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18 Jul 2005 : Column 1303W—continued

Magistrates Courts (Running Costs)

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) what the average running costs per day are of (a) the Community Justice Centre in Liverpool and (b) an average magistrates court; [12704]

(2) what steps she is taking to evaluate the cost-benefit of the Community Justice Centre in Liverpool. [12705]

Ms Harman: The information is as follows:

The Community Justice Centre will not be fully operational until September. The court is currently hearing cases in a courtroom of Liverpool magistrates court and the daily running costs are approximately the
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same as for the other courtrooms. The average cost of a magistrate's courthouse per day is £4,382 and a courtroom is £111 (figures for 2003–04). The cost of providing the multi agency problem solving team is £666per day. The cost of this team is not currently borne by a mainstream magistrates court, as the function is performed to some extent elsewhere and is accounted for by the CJS agencies (eg Probation, YOTs).

The evaluation will compare the resources that are being used in the existing CJS agencies dealing with one courtroom with the cost of those based within the centre. The effectiveness of the existing CJS agencies framework against the joint approach of the centre will be measured in their outcomes. An example of this
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would be a reduction in antisocial behaviour or the number of young people getting involved in crime. The evaluation will also measure qualitative benefits such as the level of victim and witness satisfaction.

Marked Registers

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) by what date Pickfords is expected to fulfil all orders received to date with regards to marked registers from the 2005 general election; [12453]

(2) if she will make a statement on the time taken by Pickfords to publish the marked registers from the 2005 general election. [12452]

Ms Harman: We have been informed by Pickfords Records Management that there are currently 444 requests outstanding for copies of the Marked Register. All of these have received holding letters and are currently being counted for charge letters to be sent out. 78 copies of the Marked Register have been completed and sent out.

Because in a number of cases the documents have not been presented to Pickfords in accordance with instructions, Pickfords have had to conduct searches and checks and contact Returning Officers to find them, which has had an impact on their process times and resources.

All the remaining counting and charge letters are expected to be sent out within the next three weeks.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will publish the service-level agreement between the Government and Pickfords in relation to the provision of marked registers. [12454]

Ms Harman: The service level agreement between the Government and Pickfords is expressed within the terms of the contract specification. An application can be made to my Department to view the relevant sections of the contract specification.

In addition, a Decision Report of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery as to the public access to the marked registers and other documents returned after the 2005 general election will shortly be available from the House of Commons Library.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will publish marked registers from the 2005 general election electronically. [12455]

Ms Harman: Access to the marked electoral registers is the responsibility of the Clerk of the Crown. The marked register which is made available for inspection or copying is the paper copy of the register kept at the polling station, and marked by polling station staff. No electronic copies are compiled, and we have no current plans to provide for it. Paper copies may be purchased, as has been the case in previous elections.

Remote Electronic Voting

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what research the Government have conducted on remote electronic voting. [12456]

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Ms Harman: The research into remote electronic voting is primarily conducted through pilots under S.10 of the Representation of the People Act 2000. There have been 27 e-voting pilots in 2002 and 2003 and these were all evaluated by The Electoral Commission which reported on each of the pilots and also published a strategic evaluation.

In addition to piloting, research has been jointly commissioned by the Government and key stakeholders investigating the issues surrounding the implementation of electronic voting in the UK. This research was published in May 2002.

As part of the work being done on electoral modernisation there is on-going consideration of e-voting technologies used worldwide and their performance in pilots and elections.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans her Department has to conduct remote electronic voting pilots in the 2006 local elections. [12435]

Ms Harman: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on 7 June 2005, Official Report, column 483W. We are considering the options for electronic voting pilots in 2006.

Voter Registration

Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will estimate the number of hours spent by officials in her Department in dealing with (a) postal ballot fraud and (b) voter under-registration in the last 12 months. [8949]

Ms Harman: Detailed information of hours spent by officials on specific areas of work is not kept. However officials in my Department spent a significant amount of time on issues relating to postal vote fraud including responding to press allegations and subsequent letters from interested parties over the course of the combined European parliamentary and local elections in June 2004 and in the run up to this year's general election.

Voter under-registration has also been looked at by officials through policy development and research but has taken up less time that that spent on responding to postal vote fraud.


Antisocial Behaviour Committee

Mr. Allen: To ask the Prime Minister what steps he is taking to invite ideas from hon. Members for consideration by the Ministerial Committee on antisocial behaviour of the Cabinet; and if he will make a statement. [9219]

The Prime Minister: We are always receptive to hearing the views of hon. Members on how to tackle antisocial behaviour. An inter-departmental steering group has been set up and is chaired by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office (Hazel Blears). It will support the Ministerial Committee on
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antisocial behaviour that I chair. The steering group will consider how it takes on ideas and proposals from hon. Members.

Business Representatives

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the business representatives with whom he has had meetings (a) at Number 10, (b) within Parliament, (c) at Chequers and (d) elsewhere since 1 January; which organisation they represented in each case; andwhat the main topic for discussion at each meeting was. [13291]

The Prime Minister: I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a wide range of subjects. Information relating to internal meetings, discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.


David T.C. Davies: To ask the Prime Minister how much his Office has spent on (a) organising and (b) sponsoring conferences in each of the last five years. [10249]

The Prime Minister: For accounting purposes my office forms part of the Cabinet Office. The information requested cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate costs.

Gender Equality (Africa)

Andrew George: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he had during the Gleneagles Summit regarding the Millennium Development Goal to promote gender equality in Africa. [13081]

The Prime Minister: At Gleneagles, G8 heads agreed a doubling of resource for Africa, in order to help make faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. On the gender equality goal, the need for urgent action is particularly stark.

We agreed to support African governments in ensuring that, by 2015, all children have access to and complete free and compulsory education of good quality. We also called on African countries to implement the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and its protocols, in order to encourage respect for the rights of ethnic minorities, women and children.

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