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29. Norman Baker: To ask the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if he will make a statement on the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 
The Government promised Freedom of Information legislation in our manifesto, and I am delighted that the new Act is now fully operational. It is still early days in the life of these new access rights for the public, but I am confident that there will be a real difference with this statutory "right to know".
11 Jan 2005 : Column 405W
30. Mr. Cousins: To ask the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps are being taken to improve the quality of legal services for immigration cases funded by the Legal Services Commission. 
Mr. Lammy: Both the Secretary of State and the Legal Services Commission want to drive up the quality of publicly funded advice given in asylum and immigration cases. This is in the interest of taxpayers and those who use the service. The Legal Services Commission will require all practitioners providing publicly funded services to have appropriate accreditation from 1 April this year. Accreditation requires the practitioner to show that he or she has the right skills and knowledge to do the job.
Mr. Lammy: When I last visited the offices of the Law Society's Consumer Complaints Service (CCS) on 11 May 2004, I had detailed discussions with the society on how they are improving standards for consumers, including disciplinary and enforcement issues.
33. Bob Spink: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many applications for legal aid have been (a) applied for and (b) granted (i) to resist the imposition of and (ii) to appeal against antisocial behaviour orders. 
Mr. Lammy: The number of applications is not known since practitioners are not required to keep records of refused applications. Neither is the number of granted applications known since the Legal Services Commission's information/systems have until now not recorded information on ASBOs separately. However, antisocial behaviour orders are growing in numbers and the Commission are updating their systems so that from March 2005 this information will be collected.
Ross Cranston: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what estimate he has made of the amount of interest generated on solicitors' client accounts which are not returned to clients in the last year for which figures are available; and what assessment he has made of the practical problems of introducing a policy of using this interest to fund legal aid. 
Mr. Lammy: My Department has not conducted any specific research into the likely amount of interest generated on solicitors' client accounts which are not returned to clients, but other sources (new Law Journal, December 17 1993) estimated a figure of £60 million per year in 1993. It was recognised, however, that this would be dependent on the rate of interest to be applied, and also the extent to which solicitors must account the interest to clients. I am aware that many other countries use this interest to fund public legal services. No formal assessment has been made of the practical problems of using such interest to fund legal aid in England and Wales.
|2004 (1 January-30 September)||4,306|
The increased number of destructions in 2004 was due to a requirement to clear a backlog which had developed. The need to deal with this became imperative in March 2004 when the Court Service and the DCAHQ and Associated Offices Registries were amalgamated.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs on how many occasions between 31 March 2002 and 31 March 2003 the Lord Chancellor's special advisers travelled abroad in an official capacity; what places were visited; and how much each visit cost. 
Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on her Department's policy regarding the retention of e-mails in electronic form (a) after and (b) up to 1 January 2005; and what instructions have been given regarding the deletion of e-mails prior to 1 January 2005. 
Mr. Caborn: The DCMS policy is that e-mails which show evidence of actions or decisions or other value added information, and are for public record, must be printed out and added to the traditional paper file. Once printed out and added to file, or archived electronically, such e-mails are to be deleted immediately from the day-to-day e-mail folder. In order to prevent the build-up of e-mails (which would cause the IT system to crash) staff are to undertake a daily clear out of all of the messages that are no longer required. All e-mails are automatically deleted after 12 months (on the assumption that e-mails for the public record will have been printed out and added to the paper file as mentioned).
No additional instructions have been given to DCMS staff regarding the deletion of e-mails prior to 1 January 2005. However, in the context of readying DCMS records to ensure they are in good order and speedily and efficiently accessible to enable compliance with our statutory duty (from 1 January 2005) to respond to requests for information, staff have been reminded of the DCMS deletion policy.
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