HC Deb 19 January 1989 vol 145 cc262-3W
Mr. Key

To ask the Prime Minister whether Sir Robert Andrew's report of his review of the Government legal services is to be published; and if she will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

Last year I asked Sir Robert Andrew to undertake a review of Government legal services and to make recommendations on what legal services the Government need, how they can be provided most effectively and economically and what changes are needed in the management of legal staff so as to make best use of them. Sir Robert's report is being published today. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. I am grateful to Sir Robert Andrew for the work he has put into the report.

Sir Robert Andrew concludes that the Government continue to need a wide range of legal services provided to a high standard and that the need for them is likely to go on increasing. He considers it likely that the bulk of these services will continue to be provided within Government, but Departments should decide on cost-effectiveness grounds whether to meet their needs in Government or outside. He suggests that some of the bodies providing services of a legal nature to the public might usefully become executive agencies and that the relocation of some work out of London should prove cost-effective. The Government accept these conclusions.

The report proposes some adjustments in organisation to improve the effectiveness of legal services. In the light of these recommendations, I have decided to make the following changes in England and Wales. Under the ministerial direction of the Attorney-General, the Treasury Solicitor will become the head of the Government legal service. As head of profession he will advise on the personnel management of lawyers across Departments, and will be supported in this by a new lawyers management unit. The present Law Officers Department will be renamed the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, and the legal departments for which the Attorney-General is the ministerial head (the Treasury Solicitor's Department, the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the Serious Fraud Office) will be known collectively as the Law Officers Departments. The Lord Chancellor's Department will take over responsibi-lity for the Statutory Publications Office from the Treasury Solicitor's Department, probably in April 1990.

The report makes a number of recommendations aimed at improving the management of lawyers. The Government accept these recommendations and agree that greater effort needs to be put into recruitment and that the areas of recruitment should be broadened. They believe that the Government legal service as a whole will benefit from more co-ordinated personnel management and from improved training and career management. The new lawyers management unit will have a key role in helping the Treasury Solicitor as head of profession work with Departments in implementing the report's recommendations.

Sir Robert. Andrew also makes a number of recommendations to improve the pay of lawyers. The Government welcome his emphasis on the need for selectivity in considering special pay treatment for lawyers, which is consistent with the Government's policies on pay. The report also recognises the Government's comparatively greater difficulties of recruiting and retaining lawyers in London, which have already led to the establishment of special London pay scales for lawyers at grades 6 and 7 from April 1988.

Lawyers at grades 2 and 3 form part of the senior open structure, whose pay is decided by the Government on the recommendations of the Top Salaries Review Body. The Government are consulting the TSRB about the recommendations which affect these grades and will respond to this part of the report when they have received the TSRB's views.

Subject to consultations with the unions, the Government propose to respond to the recommendations of the pay of grades below the senior open structure as follows.

Around £2,500 a year will be added to the pay of all lawyers in grades 4 and 5 working in London. For grade 5 this will take the form of two points on the pay scale. Staff at grade 4 will receive a £2,500 allowance.

In addition, it is proposed that up to three points on the scale should be made available as personal pay points for certain grade 5 lawyers selected on the basis of their skills, experience, marketability and value to the Department. Broadly similar treatment will be applied to grade 4.

The Government regard it as important that all at grade 5 should be eligible for performance pay. For lawyers (including those in London) without personal pay points, up to four performance points will continue to be available. For those on the highest personal point, it is proposed that two should be available.

Lawyers in grades 5 to 7 are covered by the long-term pay agreement of July 1988, under which these grades will receive pay increases of 4 per cent. from 1 April 1989 and a further review from 1 August 1989 informed by a survey of pay levels in the private sector.

The Government do not propose to make personal pay points available at grades 6 and 7. But grade 6 lawyers in London will receive an additional scale point, worth around £1,100.

It is proposed to make these changes to pay in response to Sir Robert Andrew's recommendations from 1 April 1989.

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