Written statements

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

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

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

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Written Statement Indentifying Number – Every written statement in the House of Commons and House of Lords has a WSID per parliamentary session.
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WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Appointment to the Prison Service Pay Review Body

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

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

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1800
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Ministry of Justice spokesperson)
Lords

Media Matters

My Rt Hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Jeremy Wright) has today made the following Written Ministerial 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.

Having considered News UK’s application and representations made following an Invitation to Comment issued by DCMS on 17 January, I announced, in a Written Ministerial Statement dated 11 April, that I was minded to accept News UK’s application to vary the 1981 conditions. However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I also noted that the existing governance arrangements lacked clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Following discussions between News UK and Officials, News UK submitted revised undertakings which substantially meet my concerns.

On 27 June, as required by legislation, I issued a further consultation notice seeking views on the changes to News UK’s revised undertakings. Two responses were received. Neither response raised any issues that would warrant me seeking further modifications to the Undertakings from News UK. Accordingly, I have today formally decided to accept the new Undertakings and have today issued a Notice of Acceptance. A copy of the Notice of Acceptance with the final signed undertakings and the revised articles of association of Times Newspapers Ltd (TNL) and Times Newspapers Holding Ltd (TNHL) will be published on the Government website. My Department will shortly publish in the Issues Note circulated to News UK prior to the discussions with Officials.

The new undertakings creates an explicit requirement for the CMA and the Secretary of State to monitor the effectiveness of the obligations placed on News UK and the TNHL Independent National Directors (INDs). As part of this, I can confirm that in line with the Government's commitments on the handling of media merger cases, that DCMS will publish a non-confidential version of the reports from the TNHL INDs which have to be submitted to DCMS and the CMA annually.

WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 July 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Prisons and Probation

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

"Today I would like to update the House on prisons and probation following the Opposition day debate of 14 May 2019.

Our prison and probation systems have faced challenges in recent years, with changes in population, changes in the nature of crimes being committed and wider societal changes impacting the criminal justice sector, such as the use of Spice and other psychoactive substances. We need to ensure that our prisons and probation services provide appropriate punishment, and work with offenders to stop the root causes of criminality, supporting them to re-join their communities.

HMP Birmingham was an exceptional case caused by a number of complex factors and the Government had been working closely with G4S to try and resolve the issues in HMP Birmingham. However, it became increasingly clear that G4S alone were not able to make the improvements that were so badly needed. That is why the Government took decisive action to step in and did so at no additional costs to the taxpayer.

However, the Government is clear that the exceptional experience of HMP Birmingham is no more representative of the wider contribution of the private sector to our justice system than individual failings in the public sector are in the public estate. The Government remains committed to ensuring a mixed market for delivery of services in the justice system. Partnering with the private and voluntary sectors offers the taxpayer greater value for money, greater diversity of provision and greater innovation than we would see from the public sector alone. Our policy remains a commitment to what works; we will continue to resist ideological calls to spend taxpayers money in a particular sector, regardless of value proposition.

Government contracts are never awarded lightly: each is awarded following a robust process. Government has always been compliant with procurement regulations and follows these diligently when assessing supplier’s suitability.

Through the competition processes we undertake a rigorous financial and operational assessment of bids put forward by any existing or potential operator to ensure bids are of sufficient quality, value for money and affordability. The Government also ensures, through the procurement and contract management processes, that we have sufficient measures in place to have confidence in the delivery and maintenance of the contracted services over their lifetime.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons has highlighted many examples of excellent performance by private prisons in his inspection reports and competition for custodial services in England and Wales is well established, and has been in place since the early 1990s. Privately managed prison providers achieve the majority of their targets, and their performance is closely monitored by the robust contract management processes HMPPS has in place.

Privately-managed prisons have also pioneered the use of modern technology to improve the running of establishments and help promote rehabilitation – innovations that in many cases are still not widely found in the public estate. This includes the development of in-cell telephony to help prisoners maintain ties with their families; interactive story-time activities between prisoners and their children; and the introduction of electronic kiosks, which allow prisoners to have greater control of managing their day-to-day lives.

Private probation providers have drawn on prior experience delivering employability services to improve the sourcing of Unpaid Work placements for offenders on community sentences, with nine out of 13 Community Rehabilitation Companies rated ‘Good’ for the delivery of Unpaid Work by HM Inspectorate of Probation. CRCs have also demonstrated their potential to drive innovation in rehabilitation programmes, with London CRC helping pioneer the Safer Streets Partnership to tackle gangs and knife crime and Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC developing the first behavioural intervention targeted at stalking offences.

The government therefore rejects the call to end plans to run competitions for new private prisons. We are also committed to ensuring a mixed market for service delivery in the probation system, with offender management delivered by the National Probation Service, but up to £280m allocated for contracting of unpaid work and rehabilitative services from the private and voluntary sector. In addition, we plan to ringfence an initial £20 million per year for a Regional Outcome and Innovation Fund to be spent on innovative, cross-cutting approaches. There will inevitably in any large organisation be occasional instances where service delivery is not as expected, regardless of whether the public or private sectors are responsible. In these instances, we ensure prompt action is taken to rectify any identified issues, and to learn lessons. This Government will not shy away from learning lessons where they are required – and will not seek to denigrate the dedicated work of large numbers of those who deliver our public services simply because of who their employer is.

Instead, this government is committed to ensuring that all our prisons, public or private, are places of safety and reform, and that our probation services maximise their performance in keeping the public safe by helping offenders on community orders or leaving prison to turn their lives around in the community."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1783
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 July 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Enforcement Update

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

"Further to a Statement made by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Lucy Frazer MP, on 26 November 2018, I wanted to update the House on the Ministry of Justice’s review of the implementation of the enforcement agent reforms contained in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. These reforms, which came into force in 2014, aimed to provide protection to debtors from the aggressive pursuit of their debt from enforcement agents, whilst balancing this against the need for effective enforcement.

Our review was launched with a call for evidence on 26 November 2018 that ran to 17 February 2019. This sought to provide further information on the operation of the reforms following the Government’s publication of the first post-implementation review on 2 April 2018. This review found that the reforms had led to many positive changes, including improved transparency and consistency, both in terms of the enforcement process and the fees charged by enforcement agents. The report noted, however, that some enforcement agents were still perceived to be acting aggressively and not complying with the new rules.

We received nearly 300 responses to the call for evidence from: individuals who have been visited by enforcement agents; enforcement agents, firms and trade associations; local authorities and other creditors; advice organisations and charities; MPs and members of the judiciary.

I am grateful to the Justice Committee for conducting an inquiry into this important issue. We are carefully considering its recommendations for further reform. We will provide a full response to the report and to our call for evidence, following further engagement with stakeholders over the summer.

Based on their data, civil enforcement agents now enforce around 3 million civil cases each year. Creditors need an effective, sustainable way to ensure that they receive the money owed to them. At the same time, the government must ensure that those in debt, especially the vulnerable, including those with mental health issues, are treated fairly and given the protections they deserve.

Enforcement agents carry out an important job in often very challenging circumstances.

Many firms have made considerable efforts to make sure that they are treating those in debt fairly, but complaints continue. All enforcement agents must operate to the same high standards. So, we will be pushing forward with a reform package to make sure that people do not face aggressive action from enforcement agents and to improve trust in the industry as a whole.

One area of our focus will be how people can make complaints against enforcement agents. Data submitted to our call for evidence has shown that the volume of complaints made about enforcement agents is much lower than would be expected relative to the volume of debts enforced, and compared to similar industries. Whilst this may in part be due to improvements in the sector, we believe that there are a number of barriers in the current complaints system that may deter people from making a complaint. We will look to address these with enforcement agents and others with a view to making the complaints system more effective, transparent and independent.

We are also considering what role independent regulation of enforcement agents could potentially play in ensuring that vulnerable debtors are treated fairly. We believe that regulation of this sector could be strengthened but we do not yet have a firm view on the form this should take. It is an issue that would benefit from further discussions with stakeholders. We are clear that any further regulation must be effective, proportionate and sustainable.

Alongside considering these reforms, we wish to bring quicker changes to the system to improve how enforcement agents operate. Our call for evidence and the Justice Committee’s inquiry found strong evidence that body-worn cameras are important in protecting both those in debt and enforcement agents, raising standards in the industry and enabling complaints to be properly investigated. We will be taking forward work to make use of body-worn cameras mandatory for all private enforcement agents and to produce best practice guidance.

Under the current system, all enforcement agents have to demonstrate knowledge of the law, customer care, dealing with conflict situations and identifying vulnerable situations. We believe that there is a good case, however, to look again at the guidance and requirements for how enforcement agents interact with those in debt, with a view to addressing any unfair treatment of vulnerable people, including those with mental health issues.

The Ministry of Justice proposes to engage with the enforcement industry, debt advice agencies, creditors and others on these and other issues over the summer before responding in full to its call for evidence and the Justice Committee report. The response will include a full analysis of the variety of evidence submitted to the review and set out proposals for reform to enhance the regulation of enforcement agents. We will consult on any proposals for legislative reform.

This work forms part of wider cross-government efforts to improve the treatment of those in debt. This includes work by HM Treasury to implement a ‘breathing space’ and statutory debt repayment plan for people in problem debt and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government review of how local authorities can improve the way they collect Council Tax debt."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1776
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 July 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Government response to the Prison Service Pay Review Body recommendations 19/20

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

"I am today announcing the government’s decision on pay rises for prison staff.

The Prison Service Pay Review Body has made its recommendations for the 2019-20 pay award and we are accepting these recommendations in full.

Last year, the government announced the largest pay rise in nearly a decade for almost a million public sector workers. Today we are building on that with a pay award that is worth at least 2.2% for all prison staff and 3% for our Band 3 officers on the ‘Fair and Sustainable’ terms and conditions. This is the second year in a row we have put in place awards over 2% for our prison staff and this year’s settlement represents the highest consolidated increase for over 10 years.

In addition to the headline increases we will also implement the totality of the other Review Body recommendations. This represents a full package for staff that will support us to recruit and retain prison officers and managers, contributing to safer prisons and reduced reoffending. In addition to their pay, prison officers continue to benefit from defined benefit pensions, which are amongst the most generous available.

For a Band 3 officer on the modern terms and conditions the pay settlement is worth on average £1,277.

Alongside this investment in pay, prison officers are being trained to be more effective and gain experience in critical areas. The key worker role within the new offender management in custody model is currently being rolled-out across prisons. This has been enabled by the investment in additional Band 3 officers, and supports officers at this grade to build more effective relationships with prisoners in order to improve safety and help reduce reoffending.

Thanks to the government’s balanced approach to public finances – getting debt falling as a share of our economy, while investing in our vital services and keeping taxes low – we are able to continue our flexible approach to pay policy, allowing us to attract and retain the best people for our prisons.

We consider all pay awards in light of wider pressures on public spending. Public sector pay needs to be fair both for public sector workers and the taxpayer. Around a quarter of all public spending is spent on pay and we need to ensure that our public services remain affordable for the future.

It is also vital that our world class public services continue modernising to meet rising demand for the incredible services they provide, which improve our lives and keep us safe.

The report has been laid before Parliament today 22 July 2019 and a copy is attached. I am grateful to the Chair and members of the Review Body for their report."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1768
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 17 July 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Consultation on Proposals for revising the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime

"Today, I am launching the Government’s Consultation on revising the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the Code), which sets out our proposals for improving the Code.

This consultation is the first step in strengthening the Code, one of the overarching improvements to victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system which we committed to in the cross-government Victims Strategy, published in September last year.

The vision we set out in the Victims Strategy is one of a justice system that supports even more victims to speak up by giving them the certainty that they will be understood, that they will be protected, and that they will be supported throughout their journey, regardless of their circumstances or background.

As part of delivering on that vision one of our key commitments was to amend the Code to address its complexity, accessibility and language and consult on a revised version. We also committed to update entitlements in the Code so they are better reflective of victims’ needs. This thematic consultation sets out our proposals for amending the Code and will inform our second consultation on a revised draft Code.

Some of the proposals included in the consultation are:

  • Greater clarity around victims’ rights, such as a right to be given information about the investigation and criminal proceedings and the right to make a Victim Personal Statement (VPS);
  • A statement within the Code that victims who do not report the crime or withdraw from the criminal justice process are entitled to the same support as those who do report the crime;
  • Creation of a short, user-friendly overview of the Code to summarise the key points that all victims need to know (and a separate one for children/young people);
  • Creation of a guide for practitioners working in the criminal justice sector on how to apply the Code;
  • Revising the current categories for victims entitled to an enhanced service to make it simpler, with a greater focus on identifying and meeting the needs of the victim.

However, amending the Code is only part of the picture. To strengthen the Code we also committed to:

  • Introduce improved reporting, monitoring and transparency to strengthen compliance with the Code.

  • Bring forward proposals for a consultation on the detail of the Victims’ Law, including strengthening compliance with the Code and the powers of the Victims’ Commissioner.

We are already working with Police and Crime Commissioners and Local Criminal Justice Partnerships to improve compliance with the Code through improved reporting, monitoring and transparency on whether victims are receiving entitlements. This goes hand in hand with amending the Code. On 1 April we issued the first iteration of a framework for compliance with the Code.

Once we have revised the Code we will then consult on the detail of victim focussed legislation. As part of that we want to strengthen the enforcement of the Code to make sure victims receive the services they are entitled to, and criminal justice agencies are held to account if they don’t. We also want to explore increasing the Victims’ Commissioner’s powers to better hold government to account. However, to do that we first need to revise the Code to make sure that the entitlements victims receive are the right ones in the first place.

In developing the consultation, we have engaged extensively with victims and victims’ groups and considered the views and recommendations made by key stakeholders including the Victims’ Commissioner and the London Victims’ Commissioner. This has ensured the consultation is informed by those who have had direct experience of being a victim, as well as those with frontline expertise.

The consultation is available in full at: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/proposed-changes-to-the-victims-code"

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1730
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 15 July 2019
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 MP) has made the following Written Statement:

"Earlier today, I notified the market via the London Stock Exchange group that I would today lay a Statutory Instrument to change the discount rate applicable to personal injury lump sum compensation payments in England and Wales, to minus 0.25%. The new rate will come into force on 5 August 2019, in line with the statutory timetable set out by the Civil Liability Act 2018 (“the Act”).

Under the Damages Act 1996, I, as Lord Chancellor, have the power to set a discount rate which courts must consider when awarding compensation for future financial losses in the form of a lump sum in personal injury cases. The legal framework was changed by the Civil Liability Act 2018.

The new framework makes clear that claimants must be treated as ‘low risk’ investors. Under the Act I, as Lord Chancellor, must conduct a review and determine whether the rate should be changed or kept unchanged within 140 days of beginning the review and including the day on which the review starts. I started the review on 19 March 2019, and in conducting this review, I consulted the Government Actuary and HM Treasury.

The Government Actuary provided an analysis of dual rates – this would involve a lower short term rate and then a higher long term rate after a ‘switchover’ period. Although I consider their analysis interesting with some promising indications, I do not consider it appropriate, noting the lack of quantity and depth of evidence required, to adopt a dual rate for this review. The potential of the dual rate to be appropriate for future reviews is one that I will consider in more detail.

A full statement of reasons, explaining how I have decided upon this rate, will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1717
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 01 July 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Amendment to the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992

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

"I am pleased to announce that today the Social Fund (Children’s Funeral Fund for England) Regulations 2019 are being laid before the House. It is the Government’s intention that these Regulations will come into effect on the 23rd July.


The laying of these regulations fulfils the Prime Minister’s commitment to establish the Children’s Funeral Fund for England (the “CFF”).


No parent should ever have to endure the unbearable loss of a child. Whilst recognising that nothing can ever truly heal the pain of such a loss, it is right that the Government ensures that all families who lose a child are given the support they need.


Under the CFF, bereaved families will no longer have to meet the fees charged for a cremation or burial of a child under the age of 18. Rather, they will now be able to access this provision for free at the point of need, with the costs being met by Government funding and providers applying to the CFF for reimbursement. As a further gesture of this Government’s commitment to supporting bereaved people, families in England will also be provided with a contribution of up to £300 towards the price of a coffin (or shroud or casket, where preferred), and will meet other specified expenses.

The CFF marks a key milestone in the delivery of the Government’s manifesto commitment to provide bereaved parents with the support they need. Its provision will be universal, available to all bereaved parents in England who have lost a child regardless of their means. It is also intended to complement other measures such as the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent last September and is expected to apply from April 2020.


We have worked closely across Government to ensure that the CFF is compatible with other relevant measures and will continue to work with Devolved Administrations to ensure coordination with their own equivalent schemes. In particular, I have worked closely with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, and officials in the Department for Work and Pensions in order to ensure the CFF’s compatibility with the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment scheme.


In developing the CFF, we have engaged with a range of interested parties from across the funeral services sector, whose insight and expertise continue to be invaluable to ensuring the successful implementation of the CFF. I am also grateful for the continued support offered to bereaved families by the wider funeral industry. I hope that the CFF will be a welcome addition to the existing free provision which is already made available for families who have suffered the loss of a child.

In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute to the tireless work of the Honourable Member for Swansea East in bringing this important issue to the Government’s attention. Drawing on her own experience, she has led a courageous campaign to secure this additional support for all those families who, tragically, face the burden of losing a child. As the Prime Minister has said, it is in memory of the Honourable Member’s own son, Martin, that the CFF is being established."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1681
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 27 June 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Female Offender Strategy- First Anniversary

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

"Today marks the first anniversary of the publication of the Government’s female offender strategy. With its roots in Baroness Corston’s seminal review of vulnerable women in the justice system in 2007, our strategy set out plans to improve outcomes for women at all points of the justice system, based on our vision to see:

  • fewer women coming into the criminal justice system
  • fewer women in custody, especially on short-term sentences, and a greater proportion of women managed in the community successfully; and
  • better conditions for those in custody.

Female offenders can be amongst the most vulnerable in society, in both the prevalence and complexity of their needs. Many experience chaotic lifestyles involving substance misuse, mental health problems, homelessness and offending behaviour, which are often the product of a life of abuse and trauma.

Frequently, women in custody are sentenced for non-violent, low level but persistent offences, often for short periods of time. If we take the right approach to female offenders, one that addresses their vulnerability, follows the evidence about what works in supporting them to turn their lives around, and treats them as individuals of value, it could have substantial benefits for victims, families, and offenders themselves. The strategy launched a programme of work that will take some years to deliver. On this first anniversary, I should like to celebrate the improvements that are already taking place, including on our key commitments below:

  • we published, last December, a new policy framework for prison and probation staff working with women. This sets out duties, rules and general guidance for staff, and includes accompanying guidance covering a range of issues, such as ‘Caring for Perinatal Women in Prison’.
  • Lord Farmer’s Review for Women, commissioned by the strategy, was published on 18 June. I am immensely grateful to Lord Farmer for undertaking this review, which looks at how supporting female offenders in custody and community to engage with their families can lower recidivism, aid rehabilitation and assist in addressing the issues of intergenerational crime. We will look closely at how we can best give effect to Lord Farmer’s findings and recommendations.
  • We committed to develop a ‘residential women’s centre’ pilot in at least five sites across England and Wales, offering a robust alternative to short custodial sentences. We have recently concluded our first phase of consultation with local voluntary and statutory agencies, partners and providers from a range of backgrounds and specialisms across England and Wales to inform the scoping of this project. We will continue to consult with partners as we refine the design and delivery of the pilot.
  • Our strategy recognises the valuable role that sustainable community services, such as women’s centres, can play in supporting vulnerable women to turn their lives around. We have invested £5m in community services for women in 2018/19 and 2019/20. This funding is helping to sustain and enhance existing services, as well as supporting the development of new services in areas without provision. I am looking at opportunities to further increase sustainability of this sector, and would like to see agencies coming together to provide much needed multi-year funding.
  • Partnership working is a key theme of our strategy, and yesterday we held a major conference to promote multi-agency, Whole System Approaches (WSA) for local agencies including health, Police & Crime Commissioners and local authorities, to provide them with tools and information to enable them to develop a WSA in their local areas. We are working with other Government departments, stakeholders and local justice, statutory and voluntary agencies, to develop and publish a national concordat on female offenders by Autumn 2019. This will facilitate better joined up working and collaboration at both national and local level to improve outcomes for female offenders.

Work is underway to improve outcomes for female offenders and women at risk of offending across the justice system, aimed at taking a gender and trauma informed approach to female offenders, such as trialling a new checklist for Pre-Sentence Reports on women, to ensure that sentencers receive high quality advice addressing all relevant issues, including details of dependent children, and a new training package, POWER, so that staff working with female offenders have the skills and knowledge they need.

I am grateful to those Parliamentarians who continue to take a close interest in this work. I would also pay tribute to the members of the Advisory Board on Female Offenders, who provide invaluable advice and challenge on implementation of the strategy’s aims. Together, we can make a real and lasting improvement for these often-vulnerable women, and their families.

The female offender strategy is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/female-offender-strategy"

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1662
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 26 June 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Law Commission Review Update

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

"As part of its efforts to make the UK the safest place online in the world, the Prime Minister announced in February 2018 that the Law Commission was to review the current law around abusive and offensive online communications and highlight any gaps in the criminal law which cause problems in tackling this abuse. This commitment also stemmed from the work by the Committee on Standards in Public Life into intimidation in public life (a review which, in turn, was commissioned by the Prime Minister).

The Law Commission published Phase 1 of their review of Abusive and Offensive Online Communications on 1 November 2018. Its scoping report can be found online at:

https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/abusive-and-offensive-online-communications/

I would like to inform the House that the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport have now engaged the Law Commission on a second phase of their Review of Abusive and Offensive Online Communications.

This work will begin in July 2019 and will build on the analysis undertaken by the Law Commission as part of Phase 1 of this review. This found that while abusive online communications are in general criminalised to the same degree as equivalent offline offending, there remains considerable scope for reform. In particular, around the nature of some behaviour in the online environment, and the degree of harm it can cause.

As part of Phase 2, the Law Commission will also consider the criminal law around the non-consensual taking and sharing of intimate images. The review will look at existing offences - for example section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act, which captures the non-consensual disclosure of intimate images with the intent to cause the victim distress - and identify whether there are any gaps in the scope of the protection already offered to victims, making recommendations to ensure that the criminal law provides consistent and effective protection against the creation and sharing of intimate images without consent. This honours the commitment given in the Commons by the Hon. Member for South East Cambridgeshire during the passage of the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019.

In parallel with this, the Law Commission will review the current communications offences (including section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 and section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988) to establish whether the law is fit for purpose, and make specific recommendations about options for reform in this area. Alongside this, the Law Commission will also consider whether co-ordinated harassment by groups of people online could be more effectively dealt with by the criminal law.

The two strands will be concluded in a joint report, due to be published in Spring/Summer 2021.

A copy of this statement will be placed in the libraries of both houses."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1659
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 25 June 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

Council Decision on the position to be taken, on behalf of the EU, on the EU’s participation as an observer at Meetings of the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO)

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

"The Government has not opted in to the adoption and application of the Council Decision on the position to be taken, on behalf of the EU, on the EU’s participation as an observer at the Meetings of the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO).

GRECO is a body set up by the Council of Europe (CoE) to monitor compliance with CoE Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and the Civil Law Convention on Corruption. The EU’s participation in GRECO has been a priority for cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe. We are supportive of the EU gaining observer status and attending the June meeting.

The UK and Ireland have a special position under Protocol 21 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union in relation to JHA measures and have three months from the date of the publication of a legislative proposal to decide whether we want to participate in the measure. The JHA Opt-in applies in this case because one of the legal bases of the proposed decision is Article 83 TFEU, relating to criminal justice cooperation in relation to serious crimes (including corruption).

The Commission proposal was published on 6 June and adopted at Council on 18 June, to enable the EU to attend the GRECO Plenary on 17-21 June 2019 as an observer.

The Government did not therefore have the three month period allowed for in Protocol (No. 21) to the EU Treaties to decide whether to opt in to the proposal. The UK is not therefore bound by this Council Decision. The Government judges that in this particular case there is no practical effect of not being bound as the Decision pertains to the EU’s participation as an observer in GRECO. The UK tabled a statement at Council expressing regret at not having the three month period allowed for under the EU Treaties to reach this decision. Additionally, the UK underlined that the Council Decision had not gone through Parliamentary scrutiny processes and that the procedure should not constitute a precedent for similar decisions."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1653
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 18 June 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Lords Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice)
Lords

The importance of strengthening female offenders’ family and other relationships to prevent reoffending and reduce intergenerational crime

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

"Today, I am publishing the Farmer Review, which was commissioned as part of our Female Offender Strategy in June 2018.

This work builds on Lord Farmer’s 2017 review of family ties for male prisoners, which concluded that good relationships are vital to reducing reoffending. For women, relationships are the most significant factor to impact directly on the likelihood of reoffending. More so than men, women in the justice system are in relationships that are abusive and/or criminogenic, and therefore supporting female offenders to strengthen and develop relationships is not straight forward.

We also know that women are more likely to be primary carers than men when entering the criminal justice system. Whereas children of male prisoners will often remain at home with their mother, children frequently have to leave their home when mothers go into custody. This tells us that incarceration of women disproportionately impacts families and children, and could increase the risk of intergenerational offending.

This is why I am immensely grateful to Lord Farmer for undertaking this important review. Building on his original review, this review looks at his earlier recommendations through the lens of the needs of female offenders, including the distinct complexities in their relationships.

The Farmer Review for Women investigates how supporting female offenders to engage with their families can lower recidivism, aid rehabilitation and assist in addressing the issues of intergenerational crime. It does this by looking across the whole system – not just within prison – following the vision of our strategy to support women and improve outcomes for them at all points of the justice system.

The review finds that there is a lack of information on the personal circumstances of women, including of dependent children, which poses a fundamental barrier to supporting women to maintain those relationships. It draws practical proposals to help women communicate better with their family and dependents when at court and in custody, as well as proposing how prisons can better facilitate more frequent, safe, and private family visits.

In line with our strategy, the review represents a preference for women to be managed, and to manage their own relationships safely in the community, where possible.

The review can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/farmer-review-for-women

I am pleased to welcome this report and to share with you my commitment to take forward this important area of work. We will look closely at the findings and recommendations from Lord Farmer’s review for Women and how we can best give effect to these in both the short and longer term.

In doing so, my department will build on the good work we have been taking forward following Lord Farmer’s original review. My officials will also work closely with other agencies, partners and Government departments to ensure the importance of strengthening family and relational ties for female offenders and their children is reflected across the criminal justice system."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1631
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 13 June 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 final Justice and Home Affairs Council of the Romanian EU Presidency recently took place in Luxembourg. I attended on 6th June for Justice Day, and Sir Tim Barrow, Permanent Representative of the UK to the EU, and Chris Jones, Director of the Europe Directorate at the Home Office, attended on Interior Day on 7th June.

Justice Day began with a discussion on the Regulation on the Assignment of Claims, which has far-reaching implications for financial markets, including the ability of small businesses to access credit. It was agreed that work in this area will need to continue under the Finnish Presidency. The Council then discussed digitalisation of judicial cooperation, where the Presidency considered the UK’s position that a thorough cost benefit analysis was needed before proceeding, along with plenty of time for Member States to implement this measure effectively. In general, however, Member States supported a mandatory and de-centralised approach to digitalisation in the interests of speed and efficiency of justice systems.

Ministers then discussed the future direction of substantive criminal law co-operation. Member States were clear that implementation of existing criminal law measures should be prioritised before considering new legislation and a thorough analysis of the benefits of these measures would be needed before further harmonisation. Nonetheless, momentum began to form around the harmonisation of criminal law on environmental crime, identity theft, and manipulation of elections.

After a working lunch discussing the use of judicial training to foster mutual trust, there was a policy debate on mutual recognition in criminal matters. Discussions focused on facilitating the practical application of existing legal instruments, including by means of judicial training, rather than on new legislative proposals. The Commission stressed the importance of fundamental rights, and an independent judiciary to enable mutual recognition tools, like the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), to operate. The UK underlined our commitment to continued co-operation in this field and several Members States supported the idea of common guidelines on this. Some advocated EU legislation on the transfer of criminal proceedings to close loopholes, particularly where suspected criminals cannot (for whatever reason) be surrendered under the EAW.

The Council then adopted mandates for negotiations with the United States, and in the Council of Europe (Budapest Convention), on cross-border access to e-evidence. The Commission noted its intention to insist that the United States agree to an EU wide approach which would apply to all Member States without discrimination, including at the EU-US Ministerial meeting in Bucharest later this month. Formal negotiations will not begin until finalisation of internal EU legislation on e-evidence. The UK has not opted into either the internal EU legislation on e-evidence, or the mandates for negotiations with the US, and in the Council of Europe, and will not be bound by those mandates.

Council adopted Conclusions which encourage Eurojust and the networks established in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters to further develop the coordination and synergies between them. The UK supported these Conclusions as we support the work of Eurojust, and agrees that better coordination between networks hosted by Eurojust would be helpful for criminal justice cooperation.

The Council also adopted Conclusions on the retention of data for the purpose of fighting crime, which proposed further exploration of options for lawful regimes in Member States. The UK believes the appropriate retention of telecommunications data for law enforcement purposes is an important element of an effective law enforcement system and supported these Conclusions. The Commission provided an update on the planned preparatory steps to make the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) operational by the end of 2020. The UK has not opted into EPPO.

The Council adopted an Implementing Decision confirming that the UK could connect to the Prüm automated system for exchanging DNA data between law enforcement authorities in EU Member States.

Interior Day began with a discussion on the future of EU law enforcement. Ministers agreed that further co-operation on approaches to law enforcement would make for more effective cross-border law enforcement. The Council supported effective implementation of existing legislation, especially interoperability of databases, and recognised the need to address the impacts of technological advancements on law enforcement, supporting Europol’s role in pooling expertise and providing technological and analytical support. The UK Permanent Representative to the EU intervened to support this work and welcome the intent to work together, co-ordinate methods and approaches and support the proposal for a Europol innovation hub. In this context, the UK intervention additionally highlighted UK work to tackle online harms through the UK White Paper.

Under AOB, the Council CT Co-ordinator (Gilles de Kerchove) presented on the implications on law enforcement of the move to 5G. The CT Co-ordinator focused on the need for the EU to influence 5G standards, to ensure a dialogue with service providers on this issue, and to consider EU legislation to avoid fragmentation of Member State approaches. The Commissioner for the Security Union (Sir Julian King) noted the Commission’s intent to develop an EU risk assessment and toolbox of options to mitigate risks by the end of 2019.

The Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Group, a non-EU grouping of European States intelligence agencies, attended to update the JHA Council on the general terrorist threat and the challenges and opportunities from new tools and technologies. The CTG Chair also updated on discussions on co-operation with Europol on strategic and technical issues, noting that operational intelligence work remained the sole responsibility of Member States.

Over lunch and in the afternoon session, Ministers discussed migration, with a focus on issues of solidarity and redistribution of migrants. Member States remain split on the EU’s approach to these issues. The UK intervention focused on our extensive support upstream which ranges from tackling organised immigration crime and the use of strategic communications to building partnerships and capability with source and transit countries to jointly address the drivers of migration.

The Council agreed a partial General Approach on the draft Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (recast), with the exception of Article 22 on the Border procedure and the related recitals. The UK has not opted into this measure.

The Council also agreed partial General Approaches on draft regulations establishing the Integrated Border Management fund, establishing the Asylum and Migration Fund, and establishing the Internal Security Fund. These are subject to wider negotiations on the overall Multi-Annual Financial Framework. The UK will not participate in any of these funds."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1626
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 13 June 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill

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 announce that the Government is today introducing in the House of Commons the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill. This legislation follows the Government’s response to the consultation on reform of the legal requirements for divorce in England and Wales. I previously laid this response before Parliament [Official Report, 9 April 2019 vol 658 c8WS].

Marriage and family have long been vitally important to our functioning as a society. Where a marriage or civil partnership regrettably breaks down and is beyond repair, the law must deal with that reality with the minimum of acrimony by creating the conditions for people to move forward and agree arrangements for the future in an orderly and constructive way. Above all, the legal process should not exacerbate conflict between parents, as this is especially damaging for children. The process must better support and encourage parents to cooperate in bringing up their children.

The evidence is clear that the current legal requirements can needlessly rake up the past to justify the legal ending of a relationship that is no longer a beneficial and functioning one. The requirement for one person to blame the other – if it is not practical for them to have separated for at least two years – can introduce or worsen conflict at the outset of the process, conflict that may continue long after the legal process has concluded. Allegations about a spouse’s conduct may bear no relation to the real cause of the breakdown. Such allegations do not serve the interests of society or help family relationships to heal. Instead, they can be damaging to any prospects for couples to reconcile or to agree practical arrangements for the future. In the extremely difficult circumstances of divorce, the law should allow couples, where reconciliation is not possible, to move on constructively.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will change or remove conflict flashpoints. It will align the law with the non-confrontational approach that Parliament has enacted in other areas of family law. Among its measures, the Bill will replace the requirement to prove spousal conduct or that the couple have been separated for at least two years with the requirement to file a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership. It will introduce a new minimum period of twenty weeks between the start of proceedings and confirmation to the court that the conditional order should be made. This will make the period before the conditional order is granted longer for most people, and so allow better opportunity for reflecting on the decision to divorce and, where this is inevitable, agreeing practical arrangements for the future.

This is an important piece of legislation that will bring long overdue reform. It is not about making the decision to divorce or to dissolve a civil partnership easier. That will remain one of the hardest decisions anyone can take. It is about reforming those elements of the current legal process that can exacerbate conflict and cause unnecessary distress at an already difficult time, and better supporting agreement about arrangements for the future. I know that Honourable and Right Honourable Members will take great interest in this opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of the many families who sadly find themselves affected by breakdown. My Ministerial colleagues and I look forward to working with them through the passage of the Bill."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1621
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 13 June 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Ministry of Justice spokesperson)
Lords

Media Matters

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

My Department has today written to Lebedev Holdings Limited (LHL) and Independent Digital News and Media Limited (IDNM), the owners of the Evening Standard and the Independent, to inform them that I am ‘minded to’ issue an Intervention Notice. This relates to concerns I have that there may be public interest considerations - as set out in section 58 of Enterprise Act 2002 - that are relevant to the recent acquisition of a 30% stake by the International Media Company (IMC) in LHL and the linked transaction involving the acquisition of a 30% stake by Scalable LP in IDNM and that these concerns warrant further investigation.

A ‘minded to’ letter has therefore been issued to the parties on one public interest ground specified in section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002:

(2A) The need for (a) accurate presentation of news; and (b) free expression of opinion.

It is important to note that I have not taken a final decision on intervention at this stage. In line with the statutory guidance on media mergers, the ‘minded to’ letter invites further representations in writing from the parties and gives them until 5pm on Monday 17 June to respond. I plan to make my final decision, which needs to be made on a quasi judicial basis, on whether to issue an Intervention Notice no later than week commencing 24 June.

If I decide to issue an Intervention Notice, the next stage would be for Ofcom to assess and report to me on the public interest concerns and for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to assess and report to me on whether a relevant merger situation has been created and any impact this may have on competition. Following these reports, I would need to decide whether to refer the matter for a more detailed investigation by the CMA under section 45 of the Enterprise Act 2002.

In view of the time it has taken to obtain sufficient information to reach this point I have asked the parties to agree to extend the statutory time limit to allow Ofcom and the Competitions and Markets Authority to report to me on the public interest issues raised by the transaction.

I will keep Parliament updated on progress with this media merger case.

WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 05 June 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson )
Lords

Justice and Home Affairs pre-Council statement

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

"The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers will meet on 6th and 7th of June in Luxembourg. I will represent the UK for Justice Day. Sir Tim Barrow, Permanent Representative of the UK to the EU and Chris Jones, Director of the Europe Directorate at the Home Office, will represent the UK for Interior day.

Justice Day on 6th June will begin with a progress report on the proposal on the third-party effects of assignment of claims, which is currently being negotiated in Council working groups. The UK has opted out of this proposal but continues to input to ensure that the legislation does not create any unintended disruption to current financial market practice.

There will then be a policy debate about the use of IT in the proposals to amend the Service and Taking of Evidence Regulations. Member States have been divided on the extent to which the processes in each should be digitised. Subject to further considerations about costs, Ministers will be asked whether a mandatory IT system should be introduced and, if so, whether it should be a centralised system or one that is decentralised and based on the existing systems in each Member State, and what preferences they have for the type of software that should be used. The UK opted in to the proposal on the Service Regulation but not the proposal on the Taking of Evidence Regulation.

The Council will then discuss non-legislative activities. First, a policy debate on the future of EU substantive criminal law, which follows a survey of Member States seeking views on the use of substantive law in future EU proposals. Given it looks to future legislative activity, after UK Exit, the UK does not seek to direct the conclusions so I will not intervene.

During the working lunch, I will discuss with other Ministers the use of judicial training to foster mutual trust and exchange views on ways to enhance the understanding, confidence and cooperation between judges and prosecutors within EU Member States.

After lunch there will be a policy debate on the way forward in the field of mutual recognition in criminal matters. The aim of this debate is to identify matters which may help or hinder more effective mutual recognition, looking in particular at lessons that may be learned from recent CJEU caselaw and views put forward by Member States. In so far as this looks to future legislative activity, the UK does not seek to direct this project since it would be realised after UK Exit. The UK is, however, supportive of this work since we aim to be a cooperative partner following UK Exit, and as a Member State, have experience to offer to the project. I will therefore indicate that the UK will provide its general support and offer assistance.

The Presidency will then put Council Conclusions which encourage Eurojust and the networks established in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters to further develop the coordination and synergies between them, to Ministers for adoption. The UK supports the work of Eurojust, and agrees that better coordination between networks hosted by Eurojust would be helpful for criminal justice cooperation.

The Commission will provide an update on the planned preparatory steps to make the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) operational by the end of 2020. The UK has not opted into EPPO.

The Presidency will put the Council Decisions relating to the opening of negotiations for EU-US agreement on cross-border access to e-evidence, and authorising the participation in the negotiations on a second additional protocol to the Budapest Convention, to ministers for adoption. Whilst the UK supports the overall aim of enhanced international cooperation on e-evidence and its use in preventing and tackling harms to public security, it has not opted into these Council Decisions.

Finally, Ministers will adopt the retention of data for the purpose of fighting crime. The agenda item relates to efforts to overcome the challenges of ECJ judgments relating to communications data regimes. The UK supports comprehensively exploring options for lawful regimes in Member States, although shares some concerns to an EU-wide legislative solution. The UK has not opted into the relevant measure(s) but this is of interest in the ongoing UK-US CLOUD Act negotiations.

Lithuania will then provide information on Actions Against Judges and Prosecutors. Lithuania are seeking cooperation against any possible Interpol alerts launched by Russia to locate or arrest Lithuanian officials involved in a Lithuanian court against former Soviet military officials found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 1991. I will highlight that the UK considers very seriously any misuse of INTERPOL notices and is committed to ensuring that international norms and codes are upheld.

Interior day will take place on Friday 7 June. Sir Tim Barrow, Permanent Representative of the UK to the EU and Chris Jones, Director of the Europe Directorate at the Home Office, will represent the UK for Interior day.

The Council will hold a policy debate on the future of EU law enforcement, and in particular the need for an integrated approach to policing, interagency cooperation and further development of EU policing solutions. The UK supports the concept of an integrated approach to security, accompanied by the development of EU policing solutions which respond to changing threat landscapes and evolving technologies.

The EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator will then present on the implications of 5G for law enforcement work. The UK supports discussion at EU-level on this issue, and further thinking on the nature and extent of the challenges posed by this emerging technology.

The Council will then receive an update on co-operation between competent authorities dealing with counter-terrorism. The Presidency will update on work being undertaken to explore practical ways on how to cooperate. The UK supports such co-operation where this adds value over existing exchanges between law enforcement authorities and Europol.

Over lunch, Ministers will undertake an exchange of views with representatives of the UNHCR and the IOM on the challenges ahead on migration and asylum. Following the rise in migrant arrivals across the Central Mediterranean, the discussion will return to seeking sustainable solutions on disembarkation and strengthening the response upstream. The UK intervention will focus on our extensive support upstream which ranges from tackling organised immigration crime and the use of strategic communications to building partnerships and capability with source and transit countries to jointly address the drivers of migration.

The Presidency will seek to reach a General Approach on the draft Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (recast), with the exception of Article 22 on the Border procedure and the related recitals. The UK has not opted into this measure and will not intervene.

The Presidency will also seek partial General Approaches on draft Regulations establishing the Integrated Border Management fund, establishing the Asylum and Migration Fund, and establishing the Internal Security Fund. These are subject to wider negotiations on the overall Multi-Annual Financial Framework. The UK will not participate in any of these funds, and will not intervene."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1600
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 05 June 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Judicial Update

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

"Today I am pleased to publish the Government’s Response to the Senior Salaries Review Body’s (SSRB) Major Review of the judicial salary structure.

Our world-class independent judiciary is a pillar of our democracy and plays a unique role in ensuring our freedoms and prosperity. Every day judges take decisions on critically important issues that directly impact on people’s lives – from trying serious crimes, to deciding care arrangements for vulnerable children.

High Court, Circuit and Upper Tribunal judges in particular play a pivotal role in our justice system. They preside over the most difficult and sensitive family cases and criminal trials, often involving horrific and distressing evidence; resolve the most valuable and legally complex civil disputes; and ensure that the government behaves in a lawful and fair manner.

The importance and influence of our judiciary also reaches beyond our shores. Its reputation for integrity and impartiality helps attract international business to the UK, contributing to a legal services industry worth around £25 billion a year to our economy.

These important judicial roles require highly experienced legal professionals with many years of training and experience behind them. It is imperative that we continue to attract the highest calibre candidates to take up these critical posts.

The SSRB’s major review, which was presented to this House on 26 October 2018, identified clear evidence of severe recruitment and retention issues in the High Court, and of growing problems at the Circuit bench and similar issues in the Upper Tribunal.

For the first time ever, in consecutive recruitment campaigns, we have now failed to fill vacancies in the High Court and at the Circuit bench. Currently more than 10% of High Court judicial positions remain unfilled and, as things stand, the Chancery Division of the High Court, which handles major commercial cases, is already 20% below strength and will be up to 40% below strength by the end of the year without urgent action. The impact of vacancies is already being felt in the family courts, where a shortfall of judges is contributing to significant delays in care proceedings, which involve vulnerable children.

If these recruitment and retention issues are not addressed, cases will take longer to progress through our courts and tribunals, victims of crime will have to wait longer for justice, and vulnerable people and children will be left at risk. If we are unable to fill the growing number of vacancies with judges of the right quality, delays in our courts could also mean business is lost to other English-speaking courts in Singapore, Amsterdam, Paris and elsewhere.

This Government is committed to delivering world class public services and taking action when the evidence requires it to ensure their continued delivery. That is why today I am announcing a series of policies to support recruitment and retention in the judiciary, to ensure our courts and tribunals system can continue to deliver important services.

The Government is committed to addressing the underlying cause of the recruitment and retention problems. However, it would not be sensible to make pension changes when the McCloud litigation, which could have a significant but uncertain impact on public service pensions, is ongoing. Once that litigation has concluded, the government will bring forward legislation for a long-term, pensions-based solution for the whole judiciary.

However, there is now a need for immediate action – which is why today I am announcing the introduction of a temporary recruitment and retention allowance at 25% for salaried High Court judges, and 15% for Circuit and Upper Tribunal judges covered by the new pension scheme.

This measure will affect only about a quarter of the salaried judiciary and aims to resolve the immediate recruitment issue until a long-term, sustainable, pension-based solution can be implemented for all judges.

It replaces the existing allowance of 11% for High Court judges, and is lower than the SSRB’s recommendation of a 32% permanent salary increase for High Court judges and a 22% increase for Circuit and Upper Tribunal judges covered by the new pension scheme, striking a balance between an appropriate investment of public funds and addressing serious recruitment and retention problems.

We recognise that the SSRB also pointed to emerging recruitment issues at the District bench and, while the evidence of a problem is not currently strong enough to necessitate immediate action at this tier of the judiciary, we are committed to addressing the underlying cause of the recruitment and retention problems highlighted by the SSRB through a long-term solution for the whole judiciary, which will include pension scheme changes.

The Government will also be making an annual pay award for 2019/20 of 2% for all judges, which will be backdated to 1 April 2019. In addition, we will ensure that judges are placed in the correct salary groupings based on the evidence provided by the SSRB and their independent job comparison panel. Salary group changes will come into effect at the start of the legal year, 1 October 2019.

Similarly the Government will consult on measures designed to address pension tax disincentives that may encourage senior clinicians to limit or reduce their workloads while participating in the NHS Pension Scheme.

In addition, the Government fully endorses the work that the Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of Tribunals are leading to strengthen leadership and support career development in a modern and professional judiciary.

This includes taking practical steps by encouraging and supporting eligible candidates from under-represented groups successfully to apply for judicial office; supporting career progression for existing judges; growing leadership capability within the judiciary by implementing appraisals and career discussions; developing new training for leadership judges; and giving leadership judges the data and tools they need to drive performance in the system.

This Government is committed to delivering world class public services and taking action when the evidence requires it to ensure their continued delivery. That is why today I am announcing a package of measures which strikes the right balance between the importance of ensuring we can recruit and retain world-class judges for the future and the necessary investment of public funds.

A copy of the Government Response to the SSRB’s Major Review has been laid in both Houses and will be available online at www.gov.uk."

WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 04 June 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Refreshed Memorandum of Understanding for justice devolution with Greater Manchester

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

"On 31 May my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice Edward Argar signed a refreshed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for justice devolution with Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

This agreement replaces the current MoU, published in July 2016. It details the priority areas for the delivery of justice outcomes within GMCA. The commitments agreed between the Department (Ministry of Justice) and GMCA build on the previous agreement, recognise new challenges, and identify new opportunities for developing a broader, more integrated approach which improves outcomes and experiences for victims, witnesses, and offenders, as well as the communities and neighbourhoods in which they live.

The aim of the MoU is to increase local influence and improve partnership working to increase efficiencies and reduce reoffending. Delivery will take place within the context of the whole system approach to public services which is advocated by GMCA. The MoU fits with the Government’s priority to reduce reoffending and our 2017 Manifesto commitment to further enhance the role of Police and Crime Commissioners.

The areas covered in this refreshed MoU are Youth Justice, Smarter Justice, Adult Offender Management and The Victim’s Journey. In summary:

Youth Justice

With the aim of targeting resources where they can be most effective, the MoU focuses on adopting a preventative, problem solving approach which puts the people in the right service at the right time. This includes establishing a local consortium to focus on resettlement from custody and prioritising specified cohorts in youth justice policy initiatives, including data sharing. The focus of this section aligns with the Youth Justice Board (YJB) national standards which were published earlier this year.

Smarter Justice

We will work towards greater family involvement to support compliance with regular judicial supervision. Along with GMCA we will develop inter-agency planning to increase confidence in community sentences and ensure pre-sentence reports identify vulnerable cohorts. There will also be work carried out to help identify where family centred principles are best integrated at different points in the system.

Reforming Adult Offender Management

We want to optimise the opportunities created through the new probation model to improve delivery within the context of Greater Manchester’s unified approach to public services. This will include a programme of work to support increased viability of community disposals and to co-design approaches to delivery of probation services that support place-based integration. We will also explore co-commissioning options through the Greater Manchester Reform Investment Fund.

The Victim’s Journey

We will work with GMCA as they seek to improve services for victims to provide a seamless service by using innovative approaches, including digital pathways, jointly evaluating the effectiveness of nationally commissioned services for victims, agreeing a programme to develop stronger links and ways of working at local level for the benefit of witnesses in GM and working to understand the impact of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme on Victims of Terrorism.

This summary covers the main commitments of the MoU. It is available in full at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/moj-gmca-memorandum-of-understanding-for-justice-devolution. Work will begin now to ensure we jointly deliver these commitments."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1591
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
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