Previous Section Index Home Page


Temporary Standing Orders

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the President of the Council what temporary standing orders of the House have been agreed since May 1997 which are not published in the Standing Orders, HC518. [132631]

23 Oct 2000 : Column: 65W

Mrs. Beckett: None, other than the Sessional Orders passed as a matter of course at the beginning of each Session.

Select Committee Chairmanships

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the President of the Council what precedents there are since 1970 for a Minister of the Crown taking the Chair of a Select Committee, other than (a) those relating to Privileges of the House or conduct of individual hon. Members and (b) the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons. [132632]

Mrs. Beckett: As far as I am aware, there are no clear precedents, other than those mentioned, since 1970 (though there are earlier precedents). I am afraid the House's records are not held in a form which enables me to give a more definitive response.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Representation (Funding)

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department on how many occasions the Lord Chancellor has (a) authorised and (b) refused requests for funding in exceptional individual cases under section 6(8)(b) of the Access to Justice Act 1999 for representation before (i) a tribunal, (ii) an inquest and (iii) a public inquiry. [133574]

Mr. Lock: Pursuant to my written answer of 26 July 2000 to the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr. Burnett), Official Report, column 716W, the Lord Chancellor's powers in respect of exceptional cases are as follows:

Under s.6(8)(a) of the Access to Justice Act, he may direct the Legal Services Commission to fund cases in circumstances specified in the direction. Under s.6(8)(b), he may authorise the Commission to fund cases in circumstances specified in the authorisation, and he may authorise funding in individual cases where the Commission asks him to do so. I refer the hon. Member to that written answer.

Telephone Steering Systems

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many letters of (a) complaint and (b) approbation have been received with regard to the touch tone steering system installed in the Public Trust Office on its Mental Health Service inquiry line. [134043]

Jane Kennedy: To date the Public Trust Office has received one letter of complaint with regard to the use of the touch tone steering system and no letters of approbation.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what value for money studies have been carried out regarding the touch tone steering system installed in the Public Trust Office on its Mental Health Service inquiry line. [134041]

Jane Kennedy: The Public Trust Office did not carry out a value for money study in relation to the touch tone steering system prior to its introduction. The use of the

23 Oct 2000 : Column: 66W

touch tone steering system means that clients do not have to hold on the line when all they want to do is request forms, and offers immediate access to these services at all hours.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many touch tone steering systems employed in his Department involve premium rates. [134044]

Jane Kennedy: The Lord Chancellor's Department does not employ premium rate lines on any of its touch tone steering systems.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to his answer of 11 July 2000, Official Report, column 511W, if he will estimate the cost of ascertaining how many telephones in The Court Service and Land Registry make use of touch tone steering systems. [134048]

Jane Kennedy: The cost of ascertaining how many telephones make use of touch tone steering systems has been estimated as £700 in respect of The Court Service and £985 in respect of the Land Registry.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what staff savings have been made as a result of the use of the touch tone steering system installed in the Public Record Office on its Family Records Centre inquiry line. [134047]

Mr. Lock: No staff savings have been made as a result of the use of the touch tone steering system installed in the Public Record Office on its Family Records Centre inquiry line. The steering system was installed to enable the Family Records Centre to cope with a significant increase in the number of telephone calls without increasing the size of its staff.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what staff savings have been made as a result of the use of the touch tone steering system installed in the Public Trust Office on its Mental Health Service inquiry line. [134042]

Jane Kennedy: The work generated from calls to the touch tone steering system can be scheduled around less busy periods, and so the Public Trust Office estimates that there has been a notional saving in the hours worked equivalent to one member of staff.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what value for money studies have been carried out regarding the touch tone steering system installed in the Public Record Office on its Family Record Centre inquiry line. [134046]

Mr. Lock: No value for money studies have been carried out regarding the touch-tone steering system on its Family Records Centre enquiry line. The decision to introduce the system was taken by the management because of evident need for action to maintain the best possible service within the available resources.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many letters of (a) complaint and (b) approbation have been received with regard to the touch tone steering system installed in the Public Record Office on its Family Record Centre inquiry line. [134045]

23 Oct 2000 : Column: 67W

Mr. Lock: The Public Record Office received two letters of complaint about the touch-tone steering system on its Family Records Centre enquiry line. No letters of approbation have been received.

Public Trust Office

Mr. Colman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what consultation his Department has had with the Trustees of (a) the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund and (b) the House of Commons Pension Fund about their losing the services of the Public Trust Office. [134032]

Jane Kennedy: The report of the Quinquennial Review of the Public Trust Office was circulated as a consultation document to a wide group of stakeholders and organisations with a potential interest. Copies of this report were placed in the Libraries of both Houses. On 14 November 1999 I sent copies to the hon. Member for Bournemouth West (Mr. Butterfill) and to the right hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor), the Chairmen of these funds, offering to meet them to discuss the changes. I wrote again to both MPs on this subject on 7 May. Throughout, Public Trust Office officials have been in communication with officials of these pension funds.

Mr. Colman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what continuing safeguards are to be in place to protect clients with less than £10,000 and their funds after those funds have been transferred elsewhere from the Public Trust Office. [134033]

Jane Kennedy: In cases where the Public Trustee is discharged as Receiver by the Court of Protection the Court must be satisfied that the client continues to be protected. In those cases where there is an external receiver (for example, a relative or solicitor), receivers are required to continue to keep a full record of transactions concluded on behalf of the client; the Court of Protection can call for an account at any time; and it is intended to call for an account in a percentage of these cases as a matter of administrative routine.

Mr. Colman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department where the replacement body for the Public Trust Office will be located. [134036]

Jane Kennedy: The replacement body for the Public Trust Office will be located in Greater London.

Mr. Colman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what measures he is taking to ensure that the cost to Public Trust Office clients does not increase if solicitors are appointed as last resort receivers and are permitted to charge on a timed basis. [134037]

Jane Kennedy: It is intended that the affairs of Public Trustee Receivership clients be transferred to a number of new service providers, not just solicitors. Where appropriate, the new receiver will be a family member (who will not charge a fee) or a local authority.

The appointment of a new receiver in Public Trustee Receivership cases is at the discretion of the Court of Protection and the Master of the Court will consider whether the appointment is in the best interests of the client. The expected costs of the new receiver will be considered by the Court as part of this process.

23 Oct 2000 : Column: 68W

There is, however, a strong argument that clients should pay the market rate for work undertaken on their behalf if they can afford to do so. Where solicitors take on receivership work, charges are either on a fixed costs or on a timed basis. If the charge is on a timed basis, bills will be verified by the Supreme Court Costs Office to ensure that the number of hours billed is reasonable, and that the hourly rate is within the guidelines set.

Mr. Colman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what guarantees will be given to clients that losses to clients arising from fraud or mismanagement will continue to be made good when clients' investments currently managed by the Public Fund Office Receivership Division, Trust Division and Court Funds Office are managed by an external custodian; [134038]

Jane Kennedy: Some of the Public Trust Office's existing clients already have assets held externally and, depending upon the arrangements, they may have recourse to statutory compensation schemes, and where appropriate, will be protected by the custodian's insurance policy. The regulatory authorities require companies undertaking custodian work to ensure that proper segregation of assets is maintained.

The Public Trust Office will ensure, in setting up any contract with external custodians, and on an ongoing basis, that rigorous auditing arrangements are in place to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, and that companies have suitable insurance cover.

Mr. Colman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what level of staffing is proposed for the body replacing the Public Trust Office. [134035]

Jane Kennedy: Work is still proceeding to determine the exact size of the organisation that will replace the Public Trust Office so it is too early to give exact figures for the level of staffing that will be required. I shall, however, by the year end, be able to offer a specific estimate of the number of staff likely to be required for the new organisation as at April 2001. That number will be expected to reduce over time as the Public Trustee receivership work is transferred to other service providers and business efficiencies are implemented.


Next Section Index Home Page