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: 28 April 2020
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Final response to The Sentencing Code Volume I: Report (Law Com No. 382)

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Philp) has made the following Written Statement.

"I am today announcing the Government’s final response to the Law Commission’s Report on the Sentencing Code, published on 22 November 2018. The final response can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-to-law-commission-report-on-the-sentencing-code.

In May 2019 the Government issued an interim response which accepted the main recommendation of the Report to take forward the Sentencing Bill and the Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill, and committed to consider its 11 secondary recommendations in further detail. Detailed responses to each of those recommendations are set out at the above link.

The Government reiterates its thanks to the Law Commission for the enormous effort that has gone into producing the Report and accompanying legislation, and congratulates the Law Commission on an outstanding achievement."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS210
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 21 April 2020
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Implementation of the Whiplash Reform Programme

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Robert Buckland) has made the following Written Statement.

"I would like to provide an update on next steps for the Whiplash Reform Programme.

The Government remains firmly committed to implementing these measures which are intended to control the number and cost of whiplash claims. Under the Programme, we will increase the small claims track limit for road traffic accident related personal injury claims to £5,000; as well as introduce a fixed tariff of damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for whiplash injuries, and a ban on the making or accepting of offers to settle a whiplash claim without a medical report.

The Government indicated on 27 February 2020 that after careful consideration it had decided to implement the whiplash reforms in August 2020. However, it is apparent that the current Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the medical, legal and insurance sectors. While the whiplash reform measures remain important, the Government is committed to acting to ease the disruption and pressures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak where it can.

As a result, the Government has considered representations from key stakeholder groups and agrees that now is not the time to press ahead with significant transformational change to the personal injury sector.

We have therefore decided to delay the implementation of the whiplash reform programme to April 2021. This will enable key sectors of this country’s business to focus their energies on delivering their response to Covid-19, and will allow the Government to focus on delivering key services in the justice area during this difficult time.

The Government will continue to monitor developments in relation to the current pandemic and will, if necessary, make further announcements in regard to the implementation of these important reforms."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS194
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 25 March 2020
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Tenth Annual Report of the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Robert Buckland) has made the following Written Statement.

"The United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), which the UK ratified in December 2003, requires States Parties to establish a “National Preventive Mechanism” (NPM) to carry out visits to places of detention to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Government established the UK NPM in March 2009 (Hansard 31 March 2009, Vol. 490, Part No. 57, Column 56WS). The UK NPM is currently composed of 21 scrutiny bodies covering the whole of the UK.

Following previous practice, I have presented to Parliament the 10th NPM’s annual report (Command Paper CP 228). This report covers the period from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. I commend the important work that the NPM has carried out over this period and the NPM’s independent role in safeguarding the human rights of detainees across the UK. I also note the NPM’s observations around prisons, children in detention, police custody, immigration detention and court custody. The Government is committed to making prisons places of safety and reform. We are investing an additional £2.75 billion to transform jails, with tough new security measures including x-ray body scanners, and creating 10,000 modern prison places to rehabilitate offenders. Our long-term ambition is to replace Secure Training Centres and Young Offender Institutions with Secure Schools, putting education, healthcare and purposeful activity at the heart of young offender rehabilitation."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS185
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 05 March 2020
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Probation Update

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Robert Buckland) has made the following Written Statement:

"On 6 December 2019 Joseph McCann was given thirty-three life sentences at the Central Criminal Court for a series of violent sexual attacks which he committed between 21 April and 6 May that same year. His victims, ranging from an 11-year-old boy to a 71-year-old woman, each suffered a terrifying ordeal, and I pay tribute to them for the courage which they showed in giving evidence to secure McCann’s conviction. Mr Justice Edis ordered that McCann serve a minimum of thirty years before being eligible for release on parole.

When he started these attacks, McCann was being supervised on licence by the National Probation Service, having been released automatically from prison on 15 February, after he had served half of a three-year determinate sentence for burglary and robbery offences, less time spent on remand. However, an initial management review and then a full Serious Further Offence (SFO) review confirmed that the Court imposed that sentence on 25 January 2018 on the understanding that it would run concurrent to a recall to prison in connection with an indeterminate sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) which he had received in 2009 for aggravated burglary. However, staff in the National Probation Service (NPS) South East and Eastern Division failed to recall McCann, both when he was remanded into custody on 21 August 2017 and when he received the new sentence on 25 January 2018. Had he been recalled, he would not have been released automatically on 15 February last year; rather, the Parole Board would have conducted a full risk assessment in order to determine whether it was safe to re-release him on licence.

There was only a limited amount which could be shared publicly, whilst we awaited the outcome of McCann’s trial, but under Ministerial direction officials re-launched the Recall Policy Framework in early July, giving NPS Divisional Directors and Chief Executives of Community Rehabilitation Companies personal responsibility for ensuring that their staff understood the purpose of recall and the threshold for recall. Then, in January this year, alongside the Recall Policy Framework, new mandatory training on recall for all probation staff was launched together with fresh operational guidance, to support staff in the judgments which they need to make when presented with evidence of an offender’s increased risk or an offender breaching licence conditions.

As a vital part of our service to victims, the NPS offers victims the opportunity to receive a copy of the SFO review, redacted only to fulfil our statutory obligations to protect the rights to privacy of third parties. After McCann had been sentenced on 6 December, NPS Victim Liaison Officers contacted McCann’s victims and asked them whether they would like to meet an Assistant Chief of Probation, in order to have the findings of the SFO review explained to them and to hear the action which has been taken to address the failings which the SFO review sets out. Meetings were then arranged, having regard to the victims’ preferences and availability, the first on 27 February and the final one on 5 March.

Our primary responsibility is towards the victims, which is why I have waited until they have received the full SFO review before announcing further measures.

In order to address the serious concerns which have arisen in this case and to provide wider public assurance, I have decided, exceptionally, to publish a version of the SFO review. This is not the full review, necessarily redacted, which has been shared with McCann’s victims, but it is a thorough and open account of what went wrong in this case and what has been done to put it right.

Further, so we can be absolutely sure that all the lessons of this terrible case have been learned and addressed, I have asked Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector or Probation, Justin Russell, to conduct an independent review. Justin has decided that the review will be in two parts: the first by pursuing specific lines of enquiry in relation to the management of McCann in custody and in the community and by considering whether HMPPS has taken all the organisational action necessary to improve practice in the areas in which it was found wanting, the second to take a wider look on the culture and understanding of recall in the Probation Service. The Chief Inspector has placed the terms of reference for his review here: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation/about-our-work/inquiriesandreviews/

When I receive the Chief Inspector’s reports, I will consider whether more needs to be done to strengthen probation practice. I am determined to do all that is necessary to protect the public from known offenders. They, and McCann’s victims in particular, deserve no less."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS151
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 05 March 2020
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Consultation on Improving the Victims’ Code and the Government Response to the 2019 Consultation: ’Proposals for revising the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime’

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Robert Buckland) has made the following Written Statement:

"Today, I am launching this Government’s consultation on a draft revised Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the Code) and the response to last year’s consultation on proposed changes to the Code.

The consultation builds on that undertaken last summer and is another major step towards meeting the commitment made in the cross-Government Victims’ Strategy to strengthen the Victims’ Code. It also fulfils our statutory obligations under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 to publish and consult on a draft version before amending the Code.

We are grateful to victims, stakeholders and the public at large who took time to respond to the initial consultation. We have carefully considered their responses which wholeheartedly endorsed our proposed approach to change. Their views have helped us to create the draft revised version of the Code and have played a significant part in helping us identify the key changes that we believe need to be made to ensure that victims’ rights are set out in a clearer, more coherent and meaningful way for victims.

It is vital that those who are caught up in the criminal justice system understand their rights and the minimum levels of service and information they should receive from criminal justice agencies.

We therefore propose to make a number of changes to the Code, but I want to be clear that the minimum levels of service and information that victims are currently entitled to under the existing Code will be maintained. Rather, the changes are designed to strengthen existing rights and deliver an improved service for victims, helping them to cope better when they may be experiencing trauma in the aftermath of a crime.

Building on the proposals made in the first consultation, key proposals include:

  • Amending the Code’s structure and reducing its complexity, bringing together the current five chapters into one concise Code. We have merged the large number of existing entitlements and set these out as 12 clear overarching rights;
  • While we have retained the existing eligibility categories for access to enhanced support and information, we have made clearer in the draft revised Code that service providers have the discretion to offer enhanced rights to victims who fall outside the scope of the existing categories;
  • For the first time, victims of unrestricted mentally disordered patients in the Victim Contact Scheme will be allocated National Probation Service Victim Liaison Officers bringing greater parity in services for these victims, comparable to those received by victims of restricted patients;
  • Again, for the first time, the draft revised Code specifically sets out the entitlements of victims of Foreign National Offenders; and
  • We have also included practical information about how victims can access services provided by the National Health Service (NHS) and sign-posted them to where they can get help and advice if they are approached by the media.

Alongside our work to refine the Code, we are already looking into how to build victim awareness of the Code and their rights, including creating a short, user friendly overview and an online summary for victims. We are also working with Police and Crime Commissioners and Local Criminal Justice Partnerships to monitor and improve compliance with the Code.

After we have published the revised Code, we will turn to consulting on the detail of a Victims’ Law that will guarantee victims their rights and look to further strengthen enforcement of the Code.

The consultation is available at: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/victim-policy/consultation-on-improving-the-victims-code"

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS150
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 03 March 2020
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Domestic Abuse Bill

My Honourable Friend the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Safeguarding (Hon Victoria Atkins MP) has made the following written ministerial statement:

"I am pleased to announce that today the Government will be re-introducing the Domestic Abuse Bill in the House of Commons.
This landmark Bill will help better protect and support the victims of domestic abuse and their children and bring perpetrators to justice.
The measures in the Bill seek to:

  • Promote awareness - to put domestic abuse at the top of everyone’s agenda, including by legislating for a statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical and sexual violence, but can also be emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse. Statutory guidance will accompany the definition to assist in understanding and dissemination of this important feature of the Bill, including taking account of the fact that the majority of victims of domestic abuse are women.
  • Protect and support victims, including by introducing a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order, and placing a new duty on tier one local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation.
  • Transform the justice response, including by helping victims to give their best evidence in the criminal courts through the use of video evidence, screens and other special measures, and ensuring that victims of abuse do not suffer further trauma in family court proceedings by being cross-examined by their abuser.
  • Improve performance – the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner will help drive consistency and better performance in the response to domestic abuse across all local areas and agencies.

The Bill was originally introduced in July 2019 having had the benefit of pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses, chaired by the Rt. Hon Maria Miller MP. In the Government’s original response to the Joint Committee’s report (CP 137), we undertook to publish a further response addressing the outstanding recommendations; the Government has today published this further response alongside the re-introduction of the Bill (CP 214). – Copies of the further response will be available from the Vote Office and it will also be published on the Gov.UK website.


Part 2 of the Bill establishes in law the independent office of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner. Clause 10 makes provision for a framework document which, in effect, sets out how the Home Secretary and the Commissioner will work together. The document deals with, amongst other things, matters relating to governance, and the funding and staffing of the Commissioner’s office. To assist the scrutiny of the Bill, I have today published a draft of the framework document which has been agreed with the designate Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs.


The draft framework document, together with other Bill documents including a revised impact assessment and policy equality statement are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/domestic-abuse-bill.

WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 03 March 2020
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Government response to the Law Commission report Electronic Execution of Deeds

My Right Honourable Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (The Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP) has made the following written ministerial statement:

"The Government welcomes the Law Commission’s report on Electronic Execution of Documents, and I am very grateful to the Commission for the detailed consideration it has given to this important topic.

I agree with the report’s conclusion that formal primary legislation is not necessary to reinforce the legal validity of electronic signatures. The existing framework makes clear that businesses and individuals can feel confident in using e-signatures in commercial transactions.

I endorse the Commission’s draft legislative provision as set out in the report, as reflecting the Government’s view of the legal position on electronic signatures. They are permissible and can be used in confidence in commercial and consumer documents.

I accept the Law Commission’s recommendation that an Industry Working Group should be established, which the Government should convene. As the report demonstrates, notwithstanding the position in law, there are issues on the security and technology of electronic signatures that require further consideration from suitably experienced experts.

I will ask the Industry Working Group to consider the question of video witnessing of electronic signatures.

The report highlights that technological advances have meant that the status of electronic signatures is also applicable in other fields of law, and I note that while this presents opportunities it also entails challenges. These include ensuring that reform does not have any adverse impact, particularly on vulnerable people.

That is linked to the Law Commission’s recommendation that there should be a wider review of the law of deeds, which I accept. The Government will ask the Law Commission to undertake this review, although the timing for the review will be subject to overall Government and Law Commission priorities given the volume of law reform work which exists."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS143
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 27 February 2020
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Implementation of the Whiplash Reform Programme

My Right Honourable Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (The Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP) has made the following written ministerial statement:

"I would like to provide an update on next steps for the Whiplash Reform Programme.

The Government remains firmly committed to implementing measures to tackle the high number and cost of whiplash claims. The Reform Programme includes the measures in Part 1 of the Civil Liability Act 2018, which will introduce a fixed tariff of damages that a court may award for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for whiplash injuries sustained in a road traffic accident, as well as a ban on the making or accepting of offers to settle a whiplash claim without a medical report. Alongside these, we will be increasing the small claims track (SCT) limit for road traffic related claims to £5,000.

The Government had indicated that we wished to implement these measures from April 2020. The Ministry of Justice has made major progress towards this. It has worked closely with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), and with stakeholders representing claimants, including litigants in person, and defendants, on the successful build of a new Official Injury Claim Service (the Service). With the MIB, and using independent research, we have designed the new Service to put the needs of the claimant at its heart. It will provide a simple, user-friendly and efficient online route to provide those affected by road traffic accidents with an opportunity to settle small claims for personal injury without the need for legal representation or to go to court. Where a claimant is not able to make a claim online there will be the option to do so on paper. A dedicated customer contact centre will be available to support all customers through the journey if necessary.

Alongside the MIB, the Ministry of Justice has demonstrated the development of the Service at numerous stakeholder events in London and Manchester, and spoken at stakeholder conferences across the country. We have been clear about the design of the Service, and how we will work to ensure stakeholders from across the claimant and insurance industries are kept aware of, and can feed into, the development of the new platform.

Despite this progress, the Government has given careful consideration to whether implementing the whiplash measures in April remains practical, given the work that remains to be completed. We have listened to the arguments made by both claimant and insurance representative bodies.

As a result, the Government has decided that more time is necessary to make sure the Whiplash Reform Programme is fully ready for implementation. We have always been clear that we need to do this right rather than hastily. In particular, we need to provide sufficient time to work with the Civil Procedure Rules Committee to put in place the supporting rules and pre-action protocol and to give industry sufficient time to prepare their businesses for the changes to how small road traffic personal injury claims are managed. We will also lay the statutory instrument in Parliament to introduce the tariff of damages for whiplash injuries.

In the light of this, the Government has decided to implement these reforms on 1 August 2020. The necessary rules and pre-action protocol, and the statutory tariff, will be published in sufficient time before implementation.

The new Service is designed with all users in mind, and will be simple and easy to operate. Currently motor insurers accept liability for damages in the majority of whiplash claims after road traffic accidents, and we do not expect insurer behaviour to change post implementation. However, there will be occasions when insurers do not accept liability, and claimants will need to be able to resolve liability disputes. Initially, the Government proposed to include a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution to enable liability and quantum claims to be adjudicated. However, in the event, no practicable solution which gave sufficient coverage of ADR for claims could be found. As a result, ADR will no longer be part of the online Service. Instead, we will ensure access to justice by developing bespoke processes to enable litigants to go to court to establish liability.

The increase in the small claims track limit will not apply to those who have been termed “vulnerable road-users”, for example, motor-cyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, and who in any event will not subject our whiplash tariff provisions.

The increase in the small claims track limit will also not apply to children or protected parties. This will enable the Government to test the processes and ensure that we have them correct before considering further extension.

Because these claimants will not be subject to the new small claims limit, they will also not be subject to the new pre-action protocol and so will not have access to the online Service. As such, they will not be able to source their own medical report via the online Service, which is statutorily required to settle claims for whiplash injuries. Therefore, until they can access the online Service, the normal track for claims by children and protected parties which include a whiplash injury, will be the fast track and these claims will not be allocated to the small claims track. This means that, for now, these claimants will be able to instruct a legal representative who may obtain a medical report on their behalf and their costs of legal representation will remain recoverable. This decision has been taken for no reason other than that we consider it the fairest and most straightforward approach to ensuring, for now, that these claimants can obtain the medical report which they must obtain before they can settle their claim.

It is absolutely right that this Government continues its commitment to tackle the high number and costs of whiplash claims, and the impact these have on the cost of motor insurance premiums for hard working families. Delivering these reforms remains a key Government priority. We will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that all are sufficiently prepared for the new measures on 1 August 2020."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS133
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 30 January 2020
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Informal Justice and Home Affairs post-Council statement

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Robert Buckland) has made the following Written Statement.

"The Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council under the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU took place on 23 and 24 January 2020 in Zagreb.

I represented the UK on Justice Day. My colleague Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for Security, attended the meeting for Interior Day.

Justice Day began with a discussion on the future of EU Justice and Home Affairs in the fields of freedom, security and justice, with a focus on the following justice policies: fundamental rights and the rule of law; civil judicial cooperation; judicial training and criminal justice.

Over lunch, Ministers considered the role of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters, recognising its importance in facilitating judicial cooperation.

Ministers then discussed judicial training. I provided an overview of judicial training in the UK, including the independent role of the judiciary in assessing the required learning and development. I highlighted that our approach to providing training for the judiciary is in accordance with the separation of powers, in that training is under the control of the judiciary and not the Government.

The first agenda item of Interior day discussed the Future of EU Justice and Home Affairs Activity, focusing on the Home Affairs area. The Minister for Security intervened to highlight issues relating to end-to-end encryption, drawing attention to the open letter to Facebook from the Home Secretary.

The Minister for Security also encouraged Member States to ensure that the voice of their law enforcement agencies and Interior Ministries was heard during discussions on the EU’s negotiating mandate for a future internal security agreement with the UK.

Interior Ministers then discussed implementation of legislation on the interoperability of EU JHA databases.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed tackling organised immigration crime in the Western Balkans, including a proposal to create a regional Western Balkans system similar to the Eurodac database (stores fingerprint and biometric data of asylum applicants).

The afternoon session focused on implementation of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which the UK does not participate in."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS84
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