Following MPs’ full return to Parliament, I was again in the House of Commons on Thursday, 4th June 2020, to answer ministerial questions as Her Majesty’s Solicitor-General of England and Wales.
Under social distancing guidelines, the Attorney-General and I answered questions in the chamber from Members of Parliament on a range of issues in what is an important part of our constitutional function.
I responded to questions, including from the Shadow Solicitor-General, varying from the use of body cameras worn by police officers, to the relieving of financial pressures on the justice system, where I discussed ongoing measures including support to Legal Aid and the Government’s injection of £85million into the Crown Prosecution Service before the Covid-19 crisis broke out, which was 100% of their request for funds.
I also faced many questions concerning ‘virtual’ legal proceedings, and I discussed lessons we can learn for the benefit of future legal proceedings, notably in benefits it can have on vulnerable victims and witnesses. Four thousand virtual hearings have already taken place in the Magistrates and Crown Courts and I expect to see more of them.
I am also glad that more face-to-face hearings will be facilitated as 16 further Courts and Tribunals reopened last week, enabling more socially distanced hearings to take place, joining the 159 buildings that have remained open throughout the pandemic, allowing the justice system to continue to function.
You can watch me answer Attorney-General Questions in the House of Commons here (duration approximately 11 minutes): https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/c331e3c1-edb7-4905-a23c-297753d25aef?in=10:20:36&out=10:31:58