HC Deb 10 April 2000 vol 348 c21W
Miss Widdecombe

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what estimate he has made of the number of additional court cases which will be brought in England and Wales(a) in the year to October 2001 and (b) subsequently in each year, as a result of the coming into force of provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998 in October 2000; what the cost to public funds and the amount of court time taken up will be in (i) the High Court, (ii) the Court of Appeal and (iii) the House of Lords; and what discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive regarding the operation of human rights legislation in Scotland. [118544]

Jane Kennedy

The Government anticipate that the vast majority of human rights points will be raised in existing cases, rather than new cases, save for applications for leave to move for Judicial Review which may rise from the 300 received in 1998 to 600 per year. We expect a significant number of human rights points to be raised in the months following implementation but it is anticipated that the level of challenges will reduce subsequently as the higher courts determine the basis on which the Act and Convention are to be applied.

The Government have made annual provision for the overall costs of implementing the Human Rights Act in the courts—£60 million, including £39 million for legal aid. In addition, £4.5 million has been set aside to ensure that all full and part-time judges, lay magistrates and their legal advisers are trained to deal with Convention points effectively, which should reduce the impact on court time.

On an annual basis, the High Court and Court of Appeal estimate that 2,300 to 2,800 extra sitting days would be required as a direct result of Human Rights Act cases, but the need for additional sittings will, in part, be offset by other changes in workload.

Officials in my Department have been, and remain, in contact with officials of the Scottish Executive to benefit from an understanding of how their business has been affected by human rights litigation.