Letter to Helen Grant through an MP
Dear Ms Featherstone
You may recall that I wrote to you last November asking you to put certain questions to Helen Grant MP about the Framework Agreement contract between the MOJ and Capita/ALS for the provision of interpreting and translation services. You kindly relayed my questions to the minister and in due course I received the response you received from Ms Grant. I was not surprised to see that Ms Grant continued to defend the thinking behind the contract and to claim that it was an improvement on the previous system. I had by then become accustomed to her intransigence in this matter and her unwillingness to address the problems resulting from the FWA that had been so obviously and amply evidenced. However, I refrained from writing to her until I had read the published findings of the parliamentary committee investigations into the contract with Capita/ALS. On studying these reports, it seemed pretty clear that that the committees accepted that most of the reservations and warnings of the interpreters who had provided their services under the previous system, as well as those from front-line admin staff at the courts, judges and lawyers were well founded. However, the findings of the committees, the countless negative reports from court staff and lawyers, the warnings of professional and highly experienced court interpreters, seem to have had very little effect on the minister's resolve to stick by this ill-conceived contract. At least that is the impression I have been left with. In the interests of fairness though I decided to write to the minister directly and ask her to state whether she had, in the light of these damning findings, in any way changed her mind about the wisdom of continuing with the Capita/ALS contract. That was a month ago but I have, I am sorry to say, received no reply from the minister to date. I was hoping therefore that you might once again be prepared to forward my queries to Ms Grant. Perhaps receiving them from a colleague will encourage her to give them her due attention.
Naturally, I would also be most interested to learn whether you yourself have in any way revised your opinion about the desirability of the contract to which I refer, now that you have no doubt seen the select committees' reports.
I attach a copy of the letter I sent by post to Ms Grant approximately one month ago.
Thank you again for your assistance in this matter.