Replies by the Lord Chancellor's Department
to Written Questions from the Committee on the Lord Chancellor's
Department Annual Report 2001-02
1. PSA targets have changed significantly
which makes it difficult to follow progress. From last year's
report it would seem that not all of the previous targets, which
ran for the three years to 2000-01, have been met by March 2001.
For example, the previous PSA3 target to increase the proportion
of administrative processes dealt with within a set time to 95
per cent. This target was not expected to be met for 2000-01.
Did LCD pick up those targets not met by March 2001 and include
them in the SDAs or have they been completely abandoned?
The PSA targets and Output and Performance Analysis
(OPA) measures or indicators contained within the Departmental
Report 2000-01, were set as a consequence of the Comprehensive
Spending Review 1998. The Report only comments on the outturn
position for those targets up to and including 31 December 2000.
The OPA are measures or indicators that support the delivery of
each individual PSA target. A revised PSA was agreed as part of
A summary of departmental performance for the
PSA targets is shown below. A more detailed summary table containing
details of the PSA and OPA not achieved by 31 December 2000 is
attached (Annex A).
|Met by 31 March 2001
||Met by 31 March 2002|
|1||All three targets met
|2||All three targets replaced by SR2000 targets
|3||Three of the eight targets were met
||A further two of the targets were met; the remaining three were replaced or superseded by SR2000 targets
|4||Six of the 18 targets were met
||A further two of the targets were met; the remaining 10 were replaced or superseded by SR2000 targets
|5||The PSA target was dropped
||New PSA and SDA were set during SR2000
|6||The two targets were met
||New PSA and SDA were set during SR2000
|Operational||Eight of the 15 targets were met
||The remaining targets were replaced or superseded by SR2000 targets or Court Service Key Performance Indicators
The majority of these targets were replaced or subsumed into
the Spending Review 2000 LCD PSA and SDA targets.
2. The PSA targets were revised in December 1999 according
to last year's report, where they were printed in full in addition
to the targets for the three years to 2000-01. The targets are
broken down into measurable sub-targets. For seven out of 10 of
the current LCD PSA targets, specific measurable indicators or
baseline data have still not been agreed for all sub-targets over
two years later.
For example, PSA2: To reduce by 2004 the time from arrest
to sentence or other disposal for all defendants by:
reducing the time from charge to disposal for
all defendants with a target to be specified by 2001;
dealing with 80 per cent of youth court cases
within their time targets, and
halving from 142 to 71 days by March 2002 the
time taken from arrest to sentence for persistent youth offenders
and maintaining that level thereafter.
Whilst the last sub-target has been met, the department is
still developing baselines for the first two sub-targets.
Sub-targets and baseline data have also not been set for
PSA3, 5, 6a, 7, 8 and 9. Targets run for three years from 2001-02
so the department is already one third of the way through this
period. Why are such delays arising and what action is being taken
to address this problem?
Explanation for each of the PSA targets quoted above is attached
3. PSA3: Increase the level of confidence in the Criminal
Justice System by 2004, including improving that of ethnic minority
communities. The PSA targets for 2001-04 as set out in last year's
departmental report referred to a target date of March 2004 rather
than 2004. Has the target been amended?
The PSA target has not been amended. The PSA runs for three
financial years ending on 31 March 2004. This target is also a
criminal justice system PSA target. In the drafting of the Departmental
Report 2001-04 the word March was added in error.
4. Target 1b: To reduce waiting time for asylum appeals
from receipt at the Immigration Appellate Authorities to promulgation
of the Adjudicator's determination from 36 in 1999-2000 to 17
weeks. This was met in 2000-01 but will not be met in 2001-02.
Why was this and what is the department doing to address this?
What assumptions about the number of appeals underlie this target?
The targets for 2000-01 and for 2001-02 appear the same but
are actually quite different and not directly comparable.
The target for 2000-01 was to achieve an average time
from receipt of the appeal to promulgation of the adjudicator's
judgment in 17 weeks. This target was for the first tier only
of the Immigration Appellate Authority. It was met as the average
time for receipt of the appeal to promulgation at adjudicator
level was 15.4 weeks.
The target for 2001-02 was to clear 65 per cent of all
asylum appeals in 17 weeks, through both tiers of the
IAAthat is through the adjudicator and through the Immigration
Appeal Tribunal as necessary. The way of measuring this target
was changed to align with the target adopted by the Immigration
and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office for the decision-making
Figures for cases received in the period April 2001 to December
2001 (inclusive) show LCD has cleared 43 per cent of asylum appeals
through both tiers of the IAA.
The target was set for a future projected caseload of 4,000
appeals each month, and a caseload mix which included 35 per cent
of certified cases which are dealt with at adjudicator level alone.
The number of appeals has been steadily rising and will hit 6,000
appeals a month from November 2002. In addition, the proportion
of certified cases has decreased considerably to 21 per cent and
a far higher number of appeals now continue to the Immigration
Radical new ways of dealing with appeals, through tighter
judicial case management, faster promulgation of judicial decisions,
and the introduction of a single administrative centre in Loughborough
are driving down the time that cases take. At the same time the
IAA is taking on a huge increase in the number of appeals dealt
with each month. This concerted action should achieve an improvement
in progress towards the target over the remainder of the year.
At the same time as handling this increasing workload, the
IAA has embarked on an unprecedented 50 per cent expansion of
judiciary, staff and hearing and administrative facilities to
handle the 50 per cent increase in appeals.
From April 2000 to March 2001 the IAA disposed of 26,810
In the following year it disposed of 47,017 asylum appeals
and an increasing number of family visit visa appeals and bail
cases. Family visit visa appeals were only in place in the last
five months of 2000-01 and so had a far greater impact in 2001-02.
Bail cases have increased in line with the Home Office increases
in detained places. These significant changes in volume and case
mix, most of which could not be predicted at the time that the
target was set, have inevitably had an impact on its achievement.
5. According to page 78, the target is contained in LCD
SDA targets for 2002-03 onwards in a modified form. How has it
This target is modified from the previous SDA, which only
covered an average time for those cases promulgated. The KPI for
the Court Service for 2001-02 was in the modified form.
6. Target 6: To increase the proportion of mediated divorce
proceedings as against court-based proceedings from 5 per cent
to 20 per cent by 2001-02 for those areas where the Family Law
Act is implemented. This has not been met and has been dropped.
It is now partly included in PSA5 but there is no mention of per
cent targets or time deadlines and progress is not known. What
were the difficulties which contributed to this target not being
met, why does PSA5 not include per cent targets or time deadlines
and how does the department now intend to measure progress?
This target was relevant to the proposed procedures for implementing
divorce reform set out in Part II of the Family Law Act 1996.
The Lord Chancellor announced, in a written parliamentary answer
on 16 January 2001, that the Government was not satisfied that
it would be right to proceed with the implementation of Part II.
He confirmed that the Government would invite Parliament to repeal
the relevant sections of the Act when a suitable legislative opportunity
His decision was based on the comprehensive research undertaken
on pilots of the Part II information meetings which indicated
that these did not meet people's needs. After considering the
research and in the light of concerns about the procedures generally,
the Government concluded that Part II did not meet the principles
set out in Part I of the Act of saving saveable marriages, and
bringing marriages which have broken down to an end with the minimum
distress to the parties and children affected.
His decision also took account of research undertaken on
pilot contracts for the provision of publicly funded family mediation
(published in December 2000). This indicated that mediation was
not suitable in all cases, and that in many cases it was not possible
to engage both parties so as to allow mediation to be successful.
LCD has replaced this target, which focused on the procedures
for dealing with relationship breakdown with a target that focuses
on improving the outcomes for children caught up in their parents'
relationship breakdown. LCD's current PSA Target 8: "to increase
continued contact between children and the non-resident parent
after a family breakdown where this is in the best interests of
the child" is based on research evidence. This demonstrates
that children's health, educational and general development is
enhanced where the quality of the relationship between the child
and the non-resident parent is good. LCD's PSA Target 5, covering
the resolution of disputes other than through the courts, does
not include specific targets or deadlines in respect of mediation
because of the research findings that mediation in family cases
can benefit only a minority of cases. However, publicly funded
mediation under the Community Legal Service Funding Code has been
available since March 1997. Over 270 mediation services have now
concluded contracts with the Legal Services Commission to provide
quality-assured mediation facilities in all parts of England and
Wales. The volume of cases in which family mediation is provided
under the Community Legal Service continues to be monitored as
a means of assessing the volume of mediation and its effectiveness.
7. Productivity Target 1a: To improve the level of service
to court users based on an index of quantitative measures from
82 per cent in 1998-99 to 85 per cent in 2001-02. This has not
been met. It is now included in PSA1. Why was this target not
met and how is the department changing its approach to ensure
it can meet the improvement standards now included under PSA1?
The target was in fact metthe performance figure was
89.2 per cent. The final performance information was not available
when the Report went to print.
8. Productivity Target 10: A reduction in real terms of
the unit cost of the Legal Aid Board processing current legal
aid business by an average of 3 per cent per annum. The status
of this target is unknown although progress is said to be on course.
Why is the status of this target said to be unknown?
Progress is reported by the LSC in its Annual Report. The
Report for 2001-02, to be published soon, will show that the Legal
Services Commission (which replaced the Legal Aid Board in April
2000) achieved a reduction in real terms of 2.6 per cent in the
unit cost of current legal aid business. This applies to the processing
functions that remain comparable before and after the legal aid
reforms. The introduction of contracting has shifted much of the
business to a new form of transaction.
9. Further CSR Target Fraud: The Department's strategy
includes extending the LAB's Special Investigations unit to criminal
cases, better detection through the use of LAB's Corporate Information
System and exclusive contracting. This target has been dropped
and new targets set in SDA 58, 59 and 60. Please provide details
of the three SDA targets on fraud and the progress to date on
each of them.
SDA 58 states that: "LCD will continue to improve systems
and controls throughout the Department designed to secure regularity,
propriety, and value for money and safeguarding of assets and
interests from losses. In particular, the Department will be focusing
on meeting Government targets for the introduction of risk management
and corporate governance procedures, and establishing mechanisms
to demonstrate the effectiveness of those procedures".
The Department maintains sound systems of internal control,
which are kept under review and are subject to regular audit coverage.
Specific measures taken by LCD to improve its systems and controls
in January 2002 a revised system of internal financial
control was introduced for LCDHQ and the Associated Offices. The
system is based upon a flexible core of compliance controls, and
strengthened the reporting and review structure. It introduced
the assessment of risk to achieve a balance between the application
of resources and the level (likelihood/impact) of the risk identified
to ensure an acceptable degree of control. It also provides an
auditable trail of evidence to enable assurance that controls
are being operated effectively;
a wide range of security measures are in place
to safeguard assets and to deter and detect theft and fraud. These
include physical security standards for all departmental buildings,
personnel security procedures and arrangements to safeguard valuable
departmental assets. The security of buildings is reviewed on
a periodic basis and security arrangements in general are reviewed
in the light of any emerging threats or serious incidents. The
Department's programme to achieve compliance with BS7799, the
British Standard for Information Security Management, will quality
assure existing practices and introduce improvements where these
are found to be necessary. Measures include more extensive use
of risk assessment, security education and awareness for staff
and improvements in physical security;
the Department's Fraud Prevention Policy is communicated
to all staff, and guidance on the identification, and reporting
of fraud, is contained in the Departmental Finance Manual. All
incidents of suspected or detected fraud are subject to rigorous
investigation and appropriate action is taken, including consideration
of whether controls need to be improved to prevent any further
re-occurrence. The Department maintains an effective capability
to investigate incidents of fraud, and includes a cadre of trained
staff. The Department's Fraud Prevention Policy has been supplemented
by the introduction in 2001 of a Confidential Reporting (whistle-blowing)
policy, and the revision and reissue of staff conduct and disciplinary
procedures in the Staff Handbook. Guidance on Propriety &
Regularity issues has also been revised and is to be issued shortly
through a Finance Bulletin to all staff.
SDA 59 for 2002-03 has been slightly amended to reflect changes
to government internal audit standards for internal audit in central
government bodies, which took effect from April 2002; the target
"LCD will provide annual internal audit opinion on risk
management, control and governance, based on the evidence provided
from an agreed programme of audit assignments and other activity;
the audit work will have due regard to regularity, propriety and
value for money. IAD will also provide advice and guidance on
risk, control and related issues and provide assistance in the
promotion of an anti-fraud culture and investigation of incidents
of fraud, irregularity or corruption."
Internal audit work programmes for 2002-03 have been agreed
with the Department and its agencies' Audit Committees and Accounting
Officers. The programmes are on target for completion by the end
of the financial year and will provide sufficient evidence to
support the annual internal audit opinions. Activity within the
audit programmes provides for a strong emphasis on assessing the
reliability and effectiveness of controls to safeguard the Department's
assets and interests from losses of all kinds, including those
arising from internal fraud, irregularity or corruption. In addition
to the programmes of audits, internal audit is delivering an active
contribution to the Department and its agencies' anti-fraud culture
including managing the risk of fraud and the promotion of fraud
awareness, fraud policies and fraud response plans. On those occasions
where internal fraud is suspected or reported investigations have
been/are being completed. This includes identification of any
lessons learnt and of any need to refine existing control arrangements.
SDA 60 states that: "The Department will contribute
fully to central government initiatives to combat welfare benefits
fraud. The Legal Services Commission's policy will be to seek
prosecution of individuals in all cases where there is sufficient
evidence of dishonesty. The Commission's Special Investigations
Unit will continue to examine rigorously applicants' financial
eligibility for publicly funded legal services".
We are making progress.
In 2001-02, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) concluded
full investigations into 151 civil cases. In 85 per cent of these
cases, investigations led to either the refusal or withdrawal
of funding, or an increase in contributions payable. This compares
with 84 per cent in 2000-01. In addition, the SIU assisted the
Commission's regional offices with means assessment in a further
195 complex cases involving self-employed people and company directors.
In 91 per cent of these cases the additional enquiries led to
a change in the previous decision. This compares with 93 per cent
in 2000-01. Estimated savings arising out of the work of the SIU
are £1.2 million per annum.
In April 2001 Recovery of Defence Costs Orders (RDCOs) replaced
the former system of means assessment for criminal legal aid for
cases which progress to the Crown Court. The SIU assists the courts
in determining a defendant's ability to pay towards their defence
costs where the defendant is likely to have access to significant
assets and where their financial affairs are complex. In 2001-02
the SIU accepted 809 referrals from the Crown Court. Of these,
632 cases required full investigation. Investigations were concluded
in 292 cases and reports submitted back to the courts. The Crown
Court made 22 RDCOs as a result of reports from the SIU and the
total of costs so far assessed on those 22 orders is £141,605.
Investigations into the outstanding referrals are not yet
complete. Many of the cases involving the SIU are large and the
trials are not scheduled to take place until some time after the
case has been referred to the SIU.
The SIU also concluded 47 investigations relating to applications
for criminal legal aid made prior to April 2001. In 40 cases (85
per cent) these investigations resulted in a change to the decision
regarding funding. This compares to 93 per cent in the previous
year. This slight reduction in the proportion of successful outcomes
reflects the fact that some of these defendants withdrew their
legal aid applications after April 2001 and reapplied under the
Prosecutions for fraud
The Commission is not a prosecuting authority and appropriate
cases have to be referred to the police who, with the CPS, will
consider whether to prosecute. The standard of evidence required
for a criminal prosecution is far higher than that needed to take
action on funding and these cases do not receive the highest priority
by the police. Referral to the police is therefore limited to
larger cases where there is clear evidence of fraud. Two new cases
were referred to the police in 2001-02. In one case the police
decided not to proceed further. In the second case, the file was
referred to the CPS for a decision. The outcome is not yet known.
10. Further CSR Target-Procurement: There were six targets
on procurement, all of which have been dropped. In some cases
they have been replaced by SDA targets. Please provide details
of the SDA targets on procurement and the progress to date on
each of them.
SDA 56 is: "To achieve value for money improvements in procurement,
year on year, equivalent to 3 per cent of general procurement
The target was met in 2001-02. Activities focused on expenditure
in areas such as reprographics, postage, catering, security and
motor vehicles and delivered value for money improvements of £8.63
million against overall expenditure of £50 million on general
procurement. The £8.63 million will form part of the LCD
contribution to the OGC £1 billion VFM target.
SDA 57 is: "To deliver an annual programme to review
at least 20 per cent (by value) of the total expended on general
Planned reviews of colour print services, hotel requirements
and catering services, as well as security initiatives, including
reviews of personnel, duties and hours worked were carried out.
This represents an approximate value of £12 million against
a baseline of £50 million (24 per cent).
As a component part of e-commerce, the successful pilot of
the Government Procurement Card has been evaluated and a phased
implementation to remaining areas of the Court Service is due
to be completed by the Autumn. The introduction of the Card to
the remainder of the department will follow by the end of this
A key task for 2002-03 is the further development of the
procurement cross-cutting responsibility which is aimed at strengthening
procurement across the whole of the department's commercial activities.
The Centre Led Action Network (CLAN) has been created and as a
priority a survey of commercial activities, expenditure and capability
across the department, its agencies and NDPBs is under way. The
survey is intended to facilitate the sharing of information and
best practice and to identify opportunities for collaboration
and scope for improvement.
The expectation is that the CLAN will play a major role in
contributing to the achievement of procurement objectives and
11. The department has now completed one full financial
year with a live resource budget and is coming to the end of the
first quarter of the second year. How effective have the assumptions
underlying resource budgeting process been and how has the department
performed against its budget for 2001-02?
The assumptions underlying the resource budget were generally
fairly robust. In some instances, particularly with regard to
the provision for higher criminal legal aid (increased by £50
million) and the increase in capital charges for the Court Estate
(increased by £14.7 million), the initial assumptions required
adjustment through the Supplementary Estimates process. The Department's
in-year monitoring process highlighted those changes and enabled
the adjustments to be made through the normal parliamentary procedures
for approving government expenditure.
The performance against the 2001-02 budget is currently being
finalised. The outturn figure is expected to be close to budget
but is still subject to some accounting adjustments such as those
associated with the Machinery of Government changes. In addition,
of course, it is possible that a significant event after the year-end
(known as a Post Balance Sheet Event), may necessitate further
adjustments to the final outturn position at any point until the
accounts are certified.
12. In previous years there have been significant losses
disclosed due to the fines, fees, costs and contribution that
could not be collected. Given this, has the department estimated
the likely impact on losses of removing means testing and moving
to a system whereby at the end of the case the judge can order
defendants in Crown Court cases to pay back some or all of the
costs of defence after an assessment of means?
The primary purpose in abolishing the means test was to remove
the potential for delay in the Criminal Justice System, and to
avoid administrative weaknesses that the National Audit Office
(NAO) had highlighted every year since 1990. It was not to increase
the amounts collected from defendants. Some reduction in revenue
net of the direct costs of administering the test was expected,
but with gains in enabling the criminal justice system to deal
with cases more expeditiously. In reviewing the new system, we
shall assess the likely impact on financial losses and the options
for reducing them. The Comptroller and Auditor-General has accepted
(in his Report of 20 February 2001) that Recovery of Defence Costs
Orders (RDCOs) have removed the control weaknesses over the grant
of funding in the Magistrates' Courts.
13. Tables A2 to A4 and the additional table for Capital
Employed for LCD include outturn figures for 2000-01. Should these
figures equate to figures included in the published resource account
for 2000-01? For example, Table A2 analyses expenditure under
the same headings as Note 8 of the 2000-01 resource account but
the figures in Table A2 differ substantially from those in Note
8 of the accounts (see below). Can you clarify why the figures
above disclosed in Table A2 are not the same as those in the published
The figures shown in Table A2 are prepared on a different
basis to the Resource Account figures, but it is possible to reconcile
the two. The main reasons for the differences are explained in
detail below, but generally speaking it is due to the structure
of the HM Treasury FIS Database (from which the Departmental Report
tables are drawn). It has not yet been possible to update the
database with figures derived from the Resource Accounts, although
it has been possible to reconcile the database to our Appropriation
Accounts, as the database structure more readily suits that format.
For example, it is not possible to show the Legal Aid provision
or the capital charge related to this provision under Legal Aid
on the database. This has instead been shown under Headquarters.
There are also certain streams of expenditure that appear
under different headings in the DR tables and the Resource Accounts.
The table below sets out the key differences:
||Non-cash charges/accruals||Table A2|
|Public Trust Office||10
|Community Legal Service||781
|Costs from Central Funds||40
|Legal Aid: Criminal||972
Non-cash charges and accruals adjustments are not included
in the Appropriation Account, and so have not yet been updated
from forecast figures. The non-cash items are reflected in the
Department's Annually Managed Expenditure due to the fact that
they were never forecast before the introduction of Resource Accounting
and Budgeting and are therefore highly volatile.
The Legal Services Commission: Admin line cannot be reconciled
because they are being reported on two completely different bases,
which is due to differences in the resources accounting and resource
budgeting boundaries. In the Resource Accounts, the grant paid
to the LSC is recorded. In the Departmental Report, the resource
consumption of the LSC itself is recorded. This resource consumption
has also yet to be reconciled to their own published accounts,
and so the table shows their forecast resource consumption.
14. Under Publicly Funded Legal Services, does the line
"Legal Aid: Criminal" include both criminal and civil
legal aid for 1998-99 and 1999-2000?
The entry, which relates to expenditure incurred before the
creation of the Community Legal Service and Criminal Defence Service,
should have read "Legal Aid". We apologise for the error.
15. Overall, legal aid has increased significantly in
2000-01 and Table A2 suggests that costs are expected to remain
at this increased level. Where is this arising (ie Magistrates'
Courts, Crown Court)? What are the reasons for this and what is
the department doing to cap expenditure at the present level?
The increase relates solely to criminal legal aidcivil
legal aid has decreased.
The increase is mainly in the Crown Court, where average
costs are rising partly as a result of a fall in the plea ratewith
fewer guilty pleas and more trials. But the main reason is the
increase in the cost of high-cost cases; the most expensive 1
per cent of cases (mainly serious fraud, drug trafficking and
revenue cases) now cost 49 per cent of Crown Court legal aid.
We expect some increase in the volume of cases going to the Magistrates'
Court as a result of Government initiatives for tackling crime
and dealing with persistent offenders.
Criminal legal aid is demand led and available to anyone
charged with a serious offence. Decisions to prosecute are taken
elsewhere (by the police and prosecuting agencies). The Department
cannot simply cap expenditure when it has no control over case
volumes, or increasing complexity.
Nevertheless, the Department has done much to control costs
in individual cases. For example, 90 per cent of cases in Magistrates'
Courts are paid at a standard fee. In the Crown Court advocates
are paid a graduated standard fee in all cases involving trials
of up to 25 days. Use of QCs is now more tightly controlled, and
QCs are used in 50 per cent fewer cases. Additionally, the Legal
Services Commission is piloting the use of contracts in very high
cost cases, when the work required and rate payable at each stage
are agreed in advance. Early indications suggest that considerable
savings are possible, but there would be a substantial initial
cost in extending these contracts because lawyers must be paid
earlier. No decision has yet been taken on extending these contracts;
we will look at this carefully in light of the spending review.
16. Court service resource expenditure increased by 76
per cent in 2000-01, is expected to increase by 22 per cent in
2001-02 and is thereafter expected to rise by about 5 per cent
per year. What were the reasons for these large increases and
the sustained higher expenditure levels in later years?
The expenditure figures in Table A2 do not provide an accurate
picture of changes in Court Service expenditure because of the
change in accounting from the cash system to Resource Accounting
and Budgeting during the period covered by the table.
The Court Service published its first set of audited agency
accounts in 2000-01. Total net expenditure was £411 million
in 2000-01 rising to £514 million in 2001-02, an increase
of 25 per cent. This increase is almost wholly explained by additional
funding secured to support the following:
Courts' Modernisation Programme (£11 million);
asylum expansion (£38 million);
additional Crown Court sitting days (£10
inflationary increases (£14 million); and
transfer of staff functions relating to Magistrates'
Courts administrative issues (£26 million).
Increases in future years will depend on the outcome of spending
decisions, for example, additional asylum expenditure, and investment
in court information technology.
Table A5: Staff Numbers
17. In Table A5 no casual staff are included for LCD for
2000-01 and overtime was lower than in other years. How did circumstances
at LCD differ from in other years so that there was reduced overtime
and no casual staff needed to be employed during 2000-01?
The figure recorded for casuals in 2000-01 was omitted in error
and should read 450, which is not significantly different to previous
The overtime figure is only slightly lower than the three
previous years. Overtime fluctuates according to local business
needs, and we do not collect information on the particular reasons
for authorising overtime.
18. On page 75 there is a reference to the department
strengthening its Corporate Board and corporate functions in response
to the external peer review. Can you explain how this has been
achieved and the impact this has made?
The Peer Review found that the Board did not have the necessary
mechanisms to ensure that as information and issues were brought
to it these were presented in ways that enabled the Board quickly
to get to the root of the problem and take effective decisions
that could then be swiftly implemented. It was also important
to involve a wider number of senior staff more directly in corporate
governance. This has been achieved by establishing a proper network
of sub-committees for the Board to provide greater scrutiny on
specific areas of the department's work. The four sub-committees
are the Resources and Priorities Committee (which has been primarily
focused on the department's contribution to SR2002); the HR sub-committee;
the E Business Strategy Group; and Policy Committee. At the beginning
of 2002-03 we established at SCS level a new post with responsibilities
for ensuring proper co-ordination between the Board and its sub-committees
and to develop the Board's ability to look strategically beyond
the immediate. As part of his responsibilities the postholder
is responsible for the departmental planning system. We also made
arrangements to make senior members of staff owners of particular
PSA delivery targets from April 2001. PSA Working Groups exist
for all targets or groups of targets, and include as appropriate,
representation from other Government Departments, the voluntary
sector and other agencies. The owners have to report on performance
and progress on a six-monthly basis to the Corporate Board. With
the conclusion of SR2002 the Resources and Priorities Committee
will now take over the work of detailed scrutiny of the PSA targets
with the Board concentrating on any areas where remedial action
The Departmental Change Programme Review, which began in
co-operation with OPSR, will include in its detailed work examination
of our ability to manage effectively our programmes and help us
to identify the necessary changes to be more effective.
19. The report says that the department is on course to
meet the HM Treasury timetable to implement and fully test procedures
in support of the Statement of Internal Control. Can you explain
the processes for identifying risks and mitigating controls, who
has carried out this work on behalf of the project board and the
timetable for completing it?
The processes for identifying the key risks to Departmental
Objectives and Targets and establishing mitigating controls are
set out in the LCD Policy and Framework for Managing Risk, which
is based upon the principles set out in the HM Treasury Guide
"Management of Riska Strategic Overview" (The
Orange Book). The process of risk self-assessment, which is
being applied to objectives and targets at each level of the organisation,
was developed by the project team in consultation with external
consultants. The Framework incorporates a standard Template for
recording the following discrete stages:
1. Defining & Testing Objectives/TargetsThrough
identifying the critical success factors and key performance indicators,
an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of internal and
external environmental factors, and identification of the stakeholders.
2. Risk IdentificationThrough workshops and other
discussions focusing on inherent risks and using the headline
risks of External, Financial, Activity, and Human Resources to
encourage discussion, consideration and capture of the full range
3. Risk AssessmentWith a number of risks identified,
consideration is then given to the impact and likelihood of each
risk to establish which are the most significant, using a scale
of one (Very Low) to five (Very High). The discussion that follows
this initial risk assessment, is key to clarify understanding
of the risks and driving out new risks.
4. Risk ManagementHaving identified and prioritised
the significant risks, consideration is given to the contributing
factors (or root/primary causes) which determine a risk's likelihood
or impact, the current responses/controls in place to manage the
risks and decide upon their adequacy, and finally whether anything
more is required to manage the residual risk (ie the level of
risk that still exists in spite of the controls already in place).
5. Risk Monitoring & ReportingWithin LCD the
various business areas of the LCD HQ, the Associated Offices,
Court Service, PGO, and the Executive NDPBs have their own reporting
structures which adopt the formal reporting of risk. The Departmental
level reporting of risk, which includes contributions from each
of its business areas through submission of a Risk Register to
a quarterly timetable, aims to draw up knowledge of the risks
to the Department's business and cascade strategy down.
The project board is chaired by the Director of Corporate
Services. The Project Reviewer is the Head of Financial Systems
Branch, and the Project Manager is a member of that branch. The
introduction of risk management procedures is a strand of SDA
58, the Target Owner for which is Head of Financial Systems Branch.
The LCD Policy and Framework for Managing Risk was published
on 11 June 2002. A summary of remaining timetable tasks include:
|August-September 2002||Ongoing Risk Workshop/Training for staff
|September-October 2002||Key Departmental Committees (eg PSA Working Groups) to provide quarterly Risk Register and report to the Corporate Board
|October 2002||Compilation of the first draft of the Departmental Risk Register and submission of Summary Risk Report to the Corporate Board
|November 2002 to April 2003||Review of supporting procedures to the SIC, including the LCD Policy and Framework for Managing Risk
|April 2003||Draft Statement on the Systems of Internal Control
20. The table on page 88 shows an estimated outturn of
£84 million and projection of £69 million for current
payments by central government under PFI and PPPs in 2001-02 and
2002-03 respectively but only £1 million relates to the Magistrates'
Courts PFI. Can you provide a breakdown of these figures by project
to show what the remaining expenditure relates to?
The remaining expenditure relates to the following PPP contracts:
|Estimated Outturn 2001-02 (£m)
||Projections 2002-03 (£m)|
|Probate Records Centre||1.47
|Chester Civil Justice Centre*||
* Private Developer Scheme, the rest are PFI deals.
21. Page 88 refers to Private Finance initiative and Public
Private Partnerships. However, there is no information given on
the IT PFIs disclosed in the published resource for 2000-01 and
also in last year's departmental report. Can you please update
us on these projects?
Information on the running costs for the IT PFI deals was
included in central government expenditure in the table on page
88 of the departmental report. Figures for the individual projects,
which are also included in the answer to question 20, are:
|PPP Contract||Estimated Outturn 2001-02 (£m)
||Projections 2002-03 (£m)|
22. Media coverage in the last few months suggest that
the LIBRA project, responsibility for which transferred to the
Court Service during the year, may be in severe difficulties.
Can you please set out what the current position is on this project
and any possible effects on the 2001-02 and 2002-03 accounts?
Delivery of the first phase of the Libra programme, to provide
a modern national infrastructure to the Magistrates' Courts, is
75 per cent complete. The remainder will be completed by early
The second phase, to provide a new standard software application,
was not delivered by the supplier when originally planned. We
are in negotiations with the Libra supplier, Fujitsu Services,
to resolve this situation and Parliament will be informed of the
outcome as soon as those negotiations are concluded.
Expenditure for 2001-02 was within the limits set for the
project. The funding position from 2002-03 onwards remains dependent
on the outcome of current negotiations. The Department does not
expect to revise the existing accounting treatment of the Libra
programme as a result of the contractual changes.
23. The Management Information System (MIS) is discussed
on page 74. This says that managers and staff in LCD HQ and the
Court Service will be able to access case level data on the system.
Are there any plans to extend the system to integrate with Magistrates'
Courts to ease the transfer of information when cases are moved
from Magistrates' Courts to higher courts?
MIS is not intended to, nor will it, support case management
of cases transferring from Magistrates' Courts to the Crown Court.
It is an enquiry, analysis and reporting tool designed to improve
the Department's understanding of the work of the courts.
The benefits of extending MIS to include some data from Magistrates'
Courts for management information purposes have been recognised,
and this option will be kept under review.
24. Page 23 sets out the target to increase the proportion
of asylum appeals completed within four months to 65 per cent
from 2002-03. In the first quarter of 2001-02, 44.8 per cent of
appeals went through both appeal tiers within 17 weeks. Is it
possible to break down the process time at each tier to identify
where the delays are arising?
It is possible to break down the process time not just for
each tier but for the various parts of each tier. This information
is given below for asylum appeals received by the IAA between
1 April 2001 and 31 September 2001.
Of the asylum appeals received by the IAA from 1 April 2001
to 30 September 2001, the average process times for each stage
of the appellate process were as follows:
|Adjudicator first hearing||96.5 per cent dealt within eight weeks
|Adjudicator substantive hearing||87.3 per cent dealt within 15 weeks
|Application to Tribunal||62.1 per cent dealt within 21 weeks
|Substantive Tribunal hearing||59 per cent dealt within 35 weeks
In each case, the timings are from initial receipt of the
appeal by the IAA.
25. Are there targets set for each tier? If so, what has
been performance against targets? If not, why have targets not
been set for each appeal tier?
The current target is for the two tiers combined. There are
no published targets for each of the two separate tiers of the
IAA. The IAA has set internal performance indicators broken down
for each of the two tiers for the first time this financial year.
Data will start to come on stream starting with the April figures
from the end of August. (There is always a five-month lead time:
four months to allow for the case to progress through the system
and one month to collect and collate the relevant data.)
26. The target at the Home Office for processing asylum
applications is 60 per cent of new substantive applications to
be decided within two months. The Home Office departmental report
says that performance has improved and, if sustained, the target
can be met. This is a significantly shorter time scale than the
LCD target for appeals processing. As the proportion of appeals
is very high, is this causing a bottleneck of appeals and if so,
how is the department intending to address this?
The Home Office target and the LCD target are both expressed
as percentages to be achieved within overall periods to help improve
measurement of performance over the end to end system.
The IND process aims to make 60 per cent of decisions within
two months. This is essentially an administrative decision-making
process. The appeal target is for a judicial process which is
much more complex and relies on judicial case management of the
appellant's appeal and of the Home Office's response to that appeal.
It also relies on the simultaneous availability on the hearing
day of appellants, their legal representatives, HO presenting
officers and interpreters. The current target of 65 per cent within
four months covers both tiers of the Immigration Appellate Authority
and includes judicial decisions by adjudicators, by the Immigration
Appeal Tribunal (IAT) on leave to appeal, and by the IAT on substantive
appeals. The IAA also handles appeals on immigration cases, family
visit visa appeals and bail applications in relation to asylum
and immigration cases.
The Home Office made over 130,000 initial decisions in 2000-01,
effectively dealing with all their backlog of initial decisions.
Appeals are being fed through to the IAA at a current rate of
4,500 each month, which will rise to 6,000 each month from November
2002. The HO and LCD have worked jointly to manage this very significant
volume of cases. This has necessitated an unprecedented expansion
of the IAA: judiciary, staff and courtrooms, and a corresponding
increase in the number of interpreters, legal representatives
and HO presenting officers. All of these will be in place to support
the November increase in caseload and the IAA will be able to
eat further into the bottleneck of the backlog of appeals, as
well as handling all new appeals.
27. Given the link between the two departments in this
area, how far do LCD and the Home Office liaise when setting their
LCD and HO work very closely together on target setting,
on planning for the future and on the day-to-day handling of cases.
Both LCD and the Home Office have major programmes in place
to expand their capacity and improve their performance and each
Department has senior level representation on the other's Programme
In addition, a senior LCD official sits on the Board of the
Immigration and Nationality Directorate.
Joint projects involving both LCD and IND (and other key
stakeholders as appropriate) are tackling a number of key areas,
especially adjournments in the IAA. This project has used joint
working to achieve a reduction in the adjournment rate from 30
per cent to 20 per cent.
28. Page 24 refers to the IAA trying to increase the appeals
processing capacity from 4,000 to 6,000 per month from November
2002. What is the estimated additional cost of this? What are
the longer-term targets?
The estimated additional cost for the year 2002-03 is £65.8
million. The longer-term targets will be focused on speeding up
the average time that each case spends within the appeal systemsand
the asylum system as a wholewhilst still ensuring that
the interests of justice are served both for the appellant and
Work is ongoing to assess appropriate future targets and
funding as part of the current spending review. At this time it
is expected that the Home Office and LCD will set SDAs as well
as working together to set a joint target for the "end-to-end"
asylum system. Such a target would be supported by focused funding
arrangements agreed with Treasury.
29. Suggestions have been made by the Home Secretary that
asylum seekers who appeal might be expected to return to their
country of origin or their first point of entry and appeal from
there. In general terms, what additional costs would be associated
with asylum seekers appealing from overseas and what additional
difficulties may this cause?
The IAA already hears appeals from abroad for family visit
visa appeals, either on paper or at oral hearings where the appellant's
legal or other representative may appear. Experience of these
appeals will help to inform the handling of other out-of-country
appeals and joint work between IND and LCD will aim to reduce
any potential difficulties.
The Home Secretary has brought forward measures in the Nationality
Immigration and Asylum Bill currently before the House, which
would allow the conduct of appeals from certain categories of
asylum seekers from abroad. IND and LCD are working closely on
an implementation plan following Royal Assent. This will include
an evaluation of the likely costs and savings.
30. Page 40 says that there have been changes to criminal
legal aid which is now provided through contracts with private
sector lawyers and a small number of public defenders. This is
said to have achieved value for money. What evidence is there
to support this? Can this be quantified financially?
Criminal contracting was introduced only in April 2001, and
the Public Defender Service (PDS) is still being established.
It is therefore too early to quantify improvements in value for
money. Contracting provides an assurance of what is being done
for the money paid, and improvements should follow progressively
as suppliers improve their performance, not least in response
to the challenge of the benchmark information LSC gain through
the PDS. We have commissioned researchers to undertake a full
evaluation of the performance, cost and value of the new PDS offices.
31. Page 40 also refers to individual case contracts being
applied in Crown Court cases. How do these operate, eg by day,
These are the "Very High Cost Criminal Cases" or
VHCCC contracts. Cases are managed under individual contracts
between LSC and defence teams. Payment for work is agreed on the
basis of an overall case plan and individual stage plans. Prices
are agreed for each stage and are fixed, subject to limited tolerances,
or unforeseeable circumstances. Payments are made at the conclusion
of each stage. There is no need for taxation at the end of the
case. Pricing takes place within a rigorous framework, including
hourly rates set in regulations, for both solicitors and counsel.
The LSC will arrange an Individual Case Contract (ICC) for
any very high cost case, ie a case predicted to last more than
25 days (if it proceeds to trial) or to incur defence costs of
more than £150,000. The £150,000 applies to any one
defendant, or a group of defendants if represented by the same
firm of solicitors, and includes the solicitor costs, fees payable
to counsel, or experts, and other disbursements. Since April 2001,
only Serious Fraud Panel Members can undertake very high cost
serious fraud cases.
The indications are that these contracts can save substantial
sums, but there is a substantial "bring forward" of
expenditure because lawyers are paid earlier. We will look at
how far this scheme can be rolled out in the light of the spending
32. Page 40 says the introduction of individual case contracts
in Crown Court cases is making sure costs are controlled. One
of the findings in the recent Audit Commission report, Route to
Justice, was that lawyers are boosting their fees through adjournment
and cancellation of trials, how would these arrangements prevent
this and ensure costs are kept under control? Can you provide
details of the financial saving of using QCs less?
The Audit Commission report suggested that the system was
open to such abuse. However, the very serious and lengthy cases
dealt with under individual case contracts will be subject to
strict management by the judiciary, limiting the scope for abuse.
In addition, case contracts control such behaviour, as all work
must be identified and justified in advance in the stage plan.
We would not pay for work caused by unnecessary adjournments by
the defence team.
These complex arrangements are not suitable for more conventional
cases, because contract management would be disproportionate to
the case costs involved. We already have considerable control
over cost from the use of standard and graduated fees. In the
context of Auld, we will extend these schemes and ensure that
they properly reward good and timely preparation.
The present fee structures do not, we believe, encourage
lawyers to generally prolong cases. Most payments in the Magistrates'
Courts are based on standard fees which give no incentive to spin
out cases. The Graduated Fee Scheme for advocates in the Crown
Court provides set fees, with little incentive to prolong cases.
Cases outside these schemes are paid ex post facto, when
it can be argued that there this is some incentive to prolong
cases. We are working on a defence fee structure, to replace existing
ex post facto work, which will support efficient, timely
and effective case preparation, as part of the Auld reforms.
In the year to May 2002, there was a saving of £1.16
million in payments to QCs in graduated fee cases over the previous
year. This followed the introduction of new regulations in September
2000 to control more tightly when Queen's Counsel might be allowed
for the defence in Crown Court cases. A judge may still allow
the defence a QC where the case warrants.
33. What has been the experience of the first year of
operation of the pilot Public Defender Service office in Liverpool?
The Liverpool PDS office has had a successful first year.
Key challenges have been to establish the office, recruit and
build a team of people and begin to develop a client base from
scratch. From its opening in May 2001 to the end of March 2002,
the office commenced 482 cases, 37 per cent from previous clients
or referrals from existing clients. It is too early to make a
full evaluation. Researchers will start work shortly to do so.
34. On page 19, details are given of SDA2. This includes
the target to reduce unnecessary attendance of witnesses at Magistrates'
Courts by 10 per cent over the period 2001-04. In the last 12
months there has been a reduction of 3 per cent to 50 per cent.
Can you provide details of the reasons why unnecessary attendance
arises, why the unnecessary attendance rate is so high and what
steps the department is taking to reduce unnecessary attendance?
The Department introduced a "Cracked, Ineffective and
Vacated Trial" monitoring scheme into all Magistrates' Courts
in January 2002 (with data being collected from April 2002). This
will assist the criminal justice agencies to identify and tackle
the causes of unnecessary attendance. The main categories of reasons
that will be identified from the scheme are:
guilty plea on alternative charge;
prosecution witness absent;
defence witness absent;
right to representation problems; and
Initial data from the pilot monitoring scheme showed that
the biggest contributors were: late plea changes; prosecution
witnesses (both police and civilian) absent; defendant absent;
prosecution end case; and lack of court time. We expect data from
the scheme to be used at a local level to improve inter-agency
co-operation, and thereby performance.
35. On page 19, it says that a new monitoring scheme to
help Magistrates' Courts identify the reasons for trials "cracking"
or being "ineffective" was launched in January 2001.
Full data collection to help Magistrates' Courts Committees identify
and monitor problems in the Criminal Justice System did not start
until April 2002. Why was there a delay of 15 months between the
launching of the scheme and the start of data collection?
This is a typographical error. The scheme was launched in
January 2002, not 2001.
36. The department implemented reforms in January 2001
to send indictable-only cases straight to the Crown Court after
the first appearance in the Magistrates' Court. Page 21 says that
this reform has not been fully evaluated but the early indications
are that it has reduced waiting times in the more serious cases.
What data is available to indicate that this reform is reducing
waiting times? When does the department intend to carry out a
full evaluation of this reform?
The target set for the disposal of indictable only cases
when the change was implemented was 26 weeks. This period broadly
reflected the average time that these more complex and difficult
cases took to progress through both the Magistrates' and Crown
For the period January-May 2000 (a full year after implementation)
the average waiting time for indictable only offences is 17.3
weeks, over eight weeks less than the target.
It is not intended to undertake a full evaluation of the
reforms for a further six months to ensure that all the changes
brought about by the reform have settled down.
37. Page 22 says that the department is using court capacity
more effectively to reduce surplus. Courtroom over-capacity was
reduced from 43 per cent in 2000 to 38.5 per cent between April
and September 2001. This is said to represent a reduction of 10.5
per cent not 4.5 per cent. Can you please clarify this?
The target was to reduce the level of over capacity (43 per
cent) by 10 per cent. A reduction of 4.5 per cent of 43 per cent
represents a reduction in over capacity of 10.5 per cent.
38. Courtroom over-capacity is evidently still a significant
problem. What measures is the department employing to reduce over-capacity?
A series of meetings has been held with Justices, Chief Executives
and Circuit Administrators/Group Managers to agree a sensible
blueprint for the Court (Joint) Estate against which all future
business cases will be measured. To date meetings have been held
covering 35 Magistrates' Court areas and the programme will be
completed in the early autumn. The meetings have identified some
60 opportunities for sharing with Magistrates' Courts where the
latter have spare hearing room capacity. In the majority of instances
this will mean moving from Victorian county courts to modern Magistrates'
Courts buildings which should result in the provision of better
quality facilities both to our customers and our staff. Feasibility
studies will be undertaken to determine whether this potential
can be realised. There would appear to be little difficulty from
a Courtroom/Hearing Room point of view. The major problem is likely
to be whether the county court staff can be accommodated in the
building as well. Magistrates' Courts generally are over-provided
with courtrooms but under-provided with office space and ancillary
39. The department is also said to be tackling the problem
of some urban areas having too many separate court locations.
How widespread is this problem and how is the department trying
to address this?
The problem is now much less widespread, as the Department
has made significant efforts to address the issue of separate
locations in urban areas.
The major problem was the number of separate offices for
Probate and some Tribunals. In the last few years we have relocated
offices and combined them where possible and/or sought out more
cost-effective accommodation. These include the Probate offices
in Lincoln, Leicester, Oxford, Ipswich and York, and the Pensions
Appeals Tribunal and VAT Tribunal in Birmingham and the Pensions
Appeals Tribunal in Newcastle upon Tyne. There are plans for new
build schemes to include both Probate and other administrative
offices into one building in Bristol, Exeter and Manchester.
40. Are contracts with solicitors mentioned on page 37
broken down into different categories of work?
Yes. Contracts are broken down into the following categories
Actions against the Police;
* Tolerances are included in contracts to enable contracted
organisations to undertake related work in which they do not hold
category-specific contracts. The number of tolerances is a fixed
percentage of the overall contract size, usually about 10 per
41. Are sufficient lawyers with necessary expertise and
achieving the CLS Quality mark available to cover all aspects
of the law (eg, immigration, particularly given the increase in
asylum applications an appeals)?
LSC and LCD keep the supply of lawyers under close review.
At present, there is no general shortage of lawyers willing to
undertake publicly funded legal services. There are some rural
and semi-urban areas of England and Wales where we would like
to increase supply, and we are working to expand service provision
in particular in social welfare and asylum law.
As for the future, there was a drop of 6 per cent this year
from last in the number of solicitors' firms undertaking publicly
funded work. There is intelligence that many firms are contemplating
leaving it. Publicly funded work is not very profitable and, as
costs rise, some firms may find it in their commercial interests
to leave it. We are looking with the LSC at what we can do to
ensure a continuing service in the light of the SR2002 settlement.
42. On page 69 it states that "Community Legal Partnerships
now cover 95 per cent of the population in England and Wales".
In which parts of the country do the other 5 per cent of the population
By June 2002 coverage of England and Wales by Community Legal
Service (CLS) Partnerships had extended to 99.14 per cent. We
are confident that we will reach 100 per cent population coverage
by the end of the autumn, some 18 months ahead of the Lord Chancellor's
target date of spring 2004. We would prefer not publicly to name
the four areas where Partnerships have not yet been established
while negotiations continue between them and the LSC.
43. What has been the financial impact of the changes
in the funding regime for civil litigation?
The financial impact on civil litigation generally is inconclusive.
Changes in the funding regime have coincided with civil procedure
("Woolf") reforms. These have required more work to
be done before proceedingsand look to have resulted in
many disputes being settled without any, or without as lengthy
or onerous, proceedings. Test cases on costs, behind which many
other cases have yet to be resolved, have only recently been determined
in the higher courts.
We are considering commissioning quantitative research into
case management in fast and multi-track cases. This is likely
to capture information on costs in civil cases that proceed to
trial and may capture information on settled cases. The Civil
Justice Council's Costs Working Group will be commissioning data
collection to inform options for introducing fixed recoverable
costs for personal injury disputes in the pre-action protocol
and fast track periods.
As for legal aid our best estimate is that the introduction
of CFAs, and the decision to take personal injury cases out of
scope, saves around £100 million a year. This is based on
an assessment of the decline in the volume of work after 1995
when CFAs were introduced, as well as the savings from taking
personal injury out of scope in 2000. It is necessarily not a
44. Page 43 says that response to the changes has been
more gradual in complex areas of litigation. Now that two years
have passed since the changes were implemented, are there any
areas of civil litigation which LCD consider cannot be properly
served by the legal services market?
Legislation does not allow CFAs in family cases but some
forms of private provision are available such as specific insurance
policies for maintenance after divorce.
Even with test cases on cost recovery unresolved, the market
has proved innovative and is moving into areas previously seen
as risky, such as defamation and clinical negligence. Some areas
may be unpromising, for instance, where there is public funding,
cases which require substantial investigation to assess prospects
of success, or where the likely outcome is inherently difficult
45. On page 52, the department acknowledges that there
have been teething problems with funding, managing and completing
the set-up of CAFCASS. What were these problems and how were they
CAFCASS was set up to a very demanding legislative timetable.
It was always clear that, whatever our long-term ambitions for
it, in the short term it would take considerable hard work merely
to bring together the three existing services (including numerous
local arrangements), while continuing to provide a service on
the ground. Despite the problems, we do not think anyone seriously
disputes that the creation of CAFCASS was the right way forward.
A dispute between CAFCASS and self-employed guardians clearly
took up much time and effort, and diverted attention from other
important issues. However, CAFCASS has made significant progress
on the issue of contracts for the self-employed children's guardians.
The vast majority of the guardians have now accepted the offers
Following a series of regional visits, the independent Magistrates'
Courts Inspectorate (MCSI) reported in March 2002 that CAFCASS
had generally continued to provide the same service as was provided
prior to its creation. Nonetheless, we recognise that there will
have been local variations from this overall assessment and we
are aware that there have been some specific local difficulties
due to the decisions of individual self-employed guardians about
their future in some of those areas. Where this was the case CAFCASS
has taken action, including the appointment of new employed guardians,
to ensure services are maintained. CAFCASS will appoint new guardians
where there are local shortfalls.
CAFCASS's budget was based on the historical expenditure
of the three component services, plus new cash for start-up costs.
CAFCASS's expenditure in 2001-02, on a cash basis, came in slightly
under budget. As with any new organisation it takes time to review
resource needs and drive out the greater efficiency that a merged
organisation can offer.
CAFCASS, as a new national organisation, has had to work
with the management information it inherited from its predecessor
bodies. This was not homogenous and the data was limited. CAFCASS
has, however, begun to address how this management information
can be improved across the service.
The Department is working closely with the CAFCASS Board
and management team. Rosie Winterton MP has regular meetings with
the Chairman and receives reports from him. CAFCASS is now beginning
to develop a unified service and is progressing forward with greater
purpose and confidence.
46. What information do you have on the level of satisfaction
of users of CAFCASS compared with the situation two years ago?
Two years ago no baseline existed to measure the satisfaction
of users of the services which were brought together to form CAFCASS,
as each had its own system for monitoring performance. As for
any new organisation, it is necessary to develop performance indicators
that are specific and appropriate to its operation.
One of the six key objectives, which the Lord Chancellor
set CAFCASS upon launch, was to create effective measures to assess
the quality of services it offers. In its Corporate Plan for 2002-06,
CAFCASS sets out the key indicators it will develop, and against
which their performance will be measured in subsequent years.
This includes identifying the best means of measuring the satisfaction
of children, families and other stakeholders in its service.
The best information on the performance of CAFCASS compared
with two years ago comes from the independent inspection conducted
by the Inspectorate. Its view, in its report published in March
2002, based on initial structured visits to the regions during
2001, was that:
"CAFCASS...has generally continued to deliver a service
to children, families and courts to at least the same standards
as in the previous services prior to the creation of CAFCASS."
This is a tribute to the professionalism and dedication of
the great majority of CAFCASS staff.
The MSCI report was placed in the House libraries.
47. On page 58, you forecast a shortfall during 2001-02
in the appointment of medical members of the Appeals Service and
the Mental Health Review Tribunals, adding that measures have
been taken, in conjunction with the Department of Health, to improve
the recruitment of doctors. What form have these taken and are
there any indications yet as to how successful these measures
The recruitment of medical members across the health-related
tribunals has been a cause for concern for some years. This reflects
a general shortage of consultant psychiatrists, with 17 per cent
vacancies nationally reported by the Royal College of Psychiatrists;
higher in certain locations.
Nevertheless, in conjunction with the Department of Health,
a number of steps have been taken to improve matters. These include:
increasing the frequency of recruitment exercises
for medical members;
extending the retirement age of medical members
to 70 (and considering requests from DH to extend individual appointments
on a year by year basis between age 70 and 75);
the Department of Health increasing the fee level;
changing the criteria for appointment as a medical
member of the MHRT, to recognise part-time as well as full-time
establishing regular contact and meetings between
LCD officials and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Current
projects in conjunction with the College include a proposed schedule
of talks by officials to NHS Trust executives, medical directors
and local interest groups, in order to raise the profile of the
sending a questionnaire to existing medical members
of the MHRT asking for their opinion of the present recruitment
service, and suggestions for ways in which more members might
be attracted. The results are now being analysed;
sending an additional questionnaire to consultant
psychiatrists not presently members of the MHRT. Although the
exercise is in its early stages, results so far have been positive
and sufficient interest has been generated to warrant arranging
a new recruitment competition;
The Lord Chancellor continues to explore with
Ministerial colleagues in the Department of Health what other
initiatives might be taken to attract more medical applicants.
So far, the most promising results have been from the more
personal contact that officials are establishing with both the
profession and individual psychiatrists and the general raising
of interest in Tribunal business. As a result of this work, a
number of consultants have declared an interest in becoming members
of the Tribunal and a new competition has been organised for later
this year. It is too early yet to assess the impact of the fee
48. According to page 59, only 82 per cent of Magistrates'
posts that Advisory Committees were seeking to fill were filled
last year, against a target of 95 per cent. What action is the
department intending to take to help the Committees set the ideal
number of Magistrates for a bench and realistic targets for filling
The Lord Chancellor has commissioned a National Recruitment
Strategy for Lay Magistrates and there is ongoing consultation
with the Advisory Committees regarding local recruitment and target
49. Initial legal advice has suggested that the 1958 and
1967 Public Records Acts may not be able to cope adequately with
electronic records and may be out of line with government and
business environments. On page 119 it says that PRO are proposing
to undertake a study with other government departments which may
recommend that they work towards new legislation. Can you provide
details of the departments involved in this, when you anticipate
this study may be undertaken, and the broad remit of the review?
With reference to Question 49, the Public Record Office,
as a separate government department with its own accounting officer,
has provided the answers to the Committee's questions.
An initial scoping study is being undertaken by a small group
of departments, comprising PRO, LCD (with its FOI and data protection
responsibilities), Cabinet Office, DCMS (because of its responsibility
for heritage and cultural matters), FCO (a major creator of historical
records) and the Department of the Deputy Prime Minister (now
responsible for local authority archives services). The group
will be advised by a Treasury Solicitor representative retained
by PRO and chaired by the Keeper of Public Records.
The group will meet for the first time in early August. Its
role will be to set an agenda for consideration by a working group
which is planned to report to Ministers before the end of the
year. It will consider the need for and scope of legislation to
replace the Public Records Act 1958. The aspects it is likely
to consider include:
provision for the long-term management and preservation
of electronic records of central government and the courts, so
as to preserve their authenticity and reliability;
creation of a National Archives, by bringing together
the functions of the PRO and the Historical Manuscripts Commission
(a body whose remit relates to records that are not covered by
the Public Records Act 1958)as announced by Baroness Blackstone
on 12 July;
a legal framework for the proper management of
the records of central government, with provision for standards
and monitoring equivalent legislative provision for local government
records (at present covered by the Local Government (Records)
Act 1962 and the Local Government Act 1972, s 224).
50. What is the latest state of play on publication of
the 1901 census on the Internet? How does the actual cost to public
funds of publishing the 1901 census compare with that originally
With reference to Question 50, the Public Record Office,
as a separate government department with its own accounting officer,
has provided the answers to the Committee's questions.
At the time of writing, 11 July 2002, the Public Record Office
(PRO) cannot give a firm date when the 1901 Census will be fully
functional. However, QinetiQ Ltd, who are responsible for setting
up the site and providing the online service, have continued to
make technical improvements to it. QinetiQ Ltd have been testing
the site and the PRO has also carried out its own independent
test programme. Now the final results of these tests are available,
QinetiQ Ltd and the PRO are planning to move to a phase of public
testing, from which it will be possible to decide whether the
service is sufficiently robust to give a satisfactory experience
to users. It is anticipated that this will be completed by mid
to late August.
All development costs and additional improvement costs have
been met in full by QinetiQ Ltd. The PRO is not aware of the amount
of expenditure incurred by QinetiQ, nor of the additional costs
incurred, which have been funded using independent finance. Since
1998-99 the PRO has spent £1.4 million in respect of contract
negotiations, legal advice, contract management, quality assurance
and editing of data, and independent expert loading testing for
the 1901 census service.
The PRO discharged its statutory duty of making the 1901
census publicly available by providing a microfiche set for the
whole country at Kew and by supplying local record offices and
libraries throughout England and Wales with microfiche copies
relating to their areas. The new online census website is an additional
service. It was immediately overwhelmed by unprecedented demand
and general Internet access had to be temporarily suspended on
7 January. This was done in order to enable the introduction of
improvements to the online service by the PRO's contractor QinetiQ
Ltd (formerly the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency), who
are responsible for the technical aspects of the service within
the framework of a Public Private Partnership. Since 6 February
the service has been closed down completely, to allow QinetiQ
to conduct rigorous testing of the improvements.
The PRO has apologised for the disappointment, which has
been expressed by many family historians worldwide, a disappointment
that it shares. It has been working very hard with QinetiQ to
progress the improvements and to conduct its own rigorous testing
programme. The most important consideration is to ensure that,
when the 1901 online census is relaunched on the Internet, it
successfully handles the initial demand, which it is anticipated
will be extremely high once again, and provides a consistently
reliable service to users.
51. When is the review of the Law Commission expected
to report? Will this be a normal quinquennial review? If not,
by whom will it be conducted? (page 28)
We have not yet launched the review, which will broadly follow
Cabinet Office guidance for quinquennial reviews. We will also
take account of further Cabinet Office thinking, to make greater
strategic connection between NDPBs and sponsor departments. Accordingly,
our review will examine how the Commission contributes to the
overall process of law reform and the delivery of Government objectives.
We expect to appoint a head of review shortly. The report should
be available around the end of the year.
52. What are the current staffing levels and annual budget
for the LCD's work on human rights, House of Lords reform, freedom
of information and data protection (as shown on pages 62 and 63)
and for electoral and party funding (as transferred recently)
and how do these figures compare with the last full year in which
these functions were carried out in other departments?
Human Rights and Freedom of Information/Data Protection
The staffing level and annual budget for human rights and
freedom of information/data protection work are as follows:
||2000-01 (Home Office)|
|Freedom of information and|
Staffing figure not available
LCD also sponsors the Office of the Information Commissioner
(OIC), a non-departmental public body enforcing the Freedom of
Information and Data Protection Acts. In 2002-03, the grant-in-aid
for the OIC is £14.126 million, offset by a projected fee
income of £4.2 million.
Prior to the formation of the OIC, enforcement of the Data
Protection Act was carried out by the Data Protection Commissioner
(DPC). In 2001-02, the grant-in-aid for the DPC was £4.99
million, with a projected fee income of £2.5 million.
House of Lords Reform
In 2002-03 the budget for the House of Lords Reform Unit
is £361,000, with four staff. (In the event of there being
a House of Lords Reform Bill in the next session, there is provision
for this to rise to six staff.)
For 2001-02, when the Unit was the responsibility of the
Cabinet Office, the budget was £406,000, with six staff.
Electoral and Party Funding
The former Home Office function, which is transferring from
DTLR to LCD this year, expanded from five staff to 16 last year
due in part to the work on electronic voting.
53. Does the Department measure its performance in responding
to parliamentary questions and letters from MPs? If so, what was
the performance in 2000-01 and 2001-02?
The Department does not have a set performance measure for
answering parliamentary questions. However, the Department aims
to answer all parliamentary questions within their parliamentary
target. For the House of Commons the target is within five working
days for ordinary written questions, and on the day named for
named day questions. For the House of Lords the Parliamentary
targets for answering questions is 10 working days.
The Lord Chancellor's Department has a paper system for recording
the parliamentary questions tabled to or transferred into the
Department. This was established when there was a smaller number
of parliamentary questions tabled to the Department. As with other
Government Departments the number of questions tabled to the Lord
Chancellor's Department has steadily increased. We are looking
to establish a computer-based system for parliamentary questions.
This will enable performance to be monitored easily against the
The limitations of the present recording system make it very
difficult to produce statistics swiftly about the Department's
performance in responding to parliamentary questions. However,
the Lord Chancellor recently answered a parliamentary question
which required the information to be collated from the records.
The question asked for the proportion of ordinary written questions
which were answered within a week, and for the number of named
day answers which received a substantive reply on the day named.
The period covered by the question was 1 June 2001 to 24 May 2002.
This is reproduced at Annex C.
The Department does measure its performance for responding
to letters from MPs. Performance against the overall 20-day target
went up from 72.99 per cent in 2000-01 to 74.97 per cent in 2001-02.
The Lord Chancellor has recently asked for the department to improve
performance significantly over the coming year.
54. What progress has LCD made towards the target for
delivery of services electronically? (page 73). Which parts of
LCD are most ahead? In which parts could significantly more progress
be made? What are the constraints on delivery of services electronically?
What progress has LCD made towards the target for delivery of
services electronically? (page 73)
The latest return we made to the Office of the e-Envoy shows
that currently we offer 32 per cent of our services (as defined
in our Public Service Agreements) electronically. That figure
will have increased since the return was made as Money Claim On
Line and XHIBIT have been launched in the interim.
Which parts of LCD are most ahead?
In our most recent submission to the OeE on e-Business Delivery
we suggested the following are our four most successful examples
of Electronic Service Delivery:
JustAsk! web site: one of the LCD's core objectives
is to improve people's knowledge and understanding of their rights
and responsibilities. The award-winning JustAsk! web site provides
free access to the range of legal information ranging from information
on the law to finding local advice providers;
XHIBIT (eXchanging Hearing Information By Internet
Technology): a modernised, joined-up Criminal Justice System (CJS)
is one of the government's key priorities. XHIBIT is a cross CJS
initiative, led by the LCD as part of its Courts and Tribunals
Modernisation Programme (CTMP), which is piloting new ways of
joined-up working, in relation to court hearings, made possible
by the application of modern technology;
Money Claim OnLine (MCOL): also a CTMP initiative,
is one of the few fully transactional online government services
available to citizens. It provides for issue of fixed amount money
claims, judgments and warrant of executions. All of these can
be completed online, unless the case becomes defended (which happens
in less than 5 per cent of the 1.7 million issued each year);
The Court Service Web site: this web site is amongst
the 10 most used across Whitehall. Its position has been achieved
by offering a very wide range of services that are in demand from
our users of the justice system, in particular court judgments
and online forms and leaflets.
In which parts could significantly more progress be made?
As far as gaps in our online offerings are concerned, we
have identified both the Magistrates' Court and Family business
areas within LCD as being particularly in need of further development.
The next version of our e-Business plans, to be published in the
autumn, will contain proposals as to how this might be done.
What are the constraints on delivery of services electronically?
The "2005 target" is actually 100 per cent of services
it is appropriate to deliver electronically. In LCD's case 6 per
cent of our services have been deemed not to be suitable for delivery
by these means. These services are various types of court proceedings
for which a hearing is currently necessary in the criminal and
family jurisdictions, which, for reasons of public policy, it
is felt an electronic alternative would not be appropriate.
The speed of overall delivery is also, clearly, dependent
on levels of funding made available to the Department.
Particularly in the criminal justice arena, we are committed
to delivering "joined-up" electronic services spanning
across Criminal Justice Organisations. Thus, there is a mutual
dependency on the speed of delivery in each CJO and delivery of
the central IT, which will link all components together. The latter
part is the responsibility of the Criminal Justice IT unit, located
in the Home Office.
55. What public appointments, other than judicial appointments,
has the Lord Chancellor made in the past year to posts commanding
salaries of more than £10,000 pa; and to which such posts
are appointments due to be made in the period up to the end of
The following public appointments made by the Lord Chancellor,
other than judicial appointments, which command salaries of more
than £10,000 have been made since 1 April 2001:
|Jim Shearer (non-executive member)||Legal Services Commission
|Sheila Hewitt (non-executive member)||Legal Services Commission
|Margaret Richards (non-executive member)
||Legal Services Commission|
|Alan Clifton (member)||Strategic Investment Board
|Andrew Hutton (member)||Strategic Investment Board
|Laurence O'Mara (member)||Strategic Investment Board
|Anthony Hewson (Chair) 1||CAFCASS
|Angela Killick (member) 1||CAFCASS
|Nalini Singh-Varma (member) 1||CAFCASS
|Pip O'Byrne (member) 1||CAFCASS
|Mike Walker (member) 1||CAFCASS
|Anne Morgan (member) 1||CAFCASS
|Peter Hargrave (member) 1||CAFCASS
|Nedine Watson-Cutts (member) 1||CAFCASS
|Judy Weleminsky (member) 1||CAFCASS
|Leonie Jordan (member) 1||CAFCASS
|Nigel Fricker QC (member) 1||CAFCASS
|Stuart Bridge (Commissioner)||Law Commission
|The Honourable Mr Justice Toulson (Chair)
1 Based on daily rate and estimated time commitment
Public appointments made by the Lord Chancellor which command
salaries of more than £10,000 are expected to be made to
the following posts before 31 December 2003.
|Non-executive member (x 3)||Legal Services Commission
|Chair||Council on Tribunals
1 Based on daily rate and estimated time commitment
56. What information do you have on the level of satisfaction
among users of the Public Guardianship Office compared with the
situation two years ago (with the Public Trust Office)?
The Public Guardianship Office (PGO) will carry out a survey
by the end of 2002 and then subsequently on an annual basis. Once
the results of this survey are available we will be able to make
a comparison between satisfaction among users of the PGO as compared
with the situation two years ago with the PTO.
The PGO has reached out into the community by holding receivers'
open days around the country going out to find out first hand
what they see as the real issues. So far this year PGO has held
four open days and attendees have said they see this as a positive
step forward. Information collected during receivers' open days
will be used to gauge the effectiveness of services and introduce
Significant improvements have been made by the PGO in areas
where the PTO was heavily criticised, particularly in terms of
accounts collection and review and the number of visits carried
out to clients. Over 6,000 visits were made to clients last year,
including visits to new clients and all clients for whom the PGO
was receiver. The number of visits to clients whose affairs are
being managed by private receivers was more than double the number
carried out just two years ago. Following the transfer to the
PGO, a new accounts form was introduced in April last year, receivers
were asked for their views on the new form and 91 per cent said
the new form was easy or very easy to complete. This new form
and more rigid chasing mechanisms have significantly improved
the turnaround times of the collection and review of accounts.
Despite these improvements the PGO is still suffering from
an increased level of complaints from customers. The reason for
this is that the PGO relocated to Archway and conducted a major
organisational restructuring exercise towards the end of last
year. The disruption caused by both of these exercises has had
an adverse affect on performance and therefore on service to clients.
In order to address this the PGO has formed an arrears team to
clear backlogs of work and has made plans to improve service delivery
more generally. Improvements under way include: closing down call
centres as this approach has been heavily criticised by receivers
and solicitors; moving files from a central registry to case-working
branches so telephone enquiries can be dealt with more speedily;
and investing in recruitment and training for staff. In the longer
term a new electronic records case management system will be introduced
which will end the reliance on papers files, which have exacerbated
Summary of progress for PSA and OPA targets in the LCD
Departmental Report 2000-01
DepartmentalObjective PSA Targets OPA Measures and Indicators Outturn
position at 31 March 2001
Objective 1: All three targets met by 31 December
Objective 2: All three targets replaced by new SR2000
SDA targetsSDA 34-39.
Objective 3: 4th and 6th PSA/OPA met by 31 December
1st target: By March 2002 to reduce the duration of civil
cases. To increase the proportion of administrative processes
dealt with in target time from 92 per cent to 95 per cent. The
target was met by 31 March 2002 (94.9 per cent). Replaced
by modified Court Service key performance indicator from 2002.
2nd target: to reduce the waiting times for all asylum appeals
from receipt at the Immigration Appellate Authorities to promulgation
of the Adjudicator's determination from 36 weeks in 1999-2000
to 17 weeks by 2000-01. The target was met by 31
March 2001. Replaced by SR2000 SDA target 28.
3rd target: to reduce the unit cost of civil cases in real
terms. Not met. Superseded by 4th-8th targets.
5th target: To reduce in real terms the unit cost of an item
of originating process in the civil courts by an average of 3
per cent per annum to 2001-02 (base 1999-2000) On course.
Replaced by SR2000 PSA 9 and associated SDA targets.
7th target: To reduce in real terms the unit cost of an asylum
appeal by an average of 3 per cent per annum. On course.
Replaced by SR2000 SDA 50.
8th target: Percentage of administrative work in the Court
Service processed without significant error. Met. Replaced
by modified Court Service Key Performance Indicator from April
Objective 4: 2nd, 4th, 7th, 9th, 16th and 17th PSA
targets met by 31 December 2000.
19th target is a Home Office target.
1st target: To halve the time from arrest to sentence for
persistent young offenders from 142 days to 71 days. Replaced
by SR2000 PSA 2c. Target met by March 2002.
3rd target: Number/proportion of young offenders fast tracked. Metwas
delivered as part of the SR2000 PSA 2c.
5th target: To increase the proportion of victims, witnesses
and jurors who regard their experience in the CJS as acceptable. (a)
Victims and Witnesses: to improve by 5 percentage points by 2002
the satisfaction of victims and witnesses and of witnesses with
their treatment in the CJS. Replaced by SR2000 PSA 1.
(b) Jurors: to maintain at 95 per cent the level of
jurors who are satisfied or very satisfied with their treatment
in the CJS whilst increasing by 5 per cent by end March 2002 those
who are very satisfied. Replaced by SR2000 PSA 1.
6th target: to maintain the rate of 78 per cent of Crown
Court cases commencing within 16 weeks in 1999-2000. Replaced
by SR2000 SDA 5.
8th target: To achieve stability in real terms in the cost
of publicly funded criminal defence services by March 2002. On
course. Replaced by SR2000 PSA 9 and associated SDA targets.
10th target: Average cost of a criminal legal aid bill in
the Magistrates' Courts. Replaced by SR2000 PSA
11th target: Average cost of duty solicitor scheme per person
assisted. Replaced by SR2000 SDA 63.
12th target: Average cost of an act of advice and assistance
(criminal). Replaced by SR2000 PSA 9.
13th target: To reduce in real terms the unit cost of cases
in the Crown Court by an average of 3 per cent per annum. On
course. Replaced by SR2000 PSA 9 and associated SDA targets.
14th target: To reduce courtroom over-capacity. To reduce
courtroom over-capacity by 10 per cent by March 2002. Replaced
by SR2000 SDA 46.
15th target: Measures on the rights of defendants to show
improvements by March 2002. Replaced by SR2000 SDA 4.
18th target: The proportion of witnesses/victims will give
evidence on the day they are called. Replaced by SR2000
Objective 5: The PSA target was dropped as a result
of the Government's decision not to proceed with the implementation
of Part II of the Family Law Act 1996. New PSA and SDA targets
set during SR2000.
Objective 6: Both PSA targets were met by 31 December
2000. New PSA and SDA targets were set during SR2000.
Departmental operations: 3rd, 7th, 8th, 10th, 12th
and 15th PSA/OPA met by 31 December 2000.
1st target: The Department will meet a target of 3 per cent
year-on-year gains in efficiency. Replaced by SR2000
Value For Money PSA/SDA targets.
2nd target: A reduction in support costs as a proportion
of running costs. 60 per cent of services to be reviewed by
March 2002. Replaced by SR2000 Value For Money PSA/SDA targets.
4th target: An improvement in the proportion of training,
which contributes to improvements in job performance. Percentage
of instances of training which contributed to improvement in job
performance. Replaced by SR2000 SDA 70.
5th target: An increase in the proportion of Ministerial
correspondence and other correspondence answered within target
by 5 per cent year on year. Percentage of Ministers' cases
answered within the Departmental deadline 95 per cent. Replaced
by SR2000 SDA 67.
6th target: An increase in the proportion of undisputed invoices
paid within 30 days. 100 per cent of undisputed invoices paid
within 30 days. Droppednot met.
9th target: To contribute to a reduction in public sector
sickness absence of 20 per cent by 2001 and 30 per cent by 2003. Met.
Replaced by SR2000 SDA 78.
11th target: A target of 5 per cent annual reduction in general
procurement expenditure. Met. Replaced by SR2000 SDA
56 and 57.
13th target: Use of electronic commerce where there are cost
benefits. Dropped. Replaced by Government-wide e-Government
SDA during SR2000.
14th target: Use of BACS to pay all invoices by December
2002. Subsumed within Government-wide e-Government
SDA during SR2000.