Serving on the Law Commission Bill Committee

Today I served on the Committee looking into the Law Commission Bill. The Law Commission was set up in the 1960s under Labour to come up with improvements and consolidations of the law with the idea that it would be better for citizens if the law on a particular subject was all in one place and set out simply. Over the past 45 years, the Law Commission has come up with many ideas and proposed improvements, but all too often the government has not allowed these the necessary time to become law.

The Bill is an attempt by Emily Thornberry MP to improve matters by making the Government report each year on progress with Law Commission changes and to set ground rules for the Government to help the Commission.

The backgound is that the Chairman of the Commission Sir Terence Etherton made a strong speech to the Bar Law Reform Committee recently explaining why there were problems with Government. My summary of what he said is:

*tiny budget
*administratively hidden away in the Court Service
*their proposals sidelined in favour of less worthy eye-catching political initiatives
*Ministers failing to attend the Ministerial Committee with them

I put these points to Justice Minister Michael Wills MP and there has been some progress with the Ministerial Committee upgraded to Cabinet level and a commitment to try to get more proposals through. So, maybe the 1960s’ vision for the Law Commission will be less abused over coming years. Let’s hope so. Well drafted laws which are accessible is a fine ambition.

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