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The Odysseus Trust  


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Constitutional Reform

  • The Odysseus Trust Response
  • House of Lords:
    Second Reading Debate

  • House of Lords:
    Second Reading Debate Part 2

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    Following the surprise announcement by the Government in Summer 2003 that the role of Lord Chancellor would be abolished, the Government then set about launching a hasty and unexpected set of proposals for further constitutional reform. Autumn 2003 saw the publication of no fewer than five consultation papers by the newly launched Department for Constitutional Affairs. The five papers concerned the future of Queen's Counsel; a new way of appointing judges; a Supreme Court for the United Kingdom; reforming the office of Lord Chancellor and next steps for the House of Lords. Within the consultation period, which was extraordinarily short given the weighty matters under consideration, the legal officers analysed all of the consultation documents and attended lectures and seminars to discuss with politicians, lawyers and judges the important issues raised. The legal officers and Lord Lester then produced a joint response to the consultation papers on a new Supreme Court and appointing judges. The legal officers also analysed responses to the consultation by Justice and other NGOs as well as by lawyers' associations and judges, including, notably the Law Lords themselves. 

    In the Queen's Speech in November 2003, the following commitments were made:

    'My Government will continue its programme of constitutional reform by establishing a Supreme Court, reforming the Judicial Appointments System and providing for the abolition of the current office of Lord Chancellor.
    Legislation will be brought forward to reform the House of Lords. This will remove hereditary peers and establish an independent Appointments Commission to select non-party members of the Upper House.'

    Current Status:
    The Government published their Constitutional Reform Bill on 24th February 2004. The Second Reading of the Bill took place on 8 March 2004.