Criminal Justice

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 27th February 1997.

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Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:32 pm, 27th February 1997

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend's criticism of the way in which some trials are conducted in magistrates courts and the delays that result from that. I believe that the proposals will go a considerable way towards improving that. The combination of early administrative hearings and pre-trial reviews will enable the justices' clerk to form a view before the case ever reaches the magistrates, for example, that it is a case that is likely to take three or four days to try. The clerk will then be in a position to make available justices for that period, so that the case will be heard in one go, as it should be, and not in the way that my hon. Friend identified, which happens far too frequently at present.

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend's criticism on that, and hope that some of the proposals will go a long way towards meeting it.