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Column 70Members :
M. T. Elliott Esq. JP
Mrs. C. M. Thomas JP
Mrs. M. R. Johnson JP
R. A. Smith Esq.
K. M. Brumfitt Esq. JP
Mrs. E. A. Taylor JP
Miss A. Caffoor JP
Mrs. B. Lyons
Mrs. N. Jacobs JP
D. Tempest Esq. JP
R. Bailey Esq. JP
J. Moody Esq. JP
J. T. K. Hopwood Esq. JP
B. Crosland Esq. JP
Ms M. Woffinden JP
Mrs. B. J. Macaskill JP
Miss A. Limbert Jp
G. W. Smith Esq.
R. Young Esq. JP
H. Asquith Esq. JP
B. Wren Esq. JP
Mrs. S. A. Richards JP
Mrs. M. A. Holmes JP
Mrs. J. M. Eyles JP
G. Beaumont Esq. JP
R. A. Pritchard Esq.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what representations he has received, and from whom, concerning the handling of Benzodiazepine litigation cases by the Legal Aid Board.
Mr. John M. Taylor : I have received numerous representations about decisions made by the board in the Benzodiazepine litigation from other Members of Parliament, members of the public and from solicitors on behalf of their clients.
Mr. John Morris : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what consideration Her Majesty's Government have given to the implications, including cost of litigation, of the ruling in the case of Pepper v. Hart.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The implications of the decision have been considered in detail by an inter-departmental working group, and a number of practical steps for the avoidance or correction of mistakes or ambiguities arising out of ministerial statements during the passage of legislation are being put into practice, for example by guidance to Departments on legislative procedures. Issues concerning the cost of litigation are being taken up with legal practitioners' governing bodies throughout the United Kingdom.
Column 71particular day, are heard on that day ; if he will consider a system of compensation in circumstances of failure ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor has no specific plans to alter the present system of listing cases in the county court. During the last few years, 82 county court trail centres have been established which have concentrated resources and provided better listing systems. Listing officers in those centres are expected to remain in post for at least a year. Listing, however, is reliant on the accuracy of time estimates provided by the parties, the number of door-of-the-court settlements and the priority which must necessarily be given to any urgent applications, particularly in the family area. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the trial centres are continuing their efforts to find more efficient ways of dealing with cases. Departmental policy on compensation was set out in a parliamentary answer on 28 January 1987, Official Report, column 246, and remains unchanged. The Lord Chancellor is prepared to consider claims for ex-gratia payments if a party has suffered loss as a result of the negligence of court staff. This does not, however, cover the failure of a case to be heard as a result of the listing process which is carried out under judicial direction.
Mr. John M. Taylor : Before franchising comes into effect, changes will be needed to the legal aid regulations. These will be laid before Parliament in the usual way. The terms of the contract between the Legal Aid Board and those who are granted franchises are still the subject of discussion between the Legal Aid Board and the Law Society.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to restrict legal aid provision to those solicitors' firms which have successfully applied for legal aid franchises.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many solicitors' firms have ceased to take on legally aided clients for (a) criminal matters and (b) civil matters in each of the last five years ; and what representations have been made to him as to the reasons for the cessation.
Mr. John M. Taylor : Figures on the number of solicitors' firms which have ceased taking on legally aided clients are not available. The table shows the number of offices receiving payment from the Legal Aid Board for each of the last five years, broken down into criminal matters and civil matters. The number of offices does not equate to the number of solicitors' firms.
The Lord Chancellor has received representations from the Law Society and from a number of solicitors arguing that low fee rates for legal aid work are causing solicitors to cease undertaking this work. However, the number of offices which do receive payment for legal aid work has risen as a proportion of all solicitors offices from 68 per cent. in 1988-89 to 82 per cent. in 1992-93.
Table 1-Number of offices receiving payment for legal aid<1> |1988-89|1989-90|1990-91|1991-92|1992-93 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Criminal Matters Magistrates Courts |8,350 |8,247 |7,745 |7,417 |7,011 Court Duty Solicitor |3,601 |3,569 |3,429 |3,383 |3,302 Police Station Duty Solicitor |5,389 |5,392 |5,327 |5,368 |5,385 Civil Matters High Courts Matrimonial |3,229 |2,725 |2,597 |2,584 |2,539 Other |5,427 |5,459 |5,527 |5,870 |6,629 County Courts Matrimonial |8,779 |8,524 |8,422 |8,396 |8,584 Other |8,253 |8,143 |8,159 |8,262 |8,647 Magistrates Courts |6,817 |6,760 |6,500 |6,407 |5,866 Green Form |9,796 |9,785 |9,390 |9,341 |9,502 |-------|-------|-------|-------|------- Total |11,558 |11,455 |11,125 |11,060 |11,317 <1>These figures exclude the number of offices receiving payment in respect of criminal legal aid in the higher courts, where the information is not collected and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many employees of the Manchester legal aid board have been (a) made redundant or (b) asked to take voluntary redundancy this year and in each of the previous three years.
Column 73be made redundant or (b) asked to take voluntary redundancy this year and in each of the previous three years ; if he will list the names of the relevant boards and the numbers involved in categories (a) and (b) at each ; and what is the total number affected nationally.
Mr. John M. Taylor : (a) Nil. (b) The board is looking for 139 volunteers across all area offices as follows : London 40, Brighton three, Reading three, Bristol 10, Cardiff four, Birmingham six, Manchester 11, Newcastle 15, Leeds eight, Nottingham three, Cambridge nine, Chester nine and Liverpool 18. There have been no voluntary redundancies in the previous three years in area offices.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the job titles and the civil service grades of all the Legal Aid Board employees who have either been told that they will be made redundant or have been asked to take voluntary redundancy at (a) Manchester legal aid board and (b) other legal aid boards.
(a) In the Manchester area office the grades from which volunteers have been requested are grade 7, SEO, higher administrative officer and secretary. (b) In the rest of the country the grades from which volunteers have been requested are from grade 7 to administrative assistant, but the grades affected vary from office to office.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what costing procedures his Department has carried out as regards a possible increase in costs to the legal aid fund as the result of a reduction in the number of legal aid appeals certifying committees, due to more applications being allowed by legal aid certifying officers ; and what plans he has for publishing the results of those costing procedures.
Mr. John M. Taylor : No costing has been carried out as no reduction in the number of area committees dealing with appeals against refusals of legal aid is anticipated. The frequency with which area committees meet fluctuates from time to time in accordance with the numbers of appeals made.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to close down any of local legal aid offices ; and in relation to how many of these offices he has such plans.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department whether instructions have been issued to (a) Manchester legal aid board or (b) other legal aid boards concerning a reduction in the numbers of legal aid appeals certifying committees ; to how many legal
Column 74boards such instructions have been issued ; what representations he has received in response ; and how many such committees he is seeking to dispense with nationally.
Mr. John M. Taylor : No instructions have been issued to the Manchester area office of the Legal Aid Board, or to any of the board's other area offices, to reduce the number of area committees dealing with appeals against refusals of legal aid.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department whether he or any of his officials have suggested the closure of (a) some or (b) all local legal aid offices as part of legal aid policy.
Dr. Hendron : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people were on the waiting lists for orthopaedic surgery for each health board area in each year since 1988 ; and what is the current figure.
Mr. Ancram : The information is not held in the form requested. In- patient treatment in the trauma and orthopaedic surgery specialty is available only in the Eastern and Western board areas. It is not possible to give a breakdown of the total numbers waiting by their board of residence. The total number of people on the waiting lists for treatment in the trauma and orthopaedic specialty in Northern Ireland is as follows :
|Ordinary<1> |Day cases<2> |admissions ----------------------------------------------------- March 1988 |4,604 |- March 1989 |5,119 |36 March 1990 |3,603 |33 March 1991 |3,738 |22 March 1992 |3,607 |30 March 1993 |3,127 |728 December 1993 |3,190 |765 Note: Information relating to waiting times for day cases was not collected centrally until 1 April 1988. <1>The ordinary admissions totals may include some patients waiting for day case admission, which cannot be separately identified. <2>Increase in day case figures between March 1992 and March 1993 was as a result of Musgrave Park Hospital first being able to identify day cases separately.
Dr. Hendron : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people were on the waiting lists for their first appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon in each year since 1988, in each health board area ; and what are the current figures.
Mr. Ancram : The information is not held in the form requested. The total number of people on the waiting lists for their first out-patient appointment in the trauma and orthopaedic specialty in Northern Ireland is as follows :
|Number ------------------------------- 31 March 1993<1> |10,838 31 December 1993 |12,545 <1> Information relating to waiting times for first out-patient appointments in the trauma and orthopaedic specialty was not collected centrally until 1992-93.
It is important to view the numbers waiting for their first appointment against the numbers seen for the first time in a 12-month period. A total of 26,699 first appointments were seen in hospitals in the Eastern board area in 1992-93 and 5,307 in hospitals in the Western board area.
Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the electricity power failure in Northern Ireland on 3 February ; and what steps are being taken to ensure that such an incident does not recur.
Mr. Tim Smith : The causes of the failure are being investigated by Northern Ireland Electricity plc. The director general of Electricity Supply for Northern Ireland and I have asked the company for a report on the matter and on the measures being taken by Northern Ireland Electricity plc to prevent a recurrence.
Mr. A. Cecil Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been the cost of maintaining glass-fronted fires, including chimney relining in Housing Executive homes, in the Greater Belfast area, in each of the last five years.
£ million Year |Greater |Belfast region |Belfast area ------------------------------------------------------------ 1988-89 |<1>- |0.392 1989-90 |<1>- |1.066 1990-91 |<1>- |1.035 1991-92 |2.025 |1.471 1992-93 |2.859 |2.082 <1>Information prior to 1991-92 on the Greater Belfast area which includes Housing Executive, Belfast districts 1 to 7, Castlereagh districts 1 and 2, Lisburn districts 2 and 3 and Newtownabbey district 1 is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list by start date the major road building and road improvement schemes in each roads division in Northern Ireland in the current year and for the next five years, indicating his estimate of the cost.
1. Major works schemes: 1993-94 |Start Date |Estimated |cost |(£ million) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ballemena Division |September Killead By-Pass |1993 |0.9 |January B58 New Line |1994 |0.9 Coleraine Division |September Greenmount Link: Stage 3 and 4 |1993 |0.4 Craigavon Division |November Newry By-Pass: Stage 2 |1993 |4.4 Newry By-Pass: Stage 3 Bridge |March 1994 |2.1 2. Major works 5 year programme 1994-99 Ballymena Division Northern Distributor Ballymena |1996-97 |2.2 A26 Antrim-Ballymena: Stage 2 |1996-97 |2.7 A2 Silverstream/Ravenhill, Carrifergus |1997-98 |2.8 A8 Belfast-Larne Road Dualling: Stage 1 |1997-98 |2.5 Belfast Division Forster Green Belfast |1995-96 |1.6 Purdysburn Road, Belfast: Stage 1 |1995-96 |0.8 Ballymaconaghy Road, Belfast: Stage 2 |1996-97 |0.6 Balmoral Avenue/Malone Road, Belfast |1996-97 |0.4 Purdysburn Road, Belfast: Stage 2 |1997-98 |1.6 Belfast Inner Ring Road (Southern Section) |1997-98 |3.0 A2 Shore Road, Belfast: Stage 4 |1997-98 |0.9
|Year in |Total |which work|estimated |is due to |cost (£ m) |start -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Coleraine division Strand Road, Londonderry: Stage 2 |1997-98 |1.5 A2 Limavady By-pass: Stage 1 |1997-98 |3.0 Craigavon division Newry By-pass: Stage 3 (Roadworks) |1994-95 |5.5 Downpatrick division Church Street/Scotch Street, Downpatrick |1995-96 |1.7 Balloo Road, Bangor: Stage 3 |1996-97 |0.7 Comber By-pass: Stage 2 |1997-98 |2.9 Omagh division Omagh Through-pass: Stage 2A (Bridge) |1994-95 |0.4 A5 Burndennett |1994-95 |1.3 A5 Magheramason |1994-95 |0.6 Omagh Through-pass: Stage 2B |1995-96 |3.2 Anne Street/Thomas Bridge, Dungannon |1996-97 |0.8 A29 Carland Bridge, Dungannon |1996-97 |2.2 A5 Leckpatrick |1996-97 |0.8 A5 Garvaghy |1997-98 |0.4
The implementation of those schemes is subject to the continued availability of finance and the completion of the statutory processes.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the road bridges which are to be improved and the bridge strengthening and replacement programme, giving the start dates and costs.
Location by Roads |Estimated Service Division |Cost |(£000's) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ballymena Downshire Bridge, Carrickfergus |790 Widdel Bridge |35 Mills Engines Bridge |85 Gallwilly Bridge |55 Belfast Ballyregan Water Culvert |54 Millvale Flyover |72 Jordanstown Railway Bridge |235 Monkstown Halt Bridge |185 Irish Hill Road Bridge |13 Castle Road Culvert |13 Tillysburn Subway B |13 Tillysburn Subway A Victoria Park Subway |20 Ballylinney Burn Bridge Connswater River Bridge |2,020 Summerhill Road Bridge |17 Ballygomartin Bridge/Forth River |81 Whitehouse Park Bridge |103 Windsor Park Footbridge |104 Loop River Culvert |60 Coleraine Swanns Bridge |1,450 Mullarts Bridge |20 Coshquin Bridge |20 Cahery Bridge |15 Park Bridge |20 Big Drain Bridge |30 Ballyrathan Bridge |10 North Ballinteer Bridge |40 Owenbeg Bridge |15 Macosquin |20 Faughanvale Bridge |8 Milltown Bridge |12 Dunderg Bridges |15 Two Bridges Bridge |25 Mettican Bridge |25 Gelvin Bridge |270 Kilrea Bann Bridge |40 Craigavon Aghagallon Bridge |22 Drumatine Bridge |15 Coolsallagh Bridge |26 Drumgaw Bridge |20 Connolly's Bridge |10 Clay Road Retaining Wall |20 Chapel Road Retaining Wall |13 Bridges Nos. 27, 29, 140, 1198 and 1398 |172 Bridges Nos. 51, 73, 83, 316 and 2020 |290 Downpatrick Tullybrannigan Road Bridge, N'castle |120 Ballyskeagh Bridge |845 Dunmurry Lane (M1) Bridge Glenavy Bridge |220 Omagh Burndennett Bridge |450 Minnowburns Bridge |180 Cordromedy Bridge |65 Ardtrea Bridge |250 Bridge No. 742 |80 Bridge No. 1432 |40 Green Bridge |30 Carrs Bridge |65 Pollenroe Bridge |30
Mr. Tim Smith : The Department wrote to district councils among other interested bodies when it started work on the rural design guide last year. The letter explained the purpose of the proposed guide and asked for comments. Seven councils have replied and their comments are being taken into account in the production of the guide.
31. Mr. Coe : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps he is taking to implement the new arrangements for training postgraduate scientists outlined in the science and technology White Paper.
Mr. David Davis : Last month, the Office of Science and Technology published a consultation paper on arrangements for making a master's year the normal starting point for research students supported by the research councils. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also announced extra funding for industrially orientated co-operative awards in science and engineering studentships in his allocation of the science budget for 1994-95.
Mr. David Davis : Delivering charters is the responsibility of individual public service providers. But details of achievements in health, education, housing, transport and many more public services will be published in the citizens charter second report later this month.
Sir Michael Neubert : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps he has taken to ensure that the ombudsman has the resources necessary to discharge his functions under the code of practice on open government.
Mr. Waldegrave : It is important that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration should be properly resourced to oversee the implementation of the code of practice. Subject to parliamentary approval, the PCA's current provision is planned to be increased by 14.75 per cent. in 1993-94 and then an additional 85.5 per cent. in 1994-95. This increased provision, which has been broadly carried forward into 1995-96 and 1996-97 as part of the 1993 public expenditure survey, also covers additional staff, their accommodation and administrative costs to match the increasing work loads for the PCA and health service commissioners as more complaints are being referred by MPs and received direct from members of the public.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans his Department has to encourage private sector partnerships with university science departments and university research institutes.