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European Economic Community

Volume 827: debated on Monday 29 November 1971

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asked the Attorney-General what increase in the staff of the Lord Chancellor's Department will be required for the scrutiny of European Economic Community legislation and giving effect to harmonisation therewith; and what will be the cost of such increase.

Firm estimates are not yet possible, but at the most half a dozen additional staff may be required; the tasks referred to by my right hon. and learned Friend do not primarily fall to the Lord Chancellor's Department.

As the amount of work that will be required to be done is not yet ascertainable and in view of the possibility that it may be very heavy indeed, may I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to be astute and avoid the dangers both of improper scrutiny and undue strain and overwork on the part of these learned gentlemen?

This is certainly a matter which is obviously under consideration. As my right hon. and learned Friend will appreciate, each Department deals with its own responsibility. For example, the additional lawyers in the Lord Chancellor's office will deal mainly with the subject of what is known in the House as lawyer's law.

Will the Attorney-General answer the last part of his right hon. and learned Friend's Question, which he perhaps unconsciously avoided, and give us an idea of the cost of this exercise?

The hon. Gentleman is right and I apologise to my right hon. and learned Friend for not answering that part of his Question. The disclosure now of any cost is impossible because it would be premature to give an estimate at this stage.

Could not the assistance of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) be enlisted for this important work, now that the Bar has recently suffered his retirement?

That has indeed been a loss to my profession, but I must repeat that the tasks do not fall primarily to the Lord Chancellor's Department; and, as I said, very few extra staff will be required.