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25 Feb 2004 : Column 473W—continued

European Union (Criminal Injuries Compensation)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what schemes are available for UK citizens injured in (a) an EU member state and (b) an EU accession state to have access to criminal injuries compensation. [155804]

Mr. MacShane: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) on 9 February 2004, Official Report, column 1254W.

Historical information about the amount of compensation paid and the number of applications received during one year under the state compensation schemes in each EU member state was given at paragraph 3.8 of the European Commission's Green Paper, 'Compensation to crime victims' (reference COM(2001)536) issued on 28 September 2001. The paper can be accessed via the Internet at: en.htm.


Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent of human rights abuses by Russian forces in Chechnya. [146684]

Mr. Rammell: We continue to be concerned over the human rights situation in Chechnya and consistent reports of human rights abuses. We are especially concerned over reports of rising numbers of disappearances and abductions. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 12 January 2004, Official Report, column 524W, for our most recent representations in this area.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Japan on the current human rights situation in (a) North Korea and (b) China. [155573]

Mr. Mullin: We are concerned about reports of serious human rights violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and China. We have regular human rights dialogues with the Japanese Government both in Japan and the UK. The most recent round of talks took place on 30 January 2004. Human rights issues in both DPRK and China were raised in these talks. We are consulting closely with the Japanese on how to handle the question of North Korea at the forthcoming Commission on Human Rights, given the DPRK's failure to respond to the resolution passed there at the Commission's 2003 session.


Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many days on average his Department took in Session 2002–03 to give a substantive answer to a parliamentary question for ordinary written answer; and what the greatest number of days taken to answer such a question was. [155917]

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Hilary Benn: In Session 2002–03, DFID was asked a total of nearly 2,500 parliamentary questions, the information requested is not held centrally and we are unable to provide it without incurring disproportionate cost.

The effective handling of parliamentary questions is an issue to which my ministerial colleague and I attach great importance. We try to respond to parliamentary questions within the parliamentary deadlines whenever possible.


House Prices (Seaside Towns)

Chris Ruane: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the average house price was in each ward in each principal seaside town in England and Wales in the latest month for which figures are available, with figures for Welsh Seaside Town clusters disaggregated. [154933]

Mr. Lammy: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. My hon. Friend might be interested in viewing the property price data on the Land Registry's website. This provides average sale prices for properties in England and Wales down to postcode sector level for each county or unitary authority.

Outstanding Debt (Preston Courts)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much outstanding debt is held in the Preston courts. [155403]

Mr. Leslie: Preston county court issued 4,472 claims for money in 2002 and 4,215 in 2003. All civil county courts have a computerised record system. The system, however, is unable to collate a figure to show how much debt claims have been issued for. As the debtor has to make the payment direct to the creditor there is no access to information of the value of debt outstanding to creditors within the court. The only way to access up to date information would be to extract the court files from Preston county court and to contact each creditor individually to ask how much debt is outstanding. This information could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

At the end of 2003, the total outstanding debt at Preston magistrates court for financial penalties was £1,631,433.00. This figure includes the Crown court fines, costs, Crown Prosecution Service costs, Legal Aid and compensation that is collected by the magistrates court. The figure does not include civil financial orders (maintenance, forfeiture of recognisance etc.) as no data is collected on civil matters.

Postal Voting

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs on what evidence he based his decision that (a) Yorkshire and the Humber and (b) the North West region was suitable to pilot all-postal voting in the June elections. [155139]

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Mr. Leslie: The European Parliamentary and Local Elections (Pilots) Bill, currently in Parliament, will allow pilots of innovative voting methods at this year's European and combined local elections. The Government asked the Electoral Commission to recommend where pilots should take place and the Commission published its recommendations on 8 December 2003.

The Commission identified the North East and East Midlands regions as 'highly suitable' and 'suitable'. The Commission also identified four regions that 'could potentially be suitable', These were, in descending order of suitability, Scotland, Yorkshire and the Humber, the North West and the West Midlands. It regarded the remaining regions as 'not suitable'.

The Government accepted the recommendations regarding the North East and East Midlands on 16 December. Other options were then carefully considered. An approach of holding discussions with electoral administrators in the potentially suitable regions was decided upon, to establish what their concerns were and whether or not these could be addressed.

Scottish Returning Officers had written to the Commission expressing various concerns. While Government viewed these as being about the same practical issues that affect the other regions, and despite efforts to allay their concerns, the Returning Officers remained concerned about their capacity to ensure an effective election. As a consequence of these concerns about operational capability, the Government decided not to impose a pilot in Scotland.

There has already been positive experience of all-postal pilots in local elections in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West. Discussions with these regions showed that they were confident that successful pilots could be arranged for June and the North West in

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particular had commenced work to prepare for a possible pilot. It was, therefore, decided that both of these regions should hold pilots, in addition to the two regions already announced.


Business Support

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much funding has been allocated by her Department to supporting (a) science, (b) innovation, (c) enterprise and (d) competition for each year between 1997 and 2007 in (i) real terms and (ii) as a proportion of the overall departmental budget; and if she will make a statement. [153534]

Ms Hewitt: The Government have invested heavily in the science and engineering base. In the current spending review period the science budget is growing at 10 per cent. year-on-year in real terms, building on the average 7 per cent. growth over the previous spending review period, and reaching just short of £3 billion by 2005–06. The recent announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of his intention to develop a 10-year investment framework for science and investment, to be announced at the time of the next spending review settlement, signals the Government's continuing long-term commitment to science.

Successive departmental reports have provided breakdowns and explanations of my Department's expenditure. However, figures can be provided only on a consistent (resource) basis from 1998–99; further, spending plans for 2006–07 have not yet been agreed, so figures are shown up to 2005–06 only.

The following table is based on information published in the 1999 to 2003 Departmental Reports, where more details and explanations can be found:

OutturnOutturnOutturnOutturnWorking provisionPlansPlansPlans
Real (£ million)(5)1,764.71,798.61,894.71,944.92,222.02,349.02,566.52,810.8
Percentage of total5338272928405753
Real (£ million)298.2287.5307.4303.2322.3333.0339.5354.3
Percentage of total96444677
Real (£ million)166.8208.4293.8283.8423.4394.0348.7358.6
Percentage of total54445777
Real (£ million)
Percentage of total00000011

(4) Figures are shown from 1998–99 (the first year for which resource information was produced) to 2005–06 (the final year of the current Spending Review period).

(5) Figures are shown in real terms at 2002–03 prices (using GDP deflators from the HM Treasury website) and as a proportion of total DTI expenditure (resource and capital), as listed on pages 190 and 194 of "Central Government Supply Estimates 2003–04 Supplementary Budgetary Information" (Cm 5797, May 2003), where a breakdown is available.

(6) The figures from the Departmental Reports have been revised to ensure a consistent (resource) basis because prior to 2002–03 reporting of the Research Councils' expenditure was on a cash (grant in aid) basis.

(7) Outturn not available for 2001–02 due to a change in the budget structure, so a 'working provision' is provided. Excludes "Office of Science and Technology" expenditure on space (except for 2003–04 plans, which include BNSC budgets transferring to the Science budget from 2003–04).

(8) Covers expenditure on Small Businesses and Enterprise (Small Business Service).

(9) Expenditure shown for the Competition Commission and (from 2003–04) the Competition Service.


1999–2003 Departmental Reports (Cm 4211, March 1999; Cm 4611, April 2000; Cm 5112, March 2001; Cm 5416, June 2002; and Cm 5916, May 2003).

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