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8 Dec 2003 : Column 349Wcontinued
Keith Hill: In financial terms, we estimate that the amount of deposit currently wrongly withheld from tenants (which they would receive under a compulsory deposit protection scheme) is £20.1 million per year.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if he will introduce measures to strengthen the ability of property and land owners to take legal action against persons entering their land or premises without permission; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Leslie : The current law already provides property and landowners with the right to take legal action against trespassers where appropriate. Landowners whose property boundary has been breached by an unlawful visitor may seek an injunction to restrain the continuation of the trespass. The landowner may also
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Denzil Davies: To ask the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many persons were interviewed for the position of Chair of the Electoral Commission when it was first established. 
Mr. Leslie: There was not a separate application process for the position of Chair of the Electoral Commission. An open competition was held and applicants were asked to indicate if they wished to be considered for Chair and/or as a member. As a result of this process 16 people were invited to attend an interview, and the selection panel determined which, of those that had shown an interest in the position, should get the job of Chair.
Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many and what value of court-imposed fines were defaulted on in (a) each London borough and (b) England in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Leslie [holding answer 2 December 2003]: Magistrates' Courts Committees (MCCs) have a responsibility for the collection of a range of debts imposed by both the magistrates' courts and the Crown Court. Data on the number of court imposed fines are not collected at present. Information on the value of fines is available only from 19992000 when a new data collection procedure was implemented. The debt collected includes not only fines, but also fees, compensation, confiscation orders, legal aid contributions and some maintenance orders. It is not yet possible to separate out fines only from the total so the figures provided in the following table include all the elements above. The data available covers Greater London only as separate data are not available for each London borough. Also, separate data are not available for England only, so information provided is for England and Wales.
|Amount imposed in period||95.0||76.6||77.6||111.3|
|Amount paid in period||46.4||39.4||35.5||44.5|
|Closing balance owed(49)||111.2||118.5||116.1||145.0|
|Total arrears at year end||61.9||60.6||53.3||72.3|
|England and Wales|
|Amount imposed in period||431.1||385.0||387.0||425.9|
|Amount paid in period||267.3||242.5||228.1||236.3|
|Closing balance owed(49)||417.5||419.1||439.0||486.7|
|Total arrears at year end||227.4||225.9||246.5||276.9|
(49) Including amounts not yet due
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Tim Loughton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what proportion of fines imposed have been collected by courts in each county in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Leslie: Information on the proportion of fines imposed that have been collected is not available for each county. The information provided is for the 42 Magistrates' Courts Committees (MCCs) in England and Wales. A new data collection procedure was implemented in 19992000 and comparable figures are therefore only available from that period.
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In addition, earlier this year, I agreed to a revision of the fine enforcement payment rate target so that it provides a far clearer focus for the performance of those involved in this vitally important area.
Further management information is awaited for the rest of the business year before we can be certain that the improvement in performance we expect is fully delivered. Nevertheless, we now have a much more robust baseline data on performance and early signs are encouraging.
|Avon and Somerset||41||62||54||64||86|
|Devon and Cornwall||69||73||70||63||78|
|Hampshire and Isle of Wight||79||67||68||77||98|
|England and Wales||61||63||59||55||72(51)|
(50) April to September.
(51) The basis on which the payment rate is calculated has been changed. The new payment rate ensures that confiscation orders (these are not fines) are excluded, and that judicially cancelled amounts are taken into account.
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Tim Loughton: To ask the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what guidance has been issued to magistrates on dealing with cases of illegal meat imports. 
Mr. Leslie: My Department has issued no guidance to magistrates' on dealing with cases of illegal meat imports. However, on 3 November 2002, the Magistrates' Association made available on it's website a document entitled "Costing the Earth", which included guidance for sentencers and a case study on illegal meat imports. The Judicial Studies Board has been asked, in consultation with the Magistrates' Association and the Justices' Clerks Society, to consider this matter.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what guidance is available to clerks of court on dealing with cases involving illegal meat imports. 
Mr. Leslie: My Department has issued no guidance to court clerks on dealing with cases of illegal meat imports. The Justices' Clerks Society has been asked, in consultation with the Judicial Studies Board and the Magistrates' Association, to consider this matter further.
Mr. Allen: To ask the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans he has to introduce (a) training programmes and (b) examinations for judges, with particular reference to shorthand for use during court proceedings. 
Mr. Leslie: Judicial training is the responsibility of the Judicial Studies Board (JSB), an independent body chaired by Lord Justice Keene. The JSB already provides a full programme of training for judges. It has
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no plans to provide training in shorthand. Neither are there plans to introduce formal examinations for the judiciary. An appraisal system is, however, already in place for a number of part-time judicial post-holders.
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