The Solicitor General was before the Justice Committee this week and I wanted his assurances that we would remain part of the European Arrest Warrant and EUROJUST.
The Solicitor General went as far as to admit that no deal would undermine our safety and security and how the deal before Parliament is simply an aspiration and not legally binding.
On EUROJUST the minister made it abundantly clear that we are huge beneficiaries of it. He pointed out that in 2017 the UK was involved in 82 coordination meetings, coming only second to Germany for involvement and we were involved in at least a quarter of joint investigating teams. This is a vital service that we are set to lose under current proposals.
The Committee had a chance to question the Secretary of State for Justice about his duties. Many of you will have heard that the privately run prison HMP Birmingham finally collapsed and the UK Government had to step in to ensure that it continued to operate.
The UK Government have not been forthcoming with the exact figures for how this has cost the taxpayer and today I was able to get the Secretary of State to admit that this has cost us £9.9million.
This is money that could have been spent on recruiting more prison officers, police officers and improving our prison estate. Once again a private contractor has let us down.
My colleague David Lammy MP was asked by the UK Government to produce a report into the justice system and diversity. The Justice Select Committee got an opportunity to ask follow-up questions of his review and the Government’s response to it.
The Government rejected David’s recommendation for a target on the number of people appointed to the judiciary who are BME. He was encouraged by some to say that quotas must be imposed but he wanted to ensure that a deliverable option was implemented. However, the UK Government rejected this minimal change to the judicial system.
During my questions I wanted David to point out what this failure of action will mean.
One of the many roles of the Justice Select Committee is to cross-examine the UK Government’s preferred candidates for inspectorate roles.
This week we considered their choice for HM Chief Inspector of Probation. The candidate, Justin Russell, previously worked for the Ministry of Justice on the Transforming Rehabilitation programmes – the system used to part-privatise the now failing probation service.
During my questions I asked if someone who formed part of the team that created the failing system could be truly independent inspector.