30 October 2013
Andrew McDonald (Middlesbrough, Labour)
During my brief time serving on the Justice Committee, I have seen this Justice Secretary rolling out disaster after disaster
under his stewardship. The outsourcing of translation cases resulted in whole cases being abandoned at huge cost to the Court Service and putting at risk the liberty of individual citizens. The Ministry of Justice was repeatedly warned that ALS—Applied Language Solutions—was incapable of delivering a contract of that size, but those warnings were ignored. Although Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service forbade front-line staff to talk to talk to the Justice Committee, the Committee’s investigation resulted in a declaration that the privatisation was not sustainable, even after the intervention of ALS’s parent company, Capita. The electronic-tagging debacle has now required the intervention of the Serious Fraud Office, yet G4S and Serco, which won those contracts, have not been banned from entering bids to run probation services.
Jenny Chapman (Darlington, Labour)
Serious concerns have been expressed, and not only in the Chamber today, about the Ministry of Justice’s capacity to ably procure and contract quality services. The language services procurement process was described as “shambolic” by the Select Committee on Justice, and the Public Accounts Committee reported that the Department was not an “intelligent customer”. The Justice Committee also found that the Ministry’s naivety in contracting was matched by its “indulgence towards underperformance” after the contracts came into operation. In the past two years, we have had: Jajo the rabbit signed up to be a court interpreter; charges for tagging dead inmates; and a new contracted prison in which it is easier to get drugs than soap. When is the Secretary of State going to recognise the need to hit the brakes, build skills and capacity in his Department, and improve on past failures?