§ Mr. Dismore
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he expects benchmark costs arrangements to commence and for what types of case; if benchmark costs will cover pre-litigated cases; what progress is being made in relation to fixed costs for fast track cases; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Lock
The Department has no intention or powers to introduce benchmark costs. However, I understand that the Senior Costs Judge is currently undertaking consultation on a draft scheme for certain short and routine applications in civil proceedings. The first round produced a list of applications which might be suitable. A second round of consultation (incorporating figures for localities and grade of fee earner) is now taking place.
The Government have an open mind on the introduction of fixed costs in the fast track but no current plans to seek their introduction. Any changes to the way in which the costs regime operates should not limit the effectiveness of conditional fee agreements and other innovative methods of funding and insuring litigation.