Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what is the minimum period before which fees are settled for legal aid in (a) England and Wales and (b) Northern Ireland.
(2) what is the average length of time for settlement of fees in legally aided cases in (a) England and Wales and (b) Northern Ireland.
(3) what is the maximum period his Department allows itself for settlement of legal aid fees in (a) England and Wales and (b) Northern Ireland.
Mr. John M. Taylor : There is no minimum or maximum period for settling legal aid claims in England and Wales or in Northern Ireland. For England and Wales, both the Legal Aid Board and the Lord Chancellor's Department have set performance targets for processing claims. Present targets and performance against those targets is as follows :
Type of proceedings |Time |Target |Performance |taken |(per cent.) |(per cent.) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Magistrates' Courts' Bills<1> |6 weeks |90 |<2>95 Civil Bills (taxed and assessed)<1> |6 weeks |75 |<3>84 Other Bills<1> |6 weeks |92 |<2>95 Criminal Higher Bills (standard fees)<1> (i)claim lodged day case |5 days |100 |87 concluded (ii)claim received thereafter |10 days |100 Criminal Higher Bills<1> (courts' non standard fees) |4 weeks |70 |73 Criminal Higher Bills<4>3 months |75 |74 (taxing teams' non standard fees) |6 months |100 |100 <1> From receipt of claim. The process involves the assessment of claims, and in civil proceedings investigation of the statutory charge, as well as the actual payment process. <2> 99 per cent. within 13 weeks. <3> 98 per cent. within 13 weeks. <4> This target relates to final payments and to the period from the bills being ready to tax. "Ready to tax" means all claims in the case have been submitted. In certain circumstances interim payments may be made in respect of these cases.
For the first time the Law Society of Northern Ireland set targets for processing claims during 1993-94. These were based on actual performance during 1992-93, which was as follows :
Type of proceedings |Time taken<4> |Performance |Per cent. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Criminal legal aid Magistrates' Courts Bills |7 weeks |50 |12 weeks |93 Appeals from Magistrates' Courts |7 weeks |50 |12 weeks |90 Crown Court bills |12 weeks |35 |26 weeks |95 Bails |7 weeks |54 |12 weeks |94 Civil legal aid County Court |7 weeks |73 |12 weeks |88 High Court |7 weeks |79 |12 weeks |91 Appeals |7 weeks |73 |12 weeks |89 Bails |7 weeks |72 |12 weeks |90 ABWOR |1 week |100 Legal Advice and Assistance |7 weeks |92 <4> From receipt of claim to assessment. A further period of up to 4 weeks may elapse before actual payment.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of public appointments made by his Department in 1993 were of women ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The figure for public appointments made by the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Northern Ireland court service in 1993 is 42 per cent. This answer does not include judicial appointments.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will invoke the services of the Official Solicitor in the case of Mr. Bryan G. Davies, currently in Brixton prison.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what proposals he has to implement the Law Commission's proposals to allow for a time limit over the period after mortgage repossession during which interest may be charged by the lender.
Mr. John M. Taylor : At present, information is published on possession actions taken in the county courts, broken down between local authority and private lenders, including banks, building societies and other lenders. My Department has no plans to amend the categories used in the collection of these statistics.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans his Department has to amend the courts charter to ensure that courts provide access and facilities for disabled people and minority language provision.
Column 531and revised to ensure that it meets the needs of court users. Facilities for disabled people are provided in all new court buildings and when old buildings are refurbished. However, there are constraints with some of the very old buildings. A register of facilities for disabled people in the Crown and county courts is produced by the Department.
Mr. Battle : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what recent discussions he has had with the citizens advice bureaux service and other consumer and advice agencies on providing advice and representations schemes in the county courts.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The citizens advice bureaux are consulted on all proposed county court rule amendments. The majority of county courts hold regular user committee meetings usually at quarterly intervals. The citizens advice bureaux and other advice agencies are represented on approximately 50 per cent. of the committees.
Column 532received on the ability of United Kingdom citizens to petition the European Court of Human Rights ; and from whom.
Mr. Rendel : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what average net weekly increase to revenue his Department estimates will be generated by the imposition of VAT on domestic fuel once all bills become subject to the 8 per cent. rate of VAT.
Mr. Ainger : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the current Crown Estate Commissioners ; how were they appointed ; when were they appointed ; and how long their appointment will last.
O Name |When appointed|Term (years) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1st Commissioner: Lord Mansfield |September 1993|2 2nd Commissioner: C. K. Howes |September 1991|5 Commissioners: R. B. Caws |January 1994 |3 J. N. James |January 1993 |3 P. Sober |January 1992 |3 A. Macdonald |January 1993 |3 J. H. Norris |April 1991 |3 Lord De Ramsey |January 1994 |3
All appointments were made by Her Majesty the Queen.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a table giving (a) the average mortgage interest rate for the leading building societies averaged throughout each year since 1979, including the average to date for 1994, (b) the average interest rate paid to investors by the leading building societies averaged for each of these years and (c) the differential between them.
Column 5321979-83 ; from 1984 onwards, it gives the rates for the largest 20 societies. The interest rate paid to investors has been enhanced to take account of withheld tax paid by societies direct to the Inland Revenue, on investors' behalf. The latest available figures are for 1 January 1994. These rates are taken from "Financial Statistics" published by the CSO.
Date |Average |Gross Average|Differential |Mortgage |Share Rate |RATE ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 1979 |11.94 |12.07 |-0.13 1980 |14.92 |14.77 |0.15 1981 |14.01 |13.13 |0.88 1982 |13.30 |12.57 |0.73 1983 |11.03 |10.39 |0.64 1984 |11.76 |11.29 |0.47 1985 |13.51 |12.78 |0.73 1986 |11.92 |11.10 |0.82 1987 |11.56 |10.42 |1.14 1988 |10.97 |9.38 |1.59 1989 |13.61 |12.30 |1.31 1990 |14.99 |14.04 |0.95 1991 |12.72 |11.01 |1.71 1992 |10.64 |8.45 |2.19 1993 |8.09 |5.78 |2.31 <1>1994 |7.94 |5.32 |2.62 <1> 1 January.
I should point out that the January 1994 mortgage rate quoted in reply to previous questions, 14 February, column 579, and 24 February, columns 273- 75, should also have read 7.94 per cent. and not 8.00 per cent.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a table giving the pre-tax profits in total for each of the members of the Building Societies Association for each financial year from 1978-79 (a) in cash terms and (b) in real terms in 1994 figures.
Mr. Cash : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of member states' net contributions to the EC budget, after the United Kingdom rebate, in 1993 ; and what estimate he has made, in respect of the calendar year 1994, of member states' net contributions to the European Union budget for that year (a) on the basis of the latest draft proposal European Union budget, and (b) after taking account of the latest estimate of the United Kingdom's rebate for 1994.
Mr. Rowlands : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the occasions since 1979 when Ministers have issued written instructions to override his Department's accounting officer's objections.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the schemes his Department operates to assist staff facing financial hardship following a transfer, showing (a) the particular criteria and rules applying to each one, including the circumstances under which any loans can be written off, (b) the total amount loaned or granted under the schemes in 1992-93 and so far in 1993-94 and (c) the number of staff assisted in 1992-93 and so far in 1993-94.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : When staff in the Employment Department Group are transferred to other sites in order to maintain operational efficiency, allowances are payable to cover the costs of house moves. In addition, if any staff are experiencing severe financial hardship, the Department has discretion to help with the repayment of bridging finance. Staff are required to borrow the maximum available from commercial sources. Help may then be available in one or more of the following ways :
An interest-free loan of up to 12 months' salary ; and/or An interest bearing loan ; and/or
In very exceptional cases, write-off of part of the capital. If the total to be written off is in excess of £5,000, in accordance with required procedures, prior Treasury approval is sought.
Each case is dealt with according to the particular circumstances and its merits.
Staff transferring who find that the value of their old home is no longer sufficient to repay the mortgage may be allowed an interest-free loan of the difference between the sale price and outstanding mortgage to allow a relocation to go ahead.
In 1992-93 40 staff received help in this way. The cost was £457, 000, of which just under £130,000 will be recovered over the next 10 years. In 1993-94 so far, four staff have received help, at a cost of £41,000, of which just under £10,000 will be recovered.
Miss Widdecombe : The Employment Department compiles and publishes two alternative and complementary measures of unemployment. The monthly claimant unemployment count is based on people claiming unemployment related benefits, that is, unemployment benefit, income support or national insurance credits at Employment Service local offices, who on the day of the count were signed on as unemployed, available for and actively seeking work. Students claiming benefit during a vacation and who intend to return to full-time education and temporarily stopped workers are excluded. The claimant count is a by-product of the administrative system for paying
unemployment-related benefits. It is compiled from records of unemployment claimants provided by the Employment Service local offices. Almost all the data used to compile the count are derived from the Department of Social Security's national unemployment benefit system computers.
In addition to the "unadjusted" claimant count the Department publishes a consistent seasonally adjusted
Column 535series. This series which is maintained to be consistent with the current coverage of the count, takes into account all relevant changes which, unless adjusted for, would distort comparisons over time. It thus allows meaningful comparisons with the past. The consistent seasonally adjusted series is available from 1971 onwards nationally, and from 1974 onwards for each standard region. It is this series which is the prime focus of economic analysis. A measure of unemployment according to the internationally standard International Labour Organisation definition is obtained from the Department's quarterly Labour Force Survey. The ILO measure includes as unemployed those people who at the time of interview were without work--that is, working less than one hour per week--were available to start work within the next two weeks and had either looked for work in the four weeks prior to interview or were waiting to start a job they had already obtained. The figures are consistently extremely close to those provided by the unemployment benefit claimant count. The Labour Force Survey has been conducted since 1973 and had provided a measure of unemployment consistent with the ILO measure since 1984. Quarterly results have been available from the survey since 1992. About 150,000 people in 60,000 households are interviewed each quarter. The survey covers a wide range of labour market topics on the basis of internationally standard concepts and definitions.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest figure for the ratio between the number of unemployed persons and the number of vacant jobs in (a) south-east England, (b) the whole of England, (c) Wales and (d) the United Kingdom.
Miss Widdecombe : When making comparisons between claimant unemployment figures for an area and the corresponding jobcentre vacancy figures it should be borne in mind that, nationally, jobcentre vacancies represent only approximately a third of all vacancies, and this proportion is likely to vary between regions and between different skills and occupations. It is therefore not meaningful to express such figures as ratios. The extent of the available information is given in the table :
Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment and Vacancies January 1994 (£000's) |Claimant |Unfilled |Unemployment|Jobcentre |vacancies --------------------------------------------------------- South East Region |884.7 |36.6 England |2,320.9 |106.2 Wales |127.5 |10.4 United Kingdom |2,787.6 |141.8
"To secure the accreditation of NVQs of high quality and widespread acceptability, covering 90 per cent. of the employed population, by the end of 1995."
Column 536Currently 83 per cent. of the employed population, including all major occupational areas, are covered by national vocational qualifications at levels 1 to 4.
The Employment Department and NCVQ are working closely together to develop NVQs in particular for higher levels and for occupations where the costs of developing NVQs can be justified by the numbers of people likely to demand them.
Miss Widdecombe : The information requested is not available in the form requested. However, according to the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, just under 200,000 national vocational qualifications in total were awarded from October 1992 to September 1993. The total has not been broken down by age and level. Information on awards by age and level should be available shortly.
Figures for the calendar year 1993 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Sir John Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what decisions he has reached on the detailed arrangements for access to work as a replacement for the existing special schemes for disabled people ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. David Hunt : On 22 June 1993, Official Report, col. 102, I announced in outline the introduction of access to work, a major new programme for people with disabilities, in the next financial year. I am now able to announce further details.
In reaching decisions about details, I have taken full account of the many comments and representations made to myself and to my noble Friend Lord Henley by hon. Members, noble Lords, disability and employer organisations and others, and advice by the National Advisory Council on Employment of People with Disabilities. Access to Work will assist people to overcome barriers to work resulting from their disabilities. It replaces the special aids to employment, adaptations to premises and equipment, fares to work, and personal reader service schemes, which will be wound up. Help available under access to work will not be confined to specified forms of assistance ; the scheme will be able to respond flexibly to need--for example, the needs of deaf people for communication support.
It will be open to unemployed, employed or self-employed people registerable as disabled, with priority for unemployed people. As already announced, there will be an upper limit to the amount of financial help an individual can receive over
Column 537a five-year period, with entitlement beginning again after five years. I have decided to set this limit at £21,000. I have also decided to empower senior officials of the Employment Service, exceptionally, to authorise payments in excess of this limit where it is necessary and reasonable to do so and is compatible with helping the planned numbers of people from the resources made available to the Employment Service region concerned.
I am very grateful to all those who participated in consultation and the various meetings I and my colleagues have held. In view of the evidence that many business people feel that a mandatory contribution could act as a deterrent to employers, contrary to the original survey data produced, I have decided to introduce access to work without seeking an employer contribution. I am particularly persuaded by the arguments of members of the all-party disablement group that we should try the new scheme for a year without an employer contribution and then review the position. However, we will continue to expect an employer to contribute when the help will be of general benefit to the firm and not solely for the disabled employee.
I have therefore decided to introduce access to work without seeking an employer contribution and without assuming that employers will meet one-off costs of £100 or less for established employees. This will allow us to consider further the case for an employer contribution in the light of experience of operating the scheme. To fund wider access in 1994-95 I am increasing by £3.5 million the expenditure in 1993-94 on the schemes that Access to Work replaces. This includes £2 million that had not been in any previous plans. The total budget for further activities in 1994 -95 will be £14.6 million.
I will review access to work, including the issue of employer contributions, after the first full year of operation.
The changes to the operation of access to work outlined earlier mean that it will no longer be possible to launch the new arrangements from 1 April 1994. Access to Work will now be introduced on 6 June 1994 and accordingly fares to work, adaptations to premises and equipment, special aids to employment, personal reader services for the blind, and separate help towards the cost of communication at interview for deaf people will continue until 5 June 1994. People receiving help under the current four schemes will be supported on their existing terms until 31 March 1995, from which time they will join access to work. They may join access to work earlier if they wish--for example, if they would benefit from the new forms of help.
As previously announced, the business on own account scheme will be wound up from 31 March 1994. The job introduction scheme will continue unchanged.
I believe that the introduction of access to work will be widely supported by disabled people and employers and will be a major step forward in releasing the skills and potential of disabled people at work.
Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions of employers illegally employing child labour there have been (a) since 1973 and (b) in the last year for which figures are available.
Column 538offences in connection with the employment of children and young persons is given in the table. Data prior to 1979 are not available centrally.
Number of defendants prosecuted for offences in connection with employment of children and young persons under the Children and Young Persons Act 1993, sections 18 to 21-section 18 as amended by the Children Act 1972-1979-1992. England and Wales Year |Prosecutions --------------------------------------- 1979 |23 1980 |26 1981 |24 1982 |17 1983 |12 1984 |12 1985 |11 1986 |2 1987 |8 1988 |28 1989 |23 1990 |25 1991 |15 1992 |12
|Number -------------------------- Grade 1 |0 Grade II* |37 Grade II |2,227 |_______ Total |2,264
The annual rate has decreased substantiall in recent years. Records are not kept centrally on the extent to which losses took place without the need to apply for consent, the causes which led to applications being made, or the extent to which consents given were implemented.
Mr. Brooke : The great majority of public sports facilities are funded by local authorities. It is for them to decide what suitable revenue funding arrangements to make. My Department does not directly provide assistance for the revenue funding of any sports facilities.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage (1) what representations he has received from people in Coventry about the future and finances of building-based sports facilities ;
Column 539(2) what representations he has received about the difficulties faced by sports clubs and local authorities in new capital schemes and enhancement schemes, particularly in the early years of sports facilities.
Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what estimate he has made of the funds available to Coventry sports organisations from the West Midlands sports council in 1994-95.
The hon. Member may have in mind national lottery assistance for revenue funding. The draft directions I issued on 18 February set out the circumstances under which maintenance costs of capital projects might be assisted by revenue grants paid for out of lottery proceeds.
Mr. Brooke : Under the National Lottery etc. Act 1993, the Sports Council is responsible for distributing that share of the net proceeds from the national lottery that will go to expenditure on or connected with sport. The Sports Council may not delegate this function to its regional offices, but may, of course, seek their advice on applications relating to their parts of the country.