Live Justice Questions House of Commons

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Live Justice Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to the justice secretary David Lidington and his ministerial team.

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Tuesday the 12th of September. Tuesday the 12th of September.


Order! Questions of equal -- to the Minister of State for justice. The


legal aid agency regularly reviews the legal aid markets to review the


demand and takes action where a regional shortfall develops. I also


looked to -- look more widely at access to legal aid as part of a


package of limitation review on which I have to say more shortly.


The Children's Society 's latest report found that in Yorkshire we


have seen a 56% drop in the availability of free in every --


immigration advice between 2010 and 2016. Given the huge vulnerabilities


of young children, will the Secretary of State commit to


consider these children in the upcoming review of the legal aid


punishment of offenders act. There will certainly be the opportunity


for representation to be made and consideration to be given for that


sort of change. While the most recent legislation did indeed


exclude non-asylum immigration matters, much family law, including


cases involving vulnerable children who might be taken into local


authority care, asked two cases where legal aid is available.


Whilst it is undoubtedly true that there are fewer people having access


to legal aid now than before the reforms, it is also true that lots


of people are entitled to legal aid are not getting it. What can the


Justice Secretary do to make sure that these people get the access to


justice that they require? If therapy Buddle believe that they are


entitled to legal aid -- if there are people who believe they are


entitled to legal aid, I urge them to apply to the relevant authorities


and one of the legal aid providers -- advice providers. Even after the


exclusion of certain categories, legal aid expenditure last year


still amounted to ?1.6 billion, nearly a quarter of my department's


entire expenditure. Does the Minister believe that the


greater number of people having to represent themselves in court is


helping justice to be done in this country?


I think that what is important is both that we do manage legal aid in


a way that directs what are finite taxpayers resources to those cases


where there is greatest need, but we also look actively for ways to


simplify access to justice, including through the use of digital


technologies so that people do not feel they need always to have that


kind of professional representation. Barely one third of immigration


detainees at me that -- know that they are entitled to 30 minutes of


representation. Given the horror show we saw on last my's panorama,


will the Minister assure that all D10 you get access to the legal aid


they require? As the honourable gentleman knows,


the centre that was the subject of last my's programme is accountable


to the Home Office. I know that Mike honourable friend was concerned that


action has been taken. On the broader point, legal aid is


available for asylum cases, stale. And I would certainly hope that the


appropriate measures are taken in every relevant establishment for


those rights to be brought to the attention of anybody who is detained


who might qualify. Could I press the secretary of state


on a date for publication of the legal aid review and can I ask him


how many people that have been denied legal aid, the government has


heard from? I would hope to be able to give Parliament details in the


relatively near future. I am conscious that this is work that has


been able to make an announcement been able to make an announcement


on. Matters like the general election have intervened. I want to


press ahead with this as soon as the will. Following the Supreme Court


judgment at the end of July on employment tribunal fees, we


immediately stop charging them. We are putting in place arrangements to


refund those who have paid in the past and we will be announcing the


practical details arrangement shortly.


I have been contacted by constituents who have a burden


placed upon them and going through and employment tribunals case which


they won. Will the Minister ensure that those entitled to claim are


made aware of the process and reunited with their money in a


timely fashion? I thank the honourable member for


that question. It can be an ordeal to go to the employment tribunal or


any tribunal. Which is why I pay tribute to the work of ACAS. We will


set out the practical arrangements for the reimbursement of fees and


make sure that all the points for through before we do that. It is no


pleasure to say that a number of the criticisms of the development of


this policy were foreshadowed in the justice committee's report in the


last session. As well as very wacky and promptly acting to reimburse


fees, worldly -- as very brightly and promptly acting to reimburse


fees, will the Minister make sure that they're rather better means of


increment in this policy will so we do not end up in this position


again? We will certainly be considering further his committee's


report. The former chair of the Select Committee... In due course.


We will look at that. The cost of the employment tribunals was ?16


million, only ?8 million from fees, the rest from taxpayers. So the


balance of requiring some contribution from those who use the


justice system and the taxpayers is inherently different. We recognise


we got the balance wrong and blending those fees and we are


looking at the practical arrangements to reimburse money.


In the light of the court ruling and the report of the Select Committee,


was the decision to introduce fees in the first place a mistake? We


certainly access the Supreme Court ruling. We think we got the balance


wrong. -- we certainly access to. We will learn the lessons from the


future. Another Select Committee also called for changes because they


affect pregnant women and new mums who have experience in Midland


increases into commendation in the last ten years. Within minutes to


look at the other part of the recommendation which is introduce


the -- increase the time limit for pregnant mothers and new mums to


bring cases to court? Will certainly look into all aspects of all the


various Select Committee reports. May I start by welcoming the


Minister to this place. The Supreme Court ruled that the secondary


legislation which brought in the employment tribunal fees interfered


with access to justice and employment rights. Does the Minister


accessed that the Supreme Court's judgment demonstrates that


fundamental rights like the quality and access to justice should not be


changed or underlined by secondary legislation which receives little or


no Parliamentary scrutiny? The honourable lady makes a point in a


powerful way. The Supreme Court also recognised that fees can have a role


to play and they helped secure justice by making the necessary


resources are available. We recognise we got the balance wrong


which is why we have taken immediate action to end the fees and we will


be coming up with the practical arrangements to reimburse. In 2015,


the Scottish Government said that as soon as the power to do so is


devolved, they would abolish tribunal fees. Does he accept that


the Scottish Government choosing to do it voluntarily as opposed to the


UK Government doing it after being forced, show that the case for


devolving employment rights is strong? Obviously, we fully in


favour of the principle of devolution. A whole range of justice


matters been devolved. In the Supreme Court, Baroness Hale was


very concerned about meritorious claims being put off by the fees but


you also acknowledge that there are meritorious claims and those do the


damage to relations in the workplace. Woody Minister consider


looking at any fairer ways of sifting out on meritorious claims


such as the suggestion of having a sift before the application was made


into a full case? My honourable friend makes a strong point. It is


something we can look at. It fully, I think it is fair to say that we


got the balance wrong on the specific issue of fees. One of the


strong elements that we are looking to reinforce is the role of ACAS.


And we have seen a conciliation and the cases referred to it has had a


strong impact in reducing cases that need to go to the employment


tribunal. I wrote to the Secretary of State in


July calling on him to issue a full and unequivocal apology to working


people for unlawfully blocking their access to justice through employment


tribunal fees. I received this wholly inadequate response last


week. Will the Minister apologised today for the suffering this policy


has caused to hundreds of thousands of working people? We admitted and


we concede we got the balance wrong. I'm very sorry, I'm happy to say.


For any frustration or any delete 's impact this has on anyone. That's


why we acting quickly to end the charges and ensure there are


practical arrangements for the reimbursement for anyone affected by


those fees. The government is investing 1.9 billion to transform


ability to respond to cybercrime. I'm committed to making sure victims


get the support they need to cope with and as far as possible recover


from the effects of crime. The national cyber Security Centre is


part of GCHQ which the Foreign Commonwealth Office has ministerial


responsibility for. Given that its government policy that victim


support is to be commissioned locally by each individual PCC, is


the Minister content there is sufficient resource for victim


support, and given the year-on-year increase in cybercrime, with the


Minister not agree that considering national and international nature of


cybercriminals, that a single national approach to victim support


would act as a better deterrent and a better support structure for


victims rather than allowing criminals to cherry pick among the


43 police forces? As I made clear in my original response, cyber security


doesn't sit with this department. The cyber security policy sits with


the Cabinet Office. With reference to victim support funding, it's gone


up 51,000,020 10-11. I'm pleased to announce it goes up to 96,000,020


17-18. Most of it is spent through PCCs. As crime changes and the focus


on cybercrime grows, what assurances can the Minister give us that the


police budget will match this changed focus and we will not see a


loss of bobbies on the beat as resources are inevitably shifted?


Unfortunately I am not a Minister of the Home Office so I can't respond


in detail to that question. I would encourage the honourable member to


write to the relevant Minister. Can I ask the Minister, when will we see


the draft of the evictee this bill which was committed to by the


government and Her Majesty'sopposition? I thank my


right honourable friend for the question. We are committed to the


victims Bill in legislation in the last manifesto. We are up against it


in terms of parliamentary time, as my honourable friend I'm sure


understands. But work continues with regards to the legislation required,


most likely to underpin the victims code. Does the Minister recognise


how vital international cooperation is in tackling cybercrime? I hope he


is aware of the excellent work done by Europol, for example, the UK


sending more than 400,000 malware files to the Europol service since


it was founded two years ago. Has the government decided whether the


UK will stay part of that EU mechanism to fight cybercrime? I


hate to repeat myself, but the two policy areas the right honourable


gentleman refers to do not sit with the Justice Department. Cyber


security sits with the Cabinet Office and membership of Europol


sits with the Home Office. Child sexual abuse is abhorrent. The


taxpayer funded criminal injuries scheme provides an important avenue


of redress for victims. The criminal injuries compensation authority


administers the scheme and decides all claims individually,


independently of ministers and Parliament. I thank the Minister for


that. Will he commits to updating the guidance in three specific


areas? First, children cannot be complicit in their own abuse.


Second, children, as part of the grooming process, children are


coerced into carrying out criminal activities. And third, looking at


giving compensation to family members of victims. I'm happy to


look further at all of those three issues. I can say that following


some of the concerns expressed earlier this year, it's been decided


to mount an urgent re-examination of their own internal guidelines, in


particular to make sure there is no risk that a child could be


disqualified from compensation because they had been groomed.


Groomed into giving consent when that consent had in effect been


forced from them by a subtle process of grooming. The Department is also


concerned about concerns raised about how the rules of the scheme or


generally work in cases of child sexual abuse. We are talking to


organisations like Barnardos and victim support in detail about those


concerns and the reforms they propose in order to deal with them.


If it's a criminal offence to have sex with a child, how is such an


offence anything but a crime of violence? To say child victims


cannot receive compensation for their abuse is simply victim


blaming. The definition of a crime of violence was last reviewed five


years ago. When will this be reassessed to Insua sexually abuse


children are not denied compensation? -- to ensure. We are


discussing with various charities to discuss the concerns they bring.


There is a decision between consent in law and consent in fact. This is


something that has been written into the law since it was first


introduced, I believe, by the previous Labour government that


administered it in their time in office. Its purpose was to ensure we


did not end up in a situation where, for example, two 15-year-olds are


engaging in sexual intercourse automatically lead to a claim for


compensation. It would be left to the authority to look at the facts


of the case. I am very willing to look at the guidance that it applies


to individual cases. But I don't think we should lose sight that


there was a reasonable motive behind the law as it was originally


drafted. Nobody denies the absolute right and need for victims to claim


compensation, but with the Secretary of State not agree with me, there


may be occasions, for example in the grave allegations made against the


late Edward Heath, that the informant is incentivised some way


by bringing forward the accusation. Shouldn't the compensation be made


after the outcome of the case is known. The way the scheme operates,


it provides compensation for people who are victims of crime. All of us


as constituency members can think of cases where somebody has been


perhaps the victim of an assault but it has be impossible to successfully


prosecute the person or people responsible. And therefore that


direct linked to a conviction is not there in the scheme. Where there is


evidence compensation has been sought fraudulently, then the


authority ought to seek the necessary legal action in order to


recover those funds. Question number five, Mr Speaker. With permission,


Mr Speaker, I will group questioned five question 16. Education and


employment opportunities are crucial to help offenders turn around their


lives. In line with our reforms, every prisoner will have a personal


learning plan linked to their sentence plan to make this reform.


We are giving governors control over education resources to fit prisoners


needs. Gardening and horticultural schemes to grow edible crops are


becoming increasingly incorporated into prison programmes and those in


remand up and down the country, giving offenders transferable


skills, offering future opportunities and encouraging self


confidence and quite often transferring unattractive yards into


green spaces. Can the Minister give an indication as to whether a formal


assessment has been made to any of these programmes with a view to


rolling out the best of the models even more widely? My honourable


friend is right. I remember visiting a prison in Daventry and seeing the


pride with which the prisoners were tending to their gardens. They spent


hours doing them up. She may be aware of the Royal Horticultural


Society Trophy awards, judged by an independent panel looking at the


best gardening schemes across the prison estate. If he doesn't mind I


would be delighted but her name forward as a judge in future.


Category D prisons often have the best examples of rehabilitation is


as they prepare to let their prisoners back into the community.


In my constituency a person has worked for the Council not only to


do rehabilitative work, preparing prisoners for work, but also saving


the taxpayer ?300,000. I wonder if the Minister agree with me that


other prisons in the sector can use from category D's rehabilitative


practice and whether he will come and see how well it can work. My


honourable friend has lighted on an important principle, worked in


prison is vital to preparing prisoners for life after release.


That is an excellent example which is why I'm supporting the new


futures network to develop relationships between employers,


governors and the world of work. I would be delighted to visit the


prison in due course. I have never heard of such complacency from the


government, the prisons service is a shambles. And at the heart of this


shambles is the lack of education, the lack of literacy, lack of


numerous sea, the lack of apprenticeships that should be, like


our Scandinavian brethren, be in every prison. When will you wake up?


My honourable friend has come back from his summer holiday with his


customary passion. I do agree with him that if prisons are going to


work properly we need to help give people the opportunity to turn


around their lives. Prison reform is important to this government. That's


why we are giving governors more control of their budgets. That's why


we are giving governors more freedom to actually implement the plans that


are necessary for offenders to turn their lives around. I share his


concern, I share his passion, and it's a priority for this government.


How will the personal learning plans, of which the Minister has


just spoken, operate when a prisoner is transferred from one prison to


another? What guarantees can he give that the education path the prisoner


has commenced upon can be continued in his new setting, or her new


setting, and there can be consistency offered right across the


prison estate? The honourable member points out a serious problem that


currently exists in the estate. Prisoners are transferred and can't


continue courses they had started. Some were on GCSE programmes and


couldn't finish them. We are looking at courses and a technology system


that allows them carry on whatever they are doing when they are


transferred from one prison to another so there is progress and


progression on all these courses. I completely agree with her, it's


something we are looking at. If Britain is to achieve anything, it


must change lies. The best chance to do that is to offer people both


education and assisted place to work on release. -- if prison is to


achieve anything. Given three fifths of prisoners leave prison without


any identified qualification or implement opportunities, can my


honourable friend assure these programmes are at the centre of the


prison system and how they are being adjusted for greater success? My


honourable friend is right. About 50% of prisoners have the reading


age of an 11-year-old and numerous sea skills of an 11-year-old. If we


are to give them a chance in life we have to sort out education and also


give employment skills that actually are valued in the workplace. That's


why prison reform, which was a heart of the White Paper the government


published last November is carrying on apace. The Chief inspectors of


prisons and probation recently issued a devastating report into the


government's flagship community rehabilitation companies which


stated, "And none of the prisoners had been helped into employment by


through the gate services". Will the Minister commit to an urgent review


that all of CRCs, including education and deployment services,


and will he guarantee no extra money will be passed on to these private


companies until it can be proven that they are fit for purpose?


The probation reforms that the previous comment rolled out help


fortify thousand offenders who have not been supervised because they


were being in prison for 12 months, they are now been supervised. There


are challenges with a first-generation outsourcing


programme. We have got an ongoing probation review, the first half is


completed. There were extra funds invested in the CRCs. But we are


still within the funding envelope that was decided at the start of


that programme. We are carrying on the review to make sure that through


the gate and other services are operating as originally envisaged.


With permission, I would like to answer this question together with


question 13. We have established a new extreme is an unit between HM


PPS and the Home Office to strengthen our our approach to the


threat of extremism in prisons. Front line staff in prison and the


probation service are being given the training skills and authority


needed to challenge extremist views and take action against them. The


first separation centre at HMP Frankland was opened in 2017 and the


first prisoners are now held there. The facilities will hold the most


extreme prisoners and protect the more vulnerable from the poisonous


ideology. I am grateful for that answer. Extremists target those


prisoners who they think will be most susceptible. But what impact


does he anticipate the removal of such individuals will have on the


prison population as a whole? The decision to proceed with the


separation centres was only taken after very careful thought and we


judged that the benefits to the general prison population and


particularly vulnerable and impressionable prisoners, would be


beneficial if we could take out of association with them those who pose


the greatest risk. Those who are going to be in separation centres


will be assessed by experts on a regular basis and they will only be


returned to the mainstream population in prison if it is agreed


that the effect that they will have is reduced.


Many young men start their journey towards radicalisation by seeking


out in prison the strong male role model that they lack in their lives


outside. What are the government doing to ensure there are better


role models in prison to guide them? My honourable friend makes a


valuable point which has resonance not just to do with penal policy but


also social policy. There are many charities and voluntary


organisations which, by example, by bringing sport into prisons are


helping to provide the adult male role models that he wants to see


more. In the context of extremism, it is also important to pay tribute


to the work of the Imam in the prison chaplaincy service who argue


from a basis of scholarship and expertise to rebut some of these


arguments. Figures from his own department show that there are 1000


prisoners who are radicalise all vulnerable to it. But when they


leave prison, such as the Westminster Terrace, they need to


the effectively monitored. -- the Westminster terrorist. Is there a


robust relationship between the police and prison authorities so


that when these people come out of prison, we no one they are -- we


know where they are and what they are doing? Our information is that


only one of those involved in the recent attacks in Manchester and


London have spent time in prison, dating back to 2003. There was no


evidence to suggest that that man had been radicalised in prison.


Clearly, we want to see the strongest possible joint work


between the police and the prison service and the probation service.


What we have at the moment is strong but there are always lessons that


can be learned and always improvements that can be sought and


we are committed not to be complacent and to continue with


vigilance and determination. In his initial answer, the Secretary


of State spoke of a new initiative. Can you tell us if that comes with


new money and if that is adequate? It is part of the duty of the prison


service to look after appropriately all those whom the court has sent


into custody. So we have found the money for the separation centres


from within existing Ministry of Justice budgets. And that, I


believe, is a sensible prioritisation of expenditure which


will bring about benefits to the management of the prison population


more generally by separating of those who pose a particular risk


from extremist ideology. We have a robust sentencing framework for all


crimes involving child sexual exploitation. The changes made to


the criminal and Courts act enhance the changes and make sure that


serious offenders are only released when it is safe to do so. I thank


the Minister for his reply. On the 1st of November this year, one


offender will be released from prison after receiving a sentence of


22 years. He will be released after five years. Legislation was passed


to make sure that most serious offenders could not be released


until they had served two thirds of their sentence and has satisfied the


parole board that they were not a risk. What can be done to ensure


that this legislation applies in this case? I am aware of this case


and the heinous crimes committed and the appalling effect on the victims.


The oval ball in the sentencing framework between 22 and 2015 means


that that type of sentence would not be passed now. I cannot intervene in


individual cases and changes to legislation to strengthen sentences


cannot be passed retrospectively. Bearing in mind that 70% of all


victims of sexual exportation were under 11, could the minister


outlined a perk -- which you deal with the aftermath of its flotation


in children possible path to adults would? I would be hammered to write


to the honourable member about the impact. One of the barriers to


prosecution in child sexual exportation cases is that too often


the victims are wrongly thought to be complicit in their own


exploitation. And can I say to him that that is the importance of the


issues that the member for rather just raise. There should be


absolutely no suggestion in any government guidelines that children


can be complicit in their own exploitation and that is why that


guidance from the prosecuting these silly change now. A powerful point.


Nobody wants to blame the day -- laid the blame at any victim,


especially not children. The criminal injuries scheme will be


looked at but that operates in a different context of the criminal


justice system. It can also apply when there has not been a criminal


conviction. Drones are raised serious threat to


order and stability in our prisons for the contraband that they are


used to smuggle. Our intelligence work tells us that much of this


activity is backed up by organised crime is gang which is why we have


invested in our intelligence teams and also a specialist unit between


the prison service and the police service to track down and plus cute


these offenders. In the last year, there have been 40 arrests, 11


convictions involving drone activity resulting in those individual


serving a total of 40 years in jail. With offenders likely to be


reconvicted if they are a known drug user, I wonder if my honourable


friend could tell the House how in relation to drugs, what work is


being done to take steps to tackle the supply of drugs into our prisons


by drones. -- by the use of drones. Drones are one way in which drugs


are smuggled into our prisons. We are looking at all the possible ways


that drugs could be smuggled in. In the case of new psychoactive


substances, paper can be impregnated with these drugs and it can be very


difficult to detect. But the way to do so is to get intelligence from


each establishment and also across different parts of the prison


service so that we can respond appropriately and we are investing


heavily in order to do so and combat the drug frog in prisons.


The escape in February of a convicted murderer serving a 30 year


sentence was linked to the dropping of a mobile phone into prison in


Liverpool by a drones so he conveys with villains outside to effect his


escape. So what steps is the minister taking to enhance and its


bar and the schemes already put in place to disrupt drones over prisons


and in passing, has he found the prisoner yet? My right honourable


friend who is a former prisons Minister is well aware that the job


of tracking down and arresting prisoners is a matter for the police


service. However, in response to the other part of his question, we are


looking at various types of technology to disrupt the flight of


drones into our prisons to deliver contraband.


Question number nine. In 2014, the government introduced requirement


for potential claimants to consider conciliation. The proceedings at the


employment tribunal. The number of cases going to conciliation


quadrupled, rising to 92,020 1520 16.


Sex and discrimination claims fell by 60% and others by 16%. In his


recent judgment, the Supreme Court made it clear that this affected


women disproportionately. What steps were taking to, say those people who


were denied access to justice because they couldn't afford to


pursue a claim in the first place? Of the honourable lady. She is right


to refer to the end of the fees and proposals for reimbursement. In


reference to potential claims which were not brought, anyone who wants


to bring a claim can submit to the Yvonne intervene to bring a case


outside the time limit. They will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


-- they can submit them to the tribunal.


I would like to group question ten in question 17. The government is


aware that by leaving the European Union will bring an end to the


jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom.


Scotland has its own distinct legal system. Brexit will impact directly


on this legal system and non-justice systems within Scotland and on a


range of devolved issues. Can the Minister confirm that this


distinction will be given serious consideration as the Brexit


negotiations progress? Yes, as Mr Speaker, and indeed, when I spoke to


the Mr Matheson last month, I emphasise to him that one of our key


objectives in the official and ministerial level conversations


between my department and his would be to ensure that the interests and


the particular features of the Scottish justice system are properly


reflected in the work that the United Kingdom is doing particularly


on future civil judicial cooperation with the European Union.


In January, the Prime Minister unambiguously asserted that Brexit


will allow the UK to take back its laws and bring an end to the


European Court of Justice jurisdiction in Europe. But last


month, it appeared that the UK would be willing to work with the EU for


judicial supervision. Could the Minister, given this change, how the


Prime Minister got it so wrong in January? I think the honourable


gentleman is really the government's position... The Prime Minister was


very clear in her leg as to how speak, the position is that this


country's exit from the European Union means that the European


Union's treaties cease to apply to the UK and that therefore, the


direct effect that decisions of the Court of Justice of the European


Union have in United Kingdom will seize from that point. What is also


the case is that, as spelt out in the government paper on disputes


resolution, there are many international examples of


arbitration mechanisms that involve different jurisdictions are coming


together to agree on how to take account of their different court's


the Ouse in coming to a settlement and when a dispute arises. So


approaching these negotiations in a constructive fashion.


Number 11. With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will group this question


with question 18. Surrounding vulnerable witnesses in Crown Court,


and three... We have recognise there are concerns about the operations of


the victims code and are considering how compliance might be monitored


and improved. Despite the progress is that have been made, attending


court as a witness and particularly as a victim can still be very


stressful. Can my honourable friend in large from me on what steps the


government is taken to ensure victims and witnesses know what to


expect when they attend court and that they are treated with respect


in court and they know when they are required in court? We want to use


technology to assist all witnesses and not just those who are


vulnerable and intimidated. That's why we are exploring ways of making


best use of technology such as video links to allow witnesses to avoid


the stress and or inconvenience of having to be physically present in


the courtroom. We also plan to develop an online tool that would


allow witnesses to access information about a case such as a


trial date quickly easily. Research on victim support found more than


half of victims have unwanted contact with a defendant at court.


How will the government's court reforms ensure separate entrances,


waiting rooms and facilities are standard across all criminal courts?


As I'm sure he is aware, the government is investing more than 1


billion to modernise court systems to put the needs of victims first.


The court and Tribunal service recently established model victim


and witness waiting rooms at Nottingham, Manchester, Newcastle,


Liverpool and Aldershot, drawing on feedback from the victims


commissioner, the witness service and court users. Minister will be


aware that the support 's police and crime commissioners get for working


with victims, decisions are often made very late in the financial


year. Will he consider making three year-long provisions so the services


provided could be provided more efficiently and also with greater


stability? There are areas where the cc are doing very good work and


there are areas where the workers perhaps not successful. -- where the


ccs. I wanted to announce annual awards so we could follow the money


and find out what works so we can provide better services for victims.


Prior to the introduction of the prisoner and court bill in the last


Parliament, no research had actually been carried out into the effects of


virtual justice reforms either on witnesses, victims or defendants.


Will he now guaranteed that research into these key areas will be done


and published in advance of the court bill being brought back into


the house? We are consulting with a variety of different agencies and


the victims Commissioner on the work she alludes to. We are in the


process of testing pre-recorded cross-examination at a number of


centres across the country. I don't want the honourable member for


Yeovil to feel that he was out of the water in a way. Mr Marcus Fish!


Justice delayed can be justice denied. It can also be very


distressing for victims and witnesses, such as constituents of


mine, to suffer repeated delays in scheduling and notification of


hearing dates and notification of verdicts, which in some cases have


even been learned from the opposing parties. What can be done to improve


court processes and time frames in their communication? I thank my


honourable friend for his custom. All criminal justice agencies are


committed to keeping victims and witnesses informed about their case.


The outcomes of cases involving vulnerable victims and witnesses are


available on court systems within 24 hours. Professionals involved in the


case and present on the day will know the outcome immediately. If the


honourable gentleman is aware of details of any other cases where


they might not be happening, these Danny Wright to me and I will


respond. -- please can he writes to me. Since the start of January to


the end of June 2017 there has been a net increase of 868 new prison


officers, put in as well on track to recruit 2500 new officers by


December 2018. Will the Minister be aware of the major drugs finds and


major problems at the home house prison in my constituency which has


seen experienced officers leave and replaced by 18-year-old recruits.


Does the Minister really think that recruiting youngsters is the answer


to meet the needs of an increasing present operation, tackle drugs and


solve the crisis in the prison service? I take issue with the


implication behind the honourable member's question. We are recruiting


new prison officers. We were all inexperienced once but it doesn't


mean we are not capable of doing our jobs. I have been to our training


centre and a lot of the recruits are of the highest calibre, using the


same recruitment methods we have used all through the years. The


opposition did not believe we could deliver these numbers. We are


delivering them and I think we should be supporting the government.


The government's excellent policy in building a modern new prison in


Wellingborough. Will the Minister be able to say how many new prison


officers will be working at Wellingborough and when it will


open. If you can't tell us now, will he write to me? I will certainly


write to the honourable member about the staffing arrangements at


Wellingborough, which have not been decided yet. But we are very proud


and keen to be progressive with the opening of that prison. The Minister


is boasting about the number of prison officers recruiting this


year. But actually his ministry's on figures show that 35 prisons, one


third of all prisons, have suffered a fall in front line officer numbers


since January this year. Is this another example of what the former


Director-General of prisons now describes as ministers doing nothing


except issuing cheery press releases which suggest all is going precisely


to plan? This is nothing about cheery press releases. 868 people on


the payroll and have started in our prisons and are doing and heroic and


brave job. We have promised to recruit 2500 new officers by the end


of 2030, and we are on track to deliver that target. Of course,


there are wider issues with the prison system, the retention of


officers, which we are working on. We are also going beyond that, for


example getting smart graduates to work on the front line. And again we


have exceeded targets. These are not a boast, it was the opposition who


said nobody would want to work in our prisons and talked the officers


down. It's good to see people stepping up to do what is a brave


and challenging job. Topical questions. Topical number one, Sir.


My priorities as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State are to uphold and


defend the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. And


to ensure that our prisons are safe and secure places that also work


effectively and with the probation service to rehabilitate offenders.


That means strengthening the front line in the way my honourable friend


has described. But it also means we need to respond better to reports


from prison inspectors. That's why I am setting up a new unit, ultimately


accountable to ministers, to ensure we respond to and follow up


inspectors' report is swiftly and effectively. How many foreign


national offenders are in our prisons and why isn't more being


done to send them to secure detention in their own countries? As


of the 30th of June this year, there were 6792 convicted foreign national


offenders serving sentences in our prisons. In 2016-17 we removed 6177


such offenders from the United Kingdom, including prisoner


transfers. That's the highest number since records began. The Right


Honourable member for Kettering will surely reissue his textbook to


colleagues on succinct questions. This summer I was proud to sign up


to the campaign launched by Jean Martin to change the law so that


disgraceful practice of so-called up skirting is made a specific sexual


offence. Will the Minister join us today in backing the school for a


change in the law? I have taken very seriously the representations made


by not only Gino Martin but from some of the police and crime


commissioners around the country. I have asked for detailed advice on


this. I hope the honourable gentleman would understand that


before proceeding to legislation I want to be absolutely certain this


will be the right course to take. Legal services in the UK are held


rightly in high regard around the world and are a major asset to our


economy. What is the Minister doing to champion and defend the interests


of the legal sector in this country? He's absolutely right, legal


services exports contribute a trade surplus of 3.4 billion to the UK


economy. The UK is a global leader in dispute settlement. We're working


with this sector to promote this key camp arable advantage. It's a


priority for the Brexit negotiations. As a global leader, we


will be taking to the International bar Association conference in


Australia next month. Last week a report from the committee of the


United Nations made 60 recommendations to the government as


to how it can better comply with the UN Convention on the rights of


Persons with disabilities. Can the Minister tell me how will the


government respond and what changes in government policy to disabled


people were we expect to see as a result? It's for the Minister for


disabled people and the Department for Work and Pensions to decide on


the overall government response to that report. I think the government


was right to express disappointment that the report failed to


acknowledge you significant advances that this government has made in


improving the lot of disabled people in this country, not least in seeing


a record number of people with disabilities now in employment. I


would like to ask a front bench, what upgrades have been attained in


prisons and achieved since we have come into office, and how we are


going to rehabilitate prisoners even further. I'm assuming my honourable


friend is referring to the prison estate where we have invested ?1.3


billion to modernise the estate. As part of this we will be building


10,000 modern prison places to help with offender rehabilitation. In


terms of where we are now, we have started with a proposed development


at Glenn Carver and also HMP Wellingborough. We have also


announced plans to open four new prisons in Yorkshire, as well as


Port Talbot in Wales and redevelop the young offender institution at


Rochester. Given the problems the department has had one it has


privatised many services, it seems extraordinary there are now plans to


privatise a selection of court fines and outsource the work of civil


enforcement officers. When will the government acknowledged these


sensitive public services should be delivered by the body cannot private


cowboys. Can the Minister update me on when


the revised... INAUDIBLE We are committed to doing everything


we can to improve the treatment of victims in the justice system. In


relation to the practice session of which he refers, we expect to


receive a since the election hundreds of constituents have


contacted me about our current animal cruelty laws which are not


fit for purpose. A maximum prison sentence of six months for some of


the most appalling crimes such as torturing a dog to death is


completely unacceptable. What steps will the Minister take to ensure


that the sentencing guidelines are rigorously reviewed and


strengthened? I thank the honourable lady and I


sit share her desire to see robust sentences. In January, the


sentencing council published new guidelines on relevant aggravating


factors in animal cruelty cases. In the past 18 months, some of my


decisions have died in HMP Bristol. As one of the highest rates -- one


of the prisons with the highest rate of self-inflicted injury, what


actions are being taken to get this figure down? Every death in custody


is a tragedy and I offer my condolences to the members of the


family. We have increased staff at HMP Bristol by 31 prison officers in


the last year. I chair a weekly safer custody meeting and we


investigate each death to see how we might prevent others. And we look at


custody where mental health patients are involved. I would be willing to


visit my honourable friend's prison to look at this as you.


If larger, the Minister said that Brexit was a good thing because it


young workers would be able to work longer hours. Can you confirm that


the working Time directive would be continued? We are committed to the


best possible employment conditions for all British workers. We have a


fine record of achievement on that and we will ensure that when we


leave the European Union, there is no diminution in workers' rights.


In January last year, an Afghan national who previously served time


for murder in the Netherlands, attacked two Crawley police


officers. Recently, the Court of Appeal has reduced his sentence. Can


I seek assurances from my right honourable friend that


representations will be made to the Home Office to insure that he is


deported at the earliest opportunity? Mr Speaker, I can give


my honourable friend the issue is that the views of the Police


Federation and others in this constituency will be conveyed to the


Home Office. It remains the government's collective will to


ensure that those foreign national offenders who merits deportation are


deported as soon as possible after serving their sentence. Is the


Minister aware that the equality and human rights commission have


recommended that the protections afforded by the European Union


Charter should be retained in the UK, and what is he going to do about


it? I am always the roses by the approach of the opposition to the


charter. When the Labour Party was in power, they claimed unfortunately


that they were seeking an op -- opt out. Now they say they will drop


back in. We have the strongest protection for human rights in this


country. We will see no diminution in those rejections. But the charter


is surplus to requirements. Does my right honourable friend agree that


the pilot screen that allowed the filming of judges' sentencing


remarks has been a incessant Willy now allow the broadcasting of court


proceedings so that justice is not just on, but seem be done? We have


made progress and years right that one area under review is


broadcasting of judges' sentencing remarks in the Crown Court. We last


year conducted experiments and we are looking at those trials and we


will see how best to proceed. 316 people died in our prisons last year


but e-mails from prison doctors printed in the media if your days


ago say they are not -- there are not enough medical staffing prisons


and urgent referrals are cancelled because of escort shortfalls. What


is the Justice Secretary planning to do to tackle this growing health


care crisis in custody? We are very conscious that the government has a


duty of care to everyone we hold in custody. We are working with the


health Department on a number of protocols including around mental


health but also to ensure that prisoners get access to the health


care they need when they need it. Would ministers give the House their


response to the recent report by Lord farm on the importance of


strengthening prisoners' family ties to reduce reoffending? Lord farm's


report is an excellent report. Family ties are important to help


people turn around their lives but also helps to improve stability in


prisons. We will be polishing -- publishing our response in due


course. Whilst I welcome the Minister's news about increased


prison officers in HMP Bristol, I am concerned that the Department's own


figures show that 770 experienced officers left the service last year.


What is the Minister doing to retain and keep fully longer term


experience, valuable prison officers? It is always the case that


therapy puzzle would leave an organisation -- that there are


people who would leave an organisation because of retirement


or because they are not happy with what has been happening. We have got


a retention plan and the number that I gave earlier on, 868, net new


prison officers, takes account of people leaving the service. So we


are actually up on last year's figures in taking account of people


leaving the service. Having recently met with the government of a prison


in my constituency, drones are becoming an increasing problem in


prison as is the illegal use of mobile phones. The two are linked as


the mobile phones give greater frequency and accuracy for drone


activity. Does the Minister agree that the way to Cardrona activity


and stop illegal mobile phone use to tell but phone activity and stop


illegal phone use. Is to support my private members Bill. I fully


support that bill, it is the right way to deal with the illegal use of


mobile phones used to carry on a legalistic -- activity from behind


bars. The building of a prison on the back of an industrial park is


causing disquiet as my constituency. But IOC Minister to come to the


public meeting to explain the physician to the community? The


member is aware that ministers do not attend public consultation


events around obtaining planning permission for new prisons. He is


also aware that the site at Port Talbot was proposed along with a


number of sites by the Welsh government who continue to support


us in redeveloping the site for a new prison. I have received his


representations on behalf of constituents, years diligent and


persistent. And also we had a meeting on this on July 12.


Obviously, subject to the two-day consultation which is more than


would normally happen, I would be happy to think about what would


ameliorate the concerns of his constituents. Woody Secretary of


State look at the way families are treated by insurance companies when


the householder get sick of your convictions. The Salvation Army has


highlighted cases where is sure is has either been denied all made


prohibitively expensive which I think is unnecessary? I am having to


look at this and I am happy to examine this further. With exemplary


brevity, I feel sure. With this view to historic child abuse in North


Wales, will the Minister look at a report into the Waterhouse inquiry


which relates to many of the children? The honest answer is that


I'm not familiar with the detail as to why an unredacted copy has not


been published but I will undertake to her to ask for urgent advice on


that and write to her. I will call the next member if he keeps to a


short sentence? Will my right honourable friend join me in paying


tribute to the Lord Chief Justice's work who will have retired by the


time we take these questions next time for his integrity as a judge


and is modernising work in England and Wales. I am happy to join my


honourable friend in his salute to Lord Thomas who has been a


formidable and exemplary leader of the professional judiciary. What has


struck me in the short time I have held my office is the enormous


respect and also affection in which Lord Thomas is held by his


colleagues on the judicial bench. And I am sure the entire house will


want to wish him all the best. In the last Parliament, a joint report


on women and inequalities found widespread exploitation of women at


work especially young women in vulnerable employment. Now that the


barrier of these has been reduced, will you look seriously at the


recommendations of that report and work with other departments to


ensure that women are aware of access to justice? I thank thee


Oliver lady. As I explained earlier, we will take into account all the


findings of the Select Committee. -- I thank the honourable lady.


The IRA murderers suspected of killing Ian Gow have no fear of


arrest with the recent revelation that hundreds if not thousands of


letters are being sent out to veterans of the troubles with a view


to further prosecutions and will he support a policy of a statute of


limitations to put an end to this grotesque inequality of treatment?


The answer is that I did read that letter. The matters he has raised


the results will issue of the Secretary of State for Northern


Ireland. He is very concerned to make sure a proper examination of


the past and a search for the truth about the past does not lead to the


unfair and disproportionate of arraignment of British soldiers who


stood for democracy and human rights. We are well out of time. The


Minister will be aware of the serious disorder at HMP Birmingham


which follows a serious right that took place in December and incidents


at other prisons over the summer. Clearly, our prisons are in crisis.


Isn't it time we had an independent inquiry into the state of our


prisons? We have already said that violence in our prisons is to hide.


I spoke to the commander at HMP Birmingham on Sunday night and the


first thing is to give praise to the professionalism of the prison


service in dealing with a difficult and challenging situation. Of


course, a key part of dealing with the security and stability problem


in our prisons is increasing staffing levels on which there have


been in of questions, and we are doing so. A wider part of that is


dealing with phones and drones and also drugs and is it will take time


to do so. But I praise our prison officers for their brave work.


Urgent question. To