Criminals should pay for the cost of running courts out of their future earnings, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said.

Offenders can already be required to make payments to victims, the courts or other Government agencies through a range of orders and fines but there is currently no power to make them pay directly towards the running cost of the court.

The cost of the criminal business in HM Courts and Tribunals Service in 2013/14 is £665.5 million, with some 1.47 million defendants proceeded against at magistrates' courts in the 12 months to September 2012.

Mr Grayling said: "Why should the law-abiding, hard-working majority pay for a court service for the minority who break the law?

"Those who live outside the law should pay the consequences both through being punished and bearing more of the costs they impose on society. That is why we are exploring ways to make criminals pay towards the cost of their prosecution to the court."

The announcement comes as the Justice Secretary is expected to announce new proposals to tackle soaring criminal legal aid bills.

Last week, reforms to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act came into effect, removing large areas of law from the scope of civil legal aid.

Some law firms estimated the reforms will reduce the number of people who qualify for legal aid by 75%, meaning around 200,000 fewer cases, while barristers warned the cuts are the biggest to civil legal aid since the system was introduced in 1949.