There have been 14 exchanges between Robert Buckland and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
|Mon 27th April 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||38 interactions (2,026 words)|
|Thu 11th April 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||26 interactions (925 words)|
|Thu 7th March 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||30 interactions (1,015 words)|
|Thu 31st January 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||35 interactions (1,102 words)|
|Thu 13th December 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||18 interactions (564 words)|
|Thu 1st November 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||27 interactions (765 words)|
|Thu 6th September 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||45 interactions (1,260 words)|
|Thu 21st June 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||31 interactions (961 words)|
|Thu 10th May 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||27 interactions (733 words)|
|Thu 22nd March 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||36 interactions (908 words)|
|Thu 8th February 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||25 interactions (722 words)|
|Thu 21st December 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||28 interactions (862 words)|
|Thu 16th November 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||22 interactions (529 words)|
|Thu 14th September 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||27 interactions (765 words)|
What assessment he has made of the preparedness of prisons to respond to the covid-19 outbreak. 
Prison officers, including those from Havant, are working on the frontline to tackle covid-19 on the prison estate. Can my right hon. and learned Friend assure me that they have the right protective clothing and equipment to keep them safe?
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer. The feedback that I am receiving from officers working in prisons in Suffolk and Norfolk is that social distancing guidelines are not being adhered to and that there is a limited amount of PPE, with a notable absence of face masks. Can he assure the House that he will work with prison officers and their representatives to address those understandable worries?
While most prisons are taking every precaution to prevent the spread of covid-19, union sources report that some rogue governors are attempting to return to business-as-usual practices, such as unlocking large numbers of prisoners and restarting training courses. Does the Secretary of State condemn that reckless behaviour and agree that all governors should be following official guidance, without exception?
Tomorrow the nation will mark International Workers’ Memorial Day with a minute’s silence, to pay tribute to workers—including prison officers —who have lost their lives while protecting us. Will the Secretary of State join me in recognising the dedication and sacrifice of our prison staff and thank them for performing a vital public service while putting their own health and safety at risk?
I know that all members of the Select Committee will wish to associate themselves with the Secretary of State’s tribute to prison staff and their work.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that although the rates of infection are mercifully much lower than expected and anticipated—we are glad of that—very great strain is none the less being placed particularly upon overcrowded, older and Victorian and local prisons, which are frequently carrying far more prisoners than they were intended for? Will he confirm that the Government will use all measures, including, where appropriate, targeted early release, to meet our legal responsibilities in domestic and European law to protect the welfare of prisoners in the state’s custody and that of staff employed to carry out their duties in safeguarding those prisoners?
I am very grateful, Mr Speaker. It is nice to be back.
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving me two detailed briefings since I took office. He announced on 4 April—coincidentally, the day the Labour party elected a new leader—that he wanted to introduce a release scheme for up to 4,000 prisoners. Can he update the House on how many prisoners have been released and how many prison officers and staff and prisoners have sadly lost their lives?
With just 33 released out of up to 4,000, the Secretary of State will recognise that, under the restrictive regime he talked about, prisoners cannot be kept in their cells for 23 hours a day, which puts prison staff at risk, never mind potentially seriously breaching important human rights. What is his exit strategy in terms of tracing, upping testing and moving back to a degree of order in our prisons, without which we could see rising tensions across the country?
Can my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor assure me and the House that all prison officers and staff who have required a covid-19 test have been able to access one in a timely fashion? Are those prison officers and staff being prioritised for the home testing kits?
May I join others in welcoming the shadow Justice Secretary to his place?
The suspension of prison visits during the current crisis affects not just the welfare of prisoners but also their families and loved ones, who have of course been guilty of no criminality. The Scottish Government have committed to providing every prisoner in Scotland with a mobile phone that will be locked so as to enable outgoing calls to approved numbers only. Will the Ministry of Justice be able to match that commitment for every prisoner in England and Wales?
The Government announced recently that key workers would be tested for covid-19, and I am delighted to hear that the Secretary of State is making it a priority that prison officers will be tested. Can he confirm that this will be extended to members of the family who might also be symptomatic for covid-19, and will he make that a key priority for his Department?
What steps he is taking to protect the public from (a) serious offenders and (b) terrorists. 
All too often, we hear that the time offenders spend in prison simply does not reflect the severity of the crimes they commit. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to restore confidence in the criminal justice system among victims and the wider general public?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Many of the serious offences are occurring within people’s families. We know that this is a Government who care about domestic violence because tomorrow the Domestic Abuse Bill comes in for its Second Reading, but since the lockdown, arrests for domestic violence have increased by 25%. We know that in the first two weeks of the lockdown, 14 women and two children have been murdered in their families. I know that when the coronavirus made its way towards our shores, the Secretary of State and his team and Department started making preparations for a strategy to keep people safe in their homes. Can he tell the House how successful he believes that strategy has been, and what he will be doing in the next few weeks to keep people safe that was not happening in the last few weeks?
What steps he is taking with the Attorney General to ensure the continued operation of the Crown Prosecution Service during the covid-19 outbreak. 
I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his answer. Across both England and Wales and in Scotland, private companies such as GEOAmey work in close proximity to and with the CPS and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to provide vital court services. What discussions have gone on and, indeed, what work has been done to ensure that employees working for those companies have the correct PPE, so that they can continue to do their work as safely as possible, which is vital to ensure that our justice system can continue to function?
Gwent police are hard at work, I know, in tackling criminality, including domestic violence, but with the lockdown added to the existing backlog in our court system, the people they arrest now might not be brought to court for many months and may go on to commit other crimes, so will the Secretary of State be specific about how we are going to speed up the justice system?
1. What steps the Crown Prosecution Service is taking to support defendants with mental health issues. 
A fair trial is one in which the defendant can follow the proceedings and advance his defence, and the CPS, as an administerer of justice, will want to ensure that that remains the case. What steps is it taking to engage with experts to ensure that defendants are best placed to have a fair trial?
I had to intervene with the CPS in the case of a young man in Wakefield who suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I am happy to say that he has now received the treatment that he needed, and that the CPS was very compassionate. However, research shows that people with ADHD are disproportionately present in the criminal justice system. Will the Solicitor General work with the CPS and experts on the public health White Paper to ensure that young offenders who are disproportionately represented, and who are also likely to have higher reoffending rates, are systematically screened?
2. What recent discussions he has had with the Director of Public Prosecutions on ensuring more effective prosecutions of cases involving rape and other sexual offences. 
10. What recent discussions he has had with the Director of Public Prosecutions on ensuring more effective prosecutions of cases involving rape and other sexual offences. 
Is there any guidance for the police or the CPS on access to victims’ data? It concerns me that victims of sexual abuse and rape are being subjected to trawls of their personal data—counselling, school and work data—before the CPS considers taking up their cases.
Intimate partners and ex-partners are the largest single category of perpetrators of rape and sexual assault, which, in my experience of working with abusive men, are linked to outdated and, frankly, illegal attitudes to sex in relationships. What discussions is the Solicitor General having with his colleagues in the Department for Education about the content of the curriculum for relationships and sex education in schools?
12. Millions of people in this country carry smartphones, which collect a huge amount of information on their activities. Will the Government take urgent action to ensure that the criminal justice system gets better at analysing that information? Otherwise, we will see many more collapses of trials. 
In cases where rape leads to pregnancy, does my hon. and learned Friend agree with the intention behind the 10-minute rule Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh) to remove parental rights from fathers of children conceived through rape?
I am one of those who represents a constituency that has had this curse of the wicked grooming, mainly of young girls, by gangs—it has happened in more than a dozen cities and towns in this country. We still have not had an inquiry into the underlying causes and why this happened. The Crown Prosecution Service is under pressure to meet its responsibilities due to the lack of resources.
3. If he will make an assessment of the effect of social media on the administration of justice. 
Do users, who appear to have an opinion on everything, have any idea what the law actually is?
Will the Solicitor General set out what work he is doing with Twitter, Facebook, Google and other online platforms, which is mainly where people take the law into their own hands and assume that they know what they are talking about when they refer to cases and other issues?
4. What steps the CPS is taking to improve its response to serious and organised crime. 
How effectively does the CPS work with other law enforcement agencies to fight serious and organised crime?
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for his answers thus far. One of the most insidious aspects of serious and organised crime is the modern slave trade. What action is he taking to bring those criminals to justice, so that we can smash these rings once and for all?
What steps is the CPS taking to better prosecute county lines offending?
Does the Solicitor General remember replying to me when I said that it was a great concern for those of us who represent towns where there have been dreadful grooming gangs that a senior police officer—not in my patch, but another part of the country—said that the under-resourcing of the CPS meant that it was unable to proceed when it found new evidence about perpetrators?
Does the Solicitor General agree with the Chancellor that, rather than new money being spent, knife crime and serious and organised crime should simply be prioritised? If he does, which area does he think should be de-prioritised?
Can the Solicitor General outline how long it takes for proceeds of serious crime to be administered to communities through the safer communities fund and other grants?
2. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the adequacy of the level of CPS resources to comply with its disclosure obligations. 
The disclosure process is a fundamental cornerstone of the criminal justice system. Can the Solicitor General outline his priorities to combat its shortcomings?
What steps is my hon. and learned Friend taking to ensure that victims do not feel afraid or concerned about reporting crimes?
5. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the legal implications of the Northern Ireland backstop. 
Break in Debate
8. What steps the Law Officers have taken to promote public legal education. 
It is important that all citizens have the opportunity to learn about the law and their basic criminal legal rights, so will the Solicitor General explain his vision for the public legal education committee?
9. What information his Department holds on the most recent prosecution for treason. 
Will the Solicitor General strongly encourage the Law Commission to revise its 2008 guidance that the Treason Act 1351 has ceased to be of contemporary relevance, so that the law may be applied to British nationals who betray our country by going abroad to join a jihad against Her Majesty’s armed forces?
3. What recent discussions he has had with the CPS on improving prosecution rates for domestic abuse. 
I thank the Minister for that answer. What success has the Crown Prosecution Service had in prosecuting controlling and coercive behaviour as a feature of domestic abuse?
One of the main barriers to victims of domestic abuse and rape coming forward is the fear of having to hand their entire lives and personal information over to the defence. What steps is the CPS taking to ensure that victims are reassured that disclosure is appropriate and proportionate, and that victims are not asked to sign away their privacy?
The latest figures published by the Home Office show that only 1.9% of recorded rapes are prosecuted. Baroness Newlove, the Victims’ Commissioner, said:
“I am often hearing from victims of sexual crime that their criminal justice journey is as harrowing as the crime itself. This is just not acceptable. I fear we are letting these victims down badly.”
She is right, isn’t she?
I do not dispute the Solicitor General’s worthy intentions in this, but we have a situation where two in 100 reported rapes are reaching prosecution. It is a quite appalling statistic. First, he must acknowledge the impact that spending cuts have had on the ability to investigate these offences. Secondly, he should acknowledge that piecemeal change is no longer enough—the time has come for drastic action.
4. What recent discussions he has had with the CPS on improving prosecution rates for knife crime. 
I congratulate my hon. and learned Friend on not only talking to the CPS about changing the sentences on knife crime but actually taking action and going to the Court of Appeal to make sure that an unduly lenient sentence has been lengthened to three and a half years’ imprisonment, quite rightly. What action can he take to make sure that the courts understand their duty to imprison people who are guilty of knife crime?
5. What steps the CPS is taking to improve prosecution rates for offences related to internet trolling. 
12. What steps the CPS is taking to improve prosecution rates for offences related to internet trolling. 
We all know in this job how harrowing and tough trolling and online abuse can be. When I visit schools in my constituency, young people tell me that they not only experience a lot of online abuse but see it happening to people in jobs that they might aspire to and worry about the level of abuse they might face if they went into such jobs. What is being done to ensure that online abuse is given the serious treatment that other types of abuse is given, so that people can see that it will not be taken lightly?
On 8 January, the Petitions Committee produced its report, “Online abuse and the experience of disabled people”. Will the Solicitor General look at that report and ensure that every step is taken to prosecute cases of online abuse against disabled people?
Does the Solicitor General agree that, while robust action is needed through the courts and the CPS, there is also an enormous responsibility for those who hold public office and offices that command responsibility to call this sort of behaviour out?
6. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the CPS in prosecuting offences under the Hunting Act 2004. 
I am disappointed that I did not hear from the Attorney General, because I wanted to hear about his recent field visit to a hunt, where I am sure the law was perfectly observed. The Solicitor General will be aware that there have been many reports up and down the country over the Christmas period of transgressions of the law. The public expect the law to be enforced in full. Is it not time we strengthened the Hunting Act?
7. What recent assessment he has made of the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the priorities for his Office. 
Break in Debate
10. Whether he has had discussions with the Secretary of State for Justice on reforms to the oversight of solicitors. 
If the SRA cannot and will not compensate the EcoHouse investors, it is ripe for reform, is it not?
May I urge the Solicitor General to do more about solicitors up and down the country who are carrying on their business in a very strange and devious way? I have been talking to representatives of the insurance industry, and I understand that clusters of solicitors are making false claims relating to holiday insurance and whiplash. We know where those dodgy solicitors are, but the current regulation does not seem to be working. What is the Solicitor General going to do about it?
6. What support he is providing to the (a) Crown Prosecution Service and (b) Serious Fraud Office to tackle economic crime. 
What assessment has been made of the UK’s ability to tackle money laundering?
Nothing annoys the constituents of Taunton Deane more than people getting away with things they should not, so will my hon. and learned Friend outline some further detail on how we are cracking down on money laundering? It is a priority, and the Government have promised to tackle it.