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Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of people seeking a grant of probate currently receive it within eight weeks of an application being received by the authorities.
Mr. John M. Taylor: All grants of probate and other grants of representation are issued within eight weeks, unless the grant cannot be issued because of factors beyond the control of the probate service.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many complaints have been received and what amount of compensation for errors and delays has been paid out by county courts in (a) London and (b) the rest of England and Wales for each month since the implementation of the courts charter.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department which court has (a) received the most complaints and (b) had to pay out the most compensation for errors and delays since the implementation of the courts charter; and what plans he has for regular publication of the figures for compensation payments.
Mr. John M. Taylor: It is not possible to obtain the information requested in the time available. I will provide the hon. Member with a written reply before the House reassembles. There are no plans for regular publication of these figures.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of jurors outside London currently sit on trials for at least 70 per cent. of the days that they attend court; and what percentage of jurors within London sit on trials for at least 85 per cent. of the days that they attend court, as stipulated by the courts charter.
Mr. John M. Taylor: Performance against the courts charter target is measured by the percentage of juror attendance days spent on trials. During the period April to October 1994, the figures for outside London and within London were 72.4 per cent. and 87.4 per cent. respectively.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of defendants (a) in custody and (b) on bail are not dealt with in the target times set out in the courts charter; what number of defendants (i) in custody and (ii) on bail this affects on average each month; how many defendants in custody have had to wait more than (1) three months, (2) six months and (3) 12 months before trial; and what percentages of defendants in custody these numbers represent.
Mr. John M. Taylor: The available information covering the period April to October 1994 is shown in the table. Statistics on the number of defendants in custody waiting more than 12 months before trial at the Crown court and the distribution of waiting times at magistrates courts are not available and could be obtained only at
Waiting times at the Crown Court: Defendants committed for trial dealt with during April to October 1994 Defendants exceeding waiting time Type of remand and |Average number waiting ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Custody 8 weeks |56 |1,266 12 weeks |36 |827 26 weeks |12 |268 Bail 16 weeks |39 |2,565
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of defence witnesses do not currently receive their expenses within five working days of their handing in their expenses claim at court.
Mr. John M. Taylor: Since April 1994, all courts in England and Wales have achieved the standard of paying defence witnesses' expenses within five working days of their handing in their expense claim at court.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of adults do not currently have their first appearance before a magistrates court within five weeks of the start of proceedings against them; and what percentage of children and young people do not have their first appearance before a youth court within three weeks of the start of proceedings against them.
Mr. John Taylor: The Lord Chancellor's Department carries out surveys of time intervals between stages in proceedings completed in magistrates courts in three sample weeks, in February, June and October of each year. The results of the October survey are not yet available. The results of the February and June surveys are as follows:
D Percentage of defendants who did not have their first |21 days |35 days -------------------------------------------------------------------- February 1994<1> |64.68 |20.86 June 1994<2> |68.90 |44.20 <1> Surveys covers indictable and triable either way cases only. <2> Survey covers indictable, triable either way and summary cases.
Mr. Boateng: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of jurors are currently sent a cheque to cover their expenses claim within five working days of the end of their service; and what percentage receive some payment for days already served before the end of their service.
Mr. John M. Taylor: Since April 1994, all courts in England and Wales have achieved the standard of sending a cheque to jurors to cover their expenses claim with five working days of the end of their jury service.
Column 1009Information on the percentage of jurors who receive some payment for days already served before the end of their service is not available, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
The Prime Minister: When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met Prime Minister Bhutto, he welcomed the acquittal and release of Gul Masih. He also discussed with Ms Bhutto her Government's plans to improve religious safeguards.
(2) what submissions were made by the British Government to the Christophersen commission prior to the Essen summit on the trans-European road network in the British Isles; and if he will list those routes that were proposed;
Column 1010(3) pursuant to his oral statement of 12 November, Official Report, columns 613-15 , if the TERN proposals discussed at the Essen summit included a trans-European network from the south-east of Ireland to the eastern English channel ports;
(4) pursuant to his oral statement of 12 December, Official Report, columns 613-15 , what other TERN routes the British Isles discussed at the European Council meeting at Essen.
The Prime Minister: The Essen European Council welcomed the report of the Christopherson group of personal representatives and endorsed its main recommendations. It confirmed that the 11 priority projects agreed at the Corfu Council and the three further projects now added to the list had either already been started or could be started shortly. Four United Kingdom projects are included among the 14 endorsed by the Essen Council: the channel tunnel rail link; the Cork-Dublin-Belfast-Larne rail link; the Ireland-United Kingdom-Benelux road link; and the upgrading of the west coast main line. In addition to the 14 projects on the Christophersen group list, discussions are continuing in Brussels on the Commission's wider proposals for a trans-European transport network. These proposals include a strategic route linking the south-east of Ireland with the eastern channel ports via south Wales.
Mr. Lamont: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral statement of 12 December, Official Report , column 625 , whether France was one of the countries whose Head of Government might not be able to find his way to the Parliament without the aid of a guide dog.
The Prime Minister: I have a close and productive working relationship with Mr. Balladur. I have no doubt that he and all sensible observers will take my remarks in the light-hearted manner in which they were made.
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister what representations, and at what level, he has made to the Spanish Government about the conduct of their officials at the customs and border post with Gibraltar; and if he will make a statement.
The Prime Minister: We have made repeated and high-level representations to the Spanish Government about the disruptive and intrusive control at the border. These have now ended. It is important that they are not reimposed.
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has held with the Government of Gibraltar regarding the resumption of some powers and duties of the local government and legislature by the Governor or Her Majesty's Government; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what investigations of human rights records are undertaken before aid is given to a particular country; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Goodlad: We keep the human rights record of individual countries under regular review. We rely on information from a wide range of sources including our overseas posts and international and non-government organisations. We also co-ordinate our views with other Governments, notably in the European Union. Decisions on provision of aid take explicit account of recipients' human rights record alongside consideration of other criteria for aid.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance the European Union has offered, including balance of payments assistance, to countries without a structural adjustment programme agreed with the International Monetary Fund and what position the United Kingdom Government have taken in the Council on Ministers of these issues.
Mr. Goodlad: European Union assistance for structural adjustment is normally in support of adjustment programmes agreed with the International Monetary Fund. Since January 1992 the only exceptions have been:
(i) A sectoral import programme for Ethiopia for 27 mecu agreed in April 1992 while discussions with the International Monetary Fund were still under way. The United Kingdom voted in favour.
(ii) A structural adjustment support programme for 5.5 mecu to the Ivory Coast in February 1992. The United Kingdom opposed the project on the grounds that the international financial institutions had suspended their assistance. The decision was adopted by qualified majority.
(iii) A proposal for 70 mecu "Community support for structural adjustment" was agreed for Algeria in April 1993 in the absence of an agreed International Monetary Fund programme. The United Kingdom voted in favour of the proposal on the ground that it was considered that Algeria had embarked on a serious programme of economic reforms.
(iv) A further 30 mecu "Agriculture sector import programme" for Algeria was approved in October 1993 on condition that the Algerian Government would, before the end of 1993, take the necessary steps to agree a programme with the International Monetary Fund. The United Kingdom supported, but requested that Algeria's progress with the International Monetary Fund be kept under review and agreement reached before funds were disbursed.
Mr. Goodlad: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) gave to the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) on 7 February 1994 at column 66 .
(2) how much aid has been given to Nigeria, and to which organisations, in each of the last 10 years.
1984 85, £3.8 million; 1985 86, £3.5 million; 1986 87, £3.6 million; 1987 88, £3.15 million; 1988 89, £3.4 million; 1989--90, £66.6 million; 1990 91, £33.5 million; 1991 92, £13.4 million; 1992 93, £12.7 million; 1993 94, £7.95 million.
The sharp increase in our aid in 1989 90 was due to balance of payments assistance provided as part of an international effort to help Nigeria with its IMF and World bank supported structural adjustment programmes.
A list of projects funded in the last five years was placed in the Library of the House in response to a question by the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) on 7 February 1994 at column 66 . Prior to 1989, our aid programme to Nigeria was confined to technical co-operation assistance centred on small education and training initiatives.
Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on United Kingdom assistance to the refugees displaced by the Nagorno-Kharabakh conflict.
Mr. Goodlad: We have provided over £13.2 million of relief assistance to the refugees and the internally displaced since December 1992. This includes over £6.8 million of bilateral assistance mainly through the UN relief agencies and non-governmental organisations, and our share of assistance--£6.4 million--provided by the European Union. This assistance has been provided in broadly equal proportions to both the Azeri and Armenian populations. We will continue to respond to the needs of the most affected populations.
Mr. Parry: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the refugee camps organised by the United Nations in Africa and the latest number of refugees in each camp; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Goodlad: Currently the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are some 9 million refugees in Africa. Precise information on the population of individual camps is not available.
Column 1013Ottaway), Official Report , column 223 , what was the voting record of each member state on items agreed at the meeting of the European Union's Development Council held on 25 November.
Mr. Goodlad: Following the receipt of advice by consultants, my noble Friend the Minister for Overseas Development has decided that formal tenders should be invited to take over the future ownership of the Natural Resources Institute.
The consultants' report shows that there is widespread recognition of the high quality of work being undertaken at NRI. A number of universities have expressed interest in taking over, singly or jointly, the ownership of NRI. The Government welcome this interest. We intend that it should continue to provide a centre of multi-disciplinary expertise on the sustainable management of renewable natural resources. The Overseas Development Administration expects to remain a substantial customer for NRI's services.
Mr. David Hunt: The Office of Public Service and Science, which is the lead Department on the code of practice on access to government information, has spent some £18,252 publicising the code of practice. Many Departments have issued press releases and make explanatory material available on request. Those listed have produced additional explanatory material tailored to their own circumstances. Entries marked with an asterisk are approximate figures.
Department |Expenditure -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Department for Education |£581 Department of Employment |*£9,265 Department of the Environment |*£170 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Including Overseas Development Administration) |£1,875 Department of Health |*£3,135 Home Office |£1,350 Lord Chancellor's Department |*£1,000 Northern Ireland Office |£2,945 Department of Trade and Industry |£971 Department of Transport |£1,338 Welsh Office |£2,881 Other (Non-Ministerial) Departments Customs and Excise |£258 Office of Fair Trading |£6836 Ofsted |*£200 Ofwat |*£100
Mr. David Hunt: The recruitment and appointment of magistrates in the Duchy area follow the same pattern as in the remainder of the country. Advisory committees recommend suitable candidates to me after interviewing applicants and considering the balance of the bench, which takes into account age, profession, residence and political views. In this way we try to ensure that a bench broadly reflects the community that it serves.
1979 to 1987--none
1988 two schools
1989 one school
1990 two schools
1991 two schools
1992 one schools
1993 four schools
1994 six schools
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to what specific purpose the £5,000 donated by the Duchy benevolent fund to the Royal grammar school in Lancaster for new buildings was put in 1993, 1991 and 1990.
Donations were made in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994. Over £640,000 was raised by the school. The donation from the Duchy benevolent fund was put towards the building of a new mathematics and information technology classroom block.
Column 1015(2) how many train journeys of one hour's duration or more the Minister without Portfolio has made in Britain in 1994 in the course of his official duties.
Mr. David Hunt: My predecessor and I have travelled by train to official engagements this year on 55 journeys. The Minister without Portfolio travels frequently by train, but has not travelled by train in the course of his official duties as Cabinet Minister without Portfolio.
Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the annual cost to the Central Office of Information of the conversion of Government Department press releases to electronic format and making them available electronically; and what is the annual income gained from the charges made for Government press releases in electronic format.
Government Department press releases are supplied electronically to the news media and the Central Office of Information makes no charge to recipients for this service.
Public access to press releases in electronic format is provided via commercial on-line services some of which provide universal access via the Internet.
Income from these services was £35,186 in 1993 94, and this income was used to offset the cost to Government of distributing press releases to the media.