§ Mr. Clifton-Brown
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals the Government have to improve pre-trial procedures in the Crown Court. 
§ Mr. Howard
The Government share the view of the Royal Commission on criminal justice that further measures are needed to improve the effectiveness of pre-trial hearings in the Crown Court, to enable issues to be clarified and resolved in advance of the trial.
To achieve this, we propose providing for a power for judges to make binding rulings before the start of the trial, and for an extension of the existing system of preparatory hearings, currently held in serious fraud cases, to other potentially long or complex cases. These proposals are contained in a consultation paper on improving the effectiveness of pre-trial hearings in the Crown Court—which we are publishing today.