HC Deb 28 October 1999 vol 336 cc976-7W
Mr. Malin

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what studies have(a) been carried out by and (b) been received by the Home Office concerning the relative (i) efficiency and (ii) speed of decision making of the Stipendiary Bench and the Lay Bench; [95472]

(2) what studies he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the potential savings to the criminal justice system of increasing the jurisdiction of the Stipendiary Bench; and if he will make a statement. [95439]

Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what estimate he has made of the comparative cost of like cases being dealt with by (a) panels of lay justices and (b) stipendiary magistrates in the magistrates' courts; and if he will make a statement. [95793]

Jane Kennedy

[holding answer 27 October 1999]: No such studies have been carried out by the Home Office.

The Government are committed to the principle that the lay magistracy will continue to play a significant part in our system of justice. The Government's overriding concern is to have in place a system of criminal justice in which the public has confidence. The Government have commissioned research to assess the relative costs, effectiveness and other benefits/disadvantages of Stipendiary and lay magistrates, taking into account all related costs including those of other agencies. The research will be used to assess whether the current balance between the use of lay magistrates and Stipendiaries is satisfactory; whether each set of magistrates is deployed in the most effective way; and the weight of the arguments that are heard for an against the use of lay or Stipendiary magistrates in particular circumstances.

The research will be conducted during 2000.

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