Courts and Tribunals: Recovery

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:50 pm on 3rd December 2020.

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Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee, Chair, Justice Committee 12:50 pm, 3rd December 2020

I thank the Lord Chancellor for his statement and welcome what he has said. I and the other members of the Justice Committee certainly wish to join in the tributes that have been paid to the hard work of all those involved in the Courts Service and the broader justice system in dealing with the necessary recovery from the pandemic.

Can the Lord Chancellor help me on a couple of points, though? First, does he accept that it will be necessary to have a multi-year settlement once this year is out of the way to maintain the progress that we need to achieve to get our courts system back to the levels of reform and improvement that we have ambitiously set out? Secondly, will he update the evidence that he helpfully gave to the Justice Committee on Tuesday as to where we are in reducing the backlog in the Crown court? Although there has been progress, he will know that the backlog prior to the pandemic was already at record levels, and that was increasing up until the latest management figures we had that went back to October. Will he give us the projection—and, in due course, the modelling behind it—as to when we will see that backlog start to reduce? None of us wants to see contested trials being listed out to 2022, as I am sure he would agree.