Constitutional Affairs Committee

Press Notice 3 of Session 2006-07,  21 December 2006

The Constitutional Role of the Attorney General

The Committee has decided to inquire into the constitutional position of the Attorney General and take evidence from him. It is also proposed that the Committee take evidence from other witnesses in due course.  The terms of reference for the inquiry are:

(1) To inquire into the constitutional role of Attorney General, in particular to consider what constitutional role the Attorney should play in relation to the upholding of the Rule of Law;

(2) To consider the interrelationship between the role of the Attorney General and the Lord Chancellor in that context;

(3) To examine the functions of the Attorney vis-à-vis his role as superintending Minister for legal services provided in Government (including the Crown Prosecution Service) and whether such a role conflicts with his duties as a member of the Government.

It is likely that two sessions of oral evidence will be taken in February.

Rt Hon Alan Beith MP, Chairman of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, said:

"In the light of recent events where the Attorney General has had to make decisions about highly political subjects involving prosecutions, the constitutional role of the Attorney General as part of the framework of upholding the Rule of Law has taken on an unusual importance.

This inquiry follows on from the Committee' s work on the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 which changed the status of the Lord Chancellor as the guardian of the legal conscience of the Government”.

Notes:

1. The Committee’s Report Party Funding (HC 163 I and II), is available on the Committee’s website: www.parliament.uk/conaffcom

2. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon Alan Beith MP (Chairman), David Howarth MP, Siân James MP, Mr Piara S Khabra MP, Jessica Morden MP, Julie Morgan MP, Robert Neill MP, Mr Andrew Tyrie MP, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Jeremy Wright MP

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