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Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the hon. Member for Manchester, Central's letters of 31 August and 12 September concerning the case of Mr. F. (F245203). [137901]

Mrs. Roche: I replied to my hon. Friend on 7 November. I am sorry for the delay.


Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average timescale is for dealing with family reunion cases referred to the Home Office by the High Commission in Nairobi. [137988]

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Mrs. Roche: This information is not available. A number of new initiatives have been put in place to clear all backlogs of entry clearance applications and to provide a faster turnround time for new applications in the future.

Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when a decision will be made in the case of RHJ (reference AS31747) whose case was referred to the Home Office from the High Commission in Addis Ababa on 14 September. [137902]

Mrs. Roche: The case will be considered urgently and a decision will be made as soon as possible. I am sorry that one has not been made before now.

Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what circumstances is (a) exceptional leave and (b) indefinite leave granted to applicants seeking leave to remain in the United Kingdom. [137989]

Mrs. Roche: Indefinite leave to remain is granted to qualifying applicants in accordance with the criteria set out under a number of categories in the Immigration Rules (HC 395, as amended). Grants of exceptional leave to remain outside the Immigration Rules will be based on the particular circumstances of individual cases. More detailed information may be obtained from the published version of the Immigration Directorate's Instructions which is available on the Home Office website.

Drug-related Crimes

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the target times following arrest are for an individual to have an assessment under the arrest referral scheme for drug-related crimes. [136610]

Mr. Charles Clarke: There are no specific target times for arrest referral assessments for drug related offenders. The aim is for referred arrestees to have an assessment as soon as possible.


Child Abduction Unit

36. Mr. Burden: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the work of the Child Abduction Unit in assisting UK citizens whose children have been abducted to Greece. [136358]

Jane Kennedy: The Child Abduction Unit exercises the Lord Chancellor's day-to-day responsibilities as the Central Authority for England and Wales and Northern Ireland for the operation of the Hague and European Conventions on international child abduction, both in relation to Greece and other countries. In addition to receiving and transmitting requests for the return of children or for exercising rights of access, the Child Abduction Unit gives help and advice to parents, other Central Authorities, the judiciary, the legal profession and anyone else who asks for it.

Magistrates Courts (Closures)

37. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many successful

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appeals against closure of magistrates courts there were in (a) 1997, (b) 1998 and (c) 1999; what this figure represents as a percentage of all appeals made; and if he will make a statement. [136359]

Jane Kennedy: In 1997 there were two successful appeals against the closure of magistrates courts; in 1998, there was one successful appeal; and one in 1999. In percentage terms, this is 12 per cent. for 1997; 4 per cent. for 1998 and 11 per cent. for 1999.

The hon. Gentleman will have heard me say that decisions concerning the future of magistrates courts in an MCC area are for the relevant Committee to determine.

Public Trust Office

38. Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the work of the Public Trust Office. [136360]

Jane Kennedy: My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor made a statement on the Public Trust Office on 11 April 2000, Official Report, House of Lords, WA28-29, and issued "Making Changes: The Future of the Public Trust Office". This document sets out a programme of reform for the Public Trust Office which, after allowing for an appropriate period of consultation, we are now proceeding to implement in the light of the representations received.

Solicitors (Redress)

40. Mr. Baker: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to improve the methods of seeking redress against solicitors. [136362]

Mr. Lock: The Lord Chancellor wrote to the President of the Law Society on 23 July 1999, when he set down targets and a timetable for improvements in the performance at the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors. A copy of this letter is available in the Libraries of both Houses. Following my visit to the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors on 9 October, the Law Society is considering suggested improvements to the avenues and mechanisms through which clients seek redress.

Access to Justice (Cheshire)

41. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on access to justice in Cheshire. [136364]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 25 July 2000, Official Report, columns 541-42W.

There are nine magistrates courts, nine county courts and three Crown courts. In Cheshire, as elsewhere, courts are been modernised, fit for the 21st Century. For example, one of the aims of the Crown Court Programme is to improve efficiency and enhance the facilities at all Crown court centres, irrespective of size, location or current accommodation limitations.

The Community Legal Service (CLS) will improve access to good quality legal advice, through local networks of legal services. There are now 154 firms of solicitors and advice agencies in Cheshire in the latest edition of the CLS Directory, which means they either

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have the CLS Quality Mark already or are likely to apply for the Quality Mark in the near future. They will provide the local CLS network in Cheshire. A CLS Partnership has also been set up covering Cheshire, which will co-ordinate the funding and provision of local services. Since its launch in May, the Cheshire CLS Partnership has been particularly focused on developing referral procedures for the local network, and it has recently held training days for local solicitors and advice agencies on referrals.

NDPBs (Scotland)

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the non-departmental public bodies responsible to him which have duties relating to Scotland, indicating their budget and staffing in Scotland, the number of Scottish board members and their emoluments. [137626]

Jane Kennedy: The Lord Chancellor is responsible for the Council on Tribunals, which has a Scottish committee looking after issues relating to Scotland. The chairman of the committee, and two of its members, are also members of the main council and are jointly appointed by the Lord Chancellor and the Scottish Ministers. Although not having direct responsibility for the Scottish committee, the Lord Chancellor does reimburse the cost of the Committee at the end of each year.

The budget for the committee for the year ending 31 March 2000 was £89,000. The committee is supported by a secretariat of two officials. The Lord Chancellor is jointly responsible for three members (the other four are appointed solely by the Scottish Ministers). The Scottish committee chairman is paid £20,803 p.a. Committee members are paid £7,567 p.a.

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Of the Lord Chancellor's other non-departmental public bodies, only the Advisory Council on Public Records has some duties relating to Scotland. This is because the Public Record Office is the UK national archive and some of the records and issues considered by the Council will affect Scotland as part of the UK. However, there is a separate statutory body in Scotland--the Scottish Records Advisory Council--run by the National Archives of Scotland.

Land Registry

Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how he intends to take forward the quinquennial review of Her Majesty's Land Registry. [138470]

Jane Kennedy: My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor, announced the launch of the second Quinquennial Review of Her Majesty's Land Registry on 6 September. The review will include an assessment of its performance as well as a thorough consideration of all options for carrying forward its work, including the Better Quality Services approach to delivery. The agreed terms of reference have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Andrew Edwards CB has been appointed to carry out the review which will include widespread consultation with those who have an interest in the work of the Land Registry. It is expected that the report of the review will be published in spring 2001.

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