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4 Feb 2003 : Column 134Wcontinued
David Winnick: To ask the honourable Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission what procedure the House of Commons Commission has established to enable hon. Members to find out the current number of cases which are being dealt with by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. 
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Sir Archy Kirkwood: This is not a matter for the Commission, which is not responsible for the way in which the Commissioner exercises his independent role. The Commissioner reports regularly to the Committee on Standards and Privileges on such matters.
23. Ms Coffey: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what recent steps the Department has taken to develop magistrates' understanding of the consequences of retail crime. 
Yvette Cooper: The level and type of crime in each MCC differs and it is for each committee to determine and provide training to suit their local needs. Information is available centrally from the Home Office, which has published a business and retail crime toolkit on the Crime Reduction Website. This provides an overview of the problem, statistical information about the nature and extent of retail crime, examples of best practice and tools to help reduce it. The toolkit also contains links to other useful sources of information on retail crime.
24. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how long on average the delay was between lodging an appeal against the grant of asylum and the hearing of the appeal in the last quarter for which figures are available; and what his assessment is of the cause of these delays. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: During the period October-December 2002 there were 19,343 substantive asylum hearings by adjudicators and the average length of time between lodging an appeal and substantive hearing was 34.09 weeks.
Of those cases heard substantively during the period 12,240 related to an appeal lodged after 1 April 2002. For these cases the average length of time between lodging an appeal and the substantive hearing of that appeal was 17.12 weeks.
The primary reason for delays has been the need to manage a significant backlog of work through the appeal system. However, these figures demonstrate that the recent streamlining and increased capacity of the asylum appeals system are already delivering a significant reduction in waiting times.
25. Margaret Moran: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans the Lord Chancellor's Department has to provide Child Contact Centres. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Child Contact Centres are run by the voluntary sector. My Department does not directly provide child contact centres but we work closely with service providers to develop national definitions of contact services, service standards and to map service provision. The LCD has provided funds this financial year to 71 NACCC affiliated child contact
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centres to help sustain existing services. The Government also part-funded the Coram Supervised Contact Consultancy Service, launched last September.
26. Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when the Department will make its decision on the appeal from Ceredigion county council relating to court closures in Ceredigion. 
Yvette Cooper: The discussions between the parties are continuing, as required by the appeal process. Once both parties have confirmed that they do not wish to add to their evidence further, I will consider the matter as soon as practicable.
27. Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many recent representations he has received about the future of Harrow magistrates court. 
Yvette Cooper: My predecessor, the hon. Member for North Swindon (Mr. Wills) received a representation from my hon. Friend for Harrow East, voicing his concern at the possible closure of the Harrow magistrates court.
28. Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what recent discussions the Lord Chancellor's Department has had with the Electoral Commission on the proposed referendums on English regional assemblies. 
Yvette Cooper: My Department is a member of the Electoral Commission's Regional Referendums Working Group, which has met five times since August 2002 to consider the primary and secondary legislation necessary for the effective conduct of regional referendums.
Tony Wright: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when (a) Her Majesty's Land Registry's and (b) the Public Records Office's service delivery agreements for 2003 to 2006 will be published. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The information is as follows:
(a) Her Majesty's Land Registry intends to publish its Service Delivery Agreement for 2003 to 2006 in March 2003.
(b) The Public Record Office is in the process of joining up with the Historical Manuscripts Commission, a non-departmental public body sponsored by DCMS, to form the National Archives in April 2003. The National Archives will be a Government Department and Executive Agency under the Lord Chancellor. The National Archives intends to publish its Service Delivery Agreement for 2003 to 2006 in March 2003.
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Dr. Cable: To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission how many specialist staff with expertise in nuclear liabilities are employed by the National Audit Office. 
Mr. Alan Williams: The National Audit Office is staffed mainly with qualified accountants, several of whom have had experience in auditing estimates of costs associated with nuclear liabilities. In the event of any need for more detailed knowledge of nuclear matters, the National Audit Office has the capacity to contract-in persons with appropriate specialist skillsas it does routinely for its value-for-money reports.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many drivers have broken the speed limit as detected by speed cameras at the A63 Melton junction in each year since they were introduced. 
Mr. Spellar: This information is not held centrally.
Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 23 January 2003, Official Report, column 509W, on Central Railway, whether he will give equal weight to those of the representations to which he refers made by foreign governments and to those made by the elected representatives of the communities affected by the proposed railway; and when he expects to be in a position to make an announcement about Government support for a Hybrid Bill to promote the project. 
Mr. Jamieson: Following receipt of the SRA's advice, we are considering carefully the company's proposals and will respond in due course. We are aware of the keen interest in Central Railway's proposals, especially among residents and businesses along the proposed route. We will give due weight to all representations made.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what further work he has commissioned from the Strategic Rail Authority about the Central Railway Project; 
Mr. Jamieson: The SRA's detailed review of Central Railway's proposals included an assessment of the company's funding of the scheme. Following receipt of the SRA's advice in September 2002, the Minister for Transport has met with Central Railway to discuss its findings. Officials in the Strategic Rail Authority and my Department have held a number of other discussions
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with Central Railway. This includes further consideration of the strategic fit of Central Railway's proposals. There have been no discussions with representatives of Weber Shandwick.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the financial status of Central Railways Group and of its ability to fund the proposed Central Railway; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: The SRA detailed review of Central Railway's proposals included an assessment of the company's funding of the scheme. Following receipt of the SRA's advice in September, the Minister for Transport has met with Central Railway to discuss its findings. Officials in the Strategic Rail Authority and my Department and have held a number of other discussions with Central Railway. This includes further consideration of the strategic fit of Central Railway's proposals. There have been no discussions with representatives of Weber Shandwick.
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