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: 21 March 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Justice update

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

"The Government is today introducing into the House of Lords legislation through the Civil Liability Bill to make important changes to our system of compensation for personal injury.

As announced in the Queen’s Speech on 21 June 2017, the Civil Liability Bill will reform the law relating to whiplash claims. We will introduce a new fixed tariff of compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for whiplash claims with an injury duration of up to two years. The tariff will be set in supporting regulations. We will also introduce a ban on seeking or offering to settle whiplash claims without medical evidence.

The Civil Liability Bill will also make changes to the way in which the personal injury discount rate for England and Wales is set under the Damages Act 1996. The principal changes we are making are that: the discount rate will be set by reference to expected rates of return on a low risk diversified portfolio of investments rather than a return on very low risk investments as under the present law; in setting the rate, the Lord Chancellor will consult an independent expert panel chaired by the Government Actuary, with HM Treasury remaining a statutory consultee; and the discount rate will be reviewed promptly after the legislation comes into force and, thereafter, at least every three years.

I am also publishing today the Government’s response to the Justice Committee’s report, Pre-legislative scrutiny: draft personal injury discount rate clause, published on 30 November 2017.

I am also placing the Delegated Powers memorandum and accompanying impact assessments in the House libraries.

I notified the market of the Civil Liability Bill earlier today through the London Stock Exchange group."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS566
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 28 February 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Justice and Home Affairs opt-in eighth annual report

My Right Honourable friend the Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor (Rt Hon David Gauke MP) has today made the following Written Statement:

'The Home Office and Ministry of Justice have prepared the Eighth Annual Report to Parliament on the Application of Protocols 19 and 21 to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (‘the Treaties’) in Relation to EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Matters. The Report, which is today being laid before the House, is submitted on behalf of both my own Department and that of the Home Secretary.

On 9 June 2008, the then Leader of the House of Lords committed to table a report in Parliament each year setting out the decisions taken by the Government in accordance with Protocol 21 (‘the Justice and Home Affairs opt-in Protocol’) and to make that report available for debate. These commitments were designed to ensure that the views of the Scrutiny Committees should inform the Government’s decision-making process.

This Report covers decisions taken over the period 1 December 2016 – 30 November 2017. In that period, decisions on UK participation in a total of 19 EU JHA legislative proposals have been taken. The UK has decided to opt in under the JHA opt-in Protocol in 12 cases and has decided not to opt in in five cases. The Government has asserted the Schengen opt-out to two proposals during that period – in both cases the government decided not to opt out (i.e. the UK should participate in the measures).

These opt-in decisions are without prejudice to discussions on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. The UK’s relationship with the EU will change as a result of leaving the EU, however, the UK retains the rights and obligations of membership of the EU whilst we remain a member.'

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS497
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 20 February 2018
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 8th NPM’s annual report (Command Paper 9563). This report covers the period from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. 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 and court custody, immigration detention, and health and social care detentions.”

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS469
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 01 February 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Ministry of Justice 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 Ministerial Statement.

The first meeting of EU Interior and Justice Ministers during the Bulgarian Presidency took place on 25 and 26 January in Sofia. Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Bulgaria, Emma Hopkins, and a senior Government official represented the UK for Interior day. I represented the UK for justice day.

Interior day began with a debate on European Asylum Policy. The Presidency set out its objective to conclude negotiations on the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) package, including Dublin IV, by the end of June. Member States supported the aim of concluding negotiations by June but there remains a lack of consensus on the inclusion of burden sharing mechanisms in Dublin IV. The UK continues to support a comprehensive approach to migration but does not support a mandatory redistribution system within the EU and has not opted into the Dublin IV Regulation.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the Global UN Compact on Migration (GCM), which will be negotiated in the UN over the next six months. The discussion aimed to initiate consideration on the alignment of Member States’ positions on the principles of the GCM text. The UK is committed to agreeing a global framework for a new approach to orderly, safe and regular global migration. The UK reaffirmed the Government’s principles that underline our approach to achieving this, in particular that refugees should seek protection in the first safe country they can reach; that a distinction needs to be maintained between economic migrants and refugees; and that states have the right to control their borders and the duty to accept their citizens back.

Interior day ended with a discussion on Integrated Border Management. Member States highlighted priorities for co-operation among the relevant authorities and agencies involved in border security and with third countries to help secure the Union's external border. These priorities related specifically to implementation of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA) and related EU databases – the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). The UK recognises the importance of increased border security across the EU, however the UK is not part of the border aspects of the Schengen agreement and therefore does not participate in the EBCGA, EES or the ETIAS.

Justice day began with a consideration of the issues relevant to future cooperation between the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and other partner agencies and offices of the EU, such as Europol, Eurojust and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Member States agreed on the importance of clear working relationships, with a clear delimitation of responsibilities so that the EPPO does not limit or encroach upon other agencies’ competences. The Government has been clear that we will not participate in an EPPO and did not opt-in to the Regulation.

The day continued with a discussion on the Brussels IIa recast Regulation. Member States agreed that the continued requirement for exequatur in some family cases was a significant obstacle to the operation of the system and should be abolished. Similarly, it was agreed that the grounds for refusal of recognition of a judgment should be limited, which is of particular importance where children are concerned.

The Commission presented an update on the progress of the forthcoming legislative proposal on cross-border law enforcement access to e-evidence held by communications service providers. The Commission aims to present the proposal to the JHA Council in March. The Government will consider its position and whether to opt in to the proposal when it is published. The Commission also provided an update on the Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online which was signed in June 2016 by major social media companies and aims to ensure illegal hate speech is removed within 24 hours. The Commission detailed the progress made by social media companies and explained their intention to expand the number of signatories to the Code.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the justice issues raised by artificial intelligence, in particular on questions of liability. Member States broadly agreed on the need for clear, but light touch, rules on liability which would create certainty to allow investment decisions to be taken without over-regulating and discouraging innovation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS443
WS
Attorney General
Made on: 31 January 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Advocate General for Scotland)
Lords

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.

WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service

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

"Together with the senior judiciary, the Government is committed to modernising the justice system. HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s long-term reform programme is already delivering benefits by making access to justice quicker and easier whilst ensuring fairness. HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s £1 billion reform programme is ambitious, ensuring justice is accessible but proportionate and making use of the technology available in the modern world. It will provide modern IT and processes, and focused services to support those who require court services. It covers all jurisdictions and touches every aspect of the system, including making more effective use of its physical places, spaces and buildings.

Courts and tribunals estate

It is important that when the programme of reform is complete we have the right buildings in the right places that can take full advantage of the opportunities that modernisation brings. They should be flexible, efficient and offer the best possible environment for those who seek justice, and our approach should reflect the greater use of digital services.

I am, today, announcing the publication of six separate, but related, consultations about the HM Courts & Tribunals Service estate.

Consultation on future estates strategy

The first consultation, Fit for the future: Transforming the Courts and Tribunals Estate, provides an outline of reform activities which are either underway or planned. It outlines the three core principles behind our approach – ensuring access to justice, providing value for money for the taxpayer and ensuring efficiency in the long term – and a proposed approach to future consultations on changes to the estate as HMCTS reform initiatives deliver results.

Consultations on court closure proposals

While consideration of the demands on the courts and tribunals estate in the context of reform is important, we also need to assess the existing estate to make sure it is efficient and offers value for money to taxpayers now. To this end, a key consideration in management of the estate is that we only operate buildings that we need, eliminating duplication and overlapping service provision, with the savings recycled back into the reform programme.

I am therefore, today announcing five separate consultations on proposals to close eight courts. These proposals are being made under the existing courts and tribunals estates principles and current processes and workloads.

The courts are:

  • Banbury Magistrates’ and County Court and Maidenhead Magistrates’ Court (in a single consultation for the court estate in the Thames Valley),
  • Cambridge Magistrates’ Court,
  • Chorley Magistrates’ Court and Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court (in a single consultation for the court estate in Lancashire),
  • Northallerton Magistrates’ Court, and
  • Wandsworth County Court, and Blackfriars Crown Court (in a single consultation for the court estate in London).

All consultations will begin on 18 January 2018 and run for 10 weeks. A response to the consultations will be published following proper consideration of all views submitted.

A copy of the consultation documents will be placed in the Libraries of both houses."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS412
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 21 December 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice)
Lords

Cremation Regulations

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

"I am today announcing that new regulations regarding cremation in England and Wales have been laid before Parliament. The Cremation (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 will come into effect on 6 April 2018.

We are making these changes following our response to our consultation on cremation, published on 7 July 2016, in which we committed to make a number of changes to infant cremation regulations and practice.

The regulations laid today introduce new forms for use in applying for a cremation. They include a section for the applicant to confirm their wishes regarding the return of ashes following the cremation. The applicant will be able to amend their wishes in writing at any time after they apply for the cremation, including specifying what should happen to the ashes if they did not originally do so when they applied for the cremation. The forms also provide a new section to make applicants aware that in some rare circumstances, such as in the cremation of a stillborn or very small baby, no ashes may be recovered. These changes will provide clarity for bereaved parents at a difficult and stressful time.

There have been very rare occasions when the applicant for a cremation has later been implicated in the death of the person cremated, or has been convicted of a violent offence against the bereaved, such as the parent of a deceased child, and from their prison cell has refused the return of the ashes to the family of the deceased. To address this, the regulations provide a discretion for the cremation authority in exceptional circumstances to release cremation ashes to someone other than the applicant. We will provide guidance to cremation authorities on the exercise of this power.

These regulations allow for the first time for cremation forms to be issued in Welsh, supporting our commitment made in the 2015 St David’s Day agreement to ensure that forms relating to important life events and civic duties can be completed in Welsh. They also provide for the electronic signing of cremation forms, enabling the submission of cremation forms by electronic means. Finally, these regulations correct a cross reference to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

I would like to thank the National Cremation Working Group who have been working with the Ministry of Justice as we have progressed this work."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS389
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 21 December 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Council Decision authorising the European Commission to negotiate instruments on the enforcement of international commercial settlement agreements resulting from conciliation in the framework of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)

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

"The Government decided in August to opt in to this Council Decision which involves the agreement of EU Member States to an EU negotiating mandate which sets out the position of the EU in discussions in UNCITRAL on possible instruments on the enforcement of international commercial settlement agreements resulting from conciliation.

In July 2015, UNCITRAL agreed that work should commence to identify issues arising from the enforcement of international settlement agreements and to develop possible solutions. Negotiations to date have decided that there should be both a draft model law complementing the existing UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation and a draft Convention that should have similar provisions, adapted only to the extent necessary for their specific form.

In May 2017 the European Commission decided that the negotiations had reached a stage where there should be a formal EU negotiating mandate. This was adopted in September 2017 when the EU agreed to participate actively in the on-going work, and authorised the Commission to negotiate the Convention at UNCITRAL on behalf of the EU to the extent that the Convention may affect or alter EU rules. The next session of negotiations is scheduled for February in New York.

Opting in to the EU negotiating mandate does not commit the UK Government to apply any agreed Model Law nor to accede to any future Convention."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS390
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 19 December 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

The Government’s response to the Rt Hon David Lammy Review into treatment of, and outcomes for, BAME individuals in the Criminal Justice System

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

"In 2016 the Prime Minister asked the Right Honourable Member for Tottenham to chair ‘An Independent Review into the Treatment of, and Outcomes for, BAME Individuals in the CJS’. The Review made 35 recommendations for the Government to implement, and today the Government publishes its response.

The Government welcomes the impetus that the Lammy Review brings to the debate about ethnicity and race, and would like to thank the Honourable Member for Tottenham for his thorough and incisive research on the topic. We welcome the core principles detailed in the Review - transparency, fairness, and responsibility - as a framework on which policy and practice should stand.

In the response, we have clearly outlined the actions we have taken or will take in relation to each recommendation. We have also examined the review to find ideas that, while not being explicit recommendations, nevertheless warrant greater attention and action.

There are already a number of steps the Government has taken in line with the Review recommendations, announced at the publication of the Race Disparity Audit. We are already moving to publish more and better data, and will adopt a co-ordinated approach to improving data quality to determine where disparities occur and why. In addition, the Government has adopted the principle of “explain or change” to identify and objectively assess disparities, and then decide whether and how changes need to be applied. We feel this principle is particularly valuable in relation to smaller groups in the criminal justice system, such as Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, and BAME women.

On a small number of the recommendations we have indicated that we need to proceed with caution, if significant barriers exist that prevent us from implementing a recommendation as it stands. Where this is the case, we aim to be transparent about the reasons and open to change, as circumstances alter.

Beyond the Review’s recommendations, we will set up governance procedures to monitor our progress driven by a Race and Ethnicity Board of senior officials, chaired at the level of Director General within the MoJ. It will update the Criminal Justice Board, of which I am chair. The Race and Ethnicity Board will consider and agree the scope and timelines for the work needed to reduce race disparities. This will include timings for the actions set out in the Government’s response.

These governance structures will cover the agenda articulated by David Lammy, contribute to the wider work around tackling race disparities Government, and direct sustained effort to give this agenda the longevity it deserves."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS367
WS
Attorney General
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (HM Advocate General for Scotland )
Lords

Protection for victims of sexual offences in court

The Government is committed to ensuring that victims are supported throughout the criminal justice system. This is particularly so for victims of sexual violence: a devastating and traumatic crime.

Sections 41 to 43 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 Act came into force in 2000 and provide critical protection for complainants in sex offence cases by tightly restricting the circumstances in which the defence can introduce evidence relating to the complainant’s sexual history.

There is a general prohibition on the use of sexual history evidence by the defence in sex offence trials. There are very limited circumstances in which the law allows such evidence to be introduced, but crucially section 41 prevents the use of sexual history by the defence to discredit the complainant. The defence must make an application to the court to introduce evidence or questions of a complainant’s sexual history, which is then decided upon by the judge in that case.

The Government wants to be sure that the law is working as it should, and strikes the right balance between protecting complainants and ensuring the defendant’s right to a fair trial. That is why we have undertaken a study to look at how the law in this area is working in practice.

Earlier this year, the then Lord Chancellor and I asked the Crown Prosecution Service to undertake an analysis of rape cases finalised in 2016 to determine the frequency and outcome of applications, under section 41.

This study looked at 309 such cases and found that in 92% of them – the overwhelming majority – no evidence of the complainant’s sexual history was introduced by the defence. Additionally, applications to introduce such evidence were only made in 13% of these cases. These findings strongly indicate that the law is working as it should, and strikes a careful balance between the need to protect complainants and ensuring that defendants receive a fair trial, consistent with the common law and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Whilst this is reassuring, we want to do more to provide vulnerable victims – and the public at large – with complete confidence in our criminal justice system. The Government is committed to ensuring that victims are treated with dignity and fairness in court. We are therefore taking additional steps to ensure the law continues to function effectively. These steps include the launch of new mandatory CPS prosecutor training and updated legal guidance; discussing with representatives of the Bar and solicitors the opportunity to improve training for criminal practitioners on section 41; a review by the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee of their rules in this area; and improved data collection.

Throughout this study we have listened to the views of victims’ groups and stakeholders, and engaged with them on raising awareness of section 41 and ensuring its effective operation. We will continue to engage with them on this issue.

Further details of the study are set out in a report that accompanies this statement. The measures we are taking are in addition to our wider work to support victims and witnesses in sexual offences cases. This wider work includes the roll-out of pre-recorded cross-examination for vulnerable witnesses in sexual offence cases, the introduction of new guidance for Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, and our commitment to publish a victims’ strategy in early 2018. The Government has also committed to publish a draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and provide an additional £20 million to provide support to victims and to organisations combatting domestic abuse.

Copies of the report have been laid before both Houses and the full report is available here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/limiting-the-use-of-complainants-sexual-history-in-sexual-offence-cases

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS349
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 30 November 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Chief Coroner’s fourth annual report to the Lord Chancellor

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, (Dr Phillip Lee) has made the following Written Statement.

"I am pleased to lay and publish the Chief Coroner’s fourth annual report to the Lord Chancellor on the operation of coroner services under section 36 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (‘the 2009 Act’). The report covers the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.

In particular the Chief Coroner’s report sets out:

  • The continuing work to promote consistency in the resourcing of and practices in coroner offices across England and Wales;
  • The training and guidance that coroners and their officers have received and the engagement with a wide range of stakeholders;
  • Recommendations to improve coroner services further.

His Honour Sir Peter Thornton QC retired as Chief Coroner on 30 September 2016 and His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC took up post as Chief Coroner on 1 October 2016.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Sir Peter for his dedication to improving coroner services in England and Wales during his term as first Chief Coroner and the sound foundations he put in place for his successor, as well as for coroners more generally. Under his leadership the number of outstanding cases reduced; his guidance to coroners and training both to coroners and others have enhanced national standards and have brought a level of consistency to the coroner service across England and Wales, making sure that bereaved people are at its heart.

I would also like to record my appreciation for the fine work that Judge Lucraft has done since he took up post last year.

I am grateful too to coroners and their officers and other staff, for having supported both Chief Coroners to improve services for bereaved people and for their valued and continuing frontline work.

Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office. The document will also be available online, at gov.uk."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS296
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 30 October 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Justice update

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

"I have today laid before Parliament, and shared with the Chair of the Justice Select Committee, the Government’s post-legislative memorandum for the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012, introduced by the Coalition Government. This fulfils the commitment made by former Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald before this House earlier this year.

My predecessors also committed to publish a post-implementation review of the legal aid changes made by the Act during its passage through Parliament. I have asked my officials to commence this review.

Our legal aid system is a fundamental pillar of access to justice, accounting for more than a fifth of the Ministry of Justice’s budget. The reforms within the Act were founded on delivering better value for money for taxpayers by reducing the cost of the scheme and discouraging unnecessary and adversarial litigation, while ensuring that legal aid continues to be available for the highest priority cases, for example where life or liberty is at stake, where someone faces the loss of their home, in domestic violence cases, or where their children may be taken into care.

The Government has previously committed to review a number of areas, including:

  • the changes made to the scope of legal aid for family, civil and criminal cases, and the introduction of the Exceptional Case Funding scheme;
  • the changes made to fees for various types of legal aid work;
  • the procedural changes the Act made, including the introduction of the mandatory telephone gateway and the introduction of evidence requirements for victims of domestic violence and child abuse;
  • changes to the rules on financial eligibility, including the application of the capital eligibility test to all legal aid applicants, increasing income contributions for those eligible to contribute, and capping the subject matter of dispute disregard;
  • changes to the application of the merits test;
  • the abolition of the Legal Services Commission and its replacement with the Legal Aid Agency.

This review of Part 1 of the Act will be led by officials in my department. I am keen that we listen to views on these changes from all interested parties, and I will shortly be inviting individuals and organisations to join consultative panels and contribute to this review work.

The review will conclude before the start of the summer recess 2018.

My predecessors also committed to a post-implementation review of the civil litigation funding and costs reforms in Part 2 of the Act. We are considering how to carry out that review, but we hope to conclude it to the same timetable."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS204
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 23 October 2017
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 Lidington) has made the following Written Statement.

"Justice and Home Affairs Council took place on 12 and 13 October in Luxembourg. I represented the UK for Justice Day, along with the Minister of State for Immigration, the Rt Honourable Brandon Lewis MP. The Home Secretary, the Rt Honourable Amber Rudd MP, represented the UK for Interior Day.

Justice Day (12 October) began with the adoption by 20 Member States of the Regulation establishing the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). We have always been clear that the UK will never participate in an EPPO.

This was followed by a policy debate on the proposed Regulation on mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders, which the UK has opted into. Discussion focused on extending the scope of the draft Regulation to include systems of preventive confiscation, on condition of a clear link to criminal activities, and the application of procedural safeguards. The Minister of State for Immigration intervened to support this extension, which was agreed by Ministers.

Ministers proceeded to discuss the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) and the proposed extension on the exchange of information to third country nationals. Debate covered questions on dual nationals and the threshold for the obligation to take fingerprints. The Minister of State for Immigration supported the extension, and urged for flexibility on the technical detail. There was no clear majority on the specific questions and the Presidency mandated further technical work on these issues.

Following this, the Director of the Fundamental Rights Agency, Michael O’Flaherty, introduced its Annual Report on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The discussion focussed on rights protections in the EU. EU Ministers then adopted the Council conclusions on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Over lunch, domestic implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation which will apply from 25 May 2018 was discussed. I used this opportunity to highlight the UK’s ongoing commitment to strong data protection standards, and that the UK was readying itself for application of the GDPR in a number of ways, including through the Data Protection Bill currently in Parliament.

The afternoon comprised a joint session of Justice and Interior Ministers. The Commission updated Ministers on their cyber-security strategy, e-evidence, and encryption. The Minister of State for Immigration intervened to support strong encryption and effective law enforcement access to electronic evidence, offering to share the UK’s expertise on working with service providers. The Commission noted that a new strategic framework for EU cyber security will be adopted at the General Affairs Council in November, and they will shortly issue a communication on tackling illegal content online.

The final item on Justice day provided Ministers with an opportunity to comment on the Presidency’s mid-term review of the JHA strategic guidelines. Ministers and the Commission were positive about the EU’s progress against existing guidelines, but noted the change of priorities in light of evolving threats. Ministers’ priorities included migration, data sharing and improved links between internal and external security policy. New guidelines will be proposed to the December European Council.

Interior Day (13 October) began with a discussion on the Commission’s proposal to amend the Schengen Border Code to allow internal borders to be raised in exceptional circumstances. As the UK is not part of the Schengen internal border free zone, the Home Secretary did not intervene. The proposal will now be discussed at a technical level.

This was followed by a presentation from the non-EU Counter Terrorism Group (CTG). The CTG reported on the development of improved cooperation with Europol. Interventions from Europol, the Commission and the EU Counter Terrorism Coordinator focused on the continuing need for greater cooperation.

Finally, the Presidency presented its progress report on the Common European Asylum system. There was no discussion.

Council concluded with a working lunch focused on resettlement. The UK, along with other Member States, supported resettlement. The Home Secretary highlighted the UK’s strong track record of resettlement, including our offer of 5,000 places so far in response to the Commission’s latest call. This is part of our wider commitment to resettle 23,000 refugees from the region by 2020. The Home Secretary also stressed that resettlement should be from the refugee’s home region to ensure that we do not inadvertently incentivise illegal migration."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS188
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 23 October 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Justice Update

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

"When the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor on 26 July, the Government took immediate steps to stop charging fees in the Employment Tribunals. We also said that we would bring forward detailed arrangements to refund people who had paid fees. We will today be launching the first phase of the refund scheme.

We will use this first phase, which will last up to 4 weeks, to ensure that that the refund process works efficiently and effectively. From today, officials in the Ministry of Justice will be writing to an initial group of up to 1,000 people who paid fees for proceedings in the Employment Tribunals, inviting them to take part. This group will consist of people who have contacted us since the Supreme Court judgment enquiring about a refund. Those who receive a refund will also be paid interest from the date their payment was received.

We recognise that during the initial phase of the refund scheme, there is likely to be considerable interest in the details of the scheme. For those who have paid Employment Tribunals fees, but have not been invited to take part in the initial stage, we are setting up a pre-registration scheme so that they can register an interest in applying when the full scheme is rolled out. Those who wish to do so can register either by email at: ethelpwithfees@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk; or alternatively by post to the following addresses:

For proceedings in England and Wales

Employment Tribunals Central Office (England and Wales)/Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Fees

PO Box 10218

Leicester LE1 8EG

For proceedings in Scotland

Employment Tribunals Central Office Scotland/Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Fees

PO Box 27105

Glasgow G2 9JRX

This phase is primarily aimed at people making applications for refunds in single claims. During this period, we will also be working with the Trades Unions on how this process should be best applied to applications for refunds in larger multiple claims.

We plan to roll out the full refund scheme early in November. At that point, anyone who has paid a fee in the Employment Tribunals, whether in a single or multiple claim, will be able to claim a refund.

Those who will be eligible to apply for a refund under the scheme are:

  • People who paid a fee directly to the Employment Tribunal or Employment Appeal Tribunal, and have not been reimbursed by their opponent pursuant to an order of the Tribunal.

  • People who were ordered by the Tribunal to reimburse their opponent their fee and who can show that they have paid it.

  • Representatives (such as a Trade Union) who paid a fee on behalf of another person and have not been reimbursed by that person.

  • The lead claimant (or representative) in a multiple claim who paid a fee on behalf of the other claimants.

Further guidance will be available when the scheme is rolled out.

To receive a refund, applicants will be invited to complete an application form with their details, details of their employment tribunal claim and the fees that they paid. These details will be verified against HMCTS’s records. Where people are unable to provide full details of the fees they paid, or the details they provide do not accord with the details we hold, their application will not be refused automatically, but it may take longer to process.

Where a person is claiming for fees that they reimbursed to their opponent pursuant to a Tribunal Order, they will be asked to provide a copy of the Tribunal Order, and proof of payment. In cases where a person reimbursed their opponent under a private settlement, they will not be eligible for a refund; in such cases, the person who paid the fee to the Tribunal will be eligible for a refund.

All applicants will also be asked to sign a declaration of truth about the details they provide. Refunds will be made to the applicant’s bank account; if an individual does not have a bank account, they can contact HMCTS for alternative methods of payment."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS186
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 14 September 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Judicial Conduct Investigations Office Annual Report 2016–2017

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

"With the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice, I will today publish the eleventh annual report of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO), formerly known as the Office for Judicial Complaints.

The JCIO supports the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor in our joint statutory responsibility for judicial discipline.

The judiciary comprises approximately 26,000 individuals serving across a range of jurisdictions. Over the past year, the JCIO received 2,126 complaints against judicial office holders and 526 written enquiries. Only 42 investigations resulted in disciplinary action. The JCIO met all of its key performance indicators for processing complaints.

I have placed copies of the report into the libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. Copies are also available online at: http://judicialcomplaints.judiciary.gov.uk/publications.htm."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS136
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 20 July 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson, Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Update on the Lugano and Hague Conventions

My Right Honourable Friend, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

“The United Kingdom has opted in to the following Council Decisions:

(i) Council Decision of 7 February 2013, authorising the opening of negotiations on agreements between the EU and Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland in the areas of cross-border service of judicial and non-judicial documents and the taking of evidence in civil and commercial proceedings. (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are commonly referred to as the Lugano States).

The negotiating mandates set out the position of the EU in discussions on the prospects for agreements between those States in the areas of cross-border service of judicial and non-judicial documents and taking of evidence in civil and commercial proceedings.

There have been three rounds of discussions so far, and final agreements have yet to be reached. The decision of the then Government in 2013 to opt in to the negotiating mandates does not commit this Government to opt in to future EU agreements in these spheres. I will update the House as further information becomes available.

(ii) Council Decision authorising the opening of negotiations on a Convention on the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Judgments Convention) in the framework of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

The negotiating mandate of May 2016 sets out the position of the EU in discussions at a Hague Conference level on the prospects for an international Convention which would set out rules for the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, delivered by foreign courts.

Detailed discussions on the form of a Convention text began in June 2016 and will continue among EU Member States and at Hague Conference level for some time to come. The next Hague Conference Special Commission to discuss the project will take place in November 2017.

Opting in to the EU negotiating mandate does not commit the UK Government to accede to any future Convention.

Due to an oversight, a Written Ministerial Statement on these Council Decisions has not thus far been placed before both Houses, for which I apologise”.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS102
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 19 July 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson, Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Justice Update

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister for Prisons and Probation (Sam Gyimah) has made the following Written Statement.

"Probation services play a vital role in protecting communities and rehabilitating offenders. In delivering the sentences of the court, supervising offenders and helping them to address problems such as unemployment, homelessness and mental health issues, probation officers keep the public safe and prevent future victims of crime.

In 2014/15 the government reformed the probation system to strengthen its focus on reducing reoffending and protecting communities, and much progress has been made in implementing these reforms. For the first time around 40,000 offenders a year released from custodial sentences of less than 12 months are entitled to statutory support from probation on release, and new through-the-gate services have been introduced to improve the resettlement of released prisoners in the community. We have established 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) to supervise low and medium-risk offenders, and a National Probation Service (NPS) dedicated to protecting the public from higher-risk offenders. Staff working in the probation system deserve enormous credit for their commitment and professionalism during this period of significant change.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the current delivery of some aspects of probation services must improve. It is inevitable that such fundamental reforms to a complex public service will take some time to bed down. In addition, since the contracts were negotiated the number of offenders sentenced to community orders has fallen, and there has been an increase in the proportion of offenders assessed as posing a higher risk of harm. The result is fewer offenders are being referred to CRCs, leading to falls in CRC income to significantly below the levels expected at the time of the competition. This has made it extremely challenging for CRCs to deliver the services outlined in their contracts. In turn the NPS has seen a growth in their caseload and increased demands on its staff. That is why we have been reviewing the probation system, and why we are now taking steps to improve services.

We have recently taken urgent action to adjust the payment mechanism within the CRC contracts so it better reflects the fixed nature of most of the costs that providers incur when delivering services to offenders. This additional investment, which will see projected payments to CRCs still being no higher than originally budgeted for at the time of the reforms, will make CRC income less sensitive to changes in demand and therefore more reflective of their actual cost structures. This increased certainty about future income will enable CRCs to focus on delivering critical operational services. We are also exploring with providers further improvements that could be made to the delivery of rehabilitative services, and we will set out at a later stage any further changes we will be making as a result.

In addition we are working with the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England to develop a joint protocol setting out how probation, health and treatment services should work together to support those serving community sentences in England. We will seek to implement the protocol in a number of test-bed areas this year, and have agreed with the Welsh Government that we will seek to establish a similar protocol in Wales. We are also providing additional funding to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation and supporting them to introduce a new framework for the inspection of probation services from April 2018. This will provide stronger scrutiny and increased transparency of the performance of probation by introducing annual inspection of CRCs and NPS areas and the publication of individual ratings for providers.

The government remains whole-heartedly committed to reducing reoffending and protecting the public. The Transforming Rehabilitation reforms created a framework for more effective probation services and we intend to ensure they deliver the benefits of reduced reoffending. Over the coming months we will continue to work with providers to improve the delivery of probation services and we will make further statements in due course."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS81
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 26 June 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson, Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Justice and Home Affairs Post-Council Statement

A meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council took place on 8 and 9 June in Luxembourg. The Council took place on the day of, and the day after, the General Election. I represented the UK for Justice day. The UK’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow, and Shona Riach, Home Office Europe Director, represented the UK for Interior day.

Justice day

The Council agreed a number of proposals without discussion on Justice day, including a number of Council Conclusions on areas including returns, children in migration and information exchange and information management including interoperability solutions.

Justice day began with the participating Member States agreeing a General Approach on the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) under enhanced cooperation. The UK has always been clear that we will not participate.

A General Approach was achieved on the Supply of Digital Content Directive. However, some concerns on a specific article remained; trilogues under the Estonian Presidency are likely to come back to these issues. I expressed the UK’s support for the Presidency’s compromise.

There was a policy debate on the European Commission (Commission) proposal for a provision on hearing the views of the child in parental responsibility cases arising from the Brussels IIa Regulation. There was broad support for such a provision. The Commission urged Member States to make progress as it would help resolve the problem of refusal of recognition and enforcement of judgments on the basis that the child had not been heard. The UK agrees that refusal of recognition and enforcement of judgments is a problem but I asked that Member States keep options open going forward, rather than committing to a provision now.

For the Insolvency Directive, the Presidency presented the Maltese Presidency’s paper on the role of national courts in restructuring procedures and the principle that debtors should remain, in whole or in part, in possession of their business. The UK supports the Directive and I welcomed the direction of travel on both issues. The Presidency concluded that Member States had shown support on both issues and work would continue at the technical level.

There was then a discussion on the Money Laundering Directive, for which a General Approach was achieved. The UK has not opted in to this proposal.

The Presidency reached a General Approach on the recast of Regulation 45/2001, which regulates the processing of personal data by EU institutions and bodies, and was being re-cast to bring it in line with the wider EU data protection package. As the proposal has not yet cleared parliamentary scrutiny in the UK, I did not give a position.

Over lunch, EU Ministers discussed ways of countering illegal hate speech online. The Commission updated the Council on the second progress report on cooperation with internet service providers. EU Ministers expressed support for the Commission’s work in this area. The Government views cooperation with internet service providers as an important step in the collective work to reduce harm caused by hate online, and I suggested producing a toolkit to help small platforms to apply the same standards as bigger providers.

After lunch, at the start of a joint session of Interior and Justice Ministers, the Council held a one minute silence to remember those killed and injured in the Manchester and London Bridge terrorist attacks. I then provided an update on the attacks. I noted the quick and effective response from our emergency services and that the investigations were ongoing. I also thanked Ministers for the many messages of condolence, and stressed the need to work together to combat radicalisation and deprive extremists of safe spaces to operate online.

The Council then moved on to discuss Criminal Justice in Cyberspace, covering e-evidence, data retention and encryption.

For e-evidence, the Commission presented a number of practical measures as well as possible legislative approaches for improving cross-border access to electronic evidence. The Government agrees we must be able to bring to justice cross-border crimes planned, facilitated or committed online irrespective of where the electronic evidence is stored. I underlined the importance of this agenda, in particular for bringing terrorists to justice and set out practical action which could help. The Presidency concluded that the Commission should continue to seek expert input whilst developing legislative proposals.

For encryption, the Commission presented an update on the challenges caused by end-to-end encryption for law enforcement, as well as the technical and legal issues.

For data retention, the Presidency provided a brief update on discussions held so far in the Friends of the Presidency group on Data Retention. The Government has played a leading role in the group and fully supports these discussions as a way of building an evidence base for the necessity of retention.

The final discussion on Justice day was focussed on safeguarding children involved in irregular migration to Europe across the Mediterranean. EU Ministers agreed that protecting children at all stages is a priority and endorsed the need for a comprehensive approach to migration.

Interior day

Interior day began with the agreement of a General Approach on the European Travel and Information Authorisation System (ETIAS). As the UK is not part of the border control aspects of the Schengen agreement, it will not take part in this proposal.

This was followed by a policy debate on the Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) proposals. There was broad agreement among EU Ministers that the SIS II could be used for entering preventive alerts on children at risk of abduction and disappearance, with the caveat that clear definitions were needed. There was also some support from EU Ministers on the creation of a new alert on the SIS II for ‘inquiry checks’ against suspected criminals or terrorists.

There was then a general discussion on actions to address the migration crisis, with a focus on the EU-Turkey agreement and the Central Mediterranean. Member States were encouraged to take an active role in implementing the Malta Declaration.

Over a working lunch focused on Counter Terrorism, there was a progress update on the work of the Counter Terrorism Group followed by a presentation of fiches on data sharing with EU agencies from Counter Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. There was also a discussion on proposals to bring together the various European bodies responsible for countering radicalisation, including the Radicalisation Awareness Network and the European Strategic Communications Network.

The afternoon session began with a debate on key operational practices and obstacles of returns policy and the use of visas as leverage. It was concluded that Member States would need to work together on returns and readmission and that the next step would be to look at where and when leverage should be used.

There was then a discussion on Information Systems and Interoperability, following the final report of the High Level Expert Group on data sharing (HLEG). The HLEG’s priorities were highlighted, including a shared biometric matching service and a common data repository, while the need to improve data quality, implement PNR and improve cooperation with Europol and Interpol were common themes in discussion.

Finally, there was an update on negotiations on the seven legislative proposals on the Common European Asylum System. Of these measures, the UK has only opted in to the recast Eurodac Regulation.

Over both days the Estonian delegation set out their priorities for their Presidency of the Council of the EU, which begins in July. The fight against terrorism and serious crime will continue to be a priority. ECRIS will remain a priority file, as will criminal justice in cyberspace and data retention. The incoming Presidency will prioritise safeguarding Schengen and free movement in the face of terrorism and mass migration, meaning that the asylum package, the Valletta Action Plan, returns, and the Blue Card Directive will be priority files, as will work on radicalisation, interoperability of EU information systems, the Entry Exit system and ETIAS. Prüm, Passenger Name Records (PNR) and a renewed mandate for EU LISA will also be high on the agenda, as will cooperation between the EU and Ukraine.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS12
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