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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WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 May 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

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

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Justice (Robert Buckland) has made the following Written Statement.

"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 Commons: HCWS1581
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 21 May 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Protecting Children and Parents from risk of harm in child arrangements cases in the family courts

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

"I wish to announce to the House the establishment of an expert panel to gather evidence on outcomes for children and parent victims in contact cases and other private law children proceedings, in particular any harm caused during or following such proceedings, where there are allegations and/or other evidence of domestic abuse or other crimes relevant to such a risk of harm.

The Government takes these matters extremely seriously and wants to understand the full range of available evidence on this issue.

The panel will gather evidence on the operation of Practice Direction 12J in the family courts, which sets out what the court should do in child arrangements cases where there are allegations, admissions, or evidence that domestic abuse has happened, or evidence of a risk that it could happen, to the child or another party. The panel will also consider the operation of this Practice Direction with the risk of harm exception to the presumption of parental involvement.

The panel will also gather evidence of effects on children and parents/guardians in proceedings in which a parent or other person seeking contact or residence arrangements is alleged to have or has committed domestic abuse or other offences relevant to a risk of harm to a child or parent/guardian. Such other offences may include, but are not limited to, abuse of a child, assaults, sexual assault, murder or other violent crime.

The Government is also aware of the potential for multiple and repeat court applications to coerce and frustrate victim parents. Therefore, lastly the panel will also gather evidence on the handling of repeat applications within the family justice system and the use of barring orders under section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989.

The membership of the panel will be drawn from academia, third sector organisations, the judiciary and officials from the Ministry of Justice. I will ask the panel to conduct a Call for Evidence and report within three months of its establishment. This will enable the Government to take, as a matter of urgency, evidence-based decisions about whether and what changes are necessary to current protections."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1572
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 13 May 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Publication of the response to the ‘Fit for the future: transforming the court and tribunal estate’ consultation and the Court & Tribunal Design Guide

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

"On the 10th May I published the response to the ‘Fit for the future: transforming the court and tribunal estate’ consultation. It sets out how decisions regarding the future of the estate should be made and makes clear that people will continue to be able to access court and tribunals while providing value for money for the taxpayer and ensuring long-term efficiency.

The consultation published in January 2018, has been developed to complement HMCTS’ £1bn Reform Programme, which is bringing new technology and modern ways of working to the justice system, making it more accessible for everyone. It received 249 responses and as a result, the response published today, strengthens and updates the principles underpinning future decisions relating to changes to our estate. It ensures that:

  • When visits to courts are necessary, travel times and ease of transport will continue to be prioritised – with added support for vulnerable users
  • Court and tribunal buildings will be fit for purpose and can be maintained at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer
  • Specialist front-of-house staff will be at courts to support the public and legal professionals, and will be trained in new technologies
  • The estate is aligned with the Reform Programme

The provision for hearings in physical court rooms will remain essential for the fair, just and proportionate delivery of justice. Yet we anticipate that fewer interactions with the court and tribunals system will happen in this way. Any future changes to the court estate which result in the relocation of a service from a local area will be consulted on publicly before a decision is made, using the criteria set out in the Fit for the Future principles.

We expect the modernisation being delivered by the Reform Programme to provide additional routes to justice and as a result lead to a reduction in the use of our court and tribunal buildings. These modern channels will be additional to, rather than substitutions for, existing routes. We make a commitment that we will not act on assumptions by proposing to close courts unless we have sound evidence that the reforms are actually reducing the use of those buildings.

Naturally, with an estate of this size there may be changes in demand for reasons other than uptake of digital services, and in those circumstances, it may be sensible to close or merge courts. Furthermore, this consultation has no effect on previously announced closures which will go ahead as planned.

Our response to the consultation addresses several concerns which we have committed to improving. One is that journeys to and from court should be reasonable and, for the overwhelming majority of users, this would be one that allowed them to leave home no earlier than 7.30am, attend their hearing and return home by 7.30pm the same day by public transport. We also set out how we will measure this commitment and what other factors we will consider – for example the circumstances of users including those that are vulnerable.

The consultation was broadly positive about proposals regarding the design of our court and tribunal buildings and reinforced the need for the security of those who use and work in our courts and tribunals to be paramount and for ensuring suitable facilities for vulnerable users. This is reflected in the new Court and Tribunal Design Guide published today.

Our revised principles will strengthen and guide our analysis and assessment when we consider future changes. It will better align the management of our estate to the wider modernisation of our services and will make sure the court and tribunal estate remains fit for the 21st century.

Court and Tribunal Design Guide

Alongside Fit for the Future, HMCTS has also published a new Court and Tribunal Design Guide. This has been developed after engaging with user groups, to make sure the guide improves the experience for court and tribunal users, while providing value for the taxpayer.

It provides the standards for refurbishment and redevelopment of existing and future court and tribunal buildings. It aims to enable optimum use of facilities and improve user experience and, along with the key elements of safety and security, sets out five principles that must be incorporated into any building design. These principles define that court and tribunal buildings must be appropriate, effective, accessible, flexible and sustainable.

The guide was developed through extensive engagement with court and tribunal users to ensure standards and designs meet their needs. The ‘Fit for the Future’ consultation sought views on the proposed principles and approach to improving the design of court and tribunal buildings and a total of 181 responses were received.

The guide will be used by HMCTS to help inform current and future building and refurbishment work undertaken across the court and tribunal estate. As lessons are learned and HMCTS reform initiatives develop, the Design Guide will be updated.

A copy of the consultation response has been placed in the libraries of both Houses."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1554
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 29 April 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017

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

"The Ministry of Justice is today publishing the response to the consultation paper Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017: Implementing the Act. The response collates views from a variety of key stakeholders on the department’s proposals for bringing the Act into force. The response will be available on gov.uk.

I have placed a copy of the response in the libraries of both Houses.

It remains the Government’s intention to bring the Act into force in July 2019."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1526
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Ministry of Justice spokesperson)
Lords

The Times/Sunday Times

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Rt Hon Jeremy Wright) has made the following Written Statement:


On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to vary certain conditions put in place in 1981 by the then Secretary of State for Trade. The changes proposed by News UK would allow The Times and The Sunday Times to share journalistic resources, subject to the agreement of each newspaper’s editor. The application proposed no other changes to the 1981 conditions. As set out in the Invitation to Comment which my department published on 18 January 2019, this was treated as an application by News UK to replace the 1981 conditions with new undertakings in accordance with Schedule 18 to the Communications Act 2003.

I have considered this application in my quasi-judicial role regarding media merger cases. Having considered News UK’s application and the representations made to the Invitation to Comment, I have concluded that there has been a material change in circumstances since 1981 that warrants me considering the application. I have also concluded that the change of circumstances justifies the variation, as the effect of News UK’s proposed changes would not, in my view, materially impact on the public interest considerations contained in Section 58 Enterprise Act 2002.

I am, therefore, minded to accept News UK’s application. However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I have noted that the existing governance arrangements - agreed in 1981 - lack clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Before agreeing the application I am therefore of the view that these arrangements need to be suitably updated and enhanced to better reflect current corporate best practice.

I have asked DCMS officials to discuss these issues with News UK and to consider new proposals from News UK to update the proposed undertakings to address my concerns. I will update the House in due course on these discussions. Should News UK be able to offer revised undertakings which meet my concerns, I will, as required in legislation, consult on the final form of the undertakings before deciding whether or not to accept them.

WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 09 April 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Divorce law reform

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

"I am pleased to lay before Parliament Reducing Family Conflict: Reform of the Legal Requirements for Divorce, the Government response to the consultation on reform of this important area of family law. The full public consultation ran from 15 September to 10 December last year and sought views on the Government’s proposals to revise the process for obtaining a divorce to minimise acrimony during the legal process and reduce the potential for ongoing conflict afterwards. I am grateful for the insight and experience shared by people in providing evidence of the real-life difficulties that can arise from the current law, particularly how it incentivises focusing on the past to make allegations that can unnecessarily pit one spouse against the other. That is why we are proposing to remove the legal requirement to make allegations about spousal conduct or to have lived separately for up to five years.

Families are the bedrock of society, and marriage has long proved its vital importance to family stability. The Government will always support marriage, and we want to ensure that the system as far as possible supports couples to remain married. In revising the legal process for divorce, we have also sought to maximise the opportunity for couples to reconcile if they can, by introducing a minimum period before the court grants the decree of divorce. Divorce should continue to be a considered decision. We heard from respondents to the consultation that couples often feel divorced when the court grants the provisional decree of divorce. Beginning the minimum period before this point is therefore key to allowing for both meaningful reflection and an opportunity to turn back.

When, sadly, a marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down, continuing in it can be damaging for the couple and for any children they have, as well as undermining the institution of marriage itself which can work only if both parties are committed to it. It is vital that the law recognises this and, where divorce is inevitable, allows people to move on in as constructive a way as possible. The ability to have a positive rapport and cooperate after separation is particularly crucial for parents, as children’s outcomes are improved by cooperative parenting. Removing from the legal process for divorce those elements which can fuel long-lasting conflict between parents will therefore support better outcomes for children. Where, despite reflection, divorce cannot be avoided the law should do all it can to reduce conflict and encourage good relations as couples move on to reach agreement about practical arrangements for the future.

The Government will therefore bring forward proposals to deal with the legal aspects of divorce or civil partnership dissolution as sensitively as possible. Divorce is of great social significance but for those involved it is also an intensely personal matter. Unfortunately, it affects the lives of too many families. The current law does little to reduce conflict when divorce occurs. It urgently needs reform to encourage a more conciliatory and constructive approach to undoing a marriage, and to ensure better outcomes for all those involved, and especially for children.

The Government has today set out its proposals for reform. We intend to bring forward legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1501
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 28 March 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice )
Lords

Civil Justice Update

My Right Honourable Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (The Rt. Honourable David Gauke MP) has made the following written ministerial statement:

"The Ministry of Justice is today publishing a consultation paper Extending Fixed Recoverable Costs in Civil Cases: Implementing Sir Rupert Jackson’s proposals. We are seeking views on implementing the proposals in Sir Rupert Jackson’s report on fixed recoverable costs (FRC) in civil cases in England and Wales, published on 31 July 2017.

In civil litigation in England and Wales, the winning party is generally entitled to recover their costs from the losing party. The legal costs of civil cases have, however, been too high and too uncertain for a long time, making litigation riskier and less accessible than it should be and thereby undermining access to justice.

FRC are a way of controlling the legal costs of civil litigation in advance by prescribing the amount of money that can be recovered by the winning party at set stages of litigation. They reduce overall costs, keep them proportionate and enhance access to justice. They are already an important part of our justice system in lower value personal injury cases and the time is right to consider their extension.

The consultation will run until 6 June 2019. I have placed a copy of the consultation in the libraries of both Houses."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1462
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 26 March 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Consultation on coronial investigations of stillbirths

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, (Edward Argar) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

"I am pleased to announce the publication of a consultation on introducing the coronial investigation of stillbirths in England and Wales (CP 16), which has been laid before the House today.

Under current legislation coroners cannot investigate a death when it is known that the baby was not born alive. If there is doubt whether a baby was born alive, a coroner can investigate (which could include holding an inquest), but must halt that investigation if they determine that the baby was stillborn. Our consultation considers the case for coroners investigating stillbirths and sets out proposals for how these investigations could be undertaken. The proposals seek to deliver three objectives:

• to bring greater independence to the way stillbirths are investigated;

• to ensure transparency and enhance the involvement of bereaved parents in stillbirth investigation processes, including in the development of recommendations aimed at improving maternity care; and

• to effectively disseminate learning from investigations across the health system to help prevent future avoidable stillbirths.

The consultation delivers the Government’s commitment to consider enabling coroners to investigate stillbirths, made in November 2017, when the then Secretary of State for Health launched a suite of Maternity Safety Strategy initiatives and committed to halve stillbirth rates by 2025.

It is thus a joint undertaking between the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health and Social Care. I and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention (Jackie Doyle-Price) are grateful to the many people and organisations that have worked with officials in both Departments as we have developed our proposals.

Since the November 2017 announcement, meetings have been held with a wide range of interested parties including bereaved parents and supporting charities, the Chief Coroner and a number of Senior Coroners, NHS representatives, Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch officials, officials in the Welsh Government, academics and the Royal Colleges of Pathologists, Midwives, and Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Their insight and expertise have been invaluable in helping us develop our thinking.

The consultation seeks views on the merits of coroners inquiring into the causes of stillbirths and contains proposals as to when and how those investigations should take place, reflecting existing processes and arrangements for coronial investigations into child and adult deaths.

We propose that all stillbirths that occur at or after the 37th week of gestation should be in scope of an inquest and our proposals cover such matters as access to documents and medical examination of the stillborn baby.

A coronial investigation would provide greater transparency in stillbirth cases. Under our proposals evidence would be available to all interested persons, including the bereaved parents, who may not otherwise have the opportunity to hear or read everything that is presented when a stillbirth is reviewed. The coroner would bring judicial independence which would help build confidence in the conclusions of the investigation.

We propose that coroners should identify where lessons can be learnt from individual stillbirths in ways that will deliver system-wide improvements to the delivery of maternity services and the general care and safety of expectant mothers.

Whilst we have been developing our proposals, Tim Loughton MP’s Private Members' Bill, the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill, has been progressing through Parliament. The Bill, which is supported by the Government, seeks among other things to place a duty on the Secretary of State to prepare and publish a report on whether, and if so how, the law ought to be changed to enable or require coroners to investigate stillbirths. The consultation document takes account of the views expressed by members of both Houses during the debates on the Bill.

The consultation document and an impact assessment have been placed in the Library of the House and are available online at: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/coronial-investigations-of-stillbirths. Copies of the consultation document and the impact assessment are being sent to the stakeholders listed at Annex A of the consultation document.

We look forward to hearing from anyone with experience of, or an interest in, this important and sensitive area.

The consultation closes on 18 June and the Government will publish its response later this year."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1448
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 19 March 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Personal injury

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

"The Damages Act 1996 (“the Act”) requires the Lord Chancellor to start a review of the personal injury discount rate within 90 days of and including the date on which the amendments made to the Act by the Civil Liability Act 2018 came into force, which occurred on 20 December 2018.

The Act requires that the Lord Chancellor conducts the review and determines whether the rate should be changed or kept unchanged within 140 days of and including the day on which the review starts. It also requires the Lord Chancellor, in conducting the review, must consult (a) the Government Actuary and that this consultation must start within 20 days of and including the start of the review; and (b) the Treasury.

In accordance with these statutory requirements, I have decided to start the review today (19 March 2019) with the consequence that I must conduct the review and make the determination about the rate on or before 5 August 2019.

I will start my consultation with the Government Actuary no later than 7 April 2019 and will start my consultation with the Treasury at the same time.

I have placed copies of the Terms of Reference that I propose to issue to the Government Actuary and the Treasury for their respective consultations in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament.

I will make a further announcement on the completion of the review."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1427
WS
Attorney General
Made on: 05 March 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Advocate General for Scotland )
Lords

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

My Honourable friend, the Solicitor General, has today made the following statement:

"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
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 18 February 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Probation update

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

"I wish to inform the House regarding future arrangements for probation services in the South West and Wales.

The House will be aware that Community Rehabilitation Companies were set up just over four and a half years ago (with contracts awarded in December 2014). They were a new idea and part of probation reforms which extended supervision on licence each year to an additional 40,000 offenders released from prison sentences of less than 12 months. These companies do not deal with high-risk offenders – who are managed by the National Probation Service – but with low and medium risk offenders. They have been set up in a range of ways. There are 21 companies, the majority of which are private-sector owned with a range of voluntary sector third party suppliers. Their particular purpose is to work with low and medium risk offenders, supervise them, develop plans for them, and provide them with rehabilitative services, in order to reduce the reoffending rate.

On Thursday 14 February 2019, Working Links (Employment) Limited, and its three CRCs: Wales CRC, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire CRC, and Dorset, Devon and Cornwall CRC, went into administration. The Ministry of Justice has been in discussions with Working Links and has taken immediate action to ensure that probation services are fully protected in these areas. Our central priority is of course to protect the public, ensuring that we have the right supervision of offenders in place, and that probation staff are supported in their important work. We have undertaken significant work to determine the most sustainable option for future management of probation services in Wales and the South West and have transferred staff and services to Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC, which is owned by Seetec. This change has been made via a variation to Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC’s existing contract. Seetec has a good track record in Kent, Surrey and Sussex and we are satisfied that they are well-placed and well-equipped to take over these services and run them effectively. Plans have been implemented to ensure that probation staff and other key probation stakeholders are well-informed with regards to the transition.

We are also working towards more bespoke arrangements for the services in Wales, specifically that offender management services in Wales be transferred to HMPPS before the end of the current contractual period, to better dovetail with the future design for probation delivery in Wales. Our intentions are to transfer these services by the end of 2019, rather than the previously planned date of 2020, and we are currently working at pace with Seetec to accelerate this process.

We also recognise the impact of Working Links’ Administration upon its other public-sector contracts in the UK, and have been engaging with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Scottish Government. DWP will be working with Working Links and the Administrators to identify all participants of its programmes who are potentially affected to ensure appropriate advice and support is provided.

The Government continues to work to improve the effectiveness of the wider probation system. We have already taken action to stabilise and improve probation delivery. Last year, we announced we intended to end CRC contracts early and held a consultation on proposals to improve future probation services. We also agreed contractual changes with current CRCs to improve performance in key areas. We want to create a better system in future which will prevent these kinds of things happening again. We intend to better integrate public, private and third sector providers, putting in place a more stable and resilient probation system, which works effectively to protect the public and tackle reoffending. We will announce detailed plans later this year.

We know probation is vital to ensuring justice is done and the cycle of reoffending is broken. We will work closely with Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC and Seetec in the next weeks and months to ensure the continuation, stability and improvement of services."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1338
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Justice and Home Affairs post-Council statement

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

"The first meeting of EU Interior and Justice Ministers during the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU took place on 7 and 8 February 2019 in Bucharest. The Immigration Minister represented the UK on Interior day. I represented the UK on Justice day.

Interior day focused on counter-terrorism, policing co-operation, the Schengen area, and migration and asylum.

Interior day began with a discussion on the European Parliament’s report on the EU’s approach to Counter-terrorism. The Immigration Minister welcomed the European Parliament’s report in general, and emphasised areas - such as counter-radicalisation, tackling terrorist content online, addressing issues relating to returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters, and Aviation Security - where the UK considers that continued European cooperation is vital in the fight against terrorism. The Immigration Minister also welcomed the Committee’s call for close co-operation with the UK after Brexit. A number of Member States agreed, urging immediate Commission and Member State action to prepare contingency plans in case of no-deal, including a mechanism of continued information exchange. Some Member States also noted that Member States retained competence for national security, and noted concern about expanding the competence of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) at this time.

The policing discussion focused on mechanisms to share experience and expertise on gathering and analysing digital data. The Immigration Minister intervened to support proposals to explore developing means of identifying and sharing best practice on the recovery and analysis of digital information, during the course of the prevention and investigation of criminal activity. Most Member States also supported this work, and were keen for Europol to have a central role.

Over lunch and in the afternoon session, Ministers discussed the functioning of the Schengen border free zone, in the context of some Member States retaining internal borders, and wider migration and asylum issues. As the UK does not participate in the border free zone, the Immigration Minister did not intervene on the Schengen border discussion. There was discussion about the necessity of Schengen internal border controls. Ministers also discussed but did not agree on the possibility of a temporary redistribution mechanism pending reform of the Dublin asylum system.

Justice day began with a discussion on the future of civil judicial cooperation in the EU. The debate marked the twentieth anniversary of the Amsterdam Treaty and of the adoption of the Tampere Programme. Ministers reaffirmed the need to focus on the proper implementation of existing legislation before considering new measures. I emphasised the importance of a future relationship with the EU in this area.

There then followed a lunchtime discussion on gathering electronic evidence in criminal matters. Ministers discussed the mandates for negotiations to establish an agreement on access to electronic evidence (e-evidence) with the US, and with contracting parties to the Budapest Convention. I updated Ministers on progress towards an UK-US agreement under the US CLOUD Act.

Justice day ended with a discussion on the future of judicial cooperation in criminal matters in the EU. Ministers again emphasised the importance of proper implementation of legislation, and ensuring the current acquis works effectively."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1337
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Contingencies Fund Advance

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

"The Ministry of Justice requires an advance to discharge its commitments which are set out in its Supplementary Estimate 2018-19, laid before Parliament on February 11th 2019.

The Ministry of Justice has sought a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund of £840,000,000. Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £840,000,000 will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Ministry of Justice. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £840,000,000 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."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1336
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 04 February 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Parole Board Update

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

"The Parole Board decision to release John Worboys, and the subsequent legal action taken by the victims to challenge that decision, revealed the need to improve the way the system works. I have been determined to address fully the issues that case highlighted and to continue to make improvements to the system of parole.

An initial review I commissioned into Parole Board decision making, which reported in April 2018, has led to a programme of reform – in particular to increase transparency and to improve the way victims are engaged and communicated with.

I conducted a public consultation on proposals to create a new mechanism to allow for Parole Board decisions to be reconsidered in certain circumstances and ordered a review of all the Parole Board Rules. I am pleased today to announce the outcome of that work and to launch a Tailored Review of the Parole Board which will examine further options for longer-term reform.

The Government’s response to the consultation on a reconsideration mechanism is published today and I can confirm that I intend to proceed to bring forward changes to the Parole Board Rules which will introduce such a mechanism. This will make it possible for Parole Board decisions to be looked at again and, if necessary, re-taken where it appears there may have been a legal or procedural flaw with the original decision. It will not be necessary to bring a judicial review, as happened in the Worboys case, making it easier to challenge decisions.

Victims who believe a decision may be fundamentally flawed, rather than having to resort to the courts and engage legal representation to argue their case, will be able to make a case for reconsideration to my officials. Officials have access to all the information and evidence – as well as legal resources – and therefore are best placed to put together a fully-informed application to the Parole Board where there appears to be an arguable case for reconsideration. This will also make the process as simple and straightforward for victims as possible. Judicial members at the Parole Board will determine the reconsideration application and how the case should be dealt with – whether the decision should be re-taken and whether a further hearing is required. Reasons for their decisions will be provided to victims.

This new mechanism, together with the introduction of decision summaries provided by the Parole Board from May last year, brings much greater transparency and scrutiny to how and why parole decisions are made; and a means of challenging those decisions where it appears there may have been a fundamental error that requires the case to be looked at again.

I am also publishing today a report on the outcome of the review of the Parole Board rules.

The report sets out the measures taken by the Department and the Board itself to ensure the issues highlighted by the Worboys case were addressed and which deliver on the commitments made by last year’s initial review. The report also explains what more will be done to further increase the transparency and openness of the parole system and to improve the experience of victims. Improvements have been and will continue to be made to the Victim Contact Scheme (VCS), training and better approaches to the way Victim Liaison Officers (VLOs) communicate with victims; and the commitments in the Government’s Victims Strategy published in September will further strengthen the entitlements and support victims should rightly expect to receive.

Changes to the Parole Board Rules will be brought forward by way of Statutory Instrument in the coming months. This will implement the new reconsideration mechanism and the other changes identified by the review that have the potential to improve the system. Between now and then we will be making preparations for the implementation of those reforms – in particular by putting in place the resources, guidance, training, and documentation needed to operate the reconsideration mechanism.

Other key changes announced in the report include:

  • A series of Standard Practice guidance documents will be published by the Parole Board. This will improve transparency and public awareness of the approaches the Board follows in reaching its decisions – and will support greater consistency in how the Board reviews cases.
  • A new Operational Protocol between the Parole Board and Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service (HMPPS) which will clarify roles and responsibilities within the parole system and set out how the two organisations work with each other.
  • A new Policy Framework on the parole process will be published, setting out the HMPPS policy and approach, which will include improvements to the timescales the review found could make the process more efficient.

The review has examined how the rules, parole processes and practice can be improved over the short term within the current primary legislation governing the parole system and the existing constitution and functions of the Parole Board. It has been important to take swift action to address the immediate issues and concerns and to restore trust in the system; I believe the reforms announced in the report published today will help to achieve that.

But I would like to examine what further, more fundamental measures might be possible over the longer term, including the possibility of primary legislation. A Tailored Review of the Parole Board provides the opportunity to do that. I am required to undertake a Tailored Review of all the arms-length bodies sponsored by my department once every Parliament and I have decided that now is the right time to launch such a review of the Parole Board.

The Tailored Review will explore, in light of the Rules Review changes, whether there is a case for more fundamental reform that requires primary legislation – including whether to change the powers or responsibilities conferred on the Parole Board or whether it should be reconstituted to deliver its functions in a different way. I aim to publish the outcome of the Tailored Review in the Summer.

Copies of the Government’s response to the consultation on reconsideration of Parole Board decisions and the report on the review of the Parole Board Rules have been laid in both Houses and are available on GOV.UK."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1295
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 29 January 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT)

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

"The 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 independent UK NPM in March 2009, and extended its membership in December 2013, and in January 2017. The UK NPM is currently composed of 21 scrutiny bodies covering the whole of the UK, and prepares annual reports on its activities. It also has an independent website at www.nationalpreventivemechanism.org.uk

Following previous practice, I have presented to Parliament the 9th NPM’s annual report (Command Paper CP 17). This report covers the period from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. This year we mark 10 years since the establishment of the NPM, and I continue to 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, health and social care detentions, and court custody."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1283
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 21 January 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Ministry of Justice spokesperson)
Lords

The Times/The Sunday Times: proposed undertakings submitted by News UK to vary the 1981 conditions

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Rt Hon Jeremy Wright) has made the following Written Statement:

On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to DCMS requesting that the Secretary of State accept proposed undertakings in place of undertakings that were put in place by the then Secretary of State for Trade (the Rt Hon. John Biffin) in 1981.

The proposed new undertakings seek to vary the sections of the 1981 conditions which require that ultimate control over the resources, including journalists, available to each newspaper are kept separately with the editor of each newspaper. The main variation proposed by News UK is to set out explicitly in paragraph 5 of the proposed undertakings that “The newspapers may share services and resources, including journalists, to such extent as the editors agree.”

News UK have submitted that the changes would permit a greater sharing of resources and services, including journalists, between The Times and The Sunday Times and that such sharing is a necessary step to mitigate the financial challenges that the two titles will face in the future.

I am placing in the House today a copy of the application we received from News UK along with details on how to comment on the application. The deadline for comments is 5pm on Monday 11 February. This application will be considered in a quasi judicial manner through a fair and transparent process.

If, after considering the responses, my decision is to accept the new undertakings, there will be a further consultation on the terms of the new undertakings as required by the legislation.

Times undertaking (PDF Document, 670.45 KB)
ITC final version (PDF Document, 108.56 KB)
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 21 January 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Domestic Abuse

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sajid Javid) has made the following Written Statement.

“My Rt Hon Friends, the Prime Minister and Justice Secretary and I are today publishing the consultation response on transforming the response to domestic abuse and draft Domestic Abuse Bill following the public consultation last year.

Domestic abuse destroys lives. It is a cruel and complex crime that can affect anyone, leaving physical and emotional scars that can last a lifetime. It also places a considerable demand on public services – Home Office research published today estimates the economic and social costs of domestic abuse to society to be £66 billion each year. This consultation response and draft Bill further our ambition to transform the response to domestic abuse and change social attitudes that keep these crimes hidden in plain sight.

On 8 March 2018, the then Home Secretary issued a Written Ministerial Statement (HCWS525) announcing a comprehensive public consultation to address domestic abuse from prevention through to rehabilitation. The consultation ran for 12 weeks and received around 3,200 responses. In addition to questionnaires, we ran a series of national roadshows and themed roundtables with victims and other stakeholders. The government is grateful to the victims, frontline practitioners and others who took the time to respond to the consultation and supported the events. These responses have helped us to refine and improve our proposals.

To reflect the prevalence and complexity of domestic abuse and the harm it causes, the consultation response is truly a cross-government effort. It recognises that change needs to occur across all statutory agencies, including in courts, police, schools, social care, housing, welfare and healthcare settings.

For those measures which require legislation to implement, the government has today published the Domestic Abuse Bill in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny. A joint committee of both Houses will be established as soon as practicable to undertake such scrutiny. Once the joint committee has reported, the government is committed to introducing the Domestic Abuse Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The draft Bill includes the following measures:

a) Introduce the first ever statutory Government definition of domestic abuse (which will include economic abuse);

b) Establish the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and set out the Commissioner’s functions and powers (the competition for the appointment of the Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner was launched on 4 December 2018);

c) Provide for a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order;

d) Prohibit perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts and give the court discretion to prevent cross-examination in person where it would diminish the quality of the witness’ evidence or cause the witness significant distress;

e) Create a statutory presumption that complainants of an offence involving behaviour which amounts to domestic abuse are eligible for special measures in the criminal courts;

f) Enable domestic abuse offenders to be subject to polygraph testing as a condition of their licence following their release from custody;

g) Place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme on a statutory footing;

h) Ensure that where a local authority, for reasons connected with domestic abuse, grants a new secure tenancy to a social tenant who had or has a secure lifetime or assured tenancy (other than an assured shorthold tenancy) this must be a secure lifetime tenancy; and

i) Support ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the “Istanbul Convention”), by extending the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the criminal courts in England and Wales to further violent and sexual offences.

Ahead of the legislation we have already started to implement measures to improve support for victims and their children. We have launched applications for the designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner role; we have announced successful bids to the Children Affected by Domestic Abuse Fund with nine projects across the country being funded; and 12 projects have been awarded funding to support female offenders who have experienced domestic abuse.

The government remains resolute in its determination to fundamentally change the response to this insidious crime through delivering the cross-government commitments set out in today’s command paper. It demonstrates a clear focus on prevention and sets out new measures to: raise awareness; better support victims and their children; ensure perpetrators are pursued and prosecuted; and drive consistently high performance in the response to domestic abuse across all local areas, agencies and sectors.

A copy of the command paper (CP 15), including the consultation response, the draft Domestic Abuse Bill and explanatory notes, will today be laid before the House and will be available online at www.gov.uk. Copies of the paper on the economic and social costs of domestic abuse; draft Domestic Abuse Bill impact assessment; delegated powers memorandum; and ECHR memorandum will be placed in the House Library.”

WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 19 December 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

EU proposals amending the Regulations on Service of Documents and Taking of Evidence

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

"The Government has decided to opt in to the amendment to the EU Service Regulation but not at this stage to the amendment to the EU Taking of Evidence Regulation.

The Government recognises that both Regulations underpin the effective operation of the EU civil judicial cooperation framework by providing rules that enable documents to be transmitted between and served in other Member States and that enable evidence to be obtained from witnesses in one Member State for use in proceedings in another Member State.

The decision on whether to opt in to these proposals was made in the context of the UK’s objective to seek a mutually beneficial arrangement for the continuation of an effective civil judicial cooperation framework as the UK leaves the EU.

The Government is conscious also that there are a number of issues in both proposals that will need to be resolved during the negotiations, not least the question of the expense of the proposed system to digitise the means of transmission and communication under both Regulations. It recognises that the time is right to consider updating both Regulations to facilitate the greater use of IT but the exact way of doing that needs to be examined further.

While the Government is content to opt in to the proposal regarding the Service Regulation, it decided that its concerns with the revised Taking of Evidence Regulation proposal need to be resolved before the UK can consider participating in that proposal. In particular, the Government is concerned about the proposal’s removal of the requirement of voluntary participation of witnesses giving direct evidence to a court of a different Member State, and the resulting implication that coercive measures could be used in such circumstances.

Notwithstanding the opt-in decision relating to Taking of Evidence, the UK Government considers it is in the interests of the UK to participate in negotiations on the amendment of both Regulations.

In the event of the negotiations leading to a successful resolution of the Government’s concerns, and should the Taking of Evidence proposal be adopted during the proposed Implementation Period, the UK may decide to seek a post-adoption opt-in at that point."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1218
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 19 December 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017

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

"The Ministry of Justice is today publishing a consultation paper Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 Implementing the Act. The paper seeks views on the department’s proposals for bringing the Act into force with the object of implementing the Act as smoothly and successfully as practicable. The consultation period will be eight weeks. The consultation paper is available free of charge on gov.uk."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1214
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 18 December 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (HM Advocate General for Scotland and MoJ Spokesperson in the Lords )
Lords

Victims update

My honourable Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Edward Argar) has today made the following written ministerial statement:

"Today I am pleased to publish the Terms of Reference for the review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.


Compensation has long been an important part of the Government’s response to supporting victims of violent crime, and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme provides payments to those who have suffered serious physical or mental injury as the direct result of violent crime. Our scheme remains one of the most generous in Europe – something of which we can be rightly proud. While no amount of money can ever repair the harm done to an individual through violent crime, we know that compensation offers an important public acknowledgment for victims of the harm they have suffered. Compensation, alongside victims’ services and other practical and emotional support, helps victims of violent crime to start to rebuild their lives.


In 2017/18, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority made decisions on over 40,000 applications, and paid out £154 million in compensation awards. It is essential that the Scheme continues to offer access to compensation for victims injured through violent crime, and in considering whether the current Scheme remains fit for purpose, we will be driven by the following principles:

  • Compensation should be protected for those most seriously affected by their injuries, including in cases where injuries are not immediately evident nor their impacts easily quantifiable.
  • Compensation offers a public acknowledgment of harm suffered by victims of violent crime.
  • Compensation is an important part of government provision of end-to-end support for victims of violent crime, which also includes emotional and practical assistance for victims.
  • The Scheme offers support for victims of violent crime who have been unable to seek compensation by other means.
  • The Scheme complies with domestic and international legal obligations to provide compensation for victims of violent crime.

The review will examine, specifically, the scope of the Scheme, the eligibility rules, requirements in relation to decision-making, and the value and composition of awards. This will include looking at the balance the Scheme strikes between serious and less serious physical and mental injury, and the impact of the Scheme’s rules on particular groups of individuals, including victims of child sexual abuse and victims of terrorism. We will also take this opportunity to consider whether the Scheme can be further simplified to provide easier access to compensation for eligible victims. We will also consider issues of affordability and financial sustainability.


A copy of the Terms of Reference for the Review will be placed in the libraries of the House and will be available online at www.gov.uk. We intend to publish a full consultation on the reform proposals in 2019."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1198
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