Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman v isited Birmingham yesterday for an update on how a pilot scheme giving new rights at court to the families of murder victims was working.
Ms Harman was in the city to talk to members of the criminal justice system about the Victims' Advocate scheme, which is being piloted at Birmingham Crown Court.
It gives a barrister or a member of the victim's family the opportunity to address the court about the impact of the death after a verdict has been reached.
At present the cost of the scheme is being met by the Department of Constitutional Affairs.
Ms Harman, formerly the Solicitor General, said: "The whole point about this is we are trying it out and going to see how it works. As a matter of principle people who care most about the case, it is wrong for them to be told 'sorry you are the only one who can't speak'.
"It is useful for the offender to hear from the people most affected by the crime. A lot of relatives, often they've just said they wanted a chance to tell the court what those people were like as living, breathing beings."
The influence the statement could have on the judge's decision when it came to sentencing is one of the aspects of the scheme which is being monitored, said Ms Harman.
"I think what effect it has on the system and what people will learn from it is what we need to find out," she said.
"Judges are already required by the practice directions to take into account the effect of the crime on the victim's relatives.
"They are certainly more likely than not to have in their papers the effect the homicide has had on the relatives."
Ms Harman first visited Birmingham Crown Court and then went to nearby Temple Court to meet members of the Criminal Justice System.
Birmingham, which has heard nearly 150 murder and manslaughter trials since 2002, is one of five crown courts piloting the advocate scheme.