§ Mr. Meacher
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what are his plans for privatisation in the courts service; what plans he has to achieve them within the terms of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill; and what plans he has to seek the repeal of section 27 of the Courts Act 1971 before the contracting out or privatising of the courts service.
Mr. John M. Taylor
There are no plans either to privatise any part of the court service in the sense of the private sector taking over responsibility for ensuring the provision of court services or to repeal section 27 of the Courts Act 1971. However, the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill would amend that section to enable the Lord Chancellor to contract with others to provide staff to carry out administrative work in the Supreme Court and county courts and hence enable him to market-test any such work where doing so was likely to improve the value for money of the services concerned and would not risk impugning the independence or probity of the judicial process. The Government have decided, however, that there will be no market testing in the courts service at least until it has been launched as an executive agency in April 1995.