The Government will scrap plans to award legal aid contracts to the lowest bidders following criticisms it would reduce justice to a "factory mentality", the Times (£) reports.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling reportedly ditched the proposals after drawing up the Government's latest legal aid reforms with the support of the Law Society.
Instead, law firms seeking a legal aid contract will be subject to certain criteria and sustainability but price will not be a factor, the newspaper said.
Barrister-turned-MP Karl Turner had earlier raised fears that price-competitive tendering for legal aid would lead to large companies like G4S and Serco dominating the market at the expense of smaller firms with greater expertise.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said he profoundly disagrees with a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that 'whole life' sentences are "inhuman".
I have repeatedly made clear how profoundly I disagree with the recent ruling by the European Court.
Our judges should be able to tell those who commit the most heinous crimes imaginable that they may never be released.
To be told this breaches human rights is absurd — and an insult to those who wrote the original Human Rights Convention. What about the rights of the victims and their families?
I continue to strongly believe that whole life tariffs are appropriate for the worst murder cases. This is why I want wholesale reforms to our human rights laws.
Private security firm G4S has pulled out of bidding for new contracts for tagging criminals following an overcharging scandal.
G4S had initially refused to withdraw from the process despite revelations that the firm, along with its rival Serco, had been overcharging the Government by millions of pounds for the electronic tagging of criminals.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said he was pleased that the company had decided to withdraw from the bidding process but revealed the company would still face a review into its deals with the Government:
"I am glad they have decided to withdraw now. We can now get on with awarding that contract, which will improve the monitoring of offenders and deliver savings for the taxpayer. Our concerns regarding the billing for the electronic monitoring contract still need to be addressed."
The Government is ignoring the needs of women offenders with its probation reforms, a group of MPs have warned.
Five years after the Corston report into female prisoners, the Commons Justice Select Committee has found that the female prison population has not fallen fast enough and more than half of women continue to receive ineffective short custodial sentences.
The committee said plans to introduce payment by results in probation services - part of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling's so-called rehabilitation revolution - need to be redesigned for women offenders.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said "certainly something bad happened here" after the Serious Fraud Office was urged to investigate G4S following its refusal to co-operate with the Government over the tagging contract scandal.
Mr Cable told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, "The Government has been looking very carefully at how it gets value for money and has judged that there is some overcharging taking place and we are trying to get down to competitive costs".
He said his Business Department was reviewing the contracts it has with private companies - including G4S and Serco - to deliver public services.
Asked whether the scandal casts doubt over the notion of contracting out state activities to private providers, Mr Cable said, "There are lots of success stories that you don't hear about, but where there is bad practice and lack of care then obviously we've got to tighten up".
Security firms G4S and Serco have been accused of overcharging the government tens of millions of pounds for electronic tagging services.Read the full story ›
What we currently know of the electronic tagging scandal is based on a government-commissioned audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It concluded that:
- Ministry of Justice was billed for tagging of people who were in prison, had left the country and who had never been tagged in the first place. In a few cases, the subject had died.
- Charging continued for many months, and even years, after it should have
- Alleged overcharging dates back to at least 2005, and possible 1999
- Incorrect bills run into the low tens of millions
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said he has found "no information to confirm that dishonesty has taken place on the part of either supplier," but added that he wants an investigation to look into this.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said he plans to fight "for every penny" that the Ministry of Justice was allegedly overcharged for electronic tagging services.
Earlier he said that a government-commissioned audit suggested that the incorrect bills ran into the "low tens of millions" and that he would take "all necessary steps" to get a refund for taxpayers.
Shares in the two companies accused of overcharging the Ministry of Justice for its electronic tagging contracts had fallen at the end of trading today.
Shares in Serco fell about 8% while those in G4S were almost 6% lower.
Labour's shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan has suggested that the coalition should bar G4S and Serco from bidding for future government contracts, including a tender to run the probation service.
He also called for both the police and Serious Fraud Office to investigate all of the contracts that both companies currently hold with government departments.