civil Service.