This House of Lords Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the second reading on the Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill [HL] of session 2019-21 on 11 February 2020.
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The Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill [HL] is a government bill introduced as a ‘law commission’ bill as part of the Law Commission’s sentencing code project. In 2014, the Coalition Government agreed that the Law Commission (the commission) should undertake a project to consolidate the law on sentencing. In November 2018, the commission published its draft bill which would give effect to a new consolidated sentencing code (the code). When introduced this would take the form of a ‘consolidation bill’. The Government has said that it would be subject to the parliamentary procedure for Law Commission consolidation bills. The code would re-enact law already in force and would not alter its substance or effect. The commission also published a draft Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill, alongside the draft consolidation bill.
The Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill would make amendments to the law on sentencing to facilitate the operation and enactment of the code (known as pre-consolidation amendments). The bill would also provide for a “clean sweep” of sentencing law. The explanatory notes to the bill describe this as a “new approach” and would remove historic and redundant layers of legislation. The clean sweep would mean that offenders convicted after the code came into force would be sentenced according to the most up-to-date law, regardless of when the offence was committed (with certain exceptions, for example an offender would not be subject to a greater penalty than available at the time of the offence).
A version of the bill was first introduced into the House of Lords on 22 May 2019. It was considered in second reading committee on 12 June 2019. This then completed its stages up to report stage but did not receive a third reading. The bill was lost when parliament prorogued at the end of the 2017–19 session. It was carried over into the 2019 session but was lost at dissolution, before its third reading. The explanatory notes to the current bill, HL Bill 42 of session 2019–21, explain that amendments tabled by the Government at third reading have been incorporated into the bill.