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Special Constables (West Sussex)

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables there were in West Sussex in (a) 1992, (b) 1997 and (c) the latest year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [152895]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Statistics of the strength of the Special Constabulary have been collected since 1995 by the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate. These figures are compiled at the end of March and September each year. Before 1995, figures were collected by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. The figures for 1992 were compiled at the end of the calendar year.

Both sets of figures are collected for Sussex police as a whole and not defined further. The Special Constabulary strength figures for Sussex police force for 1992, September 1997 and September 2000 (the latest figures available) are therefore as follows:

December 1992549
September 1997465
September 2000317

Home Office funded research was completed last year into the premature wastage of special constables. We are currently exploring the implications of this research with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities with a view to identifying the best way of addressing the decline in the number of special constables in England and Wales.

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Websites (Prisoners)

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the establishment of the website with Prison Rules; and if he will make a statement; [152972]

Mr. Boateng: Prisoners are not normally permitted to have computers in their possession, and are not permitted internet connections. Prison Rules do not regulate a person outside a prison setting up a website on a prisoner's behalf.

Paragraph 34 of Standing Order 5B, made under the Prison Rules, regulates the sending by prisoners of written material for intended or likely publication, and this would include material for posting on a website.

The Standing Order prohibits receipt of payment for publication; the sending of material about a prisoner's own crime, except where it consists of serious representations about a conviction or sentence; and references to other prisoners or staff in such a way that they may be identified. I am satisfied that the material on this website does not fall within the prohibitions of Standing Order 5B.

Mr. Jeremy Bamber

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the Criminal Cases Review Commission to complete its consideration of the case of Mr. Jeremy Bamber; and if he will make a statement. [152971]

Mr. Charles Clarke: An application on behalf of Mr. Bamber, for review of his conviction, was made to the Home Office, but no decision had been made on it when the Home Secretary's powers to consider cases of alleged miscarriage of justice came to an end on 31 March 1997. Mr. Bamber's application was transferred to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in April 1997. The Commission commenced its review of Mr. Bamber's case in November 1997 and has been in regular contact with Mr. Bamber or his representatives. I understand that the Commission expects to make a decision on whether or not to refer Mr. Bamber's case to the Court of Appeal very shortly.

Court Visits

Mr. Marshall-Andrews: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the occasions since 1 May 1997 on which he has observed proceedings in courts of criminal jurisdiction. [152135]

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Mr. Straw: I have visited courts on the following occasions:

I have also observed a number of proceedings at courts in my constituency.

I regularly receive reports of relevant court proceedings and read the judgments of the higher court relating to criminal law and procedures.

General Abacha

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he has responded to the formal request from the Nigerian authorities in relation to General Abacha and his associates; and if he will make a statement. [152496]

Mr. Straw: A request has been received from the authorities in Nigeria with regard to the affairs of the late General Abacha and his family and associates. We are of course very keen to assist the Nigerians in this case, but we have to work within the framework of our own legislation. The request raised a number of issues which required clarification and amplification, and accordingly we wrote to those acting for the Nigerian Government in September last year asking for some additional information. Despite a number of reminders and follow up requests, we have not yet received a reply which is sufficient to enable us to proceed.

Gaming and Lotteries Fees

Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to amend the fees for gaming and lotteries. [153513]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I have today laid before Parliament two Orders under the Gaming Act 1968 and one under each of the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, and the Gaming (Bingo) Act 1985.

The Gaming Board and the Home Office review gaming fees and the fees for society and local authority lotteries every year. The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have made recommendations about how these fees are set. They have called for the creation of a more reliable basis for determining the costs of the relevant licensing and police authorities and achieving their full recovery, and for the elimination of cross subsidies among and between the various gaming industry and lottery sectors.

The Government have accepted these recommendations and acted upon them. The amended fees in the four Orders are based upon estimates by the Gaming Board for Great Britain of the cost of each service and demand for it during the financial year 2001-02.

The four Orders will bring revised fees into effect from 1 April 2001. The table sets out the current and the new level of all the fees.

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FeeOld feeNew fee
S 19 Employees Certificates100145
S27 gaming machine licences
Casino licenses
Consent Application6,8106,810
Consent transfer3,4053,405
Bingo licences
Consent Application2,0453,260
Consent transfer6802,630
National Bingo Game
Gaming Board fee per lottery raising:
£200K or more635404
£50K, less than £200K355263
£20K, less than £50K18086
£10K, less than £50K14586
Less than £10K8282
Registration fee7103,840
Registration renewal fee75142
Lottery manager2,7355,470
Inspection Lottery Return55
Pt II Club Registration
Pt III Club Registration


Legal Aid

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to his answer of 1 March 2001, Official Report, column 751W, on legal aid, what estimate he has made of Government spending on (a) legal aid, (b) Legal Help and (c) Children Act 1989 cases in the most recent year for which figures are available. [152764]

Mr. Lock: Net expenditure in 1999-2000 on Civil Legal Aid was approximately £766 million. This includes approximately £201 million on what is now known as Legal Help. Expenditure on Children Act 1989 cases (included in the £766 million referred to) is estimated at £218 million.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to his answer of 1 March 2001, Official Report, column 751W, concerning financial awards from successful civil cases

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funded by legal aid, what damages were awarded or agreed in publicly funded cases by category for 1997-98; and if he will provide figures relating to payments by instalment. [152763]

Mr. Lock: During 1997-98 damages were awarded or agreed in publicly funded civil cases as follows:

In Matrimonial and Family proceedings categorised as:

In Non-Matrimonial civil proceedings categorised as:

The total awarded or agreed was therefore £1.37 billion.

The Legal Aid Board did not collect information on the value of awards for periodic payments because under Regulation 94(c) of the Civil Legal Aid (General) Regulations 1989 such payments were exempt from the Board's Statutory Charge.

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