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Law Commission (Triennial Review)

Volume 566: debated on Tuesday 16 July 2013

I have today published the report of stage 1 of the triennial review of the Law Commission. I have placed a copy in the Library. I have taken the unusual step of publishing the stage 1 report in advance of completing stage 2 as it is important that there is clarity about the future of the Law Commission while it is consulting on its 12th programme.

In line with the methodology established by the Cabinet Office, the Law Commission was assessed against the Government’s three tests: a) is this a technical function, which needs external expertise to deliver; b) is this a function which needs to be, and be seen to be, delivered with absolute political impartiality, such as certain regulatory or funding functions; and c) is this a function which needs to be delivered independently of Ministers to establish facts and/or figures with integrity.

The answers to these questions then enabled a fuller consideration of how these functions should be delivered in the future.

Stage 1 of the Law Commission triennial review found that there is a continuing need for its functions and that the NDPB model is most appropriate to maintain technical expertise and independence from Government. In particular, in the delivery of all its law reform projects, the Commission enjoys the support of a wide range of academics, research bodies and other experts who contribute to the Commission’s work—often on a pro bono basis—because it is an independent body producing impartial, evidence-based recommendations. Other potential delivery models were assessed, but were found to be less cost effective. The Government will now continue to conduct stage 2 of the triennial review, reviewing the control and governance arrangements in place for the Commission. I will report back to Parliament on the outcome in the autumn.

I am very grateful to all those who responded to the call for evidence. Their contributions and perspectives were extremely valuable.