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Employers' NI Contributions

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what additional costs she estimates Ofsted will incur as a result of the increase in employers' national insurance contributions in 2003–04. [52520]

Mr. Timms: This is a matter for HM Chief Inspector of Schools and I have therefore asked Mike Tomlinson to write to the hon. Member and to place a copy of his letter in the Library.

Teacher Recruitment

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of the teachers brought into the profession since 1997 had no teacher training qualifications. [50936]

Mr. Timms: 7.2 per cent. of the teachers who joined the teachers pension scheme and taught for the first time in the English maintained schools sector between

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31 March 1997 and 31 March 2000 did not have qualified teacher status (QTS) at 31 March 2000. These figures are the most recent available and are provisional.

Some teachers gain QTS after entering the profession.

IT Skills

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proposals she has to improve IT skills among mature students. [50349]

John Healey: The Department for Education and Skills is committed to enabling people to learn later in life and to widening access to ICT skills. By the end of 2002 there will be over 6,000 UK online centres throughout England with access points in public libraries, colleges, local community centres and elsewhere. Older people are one of the key client groups for this initiative. In addition there are over 1,600 learndirect centres, which along with FE colleges and adult and community learning centres, offer opportunities for older learners to improve their ICT skills.

Sixth Forms and Colleges

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if the direct payments made to secondary schools announced in the Budget will be made to sixth form colleges. [52344]

Mr. Timms: My right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced in the Budget an additional £85 million investment in 2002–03 in school and college buildings in England. Sixth form colleges will receive a proportionate share.


Road Deaths

37. Bob Russell: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make it a requirement in court cases involving a road fatality that this fact is made known to the court prior to the sentence being made. [50383]

The Solicitor-General: Where a person is prosecuted for a road traffic offence, such as causing death by dangerous driving, in which the causing of a death is an essential ingredient of the offence, evidence of the death will always be presented to the court.

Where a driver is convicted of some other road traffic offence, such as careless driving, where evidence of a death does not need to be proved in order to secure a conviction, the Crown Prosecution Service will, none the less, bring the death to the notice of the court because they will follow the Court of Appeal guidance which requires them to set out all the relevant facts, including the fact that a death occurred, when presenting their case to the court.

Young Offenders

38. Simon Hughes: To ask the Solicitor-General how many young people under 17 appeared before the courts in relation to more than three different matters in each of the last three years for which figures are available. [50385]

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The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service does not hold this information centrally. However, what I can say is that in relation to persistent young offenders annual figures for 2001 show that the pledge, to halve the time from arrest to sentence, was met, including the last three consecutive months. In 1997 it took 142 days from arrest to sentence. Overall, over the last 12 months the figures went from 91 days arrest to sentence down to 67 days.

41. Vernon Coaker: To ask the Solicitor-General what assessment she has made of the number of young offenders who offended while on bail over the last three years; and if she will make a statement. [50388]

The Solicitor-General: My hon. Friend will know that the Home Secretary is working with the police to ensure that young offenders do not commit further offences while on bail. The information that he requests is not available in the form he asks for.

42. Dr. Murrison: To ask the Solicitor-General what her policy is on the prosecution of young offenders for car-related crimes. [50389]

The Solicitor-General: The principal aim of the youth justice system is to prevent offending by children and young people. The Crown Prosecution Service is responsible for most youth prosecutions in England and Wales and prosecutes all youth cases according to the aim and principles set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

A youth will be prosecuted if a Crown Prosecutor is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that the public interest requires a prosecution, irrespective of the type of offence that has been committed. Crown Prosecutors must consider the interests of a child or young person when deciding whether the public interest requires a prosecution but should not avoid prosecuting simply on the basis of the age of the offender. The seriousness and prevalence of the offence and the youth's past behaviour are recognised factors in favour of prosecution.

Youths who admit an offence and have not previously been convicted of an offence will usually not be prosecuted but will be reprimanded or warned by the police. This system of reprimands and final warnings was introduced by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and is designed to stop offending at an early stage and enables a young person to take part in a rehabilitation programme. The police have issued a matrix of "gravity factors" which is used to assess the appropriate action to be taken with reference to the seriousness of the offence under consideration and the offender's previous record.

"Car related crime" is a wide term that covers a range of offences of varying seriousness. Therefore, offences of car related crime will be graded at different levels of seriousness within the police guidelines, leading to different decisions concerning the appropriate way to proceed depending on the seriousness of the offence and the circumstances of the youth offender involved.


39. Julie Morgan: To ask the Solicitor-General what plans she has to increase the percentage of reported rapes that are referred to the CPS and result in a court appearance. [50386]

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The Solicitor-General: The key to reporting rape is the confidence that the victim has that the criminal justice system will take the allegation seriously. That involves concerted action by the criminal justice system as a whole in the investigation and prosecution of rape. One of the important issues in the appropriate referral of cases by police to the CPS is early legal advice to police preferably before charge.

Incitement to Racial Hatred

40. Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Solicitor-General what criteria the CPS adopts in prosecuting individuals for incitement to racial hatred. [50387]

The Solicitor-General: Each case which the police send to the Crown Prosecution Service—involving an allegation of incitement to racial hatred—is reviewed by a Crown Prosecutor. All cases are carefully considered to make sure that they meet the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

There are two stages in the decision to prosecute. The first stage is the evidential test. The Crown Prosecutor must be satisfied that there is enough evidence to provide a "realistic prospect of conviction". He must consider objectively whether the evidence can be used and is reliable. The Crown Prosecutor must also consider what the defence case may be and how it is likely to affect the prosecution case. A "realistic prospect of conviction" means that a jury or bench of magistrates, properly directed in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict the defendant of the charge alleged.

If the case does not pass the evidential test, it must not go ahead, no matter how important or serious it may be. Ordinarily, if the case does pass the evidential test, the Crown Prosecutor must then consider the second stage test to decide if a prosecution is needed in the public interest. In cases of any seriousness, a prosecution will usually take place, unless there are public interest factors tending against prosecution which clearly outweigh those tending in favour. The Crown Prosecution Service will start or continue a prosecution only when the case has passed both tests.

However, offences brought under Part III of the Public Order Act require the Attorney General's consent to prosecute—so whether or not the public interest requires a prosecution is a matter for the Attorney-General.

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