Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Reality of Open Government

16th November 2016

Bob Neill MP
Chair, Justice Select Committee
House of Commons 
London 
SW1H 9NB 

Dear Mr Neill,

Supplementary responses to the Justice Select Committee 

Thank you for your letter of 27 October asking for further information following the evidence session on the Ministry of Justice's Annual Report and Accounts 2015-16. In answer to the eight issues your letter raised: 

1. Progress on the Protocol with HM Inspectorate of Prisons 

A draft protocol has now been agreed with the lnspectorate and we are currently seeking clearance from HM Treasury. Once HM Treasury is content, we will consult with the Justice Select Committee and those organisations who have formal relationships with the Inspectorate before formalising the protocol. 

2. List of "Gold" contracts 

In the evidence session, Mike Driver referred to 99 "gold" contracts (potential costs of greater than £10m) that had been reviewed during the previous financial year. At the time of this letter the number of "gold" contracts is 94 due to contract expiry. A list of these contracts has been prepared in Appendix A. Due to the commercial sensitivity of the information this has been prepared for the Committee in strict confidence.  

3. Details of 102 Petty France lease arrangement 

The freehold landlord of 102 Petty France is Land Securities plc and the lease expires in December 2028.  

4. Number of full time equivalent members of staff, and the number of agency staff, employed by the Ministry of Justice 

At the 30th September 2016 the full time equivalent members of staff employed by the Ministry of Justice was 64,751.The number of agency staff as at 30th September was 2,768. 

5. Whether the Ministry of Justice has set a maximum on the time it is acceptable for citizens to take to travel to court by public transport  

The Ministry does not apply a specific maximum travel timewhen considering changes to its estate. Access io justice is not just about pr.oximity to a court. We believe that we can improve access to justice by reducing the number of underused, poor quality, permanent buildings and investing in digital access and, where appropriate, using other local public buildings for access or hearings. The National Estates Principles published with our consultation in 2015 stated that we would: 

"Ensure continued access to justice when assessing the impact of possible closures on both professional and lay court and tribunal users, taking into account journey times for users, the challenges of rural access and any mitigating action, including having facilities at local civic centres and other buildings to ensure local access, modern ICT and more flexible listing, when journeys will be significantly increased."  

When proposing changes to the court and tribunal estate, the Ministry takes into account the potential impact of the proposals on its users. This includes the impact on travel time and whether this would remain reasonable should the change take place. What is reasonable can vary depending on location and on the type of work undertaken in a particular building. ln some cases, the Ministry will make alternative provision for certain types of users or in certain locations, such as part-time use of a local authority or other public building. 

6. Transforming Rehabilitation data 

The data requested has been attached in Appendix B to this letter and is shared with the Committee in strict confidence. 

7. Detailed breakdown of the Ministry's future spending plans 

We anticipate that this will be made available to you in April 2017. 

8. Notification of completion of negotiations with the Community Rehabilitation Companies 

The negotiations with the Community Rehabilitation Company owners continue. 

I will update the Committee once they are concluded. I trust these responses will be helpful to the Committee and would welcome any additional questions you may have. 

Richard Heaton

3 comments:

  1. So much for Greg Clarke's 'transparent business' speech today. Everything's a fucking secret, in confidence, in camera, commercially sensitive, fuck off, not allowed, keep off the grass, trespassers will be dhot, etc etc.

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  2. 21:21 inspired me to email Mr Clark:

    "Mr Clark - In the spirit of your speech today about openness, transparency & fairer business practices, please could you note the [impact of the] Transforming Rehabilitation programme, i.e. the sale of public sector probation services to private organisations making vast profits, the easing of the process by providing vast sums of public monies & the failure of those private companies to honour nationally agreed Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy packages (for which the public monies were provided) whilst paying private company executives massive bonuses. Not quite the spirit of what was proposed today."

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