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Gavin Mellor

Mr. Evans: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much has been spent on legal aid to date in respect of the case of Gavin Mellor. [131307]

Mr. Lock: Mr. Mellor was granted a legal aid certificate on 1 February 1999, to bring judicial review proceedings against the Home Secretary's decision not to allow him and his wife access to artificial insemination facilities.

In a complex legal matter such as this, it is the practice of the Legal Services Commission to carry out periodic reviews of the case to ensure that the criteria for public funding continue to be met. It would be unusual to fund a case of this type unless a favourable counsel's opinion had been received.

As at 14 July 2000, the total amount that had been paid on the certificate was a disbursement of £277. No other bills have so far been submitted by Mr. Mellor's solicitors.

Nuisance Actions

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what estimate she has made of the number of actions for nuisance brought in the last 12 months by local authorities for which figures are available where professional witnesses of fact were involved. [131170]

Jane Kennedy: The Court Service does not collect statistics on the reasons for the issue of possession actions such as nuisance, nor the type of witnesses involved in such cases. This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost to the Department.

Freedom of Information Bill

Maria Eagle: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he proposes to publish a

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draft code of practice on the management of records under the proposals contained in the Freedom of Information Bill. [132305]

Mr. Lock: I am delighted to publish today a working draft of the Code of Practice on the management of records under Freedom of Information. Copies of the draft have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report will also be available on the internet.

The aims of the Code are twofold. The first is to set out practices which bodies subject to the Freedom of Information Act should follow in relation to the creation, keeping, management and destruction of their records. The second is to provide guidance on the review and transfer of public records to the Public Record Office, to places of deposit for public records appointed under the Public Records Act 1958, and to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. The Code covers records in all technical or physical formats.

Any freedom of information legislation is only as good as the quality of the records to which it provides access. Such rights are of little use if reliable records are not created in the first place, if they cannot be found when needed or if the arrangements for their eventual archiving or destruction are inadequate. Consequently all public authorities are encouraged to pay heed to the guidance in the Code. Authorities should note that if they fail to comply with the Code, they may be in breach of their statutory obligations.

The Code would satisfy a duty proposed in the Freedom of Information Bill.

Electronic Records

Maria Eagle: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he intends to publish a policy statement on electronic records management. [132306]

Mr. Lock: The Government's policy on electronic records management was published in April. It is called the "Framework for Information Age Government: Electronic Records Management, an Annex to e-government, A strategic framework for public services in the Information Age". Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report is also available on the internet.

Effective management of electronic records is essential to the Information Age Government programme. The replacement of manual and paper based processes with electronic processes requires the development of effective records management, covering existing as well as new electronic records. In government such records must be managed so as to retain their integrity, authenticity and accessibility through migrations as hardware and software change and to conform with the relevant Data Protection and Freedom of Information regulations.

Any electronic government record is potentially a public record and for this reason all such records will be subject to additional controls including retention and disposal scheduling and prevention of content alteration.

The development of a common system of electronic records management will facilitate collaboration between Government Departments and agencies.

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Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many parliamentary questions were tabled to his Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April which requested information, pursuant to his previous answers. [131225]

Mr. Lock: According to departmental records covering the relevant period, six parliamentary questions were tabled to the Lord Chancellor's Department requesting information pursuant to previous answers.


Rural Police Forces

Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he intends to allocate in the current year the money recently agreed for police forces in rural areas. [132066]

Mr. Charles Clarke: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Bradley) of 15 June 2000, Official Report, column 714W, announced provision of £15 million, made available in the Budget, for assistance to police forces in rural areas this year.

The allocations for 2000-01 are shown in the table.

Police authority£
Avon and Somerset494,892
City of London0
Devon and Cornwall1,554,673
Dyfed Powys1,297,570
Greater Manchester0
North Wales770,617
North Yorkshire1,005,224
South Wales0
South Yorkshire0
Thames Valley629,559
West Mercia1,157,670
West Midlands0
West Yorkshire0
All police authorities15,000,000

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The sums have been apportioned on the basis of population weighted by a sparsity score. Payment will be made shortly.

Financial provision for future years has been included in the Spending Review 2000 settlement.

Leave to Remain Application Forms

Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to replace the current application forms for foreign nationals wishing to apply for leave to remain in the United Kingdom. [132067]

Mrs. Roche: The current application forms are valid for use only until 14 October 2000. Revised forms will be prescribed before then. It is planned to make them available before the end of September. From the time they are issued until 14 October 2000, applications may be made on either the newly prescribed forms or the present versions. Only the new forms may be used for applications made on or after 15 October 2000. Copies will be placed in the Library as soon as they are available.

Criminal Records Bureau

Ms Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will announce the outcome of the invitation to tender for the Criminal Records Bureau Information Systems and Services; and if he will make a statement. [132068]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Criminal Records Bureau issued an invitation to tender on 12 June 2000, for the provision of information systems and services through a public private sector partnership. Three firms had previously been shortlisted, and they provided their submissions in response to the invitation to tender on 28 June.

Following a thorough evaluation against separate qualitative and financial criteria, Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the Criminal Records Bureau, has accepted the recommendation of the tender evaluation board that the tender from Capita should be selected as the one which is the most economically advantageous based on the best combination of technical design, customer service, quality, schedule, risk transfer and cost. The Criminal Records Bureau and Capita will now commence preferred supplier negotiations with a view to awarding a contract in the near future, subject to completion of a satisfactory appraisal and business case.

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