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18 Nov 2004 : Column 1702W—continued

House of Commons Library

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission whether the Commission plans to conduct an organisation and methods study of the Library. [199127]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The Commission has no plans to carry out or commission an organisation and methods study of the Library. The Library's current Change Project is designed to ensure that the department takes full advantage of the facilities of the Parliamentary Information Management Services project which is due to be implemented in April 2005. The Change Project has already involved a thorough review of the department's services and working methods.

Staff Numbers

Mr. Forth: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission how many staff were employed on the latest date for which figures are available in (a) the Department of the Clerk of the House, (b) the Department of the Serjeant at Arms, (c) the Department of the Library, (d) the Department of Finance and Administration, (e) the Department of the Official Report, (f) the Refreshment Department, (g) Office of the Speaker and (h) other offices. [198198]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The number of staff employed by departments of the House of Commons is as follows:
Department of the Clerk of the House311
Department of the Serjeant at Arms407
Department of the Library219
Department of Finance and Administration147
Department of Official Report105
Refreshment Department305
Office of the Speaker6
Other offices16

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These figures are based on average full-time equivalent staff numbers



Patrick Mercer: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) when she expects to complete the issue to all households of the booklet "Preparing for Emergencies"; [199275]

(2) what the cost was of (a) producing and (b) delivering the booklet "Preparing for Emergencies"; [199276]

(3) to how many households the booklet "Preparing for Emergencies" (a) has been delivered and (b) has yet to be delivered. [199277]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) on the 11 October 2004, Official Report, column 59–60W. The Royal Mail delivered the booklet to the whole of the UK in August.

The overall budget for the "Preparing for Emergencies" booklet campaign was £8.3 million.


Asylum Seekers (Legal Aid)

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans the Department has to reduce the overspend on legal aid for asylum seekers. [199060]

Mr. Lammy: The Government introduced a package of measures in April 2004 to control costs and quality in asylum legal aid. These measures are bringing asylum legal aid under effective control and cutting out unnecessary expenditure. Costs are being limited, and targeted at the most deserving cases. Quality representation is being recognised and rewarded by the new accreditation scheme, and wasteful duplication of cases is being tackled.

As a result of these measures, and the fall in asylum numbers, we expect that our spending this year will be well within the budget of £149 million (resource).

Civil Legal Office

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans the Department has to undertake research into the viability of a salaried civil legal office comparable to the Public Defender Scheme. [199058]

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Mr. Lammy: The Public Defender Service was created in 2001 to deliver criminal defence services direct to the public. It is part of the Criminal Defence Service administered by the Legal Services Commission and was set up as a four-year pilot project with an on-going independent research programme to evaluate its progress. We are waiting for the final results of this research before we are able to assess fully the viability of the scheme.

The Legal Services Commission has announced a new public immigration and asylum service to be based in Birmingham and which is expected to open early in 2005. This new service will provide the commission with a direct and improved understanding of the cost and quality drivers in immigration and asylum legal aid. Findings from the service will be used to shape publicly funded immigration and asylum policy.

My Department has no specific plans to undertake research into the viability of salaried services in other civil categories.

Community Legal Service

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs if he will list the 10 barristers who have received the highest fees for civil work from the Community Legal Service, stating in each case (a) the amount received, (b) the number of cases taken and (c) whether the barrister concerned was Queen's counsel or junior counsel; and if he will make a statement. [199349]

Mr. Lammy: Fees in civil matters are paid by the Community Legal Service (CLS). Using information for 2002–03, the latest year for which figures are readily available, the names of the 10 barristers receiving the highest aggregate fees from the CLS, together with the number of cases the payments represent are as follows:
BarristerAmounts paid (£)No of cases
Lord Brennan QC606,00013
Elizabeth Gumbel QC470,00027
Paul Storey QC449,00052
John Rowley329,00019
Sally Bradley QC328,00033
Stephen Irwin QC314,00011
Joanna Dodson QC284,0008
Alison Ball QC279,0002
Robin Oppenheim277,00014
Eleanor Hamilton QC277,00018

These figures must be interpreted carefully and do not represent personal earnings in one year. There are a number of reasons for this.
1. Payments received in one year simply represent turnover in that year. Cases may well have lasted more than one year and overall earnings may be increased by one exceptional case lasting a number of years for which payment was received in that year.
2. In most cases the figures are inclusive of VAT (17.5 per cent.) and disbursements incurred ( e.g. travelling).
3. Barristers will typically pay 25–30 per cent. of fees in professional expenses. Additionally, barristers face the same expenses as any other self employed person, including the cost of pension provisions, medical and life insurance etc.
A number of other qualifications need to be added to these figures.
1. While these figures represent gross payments actually made to the barristers during the year, some of those monies have been (or may in the future be) repaid to the Community Legal Service Fund by other parties. This will happen in cases where the legally aided party wins the case and recovers costs from the opponent. Once those costs are recovered the legally aided party's solicitor refunds some or all of the money to the CLS Fund. As a consequence the figures may not reflect the net cost of the barristers' fees to the Fund. In some cases where costs are recovered from the losing party the actual cost to the CLS Fund may be very little or even nothing.
2. Not all payments could be verified with all the individuals concerned. Cases in dispute, where amounts listed as being paid to individual barristers were identified from records held by the Department and the Legal Services Commission and the practitioner has no such record, have been included. Where possible, amounts have been verified by practitioners and adjusted where necessary.

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Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the conclusions of the Constitutional Affairs Committee's report of Session 2003–04 on civil legal aid, what action the Department is taking to combat advice deserts within the Community Legal Services. [199059]

Mr. Lammy: I refer the hon. Member to the joint response paper to the Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry on legal aid provision, by my Department and the Legal Service Commission, entitled 'The Government's Response to the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee's report on Civil Legal Aid—adequacy of provision' (Cm 6367) which was published on 12 November 2004.

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