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5 Oct 2010 : Column WS1

Written Statements

Tuesday 5 October 2010

BBC: Licence Fee

Statement

Lord Shutt of Greetland: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (Jeremy Hunt) made the following Written Ministerial Statement on 16 September (Official Report, Commons, col. 52WS).

The BBC Trust has proposed forgoing the planned rise in the licence fee in 2011-12. The Government welcome the proposal and have decided that there will be no increase in the licence fee on 1 April 2011.

A decision about 2012-13 will be taken as part of the next funding settlement.

Bribery Act 2010

Statement

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My right honourable and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Kenneth Clarke) made the following Written Ministerial Statement on 14 September 2010.

On 20 July I announced my intention to conduct a public consultation on the form and content of guidance to be published under Section 9 of the Bribery Act before it comes into force in April 2011. I am pleased to announce that this public consultation commences today with the publication by the Ministry of Justice of a consultation paper Consultation on Guidance about Commercial Organisations Preventing Bribery (Section 9 of the Bribery Act 2010).

This consultation paper seeks views on draft guidance about procedures that commercial organisations can put in place to prevent persons associated with them from bribing. The draft guidance proposes six general principles that are designed to be applicable across all sectors and for all types and size of business. It is intended that these general principles will aid businesses to formulate procedures appropriate to their particular circumstances should they choose to do so.

As I made clear in my Statement of 20 July, our concern is that the formulation of the guidance to be published under Section 9 is informed by the wealth of expertise currently available. To that end we are also holding a number of open discussion forums in all parts of the United Kingdom during the consultation period further to encourage the sharing of views on what is being proposed.

Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, and are available from today on the Ministry of Justice website at http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/consultations.htm along with further details on how to respond and on the open discussion forums referred to above. I believe that this consultation will provide the basis for the publication of effective but flexible guidance on bribery prevention for commercial organisations seeking to ensure that they conduct business competitively while maintaining high standards of integrity and transparency.



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Courts Service and Tribunals Service

Statement

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My right honourable and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Kenneth Clarke) made the following Written Ministerial Statement on 16 September 2010.

I am announcing today proposals to bring the tribunals judiciary in England and Wales under the overall leadership of the Lord Chief Justice. The changes require primary legislation and I hope to include them in a Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.

An announcement was made in March that the Ministry of Justice would be bringing together Her Majesty's Court Service and the Tribunals Service in a single, unified organisation. The new organisation will be established by 1 April 2011.

I subsequently agreed with the Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of Tribunals that in bringing together the administration of the courts and tribunals the current judicial structure should also be reviewed.

Our shared vision is to work towards a unified judiciary encompassing both courts and tribunals. This could be achieved, so far as concerns England and Wales, by transferring the statutory powers of the Senior President of Tribunals to the Lord Chief Justice, and creating a new office of Head of Tribunals Justice with a statutory obligation to protect and develop the distinct and innovative features of the tribunals.

The Senior of President of Tribunals is a statutory role that has jurisdiction in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. Further, a number of important tribunal jurisdictions extend to one or both of those countries, and cross-border sittings are a normal part of the judicial work of many tribunal judges. I recognise the importance attached by them and the Senior President to this aspect of their work, and the advantages it offers to the interests of users and the efficiency of the system overall. I am in discussions with judicial leaders and with Scottish and Northern Ireland Ministers about whether and how we might transfer the Senior President's tribunal responsibilities to the Lord President and Lord Chief Justice of NI respectively. Any such transfer will wish to preserve the benefits of existing arrangements.

Justice: Interpretation and Translation Services

Statement

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Crispin Blunt) made the following Written Ministerial Statement on 15 September 2010.

The Government are proposing to make changes to the provision of interpretation and translation services across the justice sector. We need to reduce waste and cut costs but we shall do so in a way that safeguards quality.



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Articles 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) give the right to interpretation for those who are arrested and who face criminal court proceedings. In addition, we expect the European Union to adopt a directive in the autumn intended to ensure that the rights enshrined in the ECHR are implemented consistently across all member states.

Currently, the non-binding National Agreement on Arrangements for the Use of Interpreters, Translators and Language Service Professionals in Investigations and Proceedings within the Criminal Justice System sets out how criminal justice organisations are expected to source interpreters and translators in England and Wales. The national agreement gives the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) as the first source for foreign language interpreters and translators and the Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People Directory (now called the National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD)) for British Sign Language and other language services for deaf and deafblind people. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Codes of Practice C and H also require that whenever possible the police should use interpreters from these registers when interviewing suspects.

Members of staff in justice organisations identify interpreters using the registers and then contact them directly. Once the assignment is complete, invoices are processed individually. This is an inefficient, labour-intensive process.

The Ministry of Justice is engaging with the market to explore how interpretation and translation can be delivered more efficiently. The exercise is a competitive dialogue, which allows us to explore with potential providers the best way for them to meet our requirements. Although we are not able to be certain what the result of this exercise will be, we are anticipating a framework agreement with a number of preferred suppliers. This will set out a template or call-off contract. Justice organisations will then easily be able to use the call-off contract to meet their specific requirements. The quality of interpretation will be ensured through the terms of the contracts.

At this stage, we expect most police forces, Her Majesty's Courts Service, the Tribunal Service, the National Offender Management Service and the Crown Prosecution Service to use the framework. We expect the framework agreement to be signed in early 2011.

A move to contracts will eventually render the national agreement redundant and we expect to withdraw it in due course. We aim, however, to retain elements of the agreement as good practice guidance and many of its fundamental principles will form the basis of the agreements with suppliers.

Potential suppliers were invited to lodge an expression of interest in a letter issued on 10 August. A notice was issued in the Official Journal of the European Union on 23 August .The procurement pre-qualification questionnaire was made available on 24 August. The deadline for return of the questionnaire was 13 September. The competitive dialogue process with short-listed tenderers will start in October.



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The Government are clear that there is scope for greater efficiency in this area of its business and it is important that savings are made. But in taking this work forward they will ensure that the quality of interpretation and translation in police stations, in the courts and elsewhere is maintained.

Legal Services Ombudsman

Statement

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Jonathan Djanogly) made the following Written Ministerial Statement on 6 September 2010.

On 12 August 2010 the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor made directions (which will take effect on 6 October 2010) instructing the Legal Services Ombudsman to limit her investigations to those arising from service complaints against persons described in Section 22(1)(a) and (b) of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. The directions were made by virtue of his powers under Section 21 of, and paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 3 to, the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 (c. 41).

The directions support the transitional arrangements. They ensure a timely cessation of the current system under which the Legal Services Ombudsman operates and establish (as of 6 October 2010) the new Office for Legal Complaints which will administer a fair, transparent and independent legal complaints handling scheme, namely the Legal Ombudsman (LeO). Under the new scheme the LeO will not have jurisdiction to deal with conduct complaints and these will be dealt with by the respective approved regulator.

Trustee Exemption Clauses

Statement

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Jonathan Djanogly) made the following Written Ministerial Statement on 14 September 2010.

I am pleased to announce the Government's acceptance of the recommendations made by the Law Commission in its 2006 report Trustee Exemption Clauses (Law Com 301).

Briefly, the Law Commission recommended that the Government should promote the adoption by professional and regulatory bodies in the trust industry in England and Wales of a model rule of practice relating to the inclusion in trust documents of clauses limiting the liability of trustees for the consequences of their actions. The recommended model rule provides that a paid trustee or trust draftsman proposing to include such a clause should take reasonable steps to ensure that the person creating the trust is aware of the meaning and effect of the clause before the trust is created.

Model rules to this effect have already been widely adopted by leading regulatory and professional bodies but the Government will be promoting further uptake by writing directly to the relevant regulatory and professional bodies to urge them to adopt the approach recommended by the Law Commission.


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