Previous Section Index Home Page

4 Dec 2003 : Column 147W—continued

Water Supplies

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans are in place for the provision of water supplies to homes and businesses if low rainfall continues. [141852]

Mr. Morley: Each water company has a drought plan which sets out the actions necessary to maintain public water supplies during a drought. Dependent upon the severity of the drought and the effectiveness of the company's earlier actions, a company can apply for drought permits or drought orders to, respectively, the Environment Agency and the Secretary of State if further measures are required.

In addition, water companies are required, under a Direction issued in 1998 by the Secretary of State, to have in place plans to ensure the provision of essential water supply at all times. These plans are regularly reviewed and are independently audited every year.


Mrs. Sally Clark

23. Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Solicitor-General what the cost to public funds was of the (a) prosecution and (b) imprisonment of Mrs. Sally Clark. [141779]

The Solicitor-General: The total costs incurred by the Crown Prosecution Service were £320,000 and the prison costs, based on average costs per prisoner, were approximately £111,000.

Following the appeal of Sally Clark, the Attorney General and I met the Director of Public Prosecution to discuss the implications of the appeal We established a Group comprising the police, Crown Prosecution Service, Home Office and other relevant agencies to consider whether any cases in which Doctor Williams has given important evidence require a more in depth review.

Interim guidance has been sent to all Chief Crown Prosecutors requesting that all current cases be identified in which either Doctor Williams or Professor Meadow are witnesses. The defence is then to be served with a copy of the judgment in the Sally Clark case and its attention is drawn to sections of the judgment touching on his evidence. Further and fuller guidance will be provided to prosecutors as soon as possible. This will apply to both present and future cases.

On 28 July, the Inter-Departmental Group held its first meeting. Progress was made in two areas. How previous cases in which Doctor Alan Williams conducted a post mortem were to be identified and what factors would be used to select the cases on which the group should concentrate.

Following that meeting, work commenced immediately on the identification of cases. Several agencies assisted in respect of this process, with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service taking the lead. The Group set a deadline of mid-September for the conclusion of that process. By that date, approximately 50 previous cases had been identified, which dated back between 5–7 years. These cases all involved charges of murder, manslaughter or

4 Dec 2003 : Column 148W

infanticide where Doctor Williams had been instructed by the police to conduct the post mortem and which had resulted in a conviction.

The cases themselves are now being reviewed. An experienced member each of the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service are conducting the review. This work is continuing. It is anticipated that the results of the initial review will be considered early next year.

The Group is also considering whether the exercise of reviewing cases should be extended to those involving Professor Meadow.

The Home Office Pathology Advisory Board will understand publish new Codes of Practice and Procedure for Pathologists, which will take account of the judicial comments on the methodology employed by Doctor Williams in the Sally Clark case. Once published, the Codes will be distributed to pathologists.


24. Mrs. Betty Williams : To ask the Solicitor-General, if she will make a statement on measures being taken to improve the conviction rate for those guilty of rape. [141780]

The Solicitor-General: We are concerned that rape should be properly investigated and effectively prosecuted.

To make sure that happens, the Crown Prosecution Service are working more closely with the police; ensuring victims are helped to give their evidence, including by video link so that they do not have to attend court; and by ensuring that every case is handled by a specialist rape prosecutor.

The law on rape has recently been strengthened and clarified as part of the Sexual Offences Act. Progress on tackling sex offences will be assisted by ministers across all departments, including myself, working together as part of a new ministerial, group which will meet shortly.

Crown Prosecution Service(Children's Commissioner)

25. Ms Munn: To ask the Solicitor-General what support she expects the Crown Prosecution Service will offer to the proposed Children's Commissioner for England. [141781]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service looks forward to working with the proposed Commissioner to enable children's views to be fed into policy-making and to inform good practice.

Crown Prosecution Service (Victims)

26. James Purnell: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on how the National Strategy for Victims and Witnesses will affect the working of the Crown Prosecution Service in dealing with victims of crime. [141782]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service worked closely with its criminal justice partners in developing the national strategy and is committed to putting it into practice.

4 Dec 2003 : Column 149W

Domestic Violence

27. Dr. Iddon: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on discussions with the Department of Health on ensuring that health professionals are trained in assessing evidence of domestic violence. [141783]

The Solicitor-General: I have regular discussions with colleagues on the Inter Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence on all aspects of Government policy on domestic violence.

The health service has an important role to play in identifying and responding to domestic violence. Health care professionals may be the first people to whom women disclose their abuse, and they therefore have a vital role to play in offering support, information and validation.

4 Dec 2003 : Column 150W


Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claims for disability living allowance there were from people under 20 disabled by mental illness in (a) England and (b) each region in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [140830]

Maria Eagle: The number of people under age 20 who are disabled by mental illness and have been awarded disability living allowance is set out in the following table. The information is for England and Wales, is also set out by Government Office Region and is the only geographically based data available.

Number of new awards for each year ending 31 May for people under age 20 whose main disabling condition is mental illness, by Government Office Region

North East0.
North West1.
Yorkshire and Humber0.
East Midlands0.
West Midlands0.
South East1.
South West0.


1. Figures are in thousands and rounded to the nearest hundred.

2. Figures are for 12 month ending 31 May each year


IAD Information Centre, 5 per cent. sample

Disability Rights Commission

David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will arrange for a reply from the chief executive of the Disability Rights Commission to the letter dated 28 October from the hon. Member for Walsall, North arising from representations from the local community health council; and if he will ask the chief executive to provide an explanation for the reasons for (a) the delay and (b) the absence of an acknowledgement letter; [141874]

Maria Eagle: I understand the Chief Executive of the Disability Rights Commission has written to my hon. Friend with a full reply which addresses all the concerns raised by his constituent.

I meet the Chair and Chief Executive of the DRC regularly to review the DRC's performance and place great importance on the Commission delivering its services with due regard to timeliness and quality. Independent surveys of the DRC's services record high levels of satisfaction from service users.

Next Section Index Home Page