Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

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Written Statement Indentifying Number – Every written statement in the House of Commons and House of Lords has a WSID per parliamentary session.
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WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 01 October 2019
Made by: Robert Buckland (Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirements

As part of the urgent review of the sentencing and release framework announced by the Prime Minister in August, we considered changes to sentencing for the most prolific offenders which could help break the cycle of reoffending. We know that these offenders generally have multiple and complex needs which are linked to their offending behaviour, in particular drugs, alcohol and mental health needs. If we are to break the cycle of reoffending, particularly for prolific offenders who cause significant public concern and harm to society, solutions will often lie in community sentences.

In order to address offending linked with alcohol misuse, I propose to introduce Alcohol Abstinence and Monitoring Requirements (AAMR) across England and Wales, starting in 2020, requiring offenders not to drink for up to 120 days. It follows successful pilots launched both in London by the Prime Minister in his former role as Mayor of London, and in the Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) area.

This will form part of a wider package of reforms for community penalties which we are planning to bring forward that offer an appropriate level of punishment, while tackling the underlying drivers of offending through treatment. As we continue to develop policy and before legislation is laid, we will consider fully the impact of the proposals and have due regard to the requirements of s149 of the Equality Act 2010.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1805
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 01 October 2019
Made by: Robert Buckland (Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Sentencing update

Our current sentencing and release framework is failing to give victims and the wider public the confidence they should have in our criminal justice system. Too often, we are told, the time offenders spend in prison does not match the severity of the crime. The Prime Minister therefore announced an urgent internal review, focusing on the sentencing for the most serious violent and sexual offenders and the rules governing when and how those offenders are released. The review also considered changes to sentencing for the most prolific offenders which could help break the cycle of reoffending.

Based on the findings of the review, we will be bringing forward proposals shortly for a comprehensive package of legislative reform. This will include amending the automatic release point for the most serious sexual and violent offenders.

Under the current system, which dates back to the Labour Government in 2003, the majority of offenders receive a standard determinate sentence and must be released automatically at the half-way point, to serve the second half of their sentence in the community on licence. We want to stop this practice for the most serious violent and sexual offenders, who have committed offences such as rape, robbery and GBH with intent, so that they spend much longer in prison, protecting the public and giving greater confidence to victims. We shall therefore legislate to amend the automatic release point for the most serious sexual and violent offenders (where the offence carries a maximum life sentence) from the half-way point to two thirds of the sentence.

As part of our package of reforms, we also plan to bring forward proposals for community penalties that offer an appropriate level of punishment, while tackling the underlying drivers of offending.

Our proposals to reform the sentencing and release framework complement the raft of initiatives we are taking as a Government to fight crime and protect the public from its devastating consequences. As we continue to develop policy and before legislating, we will consider fully the impact of the proposals and have due regard to the requirements of s149 of the Equality Act 2010.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1806
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Robert Buckland (The Minister of State for Justice)
Commons

Appointment to the Prison Service Pay Review Body

I am pleased to announce that the Prime Minister has appointed Tim Flesher CB as Chair of the Prison Service Pay Review Body. This appointment is for three years, with Mr Flesher’s term commencing on 1 August 2019 and ending on 31 July 2022. This appointment has been made in accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1763
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 May 2019
Made by: Robert Buckland (Minister of State for Justice)
Commons

Interim response to The Sentencing Code Volume 1: Report (Law Com No382)

I am today announcing the government’s interim response to the Law Commission’s report on the Sentencing Code, published on 22 November 2018. The interim response can be found here (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-to-law-commission-report-on-the-sentencing-code). I am also announcing the Government’s intention to introduce the Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill to Parliament, which will pave the way for the Sentencing Code.

The Law Commission’s draft Sentencing Code is a consolidation of legislation governing sentencing procedure which aims to ensure that the law relating to sentencing procedure is readily comprehensible and operates within a clear framework as efficiently as possible. For the Code to operate as intended, there are some amendments required to the existing law to facilitate the consolidation and to remove historic, and now redundant, layers of legislation. To enable this the Law Commission has also drafted a pre-consolidation amendment bill. Neither the Code nor the pre-consolidation amendments make any changes to existing offences and penalties, nor do they introduce any new substantive law or sentencing disposals.

The key recommendation of the report is that the draft legislation be enacted. The government welcomes the Law Commission’s report and draft legislation and considers the consolidation of sentencing procedure to be a major step forward in simplifying what is often a complex and technical area of law. It is absolutely vital that unnecessary errors made in our criminal justice system are minimised, and that the courts, offenders, and victims of crime and their families are not put through the time and expense of unnecessary appeals.

The Ministry of Justice is looking carefully at substantive sentencing reform. For example, there is persuasive evidence showing that community sentences, in certain circumstances, are more effective than short custodial sentences in reducing reoffending, and therefore keeping the public safe. At this stage, we are still considering options and have not ruled anything in or out. However, questions of substantive reform are distinct from the important task of making sure that sentencing procedural law is clear and accessible to those that need to use it. We believe the Sentencing Code provides that clarity and transparency. I will bring forward more detailed proposals in due course, but I emphasise that the opportunity for the consolidation of complex sentencing procedural law presented by the Code is a separate matter, and should be brought forward separately.

The Law Commission have also made some further recommendations to the government for the reform of sentencing law. These have not been given effect in the draft legislation and both Bills as drafted by the Law Commission can be enacted without taking these additional recommendations forward. The government is grateful for the in-depth analysis that has gone into these complex issues during consultation, acknowledging that in some cases they were unsuitable for inclusion as part of the consolidation process or outside the terms of reference for the project. For those reasons, we do not propose that these recommendations be taken forward at this time, whilst noting that the benefit of the Sentencing Code is that it will be readily open to Parliament in future to make such changes. We will, however, provide a fuller response to these further recommendations raised by the Law Commission in due course.

The government thanks the Law Commission for the considerable effort that has gone into producing the report and draft legislation. Whilst the Sentencing Code itself should be brought forward through the parliamentary procedure for Law Commission consolidation bills, I am pleased to announce that the government will be introducing the Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill to Parliament, giving effect to the pre-consolidation amendments, through the special procedure which is available for Law Commission recommended Bills.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1542
WS
Attorney General
Made on: 05 March 2019
Made by: Robert Buckland (Solicitor General )
Commons

Publication of the Response to the Call for Evidence on the Impact of Social Media on the Administration of Justice

Today I am publishing the Government’s response to the Call for Evidence on the Impact of Social Media on the Administration of Justice. The response is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/response-to-call-for-evidence-on-the-impact-of-social-media-on-the-administration-of-justice and a copy has also been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

The focus of the Call for Evidence was to look at the impact of social media on the criminal justice system, with particular attention paid to the issues of active proceedings and breaches of reporting restrictions and anonymity orders.

The evidence was varied and I am grateful to everyone who contributed. We can conclude that, for the moment social media is not having a widespread impact on the trial process. This, however, may not remain the case if the issues identified are not addressed. The response sets out a number of ways that the Government will respond to the variety of issues raised. This includes improving links with social media companies, which will enable easier removal of harmful posts, and working with cross Government partners, including the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office, on the White Paper on Online Harms to tackle related issues. Further, I will work with my Public Legal Education Committee to raise awareness of the risks and implications of using social media to comment on criminal trials. As a part of this work, the Government has created a dedicated webpage to support public understanding of contempt of court and anonymity orders, which can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/contempt-of-court. In addition to working on guidance for the public, work is also underway to develop comprehensive guidance on contempt led by the Judicial Office. I am grateful to the judiciary for their support in understanding and dealing with this issue.

I am confident that these measures will contribute to ensuring safer use of social media in accordance with the law and will support the Government’s efforts to make the internet a safer place.

WS
Attorney General
Made on: 31 January 2018
Made by: Robert Buckland (Solicitor General)
Commons

Serious Fraud Office (Contingencies Fund Advance)

I would like to inform the House that a cash advance from the Contingencies Fund has been sought for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

In line with the current arrangement for SFO funding agreed with HM Treasury, the SFO will be submitting a Reserve claim as part of the Supplementary Estimate process for 2017-18.

The advance is required to meet a current cash requirement on existing services pending Parliamentary approval of the 2017-18 Supplementary Estimate. The Supplementary Estimate will seek an increase in both the Resource Departmental Expenditure Limit and the net cash requirement in order to cover the cost of significant investigations.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £9,500,000 will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Serious Fraud Office. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £9,500,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The advance will be repaid upon Royal Assent of the Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill.

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