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27 Mar 2006 : Column 675W—continued


Asylum and Immigration Tribunal

Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when she last met Sir Henry Hodge, President of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal; and if she will make a statement. [61009]

Bridget Prentice: I last met with Mr. Justice Hodge on 1 February of this year to discuss the role of non-legal members in the Tribunal.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the backlog is of cases at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. [61010]

Bridget Prentice: There is currently no administrative backlog of appeals at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT). Between April 2005 and October 2005, an administrative backlog of entry clearance and family visitor appeals built up with the AIT, totalling approximately 39,000 cases. Those cases experienced a delay in initial processing (acknowledgment and issue of papers to the respondent requesting the appeal bundle) of up to 16 weeks. The administrative backlog was cleared by the end of December 2005.

The once backlogged appeals now form part of the Tribunal's current work in progress—as at February 2006 around 82,000 immigration judge appeals and 6,000 other cases for review or reconsideration. As a result of work load volumes, and the clearance of backlogged cases, the AIT is currently listing entry clearance and family visit appeals at 16 weeks from receipt of the appeal bundle. This represents a departure of between eight and 12 weeks from steady-state time scales.
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Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many people were (a) killed and (b) injured by unsafe memorials in cemeteries in each of the last 20 years; and if she will make a statement. [60914]

Ms Harman: As I said in the reply I gave on 13 June 2005, Official Report, column 182W, an accurate record has not been kept of the total number of fatalities and injuries arising from unsafe memorials in cemeteries in recent years; but I understand that there have been 21 serious accidents to members of the public, including three fatalities, in the five years prior to June 2004.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on the future provision of advice lines available to the Citizens Advice Bureau. [59958]

Ms Harman: The Citizens Advice service had 475 member bureaux in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2004–05. All bureaux are independent registered charities. People providing advice in individual bureaux may choose to use any advice lines available to organisations, including those supported by government funding.

Community Legal Service Direct

Julie Morgan: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs who are the providers of Community Legal Service Direct. [59738]

Ms Harman: Community Legal Service Direct consists of a national helpline, 0845 345 4345, a website, and a series of free printed legal information leaflets.

The 15 specialist advice providers currently contracted to provide legal advice for the Community Legal Service Direct National Telephone Service are set out in the list that follows.

In addition, Dataforce are contracted to provide the directory line telephone service, a directory of legal advisors across England and Wales.

EC Group are contracted to print and distribute the range of Community Legal Service Direct legal information leaflets. EC Group are also contracted to provide the leaflet line, a telephone leaflet-ordering service.
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Community Legal Service Direct—Specialist advice providers

Constituency Populations

Mr. Bone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will take steps to equalise the populations of constituencies. [61677]

Bridget Prentice: The independent Parliamentary Boundary Commissions review parliamentary boundaries every 8 to12 years. Although the electoral quota is important, it is necessary to take other factors into account, such as geographical and community issues. The Parliamentary Boundary Commissions consider all these factors when conducting their review.

Court Adjournments

Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps are being taken to mitigate the cost effects on the criminal justice system of (a) security companies producing prisoners late at court and (b) courts over-listing cases resulting in unnecessary adjournments. [61316]

Ms Harman: The CJS is seeking further to improve prisoner delivery to court and mitigate the cost of late arrivals. This will be achieved through the increased procurement of prison video link equipment, thus reducing the volume of prisoners attending court in person, and the improving prisoner availability project (IPAP).

The number of ineffective trials due to over-listing in the Crown court and the magistrates' court since 2002–03 has declined as a result of action taken by the courts in liaison with CJS partners. Performance is monitored.

Crown Courts

Robert Key: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many and what percentage of convictions in Crown courts were successfully appealed in each calendar year between 2000 and 2005. [53480]

Ms Harman: The following table shows the number and percentage of appellants per calendar year whose appeal against their Crown court conviction was allowed on appeal.
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Year and result of conviction appeals allowed(20)


(20)Includes appeals which were allowed in whole or in part.

Departmental Telephone Numbers

Anne Milton: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 8 March 2006, Official Report, columns 1576–8W, on departmental telephone numbers, what service each (a) 0800, (b) 0845 and (c) 0870 telephone number maintained by the Department for Constitutional Affairs provides; and what revenue was obtained from (i)0845 and (ii) 0870 numbers maintained by her Department in the last period for which figures are available. [60442]

Bridget Prentice: For 2004–05, the revenue obtained from (i) 0845 telephone numbers was £236.81 and (ii)0870 numbers was £174,945.21.

My Department does not hold central records of the services provided by each of the numbers. That information could now be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Inquiries Act

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will list theinquiries (a) converted to and (b) initiated under the Inquiries Act 2005 since its commencement; what the completion date or estimated completion date is of each; and what the budget or final cost of each inquiry is, broken down by the categories proposed in Article 12 (2)(b) of the draft Inquiry Procedure (UK Inquiries) Rules. [61332]

Ms Harman: On 23 November 2005 the Billy Wright inquiry was converted by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to an inquiry to be held under the Inquiries Act 2005. Information on the budget and timetable for this inquiry is still being formulated and is not currently available.

Acting in accordance with its powers under section 1 of the Inquiries Act 2005, a motion was passed on 7 December 2005 in the plenary session of the National Assembly for Wales to cause an inquiry into the E.coli outbreak in South Wales in September 2005.

On 16 November 2004 the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy), announced the terms of reference for the inquiry into the death of Robert Hamill following an incident in Portadown, County Armagh on 27 April 1997. The inquiry is being held under section 44 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.

The web-site for the Hamill Inquiry sets out that:

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To this end, the Chairman has written to the Permanent Secretary, Jonathan Phillips, at the Northern Ireland Office.

At this time, no other inquiries have yet been established under the Inquiries Act.

The draft inquiry procedure (UK inquiries) rules are currently out to public consultation, which began on 1 March and will end on 23 May 2006.

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