The comprehensive spending review 2007 settlement agreed for the Ministry of Justice requires us to live within the funding available. Budgets for 2009-10 will be agreed shortly, and we will then be in a position to inform Parliament more fully of the impact of this work on the Ministry of Justice. We are prioritising and protecting front-line services, but we are looking at how we can improve performance and efficiency across the Department. We are, of course, involving our Department’s trade unions in ongoing discussions in this regard.
My hon. Friend will be aware that this week has been designated justice week by the justice trade unions, and they will be lobbying the House tomorrow on their concerns about future budgets. Has she seen the report launched yesterday by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, which demonstrates that although the Government have increased resources within the individual budgets of prisons, the probation service and the courts, that has not matched the work loads? Would she therefore be willing to meet a delegation from the justice trade union group to discuss the report and its implications for future budget planning?
On my hon. Friend’s last point, I would of course be more than happy to meet him and any delegation that he wishes to bring in respect of the particular point that he makes. I have not yet had a chance to see that report, but I would be very happy to read it.