HC Deb 27 January 1999 vol 324 cc246-7W
Mr. Todd

To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on progress on the Libra system for magistrates courts; and if he will make a statement. [67553]

Mr. Hoon

The Libra contract was awarded to International Computers Limited in December 1998. Libra will provide national standard computer services to magistrates' courts and offices with the first implementation planned for mid-2001 in Suffolk. The systems and services are expected to be implemented in all magistrates' courts by 2004, and will provide electronic links with other agencies in the criminal justice system.

Mr. Wigley

To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department how many magistrates' courts committees have conducted formal access audits since his Department issued the Disabled Court Users Good Practice Guide for Magistrates' Courts Committees; and from what sources the funding for necessary changes will be provided. [67402]

Mr. Hoon

I issued a performance standard in December 1997 setting out the minimum standards of performance that magistrates' courts committees are required to achieve in relation to disabled court users. It is not a requirement that formal access audits be undertaken, however, the Good Practice Guide that accompanied this standard does recommend it.

A survey, undertaken by this Department during May and June 1998, showed that 64 out of 96 magistrates' courts committees had undertaken internal audits during the previous twelve months and 32 had arranged for independent inspections. It is always open to any magistrates' courts committee, in conjunction with its local authorities, to bid for additional resources from this Department towards the cost of improving disabled access, subject, of course, to there being funding available.