Previous Section Index Home Page


LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Non-career Civil Servants

Mr. Burns: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many non-career civil servants have been appointed to his Department since 1 May 1997. [25849]

Mr. Hoon: The number of casual and fixed-term appointees and Special Advisers appointed since 1 May 1997 is 1,081. This excludes fee-paid usher appointments, information on which is not held centrally.

Queen's Counsel

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will assess the advantages and disadvantages of continuing with the institution of Queen's Counsel. [25622]

Mr. Hoon: My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor has no plans to review the continued existence of the institution of Queen's Counsel.

Commonhold

Mr. Lepper: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what (a) research he has commissioned and (b) consultation he has held into the introduction of commonhold as a form of tenure. [25745]

Mr. Hoon: None. However, in due course the development of a workable commonhold scheme will be undertaken in full consultation with interested parties.

Wills

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what proportion of the adult population of England and Wales (a) has used the system for the deposit and safe-keeping of the wills of living persons operated by the principal registry of the family division and (b) he estimates have made wills. [25735]

Mr. Hoon: (a) There are currently 83,000 wills deposited at the Principal Registry of the Family Division (PRFD). This means that 0.2 per cent of the 40,073,200 adults over the age of 18 in England and Wales have used this service. (b) It is not possible to say what proportion of the adult population have made wills as there is no requirement for wills to be registered or deposited with PRFD.

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what (a) information and (b) opportunities to register an interest are to the public in the system for the deposit and safe-keeping of the wills of living persons operated by the principal registry of the family division. [25734]

2 Feb 1998 : Column: 465

Mr. Hoon: (a) There is no facility currently available to register an interest in a will. (b) Details of how to deposit a will for safe-keeping by the Principal Registry of the Family Division (PRFD) are published in a leaflet available at PRFD and all Probate Registries. Wills can be deposited at any Registry and are then forwarded to PRFD where they are retained.

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what are the annual costs of the system for the deposit and safe-keeping of the wills of living persons operated by the principal registry of the family division gross and net of any fee income charged; and if he will assess the costs of operating the system as an open register with facilities for inspection and registering of third party interests and appropriate fees for such services. [25736]

Mr. Hoon: Two staff operate the system for receipt and safe-keeping of wills. Their combined annual cost is £60,500. This does not include the cost of storing the wills and the management of the staff, which are incorporated into the overall cost of running the Principal Registry of the Family Division and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost. 13,732 wills were deposited in 1997 at a fee of £1 each and so the net annual cost is £46,768. It is not possible to assess the cost of operating the system as an open register with facilities for inspection and registering third parties' interests as there is no information available on the number of requests such a system would generate. To research the number of requests that might be made would incur a disproportionate cost. In any event, the wills of living persons are not public documents.

Legal Aid

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if the current review of legal aid will include consideration of the up-rating of the £2,500 exemption from the statutory charge in matrimonial cases.[25741]

Mr. Hoon: We are considering, in the light of Sir Peter Middleton's recommendations, whether any aspects of the financial conditions for civil legal aid, including the statutory charge, need to be reformed. We expect to announce our conclusions in a White Paper later this year.

Sir Nicholas Lyell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department under what provisions of the Legal Aid Act 1988 the Government propose to withdraw legal aid from civil claims for money or monetary compensation. [27004]

Mr. Hoon: The Lord Chancellor would implement such changes to the scope of civil legal aid by regulation under section 14 of the Legal Aid Act 1988.

Pre-marriage Contracts

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what proposals his Department has to reform the law relating to marriages with particular reference to pre-marriage contracts. [25740]

Mr. Hoon: Officials have been asked to look at a wide range of issues relating to the area of matrimonial property, including pre-nuptial contracts. The work is at

2 Feb 1998 : Column: 466

an early stage and it is soon to say what recommendations will be made with regard to the options under consideration.

Correspondence

Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how long on average it takes his Department to answer letters from hon. Members: what target date his Department sets; what percentage receive replies within the target date; and what assessment he has made of how long it takes to deliver a letter after it has been typed. [27035]

Mr. Hoon: For 1997, the average time taken by this Department to answer letters from hon. Members was approximately 19 working days. The target date for replies is twenty working days. For 1997, 76.54 per cent. of letters were answered within the target date. All letters are dispatched by the first class post or delivered by hand to the House of Commons.

DEFENCE

Military Personnel, Equipment and Installations

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those private individuals and companies to which military personnel, equipment and installations have been hired out by his Department since 1 May 1997.[24457]

Dr. Reid: I am today placing such a list in the Library of the House.

Sustainable Development

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what mechanisms he has put in place to ensure the Government's objective of promoting sustainable development is reflected in the outcome of the comprehensive spending reviews for his Department.[25899]

Mr. George Robertson: The Strategic Defence Review is my Department's contribution to the Government's wide Comprehensive Spending Review. I have put no mechanisms in place specifically to address sustainable development in advance of the completion of the Review. Environmental issues are being taken into account in our work on the Review and there may be decisions arising from it which will affect future policy.

West Indian Guardship

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total cost to public funds of the West Indian Guardship in 1997. [25992]

Dr. Reid: The cost of the West Indian Guardship for the year 1997 was £8.77 million. Her associated Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker was provided at a cost of £2.55 million.

United Kingdom Land Command

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the value of the site and buildings of UK Land Command headquarters at Wilton. [26253]

2 Feb 1998 : Column: 467

Dr. Reid: My Department does not hold any figures for the current market value of the site and buildings at Headquarters Land Command in Wilton. The value of estate on the open market is calculated only when a disposal is under consideration, and there have been no recent, nor are there any current, proposals for the Army to vacate Erskine Barracks.

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many troops were under the command of UK Land Command (a) 1989 and (b) 1997. [26252]

Dr. Reid: Land Command was formed in 1995 in place of United Kingdom Land Forces, and to assume responsibility for Army units based in Germany.

The Commander in Chief United Kingdom Land Forces in 1989 was responsible for the majority of the 41,000 Regular Army personnel based in the United Kingdom, other than personnel providing and undertaking individual training, and of 73,000 Territorial Army personnel.

The Commander in Chief Land Command presently has command of some 50,000 Regular Army and 58,000 Territorial Army personnel in the United Kingdom and of a further 23,000 Regular Army personnel in Germany.

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many (a) service and (b) civilian personnel were employed at United Kingdom Land Command headquarters in Wilton in (i) 1989, (ii) 1992, (iii) 1995 and (iv) at the latest available date; [26141]

Dr. Reid: Headquarters Land Command at Wilton was formed in 1995, to assume most of the responsibilities previously undertaken by the former Headquarters United Kingdom Land Forces and also responsibility for the Army in Germany upon the disestablishment of Headquarters British Army of the Rhine in that year. There were at that time a number of other significant organisational changes which affected the composition of the Headquarters at Wilton. The size of the headquarters prior to and after 1995 are not, therefore, comparable.

The information requested is not available for 1989, so figures for 1990 have been provided instead.

The authorised establishment of Headquarters United Kingdom Land Forces was as follows:

Civilian personnelService personnel
1990418275
1992407290

The authorised establishment of Headquarters Land Command was as follows:

Civilian personnelService personnel
1995507358
1997521370


2 Feb 1998 : Column: 468


Next Section Index Home Page