(2) what measures he has taken to improve the use of court time.
Mr. John M. Taylor : Over the last two years a number of measures have been introduced to improve the use of court time in the civil courts : jurisdictional changes and new arrangements for the allocation of business between the High Court and county courts which ensure cases are directed to the most appropriate forum for trial ; procedural changes which advocate the early exchange of more informative pleadings so that trials can be focused on the issues in dispute, and the development of 80 county court trail centres which offer continuous hearings.
In the Crown court and magistrates courts, recommendations to reduce delay made by a working party on pre-trial issues are being introduced. Three pilot schemes are already operating to monitor the effectiveness of magistrates committing defendants to appear in the Crown court on a specific date, either for pleas to be taken or directions given if the case is contested. The guidance for Crown court listing officers is being revised and will include maximum times for the period between committal and trial. Magistrates and their clerks have been asked to give the reduction of waiting times a high priority and are being encouraged to develop methods of listing which will minimise the time people have to wait at court.
Mr. French : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many applications have been made for the post of magistrate ; and how many appointments have been made in each of the last five years.
|Number --------------------- 1991 |1,687 1990 |1,756 1989 |1,687 1988 |1,480 1987 |1,213
Mr. French : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many magistrates have been relieved of their duties in each of the last five years owing to misconduct.
Mr. John M. Taylor : Prior to 1989, the records kept provide no differentiation between those who were removed on the grounds of misconduct and those removed on other grounds. However, the figures for each of the last three years are as follows :
|Number --------------------- 1991 |10 1990 |10 1989 |7
Mr. French : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what criteria are used in the appointment of magistrates.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The criteria used in the appointment of magistrates are set out in the Lord Chancellor's "Directions for Advisory Committees on Justices of the Peace" at pages 12 to 14. A copy of these directions is in the Library.
Mr. John M. Taylor : During the period 1 May 1991 to 30 April 1992, a total of 70 conduct files were opened where complaints were received which, by nature of allegations made, could have involved possible disciplinary action by the Lord Chancellor.
Mr. John M. Taylor : A candidate's political persuasion is neither a qualification nor disqualification for appointment. Political persuasion and other factors are taken into account in order to obtain, so far as possible, a bench which broadly reflects the area it serves.
Mr. John M. Taylor : All newly appointed magistrates receive induction training totalling a minimum of 16 hours before they sit to adjudicate. This should be completed within three months after appointment. Following this, within 12 months after appointment they undertake the basic course--year one--comprising sitting in court to adjudicate with two experienced colleagues ; visits to a local adult prison and a young offender institute, and an introduction to the probation service--totalling six hours ; and a training course of 12 hours. The basic course continues in years two and three after appointment and may either take the form of four hours' training in each year or be combined into eight hours' training as a residential course. Further training takes the form of 12 hours' training in each three-year period thereafter. Members of the juvenile court--youth court from October 1992--and family panels, and chairmen of courts receive specialist training. No justice has been removed because he or she has failed to complete the training satisfactorily.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what assessment he has made of the effects on his Department's work of the new guidance notes on the interpretation of the Immigration Act 1971.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The only recent policy guidance to immigration officers of which I am aware relates to primary purpose cases. The effect of policy on caseloads is continuously assessed but, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department made clear, in answer to a question from the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) on 30 June, Official Report, columns 523-24, it is not possible to estimate accurately the number of applicants who may be effected by this guidance. The effect, therefore, on the number of appeals to the immigration appellate authorities is similarly unclear.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to discontinue the system whereby retired judges are permitted to sit part time ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor has no plans to end the arrangements under existing legal provisions whereby retired judges may be asked to sit judicially from time to time. The Judicial Pensions and Retirement Bill [Lords], at present under consideration in another place, contains a provision which would prevent a retired judge from sitting after reaching the age of 75.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The Judicial Pensions and Retirement Bill [Lords] , which has recently completed its Committee stage in another place, contains a regulation-making power to enable provision to be made to entitle qualifying judicial officers to make voluntary contribution towards the cost of provision of additional benefits under the new judicial pension scheme.
Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick- upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, what steps are being taken to make known to qualified former Members the availability of special guest passes.
Mr. Beith : It was agreed by the former Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) that the initiative for applying for special guest passes should lie with the former Members concerned. No specific steps are therefore being taken to alert those concerned to the availability of the new passes, although it is understood that a number of former Members have already submitted applications.
Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick- upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, how many special guest passes have been issued to qualified former hon. Members of the House.
Mr. Beith : Excluding the 81 former Members who have been elevated to the peerage and who therefore continue to enjoy certain facilities in this House, 205 former Members are known to qualify for special guest passes.
Mr. McMaster : To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, what special arrangements are in place within the precincts of the House of Commons for the parking of vehicles used by disabled people ; how these arrangements are enforced ; how the abuses of these arrangements are dealt with ; what plans he has to improve such arrangements ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Beith : The Serjeant at Arms has authorised four hon. Members, four Members' secretaries and 10 staff of the House to use on a first-come first-served basis the 12 parking spaces reserved for the use of vehicles driven by or used by photo-identity pass holders who are disabled. In addition, authority for the use of these spaces is given from time to time to disabled visitors and to photo-identity pass holders suffering from temporary incapacity.
Those who use the other parking bays in Star Court have been reminded not to use the spaces reserved for disabled people. These arrangements are dependent in the first instant on the co-operation of all right hon. and hon. Members ; but they do form part of the responsibilities of the Administration Committee in respect of regulations governing car parking in the precincts of the House. That Committee will act on advice from the Serjeant at Arms. I understand no complaints of misuse or abuse have been received this year and it would appear that the arrangements are working satisfactorily.
Mr. McMaster : To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, what plans he has to improve access and facilities for disabled people in the House ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Beith : The arrangements for access and facilities for the disabled are kept under regular review. The hon. Gentleman may have noticed the recent installation of a stair lift up to the Grand Committee Room and Jubilee Room and handrails leading to the interview rooms off Westminster Hall. Consultants were commissioned last year to look at what might be done to improve access to the main public areas. Their initial report has been examined and further advice is now being sought.
Mr. Steen : To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, what was the cost of producing new green plastic folders for the House of Commons telephone directory ; why it was necessary to replace the black folders ; how many were issued (a) to each hon. Member and (b) in total ; who approved the cost ; and how much was spent.
Mr. Beith : Some 3,500 new folders and directories are to be issued including a single personal issue to each hon. Member. The cost of the folders was £5,181. Their purchase was approved by the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee of the Services Committee in the last Parliament. The Sub-Committee's successor committee, the Administration Committee, approved a mock-up of the new directory and the new folder.
The new green folders for the House of Commons telephone directory are to replace the current black folders
Column 96which are wearing out and which are too small satisfactorily to contain the newly designed telephone directory.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how his policy on the release of information concerning low-flying avoidance areas has changed since the introduction of the new open government measures.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : My Department will continue to provide information on how to apply for avoidance status and on matters taken into account when applications are considered ; applicants are informed of the decision in all cases. Our policy continues to be based on the considerations set out in the Government's reply--HC 659, October 1990, page v--to the Defence Committee's report on low flying.
Numbers of Sorties Aircraft type |January |February |March |April ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Buccaneer |153 |153 |95 |116 F-4 |87 |167 |61 |115 Harrier |511 |698 |433 Hawk |1,298 |1,563 |1,529 |1,500 Jaguar |403 |647 |761 |426 Jet Provost |567 |730 |669 |615 Tornado |1,704 |2,174 |2,232 |1,879 Tucano |348 |422 |349 |2731 A-10 |442 |522 |586 |542 F-15 |0 |0 |4 |14 F-111 |633 |693 |916 |858 Other aircraft |3,482 |4,922 |5,541 |3,696 (including helicopters) Monthly total sorties |9,628 |12,691 |13,176 |10,575
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times the radar operators at RAF Machrihanish have detected the new United States aircraft Aurora during the last 12 months ; and if he will list by location where it has been detected by other RAF radar monitoring stations.
Column 97out in paragraph 20.23, as amended, of chapter 20 of "Agenda 21" as agreed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : It is MOD policy to comply fully with United Kingdom environmental legislation except for certain operational activities where compliance is impractical and closely controlled exemptions are permitted. Appropriate guidance exists on the management of hazardous materials and wastes at defence establishments. It is MOD policy to minimise or eliminate the use of hazardous substances wherever practicable.
Mr. Ancram : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence following the agreement between the United States of America and Russia to cut strategic nuclear arms and to co-operate on the global protection against limited strikes system, whether Britain will develop a different tactical air-to- surface missile type delivery system.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : We are continuing to study a range of possible options for the eventual replacement of WE177. These include French and American tactical air-to-surface missiles. No decision has yet been taken.
Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Queen's Harbour Master, Portsmouth has to extend restrictions on the use of jet skis in those waters off the Isle of Wight for which he is responsible.
Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at what time RAF Leuchars was advised of the needs to provide an aircraft to rescue David Pascall on Sunday 28 June ; at what time the aircraft was scrambled ; how long was the flight time to the point of pick up of Mr. Pascall ; how long was the flight time from the point of pick up to Vale of Leven hospital ; and at what time the aircraft returned to RAF Leuchars.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : RAF Leuchars was advised on Sunday 28 June at 2.03 pm. The aircraft was airborne at 2.10 pm, reaching Mr. Pascall some 35 minutes later. Once Mr. Pascall was on board, the aircraft took 20 minutes to reach the Vale of Leven hospital, after which it returned to Leuchars, landing at 5.25 pm. The Royal Navy search and rescue flight at Prestwick, which operates to the same 15 minutes standby as the RAF search and rescue flight at Leuchars, would have had a similar transit time to the incident.
Mr. Aitken : The total salary, including reduced parliamentary salary, of most Cabinet Ministers is £63,047. The number of civil servants in the Ministry of Defence whose pay currently exceeds this figure is 12.
Mr. Soley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the 24 empty houses referred to in his answer of 18 December 1991, Official Report , column 160 , have been sold ; how many are under offer ; and how many have been sold to ex-service personnel.
To implement, so far as it is feasible in the British Forces Germany (BFG) situation, the Education Reform Act to the statutory timetable laid down for England and Wales by : Introducing the National Curriculum to SCS (NWE) by subject and Key Stage ; introducing pupil assessment by subject and Key Stage ; and implementing Teacher Appraisal.
To implement the SCS (NWE) "Schools For the Future Plan" in line with BFG drawdown.
To produce Management and School Development Plans to enable "taut" full cost financial and management planning within an agreed budget and to achieve annual efficiency savings of at least 1 per cent. To increase the overall pass rate at GCSE (grades A-G) and "A" Levels (grades A-E) by 10 per cent. Within this target achieve an annual 2 per cent. improvement in the proportion of pupils achieving grades A, B and C.
To ensure that all teachers meet at least two of the four qualification- match criteria for their post with at least 75 per cent. meeting three criteria and at least 50 per cent. meeting all four criteria. The criteria are : a recognised professional qualification ; relevant Specialist subject or phase qualifications ; broad and relevant previous teaching experience ; and relevant post-entry in-service training ;
To implement Parents' Charter requirements for : child's progress report to parents annually and on change of school ;
examination/Standard Attainment Tests (SATs) results to be reported to parents annually ; and informing parents of relevant educational developments.
To be in a position to submit an application for a Charter Mark in mid- 1993.
A copy of the annual report and accounts for 1991-92 will be placed in the Library shortly.
Mr. Ancram : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will respond to the third report of the Defence Select Committee, Session 1991- 92, "Options for Change : Army, Review of the White Paper, Britain's Army for the 90s".
Column 99Engineering Ltd. at Barrow-in-Furness for the construction of the Royal Navy's fourth Vanguard class Trident missile submarine. Negotiations have resulted in a keenly priced contract, and a price lower on a comparable basis than those for the first three submarines. This reflects improvements in productivity at VSEL and the considerable experience the company now has in building this class of submarine.
The order underlines the Government's commitment to the United Kingdom Trident programme and to the effective maintenance of Britain's strategic nuclear deterrent, while obtaining the best possible value for money for the taxpayer.
Trident remains firmly on course for introduction into service with the Royal Navy in the mid-1990s.
Mr. Robert Jackson : Central rules covering civil servants' shareholdings are contained in the "Civil Service Pay and Conditions of Service Code", paragraphs 9874 and 9875 ; and the "Establishment Officers Guide", paragraph 4065. Copies of both documents are in the Library of the House. In some cases, Departments and agencies supplement these rules by further regulations and guidance in handbooks or equivalent documents for their staff. These are not held centrally.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the value of the 3 ft 6 in diameter table stolen from the Civil Service college, Sunningdale ; what period of time elapsed before it was noticed it had been stolen ; in what circumstances it was stolen ; whether it has yet been recovered ; how many other items were stolen at the same time ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Robert Jackson : This is a matter for the chief executive and I have asked her to reply direct to the hon. Member. Copies of the letter will be placed in the House of Commons Library and Public Information Office.
Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many requests were made to the Duchy of Lancaster for financial aid in each year since 1982 ; if he will give the numbers that were unsuccessful ; and if he will list the criteria by which such applications are judged.
Mr. Waldegrave : Since 1982 some 750 payments have been made by the Duchy of Lancaster benevolent fund. Most of these were selected by local advisers within the county palatine. There have been few unsuccessful applicants. These were either not connected with the county palatine or other areas of duchy interest, or had a reasonable prospect of raising funds elsewhere.
Column 100Decisions as to suitability have been based on the need for, and benefit to be derived from, each payment, while taking into account the wish to spread payments throughout the county palatine.
Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what consideration will be given by the Duchy of Lancaster to the application for financial aid from the Lancashire free legal action centre.
Mr. Waldegrave : The application for financial aid from the Lancashire free legal action centre in Blackpool is being considered with other requests for financial assistance the duchy office receives. In keeping with normal practice we will be taking local advice before any decision is made.