HC Deb 13 December 1994 vol 251 cc543-4W
Mr. Michael Brown

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he will announce the results of the review conducted by his Department and the magistrates courts service into the operation of the formula for allocating revenue grant to the magistrates courts service.

Mr. John M. Taylor

The Lord Chancellor has today completed his consideration of the proposals made by the working group, comprising representatives of the service and his Department, and of the representations made by the service regarding those proposals.

The Lord Chancellor has concluded that the review has demonstrated that the current formula for revenue grant allocation, introduced on 1 April 1992, as set out in the answer given on 18 October 1991, Official Report, column 288, does not represent the best method of allocation. It does not adequately encourage local managers to achieve the best value for money in their use of resources, while also reflecting the varying needs of magistrates courts committees. He, therefore, intends to allocate revenue grant in 1995–96, and in subsequent years, on the basis of a revised formula. The allocation formula will operate on the following basis:

Per cent.
Average expenditure outturn over the previous 5 years, expressed at constant prices 45
The annual estimate of general population produced by the Office of Population Census and Surveys 10
Completed weighted caseload, averaged over a 3, growing to 5, year rolling period 35
Fine enforcement averaged over a 2, growing to 5, year rolling period 5
Time taken to deal with triable either-way and indictable only cases, averaged over a 2, growing to 5, year rolling period 5

The Lord Chancellor intends, over the coming years, to reduce the areas of expenditure which are wholly or partially excluded from the cash limiting formula. In a number of instances this will be subject to further consideration, in conjunction with the service, of suitable alternative procedures. There are also a number of further matters he wishes his Department to consider. All of these will be subject to consultation with the service. Copies of a paper setting out the full details of the allocation formula to apply from 1995–96 onwards, the issues for further consideration and the allocations to apply for 1995–96 have been placed in the Library of the House and sent today to members of the Magistrates Courts Consultative Council, the clerks to all MCCs and the chief executives of all paying authorities.