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17 Dec 2001 : Column: 98W
Mr. Leslie: The Ukonline annual report was published on 4 December, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. It is also available at www.e-envoy.gov.uk/ukonline/champions/anrep menu.htm.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on progress with the Public Service Agreement target for introducing new development and training packages for Departments' staff. 
Mr. Leslie: The Cabinet Office has delivered training packages and other new developments to extend the skills of staff and enhance their leadership potential as part of the Government's programme of Civil Service reform.
The Centre for Management and Policy Studies is promoting improved leadership across the Civil Service through an updated group of corporate development programmes and networks for the Senior Civil Service, including interactive e-learning, and through a wide range of re-focused training programmes for staff at all levels.
Other developments aimed at improving the quality of leadership across the wider public sector include the Public Service Leaders Scheme which brings together young high potential middle-ranking officials from the wider public sector and the Civil Service for a two-year development programme. The new Pathways Programme is a two-year Senior Leadership Development Programme designed to identify and develop senior managers from ethnic minorities. We have also introduced a bursary scheme to enable civil servants with disabilities to achieve leadership potential.
Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department which magistrates courts in England and Wales closed in each year since 1992; what plans there are for future closures; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wills: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the noble Lord Phillips of Sudbury by my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor on 12 November 2001, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA49. Since that answer we have subsequently been advised that Gravesend courthouse in Kent closed on 9 June 2000. This information was not available at the time the answer was given.
I am aware that 11 magistrates courts committees are currently considering courthouse closures. These are Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Surrey, Durham, North Yorkshire, Thames Valley, Greater Manchester, West Mercia, West Midlands, the Greater London Magistrates' Courts Authority and Staffordshire.
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Magistrates courts committees are not statutorily required to inform the Lord Chancellor's Department of proposed courthouse closures which are not subject to an appeal by its paying authority or authorities.
It is the Government's policy that decisions concerning the number, location and future of magistrates courts are for each magistrates courts committee to determine, in consultation with its local paying authority or authorities.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what is the payment made to justices of the peace for a daily loss of earnings; and when this payment was last (a) reviewed and (b) increased. 
Mr. Wills: The amount payable to justices who are self employed for loss of earnings is £41.78 for sitting up to four hours and £83.56 for over four hours. As the Inland Revenue treat this allowance as compensating for loss of profits self employed justices are liable to pay tax. The amounts payable to employed justices are £32.17 for sitting up to four hours and £64.34 for over four hours.
Ms Rosie Winterton: The number of days lost due to sickness absence is collected, averaged to show working days lost per person per annum for each Department, and published annually by the Cabinet Office in the reports "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service". For the Lord Chancellor's Department (including agencies), the last four published figures (in working days lost per person per annum) are as follows:
1997: 10.7 days
1996: 10.7 days
1999: 10.0 days.
Mr. Wills [pursuant to his reply, 27 November 2001, c. 830W]: Certain work load information was inadvertently omitted. This concerned the total number of default and fixed date claims issued and how many mortgage and rent possession actions were made. A revised table follows.
17 Dec 2001 : Column: 100W
|Total claims issued(21)||Small claims hearings||Mortgage and rent possession applications|
|January to June 1999||769||46||197|
|July to December 1999||802||34||252|
|January to June 2000||699||33||215|
|July to December 2000||724||35||182|
|January to June 2001||575||17||190|
|July to October 2001||531||21||187|
(21) Includes default and fixed date claims
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations she has received to amend the Equal Pay Act 1970 to allow for an extension of the time limit beyond six months from termination of employment for bringing an equal value pay claim before an employment tribunal. 
Ms Hewitt [holding answer 19 November 2001]: Under the Equal Pay Act 1970 a woman (or man) may bring a claim within six months of the time when she (or he) was last employed in that job for equal work, that is: for like work, work rated as equivalent, or work which is unlike but which the claimant believes is of equal value. Reference was made to time limits which apply in equal pay cases in the "Review of Women's Employment and Pay" published on 5 December by Denise Kingsmill CBE. That review made proposals to deliver improvements to women's employment prospects and reduce the pay gap between women and men. However, there was no formal recommendation made on tribunal time limits. The Government have received no other recent representations.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to introduce regulations to ensure that customers of telecoms companies can transfer existing numbers between suppliers of telecom services. 
Mr. Alexander [holding answer 22 November 2001]: The regulation of telecoms operators is the responsibility of Oftel. All telecoms operators are subject to a licence condition, enforced by Oftel, which obliges them to provide number portability when customers switch networks, wherever that is reasonable.
17 Dec 2001 : Column: 101W
(3) if she will list those business grant schemes administered by her Department which she proposes to abolish. 
Ms Hewitt [holding answer 27 November 2001]: Grant schemes form part of my Department's wider programme of expenditure in support of business. The Review of Business Support has so far identified 183 business support programmes operated by my Department, of which 59 provide grants direct to business. A number of these programmes consist of a range of sub-activities. The review is continuing to analyse this information to ensure all relevant programmes and business support activities have been identified. Decisions about whether and where these programmes fit in the new portfolio system will be made later in the review.
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