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Child Abductions

Keith Vaz: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to her answer of 20 June 2002, Official Report, column 530W, on child abductions, to which countries the children were abducted. [65277]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Further to my answer on 20 June 2002, Official Report, column 530W, on child abductions, the information is in the table.

2002 outgoing cases from the United Kingdom

Country Number of casesReturn of child achievedOther result achievedPending
Czech Republic11
New Zealand211
South Africa33

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Contact Centres

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many contact centres for absent parents and children there have been in England over the last five years, broken down by (a) health authority and (b) region. [64522]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Child contact centres are run by the voluntary sector. No current data are kept on how many child contact centres exist or their location. The Child Contact Centre Working Group, which is facilitated by the LCD, will be undertaking a mapping exercise of child contact centre service provision in England and Wales. 264 child contact centres in England are currently affiliated to the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC). The Government are working in partnership with NACCC, through the working group, to develop standards for child contact centres and a national network of child contact centres, which will provide safe and meaningful contact between children and their non-resident parent.

Annual Leave

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the average annual leave entitlement is for staff in her Department in 2002. [64655]

Ms Rosie Winterton: (a) The annual leave entitlements for staff below the Senior Civil Service in LCD and its agencies is as follows.

LCD Headquarters and Associated Offices, and the Public Guardianship Office

Court Service

(b) The annual leave entitlement for members of the Senior Civil Service is currently set by the Cabinet Office at 30 days.

The actual average annual leave entitlement could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

1 Jul 2002 : Column 171W

Entertainment Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the cost was of the Department's 2001 staff Christmas party; and how many people attended. [61658]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Lord Chancellor's Department 2001 Christmas party was not paid for by the Department.

Road Traffic Accidents

Mr. Drew: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on the role of hearing costs in settlements resulting from serious road traffic accidents. [65025]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The settling of a dispute of any kind is a private matter between the parties and the court has no role in determining the basis on which the parties settle. Where the parties to a dispute have reached an agreement on all issues, including which party is to pay costs, but have not agreed the amount of those costs, then if they both agree, they may start "costs only" proceedings, whereby the court will determine the level of costs payable. This procedure was introduced in July 2000.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what discussions she has had with representatives of the (a) legal profession and (b) insurance industry on bringing quicker settlements to cases where a serious injury has been sustained as a result of a road traffic accident. [65024]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Ministers and officials of this Department have regular discussions with both the legal profession and the insurance industry. However, since the introduction of the Civil Procedure Rules in April 1999,

1 Jul 2002 : Column 172W

the specific issue of quicker settlement of disputes concerning injuries sustained in a road traffic accident has not been discussed.

Judicial Appointments

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many judicial appointments she has made since 1 May 1997 in each category; and how many are (a) women, (b) black and (c) Asian. [63803]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The table shows the number of appointments in the main categories of the judiciary made between 1 May 1997 and 21 June 2002. It shows the total number, the number of women judges and those judges who have stated on an ethnic monitoring questionnaire that they are of black or Asian origin.

The Lord Chancellor is committed to the principles of equality of opportunity and appointment on merit and is keen to see an increasingly diverse judiciary. The number of women and minority ethnic judges should be seen in the context of the composition of the profession from which judges are drawn. In 2000–01 5.4 per cent. of barristers with over 15 years' experience were of ethnic minority origin (there were no comparable figures for solicitors) and 14.4 per cent. of barristers with over 15 years' experience were women and 15.5 per cent. of solicitors with over 15 years' experience were women. The average length of time lawyers are in practice before being appointed to first rung judicial appointments is between 15 and 20 years. Those appointed to the more senior levels have much longer experience in the profession.

The proportion of ethnic minority and women judges in post has been steadily increasing over the years. For example, in April 1998 the proportion of women in the main tiers of the judiciary was 10.3 per cent. This had increased to 14.4 per cent. by April 2002. The proportion of ethnic minority judges in post in April 1998 was 1.6 per cent.; in April 2002 it was 2.3 per cent.

Judicial appointments 1 May 1997 to 21 June 2002

Lords of Appeal in Ordinary5000
Heads of Divisions (excluding Lord Chancellor)4100
Lords Justices of Appeal20200
High Court Judges52300
Circuit Judges (including Judges of the Technology and Construction court)2083710
Assistant Recorders(60)3816476
District Judges (including Family Division)1564015
Deputy District Judges (including Family Division)47012924
District Judges (Magistrates court)15500
Deputy District Judges (Magistrates courts)1112121
Immigration Appeals Tribunal Vice Presidents15311
Immigration Appeals Tribunal Part-time Legal Members46602
Full-time Immigration Adjudicator601723
Part-time Immigration Adjudicator4921471523
Full-time Chairman Employment Tribunal58722
Part-time Chairman Employment Tribunal2025043
Full-time Chairman Appeals Tribunal652411
Part-time Legal Panel Members Appeals Tribunal(61)76725759

(59) Those appointed on promotion from Assistant Recorder on merit, but not including those promoted automatically to Recordership because of the abolition of the post of Assistant Recorder. It also includes those appointed direct to Recordership under the new arrangements after April 2000.

(60) Those appointed as Assistant Recorders prior to the abolition of the post of Assistant Recorder in April 2000.

(61) Includes re-appointments.

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Repossessed Homes

Bob Spink: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the rules issued by the Law Society relating to the handling of surplus funds arising from the sale of repossessed homes and efforts to return such funds to the original mortgagee who is not a client of the solicitors who holds those funds. [63914]

Ms Rosie Winterton: None. But if the hon. Member wishes to pursue the matter, he should write to me setting out the substance of his concerns.

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