HC Deb 25 January 1990 vol 165 c873W
48. Mr. Soames

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to improve the efficiency of magistrates courts.

John Patten

We are still considering the case for legislation to reconstitute the magistrates courts service as an executive agency on the lines proposed in the report of the 1989 scrutiny of magistrates courts. In the meantime we are taking forward a programme of action largely drawn from the report aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the courts, including the identification and dissemination of best practice on case listing, fine enforcement and other matters; a review of criminal and domestic court procedures; the promotion of court user groups; practical evaluations of pre-trial reviews, new methods of paying fines and the use of bailiffs in executing bail warrants; the preparation of a standard specification for magistrates' courts computers; and the development of resource and other management training programmes for justices' clerks and their staff. As was indicated in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) on 9 November 1989 at column 262 our intention is to introduce cash limits on grants supporting current expenditure on magistrates courts.