Constitutional Affairs Committee

Press Notice No. 16 of Session 2006-07, 15 March 2007

THE CONSTITUTIONAL ROLE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

On the 21 December 2006 the Committee announced its inquiry into the constitutional position of the Attorney General. 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- -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.

The Committee took oral evidence from the present Attorney General on 6 February, and from Lord Morris of Aberavon QC KG, Lord Mayhew Twysden QC and the Rt Hon Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC, Lord Chancellor, on 28 February. During that session, the Lord Chancellor posited three potential models for the consideration of the future role of the Attorney General in Government:

1.The current model: combines ministerial and non-ministerial role, and serves as a politician in Parliament (either the Commons or Lords)

2.A second model: similar (although not identical) to the position of the Lord Advocate in Scotland. The Attorney General is a member of the Commons or Lords, but is non-political.

3.A third model: the Attorney General is not a politician or a member of either House, but provides legal advice, has superintendence of the prosecution role and has a propriety and public interest role.

The Committee is now seeking written evidence in response to the terms of reference above- but with special reference to the three potential options for the role of the Attorney General as outlined by the Lord Chancellor.

Call for evidence:

Submissions relating to the terms of reference above are invited from relevant interested parties. These should be sent to the Clerk of the Committee at the address above by 16 April 2007. An electronic version in MS Word or Rich Text format should also be submitted, either by e-mail to [email protected] or on a disk and this should be accompanied by a letter stating clearly who the submission is from, together with relevant contact details. Submissions should be as brief as possible, and certainly no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and it would be helpful to include a brief executive summary. Attention is drawn to the guidance on the submission of evidence which can be found at www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide.htm

Notes:

1. The full transcript of the oral evidence session quoted above, specifically the Lord Chancellor's answer to Q160, can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmconst/uc306-ii/uc30602.htm

2. The full terms of reference for this inquiry are available at:

http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/conaffcom/cac211206pn03.cfm

3. For further information please see the Committee's First Special of this Session at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmconst/222/222.pdf

4. 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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