Tag Archives: ministry of justice

Should prisoners have unlimited access to books?

Books to PrisonersThe bees are buzzing around my bonnet today. Earlier I had a bit of a go at Danny Alexander for falling in with the Better Together dourness in the Scottish Referendum campaign. Now, I have Chris Grayling in my sights. The Justice Secretary, under the guise of making the prisoners’ incentive scheme more “effective” has banned a number of things. The issue being given most prominence is that prisoners can no longer be sent books. The Howard League for Penal Reform’s Chief Executive Frances Crook condemned the

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 32 Comments

Opinion:The Ministry of Justice’s latest reforms to legal aid will cut access to justice, not the deficit

Scales of Justice - Some rights reserved by CitizensheepTuesday 9 April 2013 was Be Kind to Lawyers Day – it was also the day that the Ministry of Justice launched its consultation on proposals to further reform the legal aid system in England and Wales. The proposals will affect both civil and criminal legal aid and, while the changes to criminal legal aid have attracted some media coverage, the changes to civil legal aid have received scant attention.

The civil legal aid changes fall into two categories and they represent a fundamental shift in the relationship between the state and those who are affected by its actions. Firstly, there will be a residence test which will require individuals to be in the UK at the time of the claim and to have been “lawfully resident” for at least 12 months.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Where’s Steve Hilton to cut through red tape when you need him?

Back in 2010 I took up the issue of paperwork gone mad at the Ministry of Justice, using a series of Freedom of Information requests to reveal the ludicrously over-bureaucratic safe driving polices in place at the MoJ:

Despite the government’s rhetoric of cutting bureaucracy, the Ministry of Justice – one of the largest Whitehall departments and responsible for many important administrative systems – is spectacularly failing to set a good example with its own hugely bureaucratic approach to health and safety when people are driving as part of their work according to information I’ve unearthed in a series of freedom

Posted in News | 1 Comment

The Independent View: why proposals for secret trials should be opposed

A “chilling threat to liberty and justice” an “excessive and dangerous” move which would “shake our constitution to its common law roots” tilting it “towards the closed courts…so favoured by despots” and miring individuals in “Kafkaesque cases.”

As the Liberal Democrat Spring conference approaches, the disturbing potential of the Government’s plans to extend secret justice across the country’s civil courts has hit the headlines, with the Mail, Times, Guardian, Independent and FT all united in condemnation.

That sense of alarm is also becoming apparent within the party. Tom Brake, chair of the backbench …

Posted in Conference, News and Op-eds | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Returning Officer pay was increased without any idea what it would cost

A significant increase in the pay of some Returning Officers was quietly introduced by the then Labour government ahead of this year’s general election but no estimate was made as to what the costs would be of rule changes that made the pay more generous.

In March, the Ministry of Justice issued its Returning Officers’ Expenses Guidance Notes Parliamentary Elections (Great Britain) which included, in Section 7.7, an increase in the payments made to Returning Officers for supervising more than one constituency. Previously the payments (worked out on a sum per entry on the electoral register) were tapered if a Returning Officer covered …

Posted in Election law and News | 2 Comments

Ministry of Justice set to review driving policy

A quick follow-up to my post Paperwork gone mad at the Ministry of Justice, which highlighted the hugely bureaucratic approach taken by the MoJ to safe driving at work (in contrast to the approach of other government departments) and which was widely picked up in the media (see here, here and here).

The Ministry of Justice now tells me,

In common with all MoJ Health and Safety policies, the MoJ’s Safe Driving policy will be reviewed annually or where there is a significant change affecting it … This is a relatively new policy and we are planning a

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Ministry of Justice’s paperwork overdose hits the media

My story Paperwork gone mad at the Ministry of Justice has hit the media today in a nice piece from Matthew Parris in The Times and in a long piece in the Daily Mail. If the latter’s piece sounds rather familiar when you read it, that’d be because the wording bears a remarkable resemblance to the story run on this site. Perhaps next time I should slip in a ficticious name and see what happens 🙂

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The Ministry of Justice runs into a little furniture bother

Imagine the conversation later this year, somewhere in Whitehall:

Civil servant Good news Minister. Our new arrangements for buying furniture are coming up to the end of their first year and everything is looking really good.

Minister Excellent news. Do you mind letting me have some figures on how the arrangements have performed compared to the previous  contracts?

Civil servant I’m terribly sorry Minister, but we haven’t kept all the records of the previous contract.

Office chairMinister What about the records just from 2009 then?

Civil servant Sorry, but

Posted in News | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Paperwork gone mad at the Ministry of Justice

Despite the government’s rhetoric of cutting bureaucracy, the Ministry of Justice – one of the largest Whitehall departments and responsible for many important administrative systems – is spectacularly failing to set a good example with its own hugely bureaucratic approach to health and safety when people are driving as part of their work according to information I’ve unearthed in a series of freedom of information requests.

The MoJ has two specially produced full colour booklets, a flowchart, an FAQ document, more than six different forms and training sessions for managers in how to make the whole system work all in the …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Parliamentary candidates asked to publish their financial interests and tax status

Sometimes good intentions don’t quite result in the good outcomes you’d wish. In this case, the issue is a recommendation from the Committee on Standards in Public Life that general election candidates should have to publish their financial interests just as MPs do.

The logic is a good one: if you’re a voter wanting to chose between candidates, it’s a bit odd if you only know about the financial interests of an MP standing for re-election but not of the people they’re up against. You want to know the interests before you cast your vote, not find out afterwards whether or not you should regret your choice.

However, as the committee recognised, its proposals came out too late to change the law for the 2010 general election. Therefore instead the Ministry of Justice has just published a voluntary scheme, detailing a recommended set of questions that candidates should answer about their financial interests.

Perhaps the most controversial will be the section on tax, where people are asked if:

I confirm that, for the tax year 2008/09, I have not claimed to be, or been treated as not resident, not ordinarily resident or non-domiciled in the UK for tax purposes.

Non-doms are a controversial issues anyway; the appearance of this recommendation just before an election is unlikely to cool such partisan passions. When neither Parliament nor the Committee on Standards in Public Life have decided on such a rule (so far – and I hope they do in due course), should the Ministry of Justice unilaterally be slipping it in to a report so soon before an election?

Overall, the recommendations themselves acknowledge that they go beyond what is currently required of MPs. To require candidates to publish the same information as is required of MPs makes obvious sense; for a government ministry to go beyond that off its own bat could turn out to be quite controversial.

With a voluntary code, published rather late in the day and plenty of scope for individual candidates to partially answer the questions, we’re unlikely to see a triumph of transparency that results in voters being significantly better informed. However, it will at the very least provide a test of the different provisions which should make for better legislation when the whole process most likely becomes law during the next Parliament.

You can read the full guidance below:

Declarations of Interests by Parliamentary Election Candidates

Posted in Election law | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Should copies of the electoral register be put on sale?

The Ministry of Justice is running a consultation on whether bodies such as marketing firms and charities should be able to buy copies of the electoral register to use for their direct mail and other operations. There is a high chance this review could lead to a change in the law.

There are currently three electoral registers:

  1. The full electoral register, which is used for running elections and which is available to political parties and election candidates for them to contact voters and other electoral purposes. It is also available to various law enforcement and other public sector organisations for use in

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged | 16 Comments
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