Committee on the Lord Chancellor's Department

Press Notice No 1 of Session 2002-3, dated 4 February 2003


The new Select Committee on the Lord Chancellor's Department held its first meeting earlier today.

The Committee has been established to examine the expenditure, policy and administration of the Lord Chancellor's Department and associated public bodies.  Its remit therefore includes:

constitutional issues, including: Church and State, and Royal matters; relations with the Channel Islands and Isle of Man; electoral law; party funding

civil justice and the legal services market, including: legal aid and the Legal Services Commission; private legal services and the Legal Services Ombudsman; civil court procedure and civil law; alternative dispute resolution; law reform and the Law Commission

family justice and the vulnerable, including: marriage, divorce and relationship support; family breakdown and arrangements for children; Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS); international child abduction; mental incapacity; the Public Guardianship Office; the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee; transsexuals

criminal justice, including: policy and legislation affecting the criminal courts (as distinct from criminal law, which does not fall within this Committee's remit); international and European matters affecting the criminal courts

the courts and tribunals (but excluding individual cases)

judicial matters, including: judicial appointments, training and conduct; appointments to tribunals; appointment of QCs (but excluding individual appointments)

international legal matters.

The Committee's remit also covers three other Departments for which the Lord Chancellor is responsible to Parliament, namely, HM Land Registry, the Public Record Office, and the Northern Ireland Court Service.

Chairman and Members of the Committee

At its meeting this morning, the Committee chose as its Chairman the Rt Hon Alan Beith, MP. Mr Beith has been Member of Parliament for Berwick-upon-Tweed since 1973.  He was Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Home and Legal Affairs between 1994 and 1999, and since 2001 has been spokesperson for the Cabinet Office.  He was a member of the House of Commons Commission between 1979 and 1997, of the Treasury and Civil Service Committee between 1987 and 94 and of the Procedure Committee between 2000 and 2001.  He has also been a Member of the Intelligence and Security Committee since 1995.

The other members of the Committee are:

Mr Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative) Worthing West

Mr James Clappison MP (Conservative) Hertsmere

Mr Ross Cranston QC MP (Labour) Dudley North

Mrs Ann Cryer MP (Labour) Keighley

Mr Jim Cunningham MP (Labour) Coventry South

Mr Hilton Dawson MP (Labour) Lancaster and Wyre

Mr Mark Field MP (Conservative) Cities of London and Westminster

Mr Clive Soley MP (Labour) Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush

Mr Keith Vaz MP (Labour) Leicester East

Dr Alan Whitehead MP (Labour) Southampton Test

Contacting the Committee

The Committee may be contacted at the Committee Office, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.  The telephone number for general enquiries is 020 7219 8198/8196, and the Committee's e-mail address is

The Committee Clerk is Huw Yardley, who may be contacted at the above address or on 020 7219 8195.  The Committee Assistant is Susan Morrison, who may be contacted on 020 7219 8198 and the Committee Secretary is Julie Storey, who may contacted on 020 7219 8196.

Members of the public who have issues which they would like to draw to the Committee's attention can contact the Committee at the above address.  Please note, however, that the Committee's terms of reference specifically preclude it from consideration of individual cases.

Further information about the Committee

Information on the work of the Committee will shortly be available on its pages on the Parliamentary website, at

If you have not been in direct receipt of this press notice, and would like to receive future notices relating to the work of the Committee, or if you have been in direct receipt of this notice and do not wish to receive any further notices from the Committee, please contact either Susan Morrison or Julie Storey as above.  Alternatively, you may e-mail the Committee.

The Committee expects to announce details of its first inquiry shortly.