Justice secretary Michael Gove has said the government will bring forward proposals to improve the criminal justice system, following a damning report by the National Audit Office which he described as a ‘welcome wake-up call’.
Last month a report from the public accounts committee said the criminal justice system was ‘close to breaking point’, and suffered from too many inefficiencies and delays.
It criticised Ministry of Justice for being ‘too slow’ to recognise when the system has been under stress.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Gove (pictured) said he accepted the report's findings and said justice minister Mike Penning would bring forward a green paper with details on how the government can better help victims and witnesses.
He said there has been a habit in the past for MPs to criticise the NAO and public accounts committee when greeted with these kinds of reports.
But he said that he did not criticise either body, describing the report as a ‘welcome wake-up call’.
He added: ‘There is so much we need to do in order to improve the criminal justice system and our judiciary gets it as well.’
Meanwhile justice minister Dominic Raab was pressed to give more details about when the government plans to publish its review into employment tribunal fees.
Angela Crawley MP said: ‘I received assurances from the government that the post-implementation review of tribunal fees would be published last year. We now find ourselves six months beyond that deadline and we are still waiting.
‘Evidence suggests that tribunal fees do act as a barrier to justice and that they are compounding pregnancy and maternity discrimination.’
Raab said the review will report ‘in due course’, adding: ‘It is only fair and reasonable that those using tribunals make some contribution to the cost where they are able. It is not right that the whole bill for employment tribunals, which is about £71m per year, should be picked up by the taxpayers.’
On human rights law reform, Raab said the government has made ‘good progress’ on its plans to introduce a British Bill of Rights.
When asked about home secretary Theresa May’s suggestion that she would like to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, Raab stressed that it was not the government’s policy to withdraw from the convention.
But he suggested that the EU's charter of fundamental rights could confuse the issue.
'Considerable legal uncertainty is created if the [Court of Justice of the European Union] starts to interfere and create risks and wider uncertainty about which rules apply and how,’ he said.