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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :
Chapel en le Frith
Aldercar and Langley
Devon and Cornwall
Langley and Burnhope
Capel, Tudeley, and Five Oak Green
New parish special constable recruits are being trained within the communities to which they will eventually be dedicated in : Goudhurst
Hooton-Pagnall and Clayton
Bramley and Ravenfield
Parish Warden Schemes--
Parish warden schemes fully operational at the end of March 1994 were :
Schemes run and funded by the county council :
Scheme run and funded by the local parish council :
Glenfield--Five neighbourhood watch street wardens
(schemes which predate the launch of the parish constable initiative).
Schemes run and funded by the police :
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
Column 356Nottinghamshire--6, parish special constable
Staffordshire--3, parish warden
Surrey--5, parish special constable