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Prisons and Courts Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 20th March 2017.

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Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice 4:20 pm, 20th March 2017

I am in principle in favour of using alternative venues, other than courts, which can be conducive to people giving the best possible evidence in a less intimidating environment. It is something I would have to discuss with the senior judiciary—we are working closely with them on this issue—but I am certainly in favour of using places such as sexual assault referral centres to make sure that we give the best possible support to victims and witnesses at a very difficult time for them.

The measures set out in the Bill will further enhance our ability to protect vulnerable witnesses and modernise the courts and tribunal system. Our changes to the system should be reflected in better legal support, but are focused on early help and representation. That is why we are bringing forward a legal support Green Paper in early 2018, setting out proposals to update the system of legal support in a modern court system. Put simply, what we want is less time spent navigating the system and more legal time spent on giving people legal advice and legal representation.

Parts 2 and 3 will take forward measures relating to procedures in civil, family and criminal matters, and the organisation and functions of courts and tribunals. I shall talk through each in turn.