Justice Committee

Press notice No. 35 of Session 2007-08

Thursday 26 June 2008

JUSTICE COMMITTEE PUBLISHES GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO REPORT ON COUNTER TERRORISM BILL

The House of Commons Justice Committee today publishes the Government's response to its report on the Counter Terrorism Bill, in which the Committee expressed its concerns about the proposals relating to the coroners system which provided for "the Secretary of State to certify that a coroner's inquest may be held without a jury and to appoint a particular security cleared coroner in inquests which are expected to involve the consideration of material that should not be made public". The Counter Terrorism Bill has passed third reading in the House of Commons and is now awaiting consideration in the House of Lords.

Commenting on the Government's response, Committee Chairman Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith said:

"There are still several key issues which will need to be resolved during consideration of the Bill by the House of Lords. For example, it needs to be absolutely clear that the Government cannot itself choose the coroner when a security cleared coroner is required: and there remain unresolved issues about whether the Judge could see sensitive material which had been used at the inquest if a coroner's verdict is subject to judicial review.

"It still seems unnecessary and unhelpful to proceed with these clauses in advance of the Coroner's Bill and the outcome of the implementation process on the use of intercept evidence, especially when I note that the Government are considering a 'sunset clause' to guarantee that their proposals will be aligned with the results of these two processes."

Notes:
1. The Committee's report on the Counter Terrorism Bill was published on 20 March 2008 as the Committee's Third report of Session 2007-08 as HC 405. All reports and press notices can be found on the Committee website at www.parliament.uk/justicecom

2.Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP (Chairman), Mr David Howarth MP, Siân James MP, Daniel Kawczynski MP, Jessica Morden MP, Julie Morgan MP, Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, Robert Neill MP, Dr Nick Palmer MP, Linda Riordan MP, Virendra Sharma MP, Mr Andrew Turner, Mr Andrew Tyrie MP and Dr Alan Whitehead MP

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