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Snow and Ice

Volume 504: debated on Friday 29 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the costs to his Department arising from the severe weather conditions in the period 4 January to 18 January 2010; and if he will make a statement. (313591)

No overall assessment has been made of the financial impact of the severe weather conditions in the period 4 January to 18 January 2010 on the Ministry of Justice and its executive agencies (the National Offender Management Service, Her Majesty's Courts Service, the Tribunals Service and the Office of the Public Guardian).

Regular communications were issued to staff across the organisation via intranet and email ahead of, and during, the period of severe weather advising on the actions to be taken. Advice was as follows:

Managers were instructed to have their business continuity plans and key contacts readily available for activation.

Staff were advised not to take undue risks to travel to work if it was not safe.

Staff who were unable to attend their normal place of work must inform their manager that they are delayed or will not attend for duty. Where possible in these circumstances, staff were expected to work from home or, subject to management authorisation and organisation, attend another Ministry of Justice office or location.

Following the adoption of these principles, the impact on departmental business is considered to be relatively low. There were a number of closures of courts and tribunals at various stages and some courts, offices and prisons had to cope with fewer staff for short periods. In general, business continuity plans were activated without incurring additional expenditure, with work being prioritised and postponed. It would incur disproportionate cost to contact every local office, prison, court, probation board or trust and tribunal to obtain a financial impact assessment and to analyse and collate this information.