The Constitutional Reform Bill was introduced to the House of Lords on 24 February 2004. The Bill received Royal Assent on the 24 March 2005. It addresses four important areas:
Judicial independence: For the first time, the Act enshrines in law a duty on government ministers to uphold the independence of the judiciary. They will be specifically barred from trying to influence judicial decisions through any special access to judges.
Reforming the Lord Chancellor: The Act reforms the post of Lord Chancellor, transferring his judicial functions to President of the Courts of England and Wales. The Lord Chief Justice, currently Lord Woolf, will become President of the Courts of England and Wales. He will be responsible for the training, guidance and deployment of judges. He will also represent the views of the judiciary of England and Wales to Parliament and ministers.
Supreme Court: The Act also establishes a new, independent Supreme Court, separate from the House of Lords with its own independent appointments system, its own staff and budget and, ultimately, its own building.
Judicial Appointments Commission: The Act will establish an independent Commission, responsible for selecting candidates to recommend for judicial appointment to the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs. This will ensure that while merit will remain the sole criterion for appointment, the appointments system will be placed on a fully modern, open and transparent basis.
The Bill was referred to a Select Committee by a motion of the House of Lords on 8 March 2004. The Select Committee's Final Report was finalised at the end of June 2004. The Select Committee referred the Bill back to the House of Lords for further passage through Parliament. More information on the Select Committee is available.
Explanatory Notes [current version]
Press Notice announcing publication of the Bill [25 February 2004]
|Lords||Second Reading||8 March 2004|
|Motion agreed that the Bill should be committed to a Select Committee (Second Reading - 8 March 2004).|
|Select Committee||Final Report||24 June 2004|
|Committee of the Whole House||Lords Committee Stage||13
14 July 2004
11 October 2004
18 October 2004
|Lords||Report Stage|| 7
14 December 2004
|Lords||Third Reading||20 December 2004|
|Commons||Introduction||21 December 2004|
|Commons||Second Reading||17 January 2005|
|Commons||Committee of the Whole House||31 January 2005|
|Commons||Committee of the Whole House||1 February 2005|
|Commons||Committee of the Whole House, report stage and third reading||1 March 2005|
|Lords||Consideration of commons amendments||15 March 2005|
|Lords||Consideration of commons amendments||21 March 2005|
|Lords||Royal Assent||24 March 2005|