Government drops Prison & Courts Bill

The government has dropped the Prisons and Courts Bill to make way for the June 8 snap election. The proposed legislation contained proposals for a radical overhaul of prisons as well as plans for online courts and was scheduled to be debated in its committee stage last week when Theresa May made her announcement.

Bob Neill, the Conservative chair of the House of Commons’ justice committee, said that he hoped, if the prime minister wins the election, then the legislation could be reintroduced ‘as a matter of priority’ in the next Parliament.

Most of his committee backed the proposals, he added. ‘But of course part of the reform programme does not require legislation; it is partly about a change of culture and also a change of regulations. Much can be done without that primary legislation, so I hope the Government will confirm that they are determined to press ahead.’

Frances Crook of the Howard League for Penal Reform predicted that the general election would be ‘a bad thing for the justice system’. ‘Goodness knows, things could hardly get worse, but the election means that nothing will happen for weeks and then a new justice secretary will want to have a think,’ she blogged. ‘This means we will be in a state of stasis for months.’

Earlier this month the Daily Telegraph reported senior government sources saying that the prime minister was coming under pressure from cabinet ministers to ‘strip Liz Truss of her role as Lord Chancellor’ – see here. The election increases the likelihood of Truss being dropped in a post election shuffle.

The Law Society president Robert Bourns ‘welcomed the chance to rethink the “misguided” reforms’ for personal injury reforms and, in particular, a new tariff system for whiplash claims. But, the Law Society’s Gazette reported the Law Society wanted the new government ‘to make it an “absolute priority” to reintroduce proposals providing protection for victims of domestic violence from being cross-examined by the alleged perpetrator, as well as statutory provisions to modernise courts’.

 

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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