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Departmental Annual Report

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

I have today laid before Parliament the 2007-08 departmental annual report for the Ministry of Justice (CM 7397).

The Ministry of Justice was established on 9 May 2007. It brought together the former responsibilities of the Department for Constitutional Affairs with the National Offender Management Service from the Home Office and the trilateral Office of Criminal Justice Reform. The new Department has a wide-ranging remit with major responsibilities for prisons and probation, the courts and tribunals, legal aid and more, as well as important policy responsibilities ranging from constitutional reform and devolution, democracy and human rights to the justice system. When the Department was set up, the then permanent secretary commissioned a review to develop proposals for a new structure and ways of working to equip the Department better to deliver on its aims and objectives.

Two other pieces of work have further improved the Department’s focus on its aims and objectives: Lord Carter’s report on prisons and the partnership between the Lord Chief Justice and me in the operation of the courts. The new top structure of the Department came into place on 1 April with more detailed changes being implemented over the next few months to provide a coherent structure for managing the Department’s key challenges on public protection and reducing reoffending, constitutional reform and access to justice. This streamlined top structure and new ways of working will help the Department to implement Lord Carter’s recommendations on offender management services, to ensure the successful operation of new arrangements for the courts and to focus more clearly on its key policy and delivery challenges.

The new structure will allow the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to build on its success and take forward Lord Carter’s proposals for nationalising management structures and reducing overhead costs. It will also bring NOMS and the Prison Service together and streamline its headquarters so as to improve the focus on frontline delivery of prisons and probation and improve efficiency.

This report highlights the achievements made by the Ministry of Justice and looks to the future at how the new structure aims to provide the department with a sharper focus on its key priorities. This includes public protection and reoffending and improving relations with the judiciary while streamlining leadership across the whole of the Department’s agenda. It will ensure a much more joined up approach to issues of justice and constitutional reform, with a clearer focus on efficiency through the removal of duplication and overlapping responsibilities.

The report is also available on the Ministry of Justice website at:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/annual-report-2008.htm