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Trade Unions

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 22 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what meetings staff of the Courts Service have had with the relevant trades unions to discuss resources for the Courts Service in (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2010-11 in the last 12 months; (248343)

(2) what plans he has to consult the relevant trades unions on (a) his Department's budget and (b) planned alterations to that budget for 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Planning work has been underway since September 2008 to determine how the Ministry of Justice will live within its spending review settlement, secure £1 billion of savings by 2010-11. Regular meetings have been held with the unions throughout this period, with the next planned meeting at the corporate level provisionally scheduled for 22 January 2009. Regular engagement has also been maintained at the business group and business area levels, where business area specific issues have been consulted, including HM Courts Services (HMCS).

The budgets for business groups for 2009-10 will be published in the MOJ Corporate Plan on 19 January 2009, a copy of which together with other performance and efficiency related communications to staff will be shared with the unions ahead of wider circulation. The Corporate Plan will also be available in the Library of the House.

Following issue of the Corporate Plan, business groups will work in earnest to develop their own business plans. These plans will address in detail how the Department will meet the performance and efficiency challenges. Going forward consultation will take place with the unions at a local level or, when appropriate, at a corporate level. For example the chief executive of HMCS plans to discuss budgetary allocations with the unions on 17 February.

The recent pre-Budget report contained an announcement of an additional £5 billion value for money saving to be delivered in 2010-11 across the public sector. Decisions have yet to be made as to how those savings will be allocated between Departments but once this is clear we will need to consider the implications for us. This means it will be a little while before we can publish figures for that year. Once they have settled, we will share again details of the allocations with union colleagues.