The government’s long-awaited review into employment tribunal fees is ‘imminent’, MPs have been assured. However, the Ministry of Justice’s response to questions in the House of Commons today suggests the controversial fees will not be scrapped.
Taking justice questions in the House of Commons this morning, justice minister Sir Oliver Heald refused to announce that fees would be abolished.
Heald told Rob Marris, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West, that the publication of the government’s review is ‘imminent’.
‘Having said that, I would say to him there is a difference of opinion across the chamber on this,’ he added. ‘We do think it right that individuals should contribute to the costs of the tribunals.
‘It’s also worth bearing in mind that ACAS has increased its workload in employment cases from about 23,000 cases a year it used to conciliate, to 92,000 now. The result has been a very large increase in the number of cases that do not then proceed to the tribunal.’
Following the Supreme Court’s article 50 ruling, which was handed down two hours earlier, the lord chancellor used the justice questions session to defend the judiciary.
Liz Truss told MPs that the country’s independent judiciary ‘is the cornerstone of the rule of law and is vital to our constitution and our freedoms’. When asked by Richard Burgon, Labour MP for Leeds East, to ‘once and for all’ condemn media attacks on the judiciary, Truss said she was ‘intensely proud’ of the country’s independent judiciary.
She added: ‘They are a core part of our democracy. But I’m also proud to live in a country that has a free press.’
Meanwhile, the government will announce its decision on whether to close Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court in London ‘in due course’. Heald told MPs that Camberwell Green had ‘significant outstanding maintenance of over £1m’.
Heald said the ministry was committed to reforming the domestic human rights framework, and that the department would return to consider its proposals once arrangements for exiting the EU were known.