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Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) what guidance and regulations apply to the recording of burial details in church and chapel grounds; 
Ms Harman: The Local Authorities' Cemeteries Order 1977, as amended, prescribes the registration of burials in local authority cemeteries in England and Wales. Outside such cemeteries, the registration of burials according to the rites of the Church of England is prescribed by the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978 while burials conducted by the Church in Wales are governed by the Welsh Church (Burial Grounds) Act 1945. The registration of other burials outside local authority cemeteries is prescribed by the Registration of Burials Act 1864. The registration process is not subject to Government guidance, but accuracy of record-keeping is implicit.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when the Government intends to publish its (a) analysis of the potential risk of losing commercial court business to further jurisdictions and (b) business case for the renovation of the commercial court. 
I am currently concluding consideration of the nature and extent of reform of the coroner system, and will make a statement as soon as possible on how the Government intend to proceed.
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Mr. Dismore: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many and what percentage of court buildings are (a) fully and (b) partially accessible to disabled people who are (i) judges, (ii) court staff, (iii) members of the legal profession and (iv) members of the public; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Harman: The majority of Crown and county courts are now believed to be compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act as regards accessibility for all users. There has been some slippage with regard to works required at a small number of locations, and this is currently being addressed.
Following on from the transfer of the Magistrates Courts Estate to HMCS on 1 April 2005, an assessment is being made of the compliance of magistrates courts with the Act and a programme will be established to remedy any shortfall..
Bridget Prentice: There is no formal requirement for all new recruits to be assessed in literacy and numerical skills in my Department. However, certain posts in the magistrates courts and at Executive Grade and above may involve such tests for posts in a policy area, communications or Information Technology posts.
General recruitment asks for administration experience or the relevant qualifications (i.e. five GCSE's or equivalent at grade C or above including English language) for admin grades or 2 A levels (and English language GCSE) for executive grades.
In our Department, all appointees to the Senior Civil Service attend a full day assessment centre during which they undertake a two-hour written exercise. In this exercise, candidates are given a mixture of word-based evidence and numerical data to analyse and evaluate, and are assessed in relation to their ability to build a constructive argument from the data provided.
Bridget Prentice: Testing for literacy and numeracy is available for all staff on demand through the "Skills for Life" initiative and is widely advertised during our annual Learning At Work Weeks. Staff can undertake written or computerised tests.
My Department has undertaken to fund any training identified to improve individual members of staffs literacy and/or numeracy levels resulting from the tests and has worked with local colleges and Union Learning Representatives to address those needs.
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Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will bring forward legislation to allow electoral registration officers to consult central Government databases in order to maximise registration. 
Ms Harman: We are currently considering whether the sources of data available to electoral registration officers (EROs) should be broadened, taking into account any data protection implications, to help EROs carry out their duties. Under the Representation of the People Regulations 2001, EROs have access to the records of the local authority that appointed them and the registrar of births, marriages and deaths for the purpose of their registration duties.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) how much was raised from each local authority from the sale of electoral registers in each of the past 10 years, listed in descending order according to the greatest cumulative total; 
(2) how many electoral registration staff in each local authority area have a recognised national certificate or diploma; and what plans she has to encourage electoral registration staff to study for qualification; 
(3) if she will list the local authorities that (a) do and (b) do not (i) design their own form A, (ii) use personal canvassers to produce electoral registers, (iii) carry out training sessions for new canvassers, (iv) split canvas areas into smaller areas, (v) use electoral registration calling cards if a householder is out when a canvasser visits, (vi) have payment by result systems for canvassers, (vii) use the telephone to contact non-responding households, (viii) send an enforcement letter at the end of the registration period, (ix) prosecute non-responders, (x) liaise with (A) council tax and (B) housing departments, (xi) work in consortia of other local authorities to increase registration and (xii) use anonymous registration; 
(6) what the mean number of days before an election has been that (a) polling cards and (b) postal ballots were received by electors in each (i) local election and (ii) general election since 1997; 
Ms Harman: Electoral services are delivered by local electoral registration officers and returning officers. The information sought is held by individual local authorities, and is not collected by central Government.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the impact of the level of available funding on an electoral registration officer's ability to produce an accurate register; 
(2) whether electoral registration officers may request additional resources from their local authority to carry out a house-to-house or other inquiry to produce an accurate register of electors. 
Ms Harman: Electoral registration officers are funded by the local authority that appointed them and decisions on funding for electoral registration are for local authorities. The performance standards provisions in the Electoral Administration Bill will help to ensure that there is greater transparency in the information that is available about the funding of electoral registration.
The Electoral Administration Bill includes a new duty on electoral registration officers to take all necessary steps to ensure comprehensive registers. Those steps include the following specific measures:
As with all of the measures in the Electoral Administration Bill, we will be providing local authorities with additional funding to ensure that electoral registration officers have the necessary resources to carry out their new duty.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much was spent on central Government advertising on (a) registration and (b) encouraging people to vote in each of the past 10 years. 
Ms Harman: Since 2001, the Electoral Commission has been responsible for promoting public awareness of current electoral systems and encouraging people to participate in elections. The information sought in relation to central Government prior to 2001 is not available.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much was spent on publicising (a) local and (b) general elections in each local authority area (i) in total and (ii) per head of population in each election since 1997. 
The information is not collected by central Government. Since 2001, the Electoral Commission has been responsible for promoting public awareness of current electoral systems and systems of local and national Government.
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Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what measures her Department has taken to encourage electoral registration officers to cross-reference local government databases to enhance electoral registers. 
Ms Harman: Guidance to electoral registration officers is issued by the Electoral Commission. The Commission issued guidance on use of other council records by electoral registration officers in their circular number 19 of 2005.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many electors in each constituency in the UK have dual registration on electoral registers; and what measures are in place to prevent double voting. 
Ms Harman: It is possible for certain categories of electors who spend their time equally between two addresses to be lawfully registered at more than one address. Information is not collected on the number of such persons registered. It is an offence for any person to vote more than once in a general election. Individual Returning Officers are responsible for ensuring that elections are conducted in accordance with the requirements of electoral law. The presiding officer at a polling station, acting under the direction of the Returning Officer, may ask a person applying for a ballot paper if they have already voted at the election, if it is suspected that the voter is attempting to vote more than once at the election. A ballot paper shall not be given to any person required to answer the above question unless they have answered it satisfactorily.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will publish the guidelines the Home Office issued to electoral registration officers on house visits for electors who failed to register. 
Ms Harman: The Home Office ceased to have any responsibility for electoral matters in June 2001. Guidance to electoral registration officers is now issued by the independent Electoral Commission. The Commission's most recent guidance on administering the annual canvass of electors was published in their circular number 16 of 2005. The Electoral Administration Bill, introduced on 11 October, includes a new duty on electoral registration officers to take all necessary steps to ensure comprehensive registers. Those steps include the following specific measures:
Section 10(4) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 provides that the form electoral registration officers must use for the annual canvass is to
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be that provided in regulations, or a form to the same effect. In England and Wales, the current form is prescribed in the Representation of the People (Form of Canvass) (England and Wales) Regulations 2004.
There is no prescribed form in relation to applications for registration outside of the annual canvass, but such 'rolling registration' applications must provide the information set out in regulation 26 of the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001.
My Department is currently undertaking a project to evaluate the extent to which an improved prescribed canvass form might make the registration process simpler for electors, and whether other electoral forms might also benefit from greater standardisation. Any regulations arising from this project are likely to be made during 2006.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what guidelines have been issued on follow-up procedures to be used by electoral registration officers for individuals who have failed to register; whether she plans to reform these guidelines; and if she will introduce a duty on local authority canvassers to visit electors who fail to register. 
Ms Harman: Guidance to electoral registration officers is issued by the independent Electoral Commission. The Commission's most recent guidance on administering the annual canvass of electors was published in their circular number 16 of 2005. The Electoral Administration Bill, introduced on 11 October, includes a new duty on electoral registration officers to take all necessary steps to ensure comprehensive registers. Those steps include the following specific measures:
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether she expects the boundary commission to take account of the number of non-registered voters when redrawing new constituency boundaries. 
Ms Harman: In accordance with the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, the boundary commissions for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland base their recommendations on the number of electors on the register in force on the date that the review is announced.
The Electoral Commission's recent report, "Understanding Electoral Registration: the extent and nature of non-registration in Britain"
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examines these issues in some depth. The research identified that the majority of non-registrants in 2000 came from three groups; those living with their parents (particularly attainers), people who have moved within the six months prior to the qualifying date, and people renting from a private landlord. The research highlighted the importance of people's individual and household situation and attitudes towards politics and voting. There was also a link between the presence and actions of the head of the household and non-registration.
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