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Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many properties are held by the Department; what total floor space these properties provide; how many properties are vacant; and how much floor space vacant properties comprise. 
Mr. Lammy: The Court Service currently holds 381 properties of which 138 are freehold. The total floor space comprises 801,377 square metres. There are currently six properties that are vacant of which three are freehold. The total floor space comprises 12,059 square metres.
There are 10 properties on the DCA headquarters estate (including the Welsh office) of which one is a freehold. The total floor space comprises 50,364 square metres. There are no vacant properties on the DCA headquarters estate.
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Mrs. May: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) what the average length of time has been between the issuing of a contact order for parental rights under the Children Act 1989 and the case being listed for a first conciliation/direction appointment in the last 12 months; 
Mr. Lammy: Information on the average length of time between an application for a contact order under the Children Act 1989, and the case being listed for a first conciliation/direction appointment is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, work is under way to explore whether and how this information might be gathered in the future.
"In any proceedings in which any question with respect to the upbringing of a child arises, the court shall have regard to the general principal that any delay in determining the question is likely to prejudice the child".
Information on how many of these cases were disputed is not collected. However, a substantial majority of contact orders are made in county courts and in 200203 approximately 30 per cent. of those contact orders were made with consent.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many and what percentage of convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal in each of the last five years were historical sex abuse cases. 
Mr. Leslie: The Criminal Appeal Office does not hold electronic records which differentiate between recent or historical sexual abuse cases. In 2004 the Court of Appeal quashed 66 convictions in cases involving sexual offences and, in some cases, retrials were ordered. The figures for the preceding years were 56 cases in 2003, 52 cases in 2002, 42 cases in 2001 and 53 cases in 2000. The percentage of those which involve historical abuse could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many civil servants from his Department have (a) faced disciplinary proceedings as a result of allegations of theft, (b) been charged with theft and (c) been dismissed following theft allegations in each year since 1997. 
Andrew Selous: To ask the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the total travel costs to his Department have been for (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials for each year since 1997. 
Mr. Lammy : [holding answer 8 December. 2004]: (a) It is not possible to list the travel costs of each Minister within the Department without incurring disproportionate cost. However, aggregate travel and subsistence costs for the Private Offices, which covers costs for Ministers and Officials, was as per the following table:
|200405 (to November 04)||47,659|
In respect of overseas travel by Ministers, since 1999 the Government has published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The Government has also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House.
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The Department has published rules for official travel in its staff handbook and ministerial travel is governed by the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.
(b) Travel costs for Special Advisors who accompany their Ministers overseas is included in the annual list on Overseas Travel by Cabinet Ministers. Further travel costs for (b) Special Advisers can be provided only at disproportionate cost.
(c) Total travel costs to the Department for (c) officials, which includes domestic and overseas travel and covers costs for the Court Service (CS), the Public Guardianship Office (PGO) and the Department for Constitutional Affairs, Headquarters (DCA HQ) are set out in the following table:
|Period||DCA HQ||CS||PGO||Total DCA|
Vera Baird: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans he has to extend the automatic availability of special witness measures to complainants in criminal cases of domestic violence. 
The special measures provisions are contained in Part II Chapter I of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. They enable appropriate assistance to be provided across the range of vulnerable or intimidated witnesses.
Because of the special nature of sexual offences and the sensitive nature of the evidence that is given, victims of sexual offences are automatically eligible for special measures. This is also the case for young witnesses. Other witnesses will be eligible for assistance if the court considers that the quality of their evidence may be diminished on the grounds of a mental disorder, learning disability or physical disability or disorder, or because of their fear or distress about testifying. In the latter case the court must take into account a range of factors including the domestic circumstances of the witness, any behaviour towards the witness on the part of the accused, and the nature and alleged circumstances of the offence.
Domestic violence victims will be eligible for assistance if they meet these requirements. We would expect courts to be sensitive to the needs of victims of domestic violence and grant special measures where it would be appropriate.
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The roll-out of special measures is ongoing and work is underway as part of the "No Witness No Justice" initiative. This will give a single point of contact to the witness and will provide a tailored needs assessment not only for their requirements at trial, but also for the period from charge to trial. The Government believes that it would be best to complete the implementation of these measures and then review their effectiveness before considering whether any changes to the legislation are needed.
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