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7 Nov 2002 : Column 796W—continued

Spinning (Investment Banks)

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the Financial Services Authority regarding the alleged practice of spinning by investment banks; and if he will make a statement. [79096]

Ruth Kelly: This is a matter for the Financial Services Authority. I understand the FSA has begun an informal inquiry into spinning and has requested information on what processes UK regulated firms have in place to prevent spinning, while seeking views on a possible rule change which would explicitly outlaw certain types of conduct.

Tax Havens

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether account is taken in PFI and PPP contracts of whether bidders are based in tax havens; and what assessment is made in awarding such contracts of the competitive advantage given to such companies; [80216]

Mr. Boateng: I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

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Court Accommodation (Northern Ireland)

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department whether she is yet in a position to announce their proposals relating to court accommodation in Northern Ireland. [80108]

Ms Rosie Winterton: After full consideration of all the information gathered during the public consultation exercise which followed the issue of the consultation document XCourt Accommodation in Northern Ireland 2001–2010", I have decided that the courthouses at Clogher and Cookstown will close at the end of this year and business will be transferred to the new courthouse at Dungannon. Business currently dealt with in rented accommodation in Kilkeel will transfer to Newry courthouse.

The courthouses at Banbridge and Larne will remain as court venues as will Limavady courthouse. Hearings at Limavady courthouse will be restricted to magistrates courts adult criminal business. The future of Limavady courthouse will be reviewed in light of business trends and with particular regard to the outcome of the Review of Public Administration in Northern Ireland and any changes this necessitates in court divisional boundaries.

The Court Service will conduct a feasibility study in the North Down area on the possibility of replacing the existing courthouses at Bangor and Newtownards. Consideration will also be given to upgrading or replacing the courthouse at Lisburn.


Mrs. Humble: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary Lord Chancellor's Department how the Lord Chancellor intends to take forward proposals which she consulted on in her consultation paper, XDamages for Future Loss: Giving Courts the Power to Order Periodical Payments for Future Loss and Care Costs", published on 13 March. [80109]

Yvette Cooper: The Lord Chancellor has today published the post-consultation report to the consultation paper XDamages for Future Loss". Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. A majority of respondents agreed with the Government's proposal that courts should have the power to award damages for future loss and care costs in the form of periodical payments. The Government intend to legislate when a suitable opportunity arises.

Public Consultations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary Lord Chancellor's Department what public consultations have been commenced by her Department in each month since 20 July; and what the (a) start date, (b) closing date and (c) website address of each were. [80272]

Yvette Cooper: It is not possible to answer the question before prorogation and I will write with the answer and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.

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Better Public Buildings Initiative

Ms Shipley: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary Lord Chancellor's Department if she will name the projects the departmental design champion has sponsored as part of the Better Public Buildings Initiative; and if she will make a statement on the extent of her personal input in respect of each. [80338]

Yvette Cooper: It is not possible to answer the question before prorogation and I will write with the answer and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.


Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what strategies her Department has to ensure that there is no ageism in recruitment and retention processes. [79292]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department is committed to equality of opportunity, a key feature of all civil service employment: ageism is not tolerated. Retirement age is determined on business needs only (currently 60, 62 or 65 depending on grade).

Recruitment, development, performance management and retention policies are reviewed continuously.

Child Abduction

Keith Vaz : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many cases of prevention of access to children of British Nationals living in Germany have been reported to the Child Abduction Unit in the last five years. [79518]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Any parent resident in England and Wales may apply to the Child Abduction Unit (CAU) for access (contact) to their child living in a contracting state. The CAU does not keep statistics on whether cases involve British Nationals. The table shows combined figures for applications to Germany from England and Wales in the last five years for access (under Article 21 of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction); and applications seeking registration of existing contact orders (under the 1980 Luxembourg (Council of Europe) Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody of Children and on the Restoration of the Custody of Children).

Access (contact) cases from applicants within England and Wales pursued in Germany

Case Outcomes
YearTotal casesOrderedRefusedWithdrawnPending

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Lay Justices

Dr. Francis: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when the national strategy on the recruitment of lay justices to achieve benches that reflect the community they serve will be published. [78690]

Yvette Cooper: As of 1 April 2002 there were 28,479 active magistrates in England and Wales. A great deal of work has been carried out over the last few years to improve the balance of the lay bench. The latest available figures show 50.91 per cent. male and 49.09 per cent. female magistrates, 8.29 per cent. of whom are from ethnic minority groups. In the next few months, my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, will publish a national recruitment strategy, the core aims of which are to develop a structured campaign to raise the profile of the magistracy and encourage applicants from as wide a cross-section of the community as possible.

Local Management Boards

Dr. Francis: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what role is envisaged for magistrates in the proposed local management boards; which agencies will sit on such boards; and who will ensure that objectives are (a) set and (b) met. [78691]

Yvette Cooper: It is the Government's stated intention to bring together the administration of all courts in England and Wales, below the House of Lords, into a new executive agency. We intend to set up local boards to enable representatives of users and the wider community to be involved in the decision making process about the administration of courts in their area. The precise membership of the boards is yet to be determined, although we envisage that the magistracy will be represented. The setting of the objectives for the new organisation as a whole and the assessment of performance will be a matter for the Lord Chancellor. The local boards will be involved in ensuring that the objectives are met.

Magistrates Courts

Mr. Caton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary Lord Chancellor's Department when will the next annual report of the chief inspector, Magistrates Courts Service Inspectorate, be published. [80387]

Yvette Cooper: I have today placed copies of the chief inspector's annual report in the Library of both Houses.

For the first time the annual report includes the inspectorate's new responsibility for the inspection of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). In March 2002 the inspectorate published a progress report on its work with CAFCASS (XSetting Up") which highlighted some of the difficulties the new body had faced during its first year in existence. In his latest report, the chief inspector points to encouraging signs of progress, such as the publication of CAFCASS's first corporate plan and their work on developing draft national standards.

Magistrates Courts Committees (MCCs) are seen to have contributed significantly to achieving the Government's target to reduce delay in the processing of persistent young offenders. The chief inspector reports

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that MCCs have also handled well the transfer of warrant execution from the police to the courts. This was a major piece of work and for understandable reasons there was some slippage in performance. Some criticisms remain of MCCs ability to ensure systems are in place to manage performance at a strategic level.

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