|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
20. Mr. Neil Turner: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps she plans to take to reduce the time taken to produce a copy of the marked register for those 2005 general election candidates who require one. 
Ms Harman: The provision of copies of the marked electoral registers for the 2005 General Election is in fact the responsibility of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery. Pickfords Records Management store these documents on the Clerk of the Crown's behalf. There were problems with the service in the first three months immediately following the 5 May Election. In this period, we received the same number or requests as we received for the whole of the year following the 2001 General Election.
This was due to the unforeseen volume of requests, which far exceeded the number of requests following the previous General Election. However, I have been assured that these problems have now been resolved.
21. Tony Baldry: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what funding her Department provided to Citizens Advice Bureaux for advice to asylum seekers in 200405; and what assessment she has made of the adequacy of such provision in Oxfordshire. 
Bridget Prentice: The Legal Services Commission (LSC) provided a total of just under £27 million to CAB's nationally in all categories in 200405. It is not possible to separate what part of this sum was spent specifically on asylum advice.
22. Simon Hughes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what progress she has made in considering the proposal for an annual national census and registration day. 
We are determined to increase electoral registration levels, particularly among young people and those who rent. We want to focus on one particular day as a way of concentrating resources and raising public awareness and we are looking at this.
15 Nov 2005 : Column 1099W
Ms Harman: We have been working closely with the Ministry of Defence and the Electoral Commission to ensure that Service personnel are aware of their voting rights and the procedures for registering to vote. We are currently considering whether further legislation will be beneficial.
Bridget Prentice: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made on the 13 July by my right hon. and Noble Friend the Lord Chancellor on increasing diversity in the judiciary. Among the measures announced were that the Government would legislate when parliamentary time permitted, to change the current statutory requirements.
26. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what recent representations she has received on the proposed levels of legal aid; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and I have received letters from individual members of the Bar expressing concerns about the October changes that we had to implement to some fee rates in criminal cases in order to tackle the serious overspend of £130 million that has been forecast to the legal aid budget. Prior to the changes my right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor received representations from professional bodies and met with representatives of the Bar.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact on the administration of justice of the recent industrial action by barristers over legal aid levels; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: We said we would maintain the justice system regardless of any action barristers might take. We have done that. Action was limited and was (managed locally by the courts, Legal Service Commission and Crown Prosecution Service using a range of effective contingency plans.
Bridget Prentice: There are different rates prescribed for the many separate schemes across a variety of services provided within the Criminal Defence Service (CDS). The changes to the prescribed basic legal aid rates for work in the criminal courts are set in the following table.
|Defence legal aid ratesChanges to the prescribed rates: Magistrates court proceedings, Crown court and Court of Appeal (Criminal) Proceedings|
|1995||Solicitors' rates and counsels' Crown court standard fee rates increased by 2 per cent.|
|1996||Solicitors' rates and junior barristers' rates increased by 1.5 per cent.|
|2001||Magistrates courtGeneral Criminal Contract launched with an overall effect of an overall increase of 7.25 per cent., though the increase in rates varied between classes of work.|
|Criminal higher courtsRemuneration changes in October with the introduction of a common graduated fee scheme by the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the Crown Prosecution Service for advocates in all trials lasting up to 25 days in the Crown court. The effect of those changes was to raise total remuneration for 1 to 10 day cases by about £3.2 million and to leave the level of remuneration for 11 to 25 day cases broadly the same. These changes also included changes in the graduated fee scheme to allow for some payment for conferences and the attendance fee for plea and directions hearings was increased from £75 to £100.|
|2002||Contract mileage rate under the General Criminal Contract increased to 45p.|
|Nil remuneration uprating.|
|2004||Februarytelephone fixed fee implemented for police station advice and assistance. £30.25 national / £31.45 London.|
|OctoberDuty Solicitor. Serious offences rate introduced for police station advice and attendance at £80 per unsocial hour and £60 per hour at other times. Overall impact to introduce £3 million new money.|
|Criminal courtsRemuneration changes in August to the Very High Cost Criminal Case contract rates and Criminal Graduated Fee schemes. The effects of the changes were: to reduce bureaucracy for the Bar by taking some 50 per cent. of VHCC cases into an extended graduated fee scheme, which now covers cases up to 40 days; raising the graduated fee rates for 11 to 25 day cases to the level which was expected in 2001 when the scheme was introduced and carrying those rates through to the 40 day extension; all Category 4 VHCC cases will be paid at the same rates as Category 3 VHCC cases; substantially increasing refreshers so that the same rate is now paid for Category 2 and 3 cases as for Category 1; moving terrorism cases into Category 1; moving under five-year advocate call rates to over five-year call rates. This settlement was a package to the Bar worth approximately £17 million. £11 million came from changes to the VHCCC scheme, and a further £6 million from the changes made to the 11 to 25 day graduated fee scheme where we made good the unintended shortfall that had occurred since the scheme was extended to 25 days on October 2001.|
|2005||OctoberCuts in rates paid in some graduated fee and Very High Cost Criminal Case contracts (to both advocate's and litigator's rates). Extension of the existing graduated fee scheme for cracks and guilty pleas. Estimated savings in RAB terms from these additional measures, excluding Cracks and Guilties, are £5.1 million and £20.8 million for 200506, 200607 respectively. The extension of the Cracks and Guilties schemes is anticipated to increase savings by an estimated total of £20 million over 200506 and 200607.|
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, if she will make a statement on the development of a standard form of legal aid applications as set out in Commission Decision 2005j630jEC, OJL225 of 31 August; what assessment his Department has made of the costs of implementing the scheme; and what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the scheme on the quantity of litigation. 
The Legal Services Commission has received only one application for legal aid here in the United Kingdom and has transmitted 22 applications to other member states. The Government therefore expect the additional legal aid costs to be minimal. The Government do not hold the information requested in relation to both the costs of implementation and the impact of the scheme on the quantity of litigation.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|