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Commission for Racial Equality

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for making Commissioner appointments to the Commission for Racial Equality. [45702]

Mr. Blunkett: I am pleased to announce that I have today appointed seven commissioners for the Commission for Racial Equality.

The appointments are:

The appointments will initially be for four years.

The role of the commission is central to the drive for securing equality for all our citizens, and cohesion between diverse communities of our country. I want the commission to make a real difference to community relations in the years ahead.

In addition to these seven new appointments I will be recruiting two further commissioners with significant experience of working in the community to help support the commission's priority of building links with communities and particularly with young people.


Census (1901)

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much of the work to transcribe the 1901 Census returns on to computer was carried out outside the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement. [38543]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: QinetiQ Ltd. appointed Enterprise and Supply Services (ESS) to undertake the transcription of the data from the 1901 Census returns. A proportion of this work was sub-contracted by ESS after full competitive tendering to a commercial data input company based in India and Sri Lanka (Hays Document Management). The proportion of transcription work undertaken outside the United Kingdom was 78 per cent.

Social Diversity

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how he proposes to ensure social diversity among JPs. [41549]

Mr. Wills: I know that my hon. Friend is concerned about this issue. My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor is determined that the social composition of the magistracy reflects the community it serves, subject to all magistrates fulfilling the merit criteria for appointment. He will consider any suggestions from hon. Members how this can be achieved. Separated the national strategy for the recruitment of magistrates will supplement the efforts already being made by the Lord Chancellor's local advisory committees to deliver this aim. It will be published in the spring. I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss any ideas he may have for ensuring social diversity.

Magistrates Courts

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on his plans to reform the structure of the magistrates court system. [43459]

Mr. Wills: Sir Robin Auld's Review of the Criminal Courts in England and Wales makes wide-ranging recommendations in respect of the magistrates courts. The period for comment closed on 31 January. The Government have taken no decisions on the report and is now considering the recommendations in detail, taking account of the comments received. The Government will announce its conclusions by way of a White Paper in the spring.


Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) if he will place in the Library copies of the consultancy work purchased by the Greater London Magistrates Court Authority in drawing up their Strategic Plan, 2002 to 2006; and if he will make a statement; [43796]

Mr. Wills: Decisions on the number, location and future of magistrates' courts in the Greater London area are for the Greater London Magistrates Courts Authority

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to determine, in consultation with its local paying authorities. The issues raised in these three questions are, therefore, matters for that authority.

Constituency Duties (Data Protection)

Bob Spink: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) if he will take steps to make available to all hon. Members a pro forma standard consent form, for use in discharging their constituency duties, giving legal authority and protection when personal information has to be made available to an hon. Member by a statutory body; [42504]

Mr. Wills: I am aware of the hon. Members' concern about the effect of the Data Protection Act 1998 on their constituency work. In consultation with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, I am considering what changes might be needed to the present arrangements.

Court Sittings

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the monthly court sitting hours for (a) 1998, (b) 1999, (c) 2000 and (d) 2001 for the magistrates courts in (i) Kingston-upon-Thames, (ii) Merton, (iii) Richmond- upon-Thames, (iv) Sutton and (v) Croydon. [43799]

Mr. Wills: Court sitting hours are collected annually for the Magistrates Courts Committees (MCC) areas rather than individual courts. The figures for the five MCC areas in the question are contained in the table. Figures for 2001–02 are not yet available for the single entity of the Greater London Magistrates Courts Authority (GLMCA) which was formed in April 2001 and incorporates the previous 22 Greater London MCCs including the five courts in question.

Court sitting hours

1998(23)April 1999 to March 2000(23)April 2000 to March 2001
Kingston upon Thames2,9152,9602,718
Richmond upon Thames2,9202,6063,134

(23) At the end of 1998, the system was amended to collection based upon financial rather than calendar years.

Community Court Orders

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many warrants in respect of breach of community court orders have been outstanding for (a) less than 12 months, (b) 12 months to two years, (c) two to three years, (d) three to four years, (e) four to five years and (f) five years or more. [42792]

Mr. Wills: Lead responsibility for execution of community penalty breach warrants was transferred from the police to Magistrates Courts Committees on 1 April 2001. Prior to the transfer, statistics on community penalty breach warrants were not routinely kept. LCD is

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now collecting data but complete figures are not yet available. Of the community penalty breach warrants issued since the transfer, 10,034 were outstanding as at 28 December 2001.

As a result of the transfer, the courts now control the whole enforcement process and can give the work higher priority. From April 2002, the courts will be given almost £10 million extra—ring-fenced for enforcement. I have also announced challenging performance targets for next year which will highlight performance on community penalty breach warrants.

Persistent Offenders

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what powers are available to the courts to detain persistent offenders under 16 years who are (a) charged with and (b) guilty of non-violent offences; and if he will make a statement. [42244]

Mr. Wills: The decision whether to grant bail or not is a judicial decision taken within the statutory framework provided by the Bail Act 1976. The court may refuse to grant bail where it finds there are substantial grounds to believe that one or more of the statutory exceptions in the Act apply. Where the court finds such grounds and refuses bail, it must then decide where the youth shall be remanded. The courts' powers and the restrictions on those powers are set out in section 23 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969

The courts' powers to order custody in respect of persistent offenders under 16 who are convicted of non-violent offences are set out in the Powers of Criminal Courts Acts (Sentencing) Act 2000. Section 100 sets out the courts' powers to impose a detention and training order of up to two years. Section 91 sets out the Crown Court's powers to order a youth to be detained for certain serious offences for a period not exceeding the maximum term of imprisonment with which the offence is punishable in the case of an adult aged 21 or over. These powers are subject to the general restrictions in section 79 of the 2000 Act on imposing discretionary custodial sentences.

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