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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 18 April 1994

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Court Services Agency

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he has finalised his plans for the Court Services Agency ; what consideration has been given therein to the current responsibilities of (a) tribunals, (b) social security commissioners, (c) Judge Advocate General's offices, (d) Official Solicitor, (e) Court Funds Office, (f) Lord Chancellor's visitors and (g) the Northern Ireland Court Service ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John M. Taylor : Plans for the creation of a Court Service Agency are yet to be finalised. Such plans will not, however, affect the responsibilities of those bodies and officeholders which the hon. Member has mentioned.

Minor Disputes

Mrs. Roche : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans his Department has to ensure that minor disputes can be resolved in court or at arbitration at less cost and greater speed than at present.

Mr. John M. Taylor : Since the publication of the civil justice review in 1988, my Department has been engaged in an ongoing programme targeted at reducing cost, delay and complexity in all forms of civil litigation.

The small claims procedure in the county court aims to provide the benefits of arbitration to litigants with minor disputes. Various changes have been made to this procedure in recent years in order to increase its speed and accessibility. In 1993 106,000 cases were heard as arbitrations in the county court, more than twice as many as in 1990.

My Department has recently consulted on proposals that small unliquidated claims should also be heard in this more informal forum, and we are currently evaluting the results of this consultation.

Inns of Court School of Law (Admission Procedures)

Mr. Boateng : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to ask the Lord Chancellor's advisory committee on legal education and conduct to conduct an investigation into the admissions procedures for the Inns of Court school of law for the academic year 1994-95.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor's advisory committee on legal education and conduct is currently conducting a wide-ranging review into all aspects of legal education. It is due to complete this review at the end of 1995. The Lord Chancellor has no plans to request the Lord Chancellor's advisory committee on legal education and conduct to examine the specific procedures of the Inns of Court school of law in isolation.


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Immovable Property Transactions Report

Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to the answer of 12 April, Official Report, column 100, what response his Department made when approached in connection with the report to the European Commission on information and protection of transactions concerning immovable property purchased by consumers.

Mr. John M. Taylor : I assume that the question refers to an answer given by the President of the Board of Trade on 12 April. The Lord Chancellor's Department was approached in the context of a study of the existing position in the United Kingdom. The Department offered to assist, but the offer was not followed up by those preparing the report.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Parish Constables

Mr. Mike O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many pilot projects have been undertaken using parish constables ; and what resources his Department has contributed in each case.

Mr. Charles Wardle : There are 46 parish constable schemes in operation. They are listed in table A.

Parish constable schemes are the responsibility of chief officers and are funded in the same way as other policing activities. Additional resources allocated by the Home Department to police forces involved in the development of schemes for the supply of essential communications equipment are shown in table B.

Table A There are 46 parish constable schemes in operation, of which 39 are parish special constable schemes and seven are parish warden schemes. Further details are given in the table.

Thirty nine parish special constable schemes were fully operational at 31 March 1994, including some arrangements which predated the launch of the initiative but which have now been adapted to fit the recommended criteria. The schemes are :

Cambridgeshire

Bottisham

Derbyshire

Chapel en le Frith

Little Eaton

Duffield

Draycott

Breaston

Ironville

Aldercar and Langley

Chinley

Hartshorn

Overseal

Hilton

Devon and Cornwall

Lewannick

Dorset

Winterbourne Strickland

Yetminster

Durham

Langley and Burnhope

Essex

Hockley

Southminster


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Hampshire

Silchester

Tadley

Overton

Baughurst

Kingsclere

Bramley

Sherfield-on-Lodden

Kent

Capel, Tudeley, and Five Oak Green

Pembury

Frittenden

New parish special constable recruits are being trained within the communities to which they will eventually be dedicated in : Goudhurst

Paddock Wood

Cranbrook

Hawkhurst

North Yorkshire

Sleights

Northumbria

Corbridge

Nottinghamshire

Kirkby

Beckingham

South Yorkshire

Hooton-Pagnall and Clayton

Thurcroft

Aston-cum-Aughton

Bramley and Ravenfield

Maltby

Suffolk

Elmswell

Warwickshire

Curdworth

Parish Warden Schemes--

Parish warden schemes fully operational at the end of March 1994 were :

Dorset

Schemes run and funded by the county council :

Broadwindsor

Stalbridge

Holt

Leicestershire

Scheme run and funded by the local parish council :

Glenfield--Five neighbourhood watch street wardens

West Mercia

(schemes which predate the launch of the parish constable initiative).

Schemes run and funded by the police :

Eardisley

Weobley

Pembridge

33 schemes were still in development at 31 March 1994, ie with ongoing negotiations with communities or recruitment drives for volunteers :

Bedfordshire--2, parish special constable

Cambridgeshire--1, parish special constable

Cleveland--4, parish special constable

Derbyshire--4, parish special constable

Leicestershire--1, parish special constable

Norfolk--5, parish special constable

Northamptonshire--1, parish special constable

Northumbria--1, parish special constable


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Nottinghamshire--6, parish special constable

Staffordshire--3, parish warden

Surrey--5, parish special constable


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