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Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make representations to Shropshire Primary Care Trust to provide essential drugs for rheumatoid arthritis on prescription. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: There is a wide range of over-the-counter and prescription drugs available to help relieve the pain and discomfort and reduce the future damage associated with the 200 different forms of arthritis.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) appraises the suitability of new drugs for use in the national health service. Primary care trusts are obliged to make drugs recommended by NICE available to all patients who meet the clinical guidelines. It is the responsibility of individual strategic health authorities to ensure local compliance with NICE guidelines.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time is for (a) an MRI scan, (b) an ultrasound scan and (c) a CT scan (i) in London, (ii) at Barnet Chase Farm Hospitals and (iii) in the area covered by Barnet Primary Care Trust; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how and when her Department will respond to the recommendations made in the Electoral Commission's report, Securing the Vote". 
Ms Harman: The Government are currently considering the measures in Securing the Vote" and we will respond when it is appropriate to do so. The Government have sought views from stakeholders on the policy paper on electoral administration, which includes a number of the measures in Securing the Vote". We intend to legislate for most of these measures in the Electoral Administration Bill.
The information contained in my answer to my hon. and learned Friend's supplementary question was inaccurate. I apologise for this error. The coroner was reprimanded and continues to be monitored by the Lord Chancellor. However, he has not been required to undertake any extra training.
Vera Baird: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what monitoring of the jurisdiction of the Teesside coroner her Department is carrying out following the reprimand issued in June 2004. 
Ms Harman: The Lord Chancellor has been receiving monthly information reports from the coroner for Teesside since June 2004. The reports provide details of performance in relation to all coroner cases (including inquests) in the region and specifically the numbers of cases received, disposed of and outstanding on a monthly basis. The Lord Chancellor will consider whether he requires the coroner to continue with the provision of monthly reports after the end of June 2005.
There are no plans to introduce weekend courts beyond those arrangements already in place. Some magistrates courts do regularly sit on Saturdays to conduct business. The Supporting Magistrates to Provide Justice Programme as part of the Government response to crime and antisocial behaviour is considering extending sitting hours including weekend courts generally.
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Mr. Kidney: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the capacity of the unified Courts Service to make more effective use of its resources. 
Ms Harman: Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS) were launched as a new agency from 1 April 2005. For the first time all magistrates, Crown and county courts will operate together creating a more effective organisation and deliver efficiencies through merging of local activities, estates integration and more efficient use of corporate resources. HMCS plan to deliver efficiency savings of £14 million/£24 million/£31million and reduce its workforce by 400/600/800 over the SR04 period. The staff reduction will not be achieved through redundancies but through other means such as not filling new vacancies over the period. These efficiencies will be delivered through local plans in each of the 42 areas.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs for what reasons the thresholds for criminal legal aid set out in the proposed Criminal Defence Services Bill are different to those established for civil legal aid. 
Bridget Prentice: As a general principle, the Government believe that the potential loss of liberty confronting an individual who faces criminal prosecution by the state is sufficiently serious to justify broad distinction from civil proceedings. For this reason, it is considered important to establish separate thresholds for both the criminal and civil legal aid schemes. In addition, the threshold for criminal legal aid has been specifically set at a level that we believe will ensure compliance with Article 6 of the European convention on human rights.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether the proposed financial thresholds for means testing in the Criminal Defence Service Bill will be index-linked. 
Bridget Prentice: The Framework Document published alongside the Criminal Defence Service Bill includes an undertaking to carry out an annual review of the proposed financial eligibility thresholds. In all normal circumstances, we would expect to update these thresholds in line with one of the established indicators such as the Rossi index. These proposals will be included among the draft regulations setting out the specific mechanics of the new means testing model. The regulations are expected to be published in autumn 2005 and will be subject to a full consultation exercise, the outcome of which will help to inform the final design and operation of the new scheme.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the average salary of a pupil conducting criminal legally aided work has been in each of the last 10 years, broken down by region. 
Bridget Prentice: The specific information requested is not collated or held centrally by this Department and therefore an answer cannot be given. The issue of salaries paid to pupils is a matter for chambers and the individual barristers concerned.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what percentage of law students applied to become criminal barristers in (a) 2005 and (b) each of the last 10 years, broken down by region. 
Bridget Prentice: This information is not held centrally either by this Department or by the Bar Council. Law students train to become barristers rather than criminal barristers. They may then choose to apply to a criminal chambers, but this is of course, a personal decision.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans she has to introduce revised payment rates to meet the costs of the additional case management responsibilities introduced in the Criminal Procedures Rules 2005. 
Bridget Prentice: The Government support the new Criminal Procedure Rules which aim to gain better control of case management and length of trials, and encourage earlier and better preparation. We are consulting the legal professions to make structural changes to the graduated fee scheme in Preston and Nottingham to support the Plea and Case Management Hearing pilots. These changes would be on a cost-neutral basis.
Bridget Prentice: The Government are planning to strengthen the existing system of recovery of defence costs orders, as well as making greater use of the courts' existing power to restrain people from disposing of their assets. While the Criminal Defence Service Bill also confers the power to introduce formal means testing into the Crown court, we believe that this will require a different model to the existing proposals for the magistrates court. The Government will publish their design for a suitable Crown court scheme in due course and reaffirm their commitment to consult fully and widely on these proposals.
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