HL Deb 07 November 2000 vol 618 c141WA
Baroness Gould of Potternewton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements they have made to improve the co-ordination and effectiveness of the criminal justice system in England and Wales. [HL4533]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg)

The Government are committed to improving the performance of the criminal justice system in England and Wales (CJS) and have set out clear aims, objectives and targets for the CJS as a whole. A strategic plan for the CJS was published in March 1999 covering 1999 to 2002 and a business plan for the CJS in 2000–01 in May 2000 (copies have been placed in the Library). An updated CJS business plan for 2001–02 will be published early in 2001

The strategy for the CJS is overseen by the Ministerial Group on the Criminal Justice System, chaired by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, of which I am a member together with my noble and learned friend the Attorney-General, my right honourable friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and other ministerial colleagues and senior officials from the main CJS departments. As part of the 2000 spending review, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in July 2000 a new reserve of £525 million over the three years 2001–02 to 2003–04 to he used to help deliver the objectives and targets set out in the latest CJS public service agreement. Initial decisions on use of the reserve will be made in the next few months.

Alongside these new resources the Government are working with the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, courts and probation and prison services on an on-going programme of modernisation and reform and are engaged in a number of important reviews of the criminal justice process. These include Sir Robin Auld's review of the criminal courts and a review of the present sentencing framework, led by John Halliday, formerly Director of Criminal Justice Policy at the Home Office.

The Home Office, my department, the Law Officers' Department and Her Majesty's Treasury are now pursuing work to draw together the experience of the last three-and-a-half years, and taking account of the current reviews, to identify the way forward for the longer term. Any firm conclusions which emerge from this work will be reported to the House.