Access to Justice: Court Staffing

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th November 2018.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Labour/Co-operative, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport 12:00 am, 13th November 2018

What assessment he has made of the effect of recent changes in court staffing levels on access to justice.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

It is great to have an opportunity to highlight the important role of staff at Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. I have recently visited a number of courts, including in Liverpool, Nottingham and Newcastle, and have been impressed by their commitment to justice. Our reforms, which will reduce staffing levels as they modernise the system and which are delivered by our staff, are improving, not diminishing access to justice.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Labour/Co-operative, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

Over the past few weeks I have been participating in the Industry and Parliament Trust’s superb courts and tribunals service parliamentary scheme. The National Audit Office warns that two thirds of the Department’s efficiencies have come from reducing staffing levels. Courts and tribunals staff do an amazing job, but there are simply not enough of them. Will the Minister agree to meet me so that I can pass on my first-hand experience of that excellent scheme, to inform Government policy?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

I would be very happy to meet the hon. Gentleman. I am very pleased that he took part in the scheme and that it is excellent. I encourage all other Members to take part in it, too.

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

Will the Minister provide further detail on how the planned reforms will enable judges to be deployed more effectively?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

As my hon. Friend has highlighted, a very effective and efficient measure is in the process of going through Parliament and it will enable judges to be deployed very effectively, to sit in other jurisdictions and to be used in the best possible way.