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Mr. Garnier: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what estimate she has made of the cost of equipping premises for which her Department is compatible with identity card readers. 
Bridget Prentice: We have been working with the Home Office to identify areas where the Identity cards Scheme could provide business benefits. On 28 June 2005, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary placed in the Library a paper containing the latest estimates of benefits of the Identity Cards Scheme which shows that the benefits outweigh the costs once the scheme is fully operational. The cost of equipping premises will depend on the nature of the use of the Identity Cards Scheme and the type of identity check(s) necessary to deliver the business benefits. In some cases, benefits could be realised without the use of card readers and the cost of installing any readers needs to be considered alongside future plans to refresh or upgrade IT systems. As the design of the scheme matures, during and after the procurement exercise, so will our understanding of where the scheme will be of most benefit which will allow us to further refine our estimates of costs and benefits.
Bridget Prentice: The new judicial office of lay magistrate in Northern Ireland was established on 1 April 2005. Case disposal statistics from 1 April 2005 are not currently available. However, during the period April 2004 to March 2005, 2,057 youth defendants were disposed of in the youth courts in Northern Ireland and 5,007 cases were disposed of in the family proceedings courts.
Bridget Prentice: At present, the contracting system in the Crown court is limited to Very High Cost Criminal Casescases that are expected to last for 41 days or more. These cases are managed under contract by the Complex Crime Unit at the Legal Services Commission.
The procurement of criminal defence services, including the management of high cost cases in the Crown court, will be covered by the independent review of Legal Aid Procurement by Lord Carter of Coles which was announced on 6 July. Lord Carter will produce a plan by early 2006 showing how to deliver modern procurement methods that contribute to a more proportionate way of spending legal aid, while ensuring reasonable client choice and sufficient quality.
Mr. Hood: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much money was allocated to (a) criminal legal aid and (b) civil legal aid in England in (a) 2003 and (b) 2004; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: Funding for legal aid is not allocated separately to England. The Legal Services Commission provides funding to England and Wales. However, spending in England and Wales on the Criminal Defence Service (CDS) and the Community Legal Service (CLS) during 200304 and 200405 was as follows:
Mr. Hood: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much money was allocated to spending on legal aid in England in (a) 2003, (b) 2004 and (c) 2005; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: Legal aid is not separately allocated to England. Spending on legal aid in England forms part of overall spending in England and Wales. Spending in England and Wales for each of the last full financial years for which figures are available are as follows:
Mr. Hood: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans the Department has to reform legal aid spending in England and Wales following the recent review of the legal aid process; and if she will make a statement. 
I refer the hon. Member to my written statement of 5 July 2005, Official Report, column 4WS, announcing the publication of A Fairer Deal for Legal Aid", which sets out the Government's plan for legal aid reform in England and Wales.
13 Jul 2005 : Column 1114W
Bridget Prentice: As part of its programme of work to tackle perceptions of a compensation culture and to improve the compensation system for valid claims, the Government are working with the insurance industry and other stakeholders to promote the availability of affordable liability insurance.
Bridget Prentice: The Better Regulation Task Force in its report, 'Better Routes to Redress' recommended that research should be carried out into the potential impact of raising the small claims limit for personal injury cases from the current limit of £1,000. The Government indicated that they would carry out this research and would also consider other options for dealing with these claims in a more proportionate and cost effective way. That research is currently under way and consultation will take place on any proposals which may emerge.
Bridget Prentice: Lists of all statutory instruments (SIs) from 1 January 1998 to 30 June 2005, prepared by the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) have today been placed in the Library. These lists, prepared in alphabetical order by department, detail for each year from 1998 the number and title of each statutory instrument sponsored by the department. There are separate lists for General and Local SIs. SIs which have been originated by departments but which were also Orders in Council are only listed under the Privy Council Office (PCO).
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer given on 20 June 2005, Official Report, column 707W, on benefits/pensions (payments methods), in what format information is available on the number of complaints that have been received regarding the introduction of direct payment for the payment of pensions and benefits. 
Data collected by the Pension Service, Disability and Carer's Service and the Jobcentre Plus Chief Executive's Office shows that between April 2004 and March 2005 around 2,500 letters were classified as being wholly or mainly about direct payment issues. But these could have been about a number of issues related to direct payment, including straightforward requests for information. They were not necessarily complaints.
In addition, Ministers received around 1,500 letters on the subject of direct payment over the same period. Again these letters could have covered any aspect of direct payment and were not necessarily complaints.
97 per cent. of customers are now paid by direct payment and 93 per cent. have said that they are happy receiving their payments this way. To put the number of possible complaints" into context, over 15 million customers are paid by direct payment and between April 2004 and March 2005 DWP made over 455 million payments into customer's accounts.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer given on 25 May 2005, Official Report, column 117W, on benefits payment, if he will list those publications which provide benefit and pension recipients with information on direct payment; and which of these publications (a) advise customers who do not think they can use an account to contact his Department and (b) provide information on the exceptions service. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Direct payment is referred to in a number of departmental, stakeholder and other Government publications. To identify all of these publications and their references to direct payment could be obtained only at disproportionate cost because the information is not held centrally
Now that the Department has completed its main programme of converting existing customers to direct payment, those customers who need to tell us that they do not think they can use an account are likely to be making a new claim for a benefit or pension.
Information on direct payment is included in all our current claim packs. Customers are given the opportunity to request information on being paid by other methods within these claim packs. The Department will then contact any customers that request more information to discuss the options available to them.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the (a) Pensions Agency and (b) Benefits Agency have taken to disseminate information about the exceptions scheme in accessible formats for customers who cannot read print. 
We do not specifically market payment by cheque because we do not believe cheques are appropriate for the vast majority of our customers. Payment into an account is the safest, most reliable way to receive payment and in most cases provides the greatest range of access to cash and other financial services.
13 Jul 2005 : Column 1116W
Jobcentre Plus make direct payment information available in large print and in Braille. Staff have been trained to deliver information about the methods of payment available to suit the needs of the customer. This can be by phone or face to face interview at the customer's home if necessary. The Jobcentre Plus website is accessible to visually impaired customers via JAWS software (Job Access with Speech) which translates information into synthesized speech.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what records the (a) Pensions Agency and (b) Benefits Agency keeps of the preferred formats of customers who are unable to read print. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Pension Service staff keep either manual or electronic records of customers1 preferred formats, as available. In the longer term, the relevant benefits systems will incorporate an automatic indicator as to a customer's preferred format. Similarly, Jobcentre Plus, which brought together the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service in 2002, advises offices to keep records of a customer's preference for non-standard formats. Such records will be electronic where IT systems are able to support this and clerical where they are not.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many emergency payments have been made by (a) the Benefits Agency and (b) the Pensions Service in each year since 2000; what the total value was of the emergency payments made by each body; and whether the payments were made by (i) cheque, (ii) direct payment and (iii) cash. 
There is no legislation under which the Department or its Agencies make specifically termed emergency payments. However, Social Fund Crisis Loans can be made to people who find themselves in an emergency situation. Jobcentre Plus, which replaced part of the Benefits Agency, administers the Social Fund for its own and The Pension Service's customers.
|April to March|
|Crisis Loan awards||Crisis Loan expenditure|
(£ million gross)
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