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The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): We shall introduce a duty for a highway authority to remove ice when a suitable legislative opportunity presents itself.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): The Government fully share concerns about the plight of street children in Honduras. The rights of children worldwide are a central part of our human rights policy. We maintain a constant dialogue with the Honduran authorities on this issue, as does the EU.
The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights produced a report on Honduras which paid particular attention to street children. Together with EU partners we have raised the UN report and our serious concerns about child protection with the Honduran Government and have pressed for further action. President Maduro has announced a programme of action: we are monitoring this closely.
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): As this Question covers the work of all three criminal justice departments, I am answering on behalf of my department, the Home Office, and the Law Officers' Department.
Following extensive consultation with those connected with the criminal justice system and members of the public, in July 2002 the Government published their response to the Auld and Halliday reports in the White Paper, Justice for All, accompanied by an annex, Justice for AllResponses to the Auld and Halliday Reports. The position set out there remains the Government's position for modernising the criminal justice system over the coming years.
The Government's immediate programme for reform is clearly reflected in the Criminal Justice Bill and the Courts Bill, both currently going through Parliament. In parallel, we are implementing a number of administrative programmes across the three criminal justice departments. The main parts of the programme are as follows:
Implementation of many of the 55 recommendations in the Halliday Report for review of the sentencing framework for England and Wales: most require legislation and are being taken forward in the Criminal Justice Bill. They include a new sentencing framework, a single generic community sentence, heavier sentences for persistent offending, reforming short custodial sentences, changes to the calculation of remand time, sentencers giving reasons for passing a sentence, licence conditions lasting until the endpoint of sentence, administrative recall to prison, creation of the sentencing guidelines council, and many more.
Activity relating to a handful of other Halliday recommendations which do not require legislation, including: ongoing research into the effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis of community and custodial sentences; looking into how best to increase public knowledge about sentencing; an accommodation strategy review being undertaken by the National Probation Service (work has begun on two pilots for intermittent custody); improving pre-sentence reports by introducing a research based offender assessment system (OASys); and the setting up of a Home Office implementation team for the new sentencing framework.
Reform of criminal evidence and procedures, reflecting the main recommendations of the Auld report: most of these are included in the Criminal Justice Bill and the Courts Bill. The Criminal Justice Bill includes reforms in eligibility for jury service, trial by judge alone, changes in appeal procedures, giving the police some responsibility for charging, changes in the rules for bail, changes in rules of evidence, and many more.
The establishment of a National Criminal Justice Board, administratively, to replace all the existing national planning and operational bodies, reflecting other Auld recommendations. We have already simplified and strengthened the present machinery. The Prime Minister established a Criminal Justice System Cabinet Committee to oversee delivery of the Government's policies for the management and reform of the criminal justice system. This is supported by the National Criminal Justice Board, which includes representatives of all the criminal justice agencies, the police, judiciary and CJS Ministers. Local criminal justice boards are up and running in shadow form and are on target to go live in April 2003.
Legislation to give effect to the Auld recommendations for unified administration of the courts and for court security is being taken forward in the Courts Bill. A programme to create the new agency has been established. Implementation is not expected before April 2005.
While the Government have not pursued the Auld recommendations for a unified criminal court, we are effecting closer integration between magistrates' courts and the Crown Court through a package of measures in the Courts Bill. These will bring about the same benefits identified by the relevant Auld recommendations.
The trilateral case preparation project to tackle the effectiveness of preparation and progression of cases in all criminal courts from charge to disposal. Many of the proposals reflect Sir Robin Auld's recommendations and are being taken forward administratively. Pilots are to be launched in the spring.
Judicial personnel issues reflected in the Auld recommendations are being mainly taken forward administratively. They include a national recruitment strategy for lay magistrates to make the Bench more representative of the community it serves (a project board is being set up to take this forward and the strategy will be published shortly); plans to give the Judicial Studies Board a stronger role in magistrates' training (the Courts Bill will result in responsibility for their training reverting to the Lord Chancellor); and setting up judicial appraisal schemes in addition to those in place.
We have not taken up Sir Robin Auld's proposal that we build a new integrated IT system but are pursuing an alternative approach that reflects the same objectives and advantages of integration. We are implementing over the next three years a major IT and business change programme for which £834 million new money has been provided in our SR2002 settlement. Our approach will join together the existing and developing IT systems in a staged development, using an information walkway to link individual systems. This alternative is consistent with our approach to large IT programmes, as set out in the Cabinet Office report Successful ITModernising Government in Action. This report strongly recommends a modular and evolutionary rather than a big bang approach to IT systems development and integration. Our approach will make sure that money already invested in IT systems will not go to waste and offers the best balance of benefit, cost and risk avoidance.
|(i) In the Criminal Justice Bill|
|1||New sentencing framework|
|4||Heavier sentences for persistant offending|
|9||Sentences Guideline Council|
|13||Sentences giving reasons for passing a sentence|
|18||Reforming short custodial sentences|
|19||Licence conditions lasting to the endpoint of sentence|
|27||Single generic community sentence|
|34||Changes to the calculation of remand time|
|37||Administrative recall to prison|
|(ii) Under Administrative Action|
|14||Increasing public knowledge about sentencing|
|23||Review of the intermediate estate: Accommodation Strategy Review|
|33||Improving pre-sentence reports|
|47||Further research into the effectiveness and cost benefit analysis of community and custodial sentences|
|52||Setting up of an implementation team for the new sentencing framework|
|(i) In the Criminal Justice Bill|
|Reform of criminal evidence|
|1922||Eligibility for jury service|
|31, 37, 39||Trial by judge alone|
|40||Changes in appeal procedures|
|154156||Giving the police responsibility for charging|
|178185||Changes in the rules for bail|
|Various, mainly out of 254275||Changes in rules of evidence|
|(ii) In the Courts Bill|
|3||Working patterns of magistrates|
|83*||Unified Criminal Court: *Rejected, but benefits being achieved through package of measures in the Courts Bill|
|100 (linked to 97, 99, 101103)¡||Unified administration of the Courts: ¡Structural changes that will flow from creation of the new agency|
|105.5||Appointment of a senior district judge|
|120||Creation of inspectors of court administration|
|219||Power to make rulings at pre-trial hearings|
|228.2, 233 (linked to 234, 293)¡¡||Creation of Criminal Procedure Rule Committee ¡¡Administrative action, including to set up a full time secretariat|
|312||Appeals to Court of Appeal (procedural directions)|
|328||Prosecution apeals form Court of Appeal|
|(iii) Under Administrative Action|
|(a) Planning and 'Operational' Bodies|
|121122, 125130, 132135||Replacement of all existing national planning and operational bodies with a National Criminal Justice Board. Creation by the Prime Minister of a CJS Cabinet Committee. Local Criminal Justice Boards.|
|(b) Case Preparation Project|
|7||Case management responsibilities of justices' clerks|
|71.1||Case management by judges|
|153||Fee structures to support case preparation|
|210221||Pre-trial hearings and pre-trial assessments|
|222223||Listing of cases|
|271272||Pre-trial liaison between experts|
|(c) Judicial Personnel Issues|
|8||National recruitment strategy and a more representative bench for lay justices|
|11||Judicial studies board to be responsible for training lay magistrates|
|8082||Appraisal scheme for all part-time/full time judicial appointments and those advising the Lord Chancellor on judicial appointments|
|(d) IT Integration|
|113**||New Integrated IT System **Rejected, but the same objectives and advantages of integration are to be gained from the major IT and business change programme that the Government are implementing under an alternative approach, and for which £834 million new money has been provided in our SR2002 settlement. Our approach will join together the existing IT systems in a staged development, using an information walkway to link individual systems.|
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