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3 May 2006 : Column 1668W—continued

Judicial Reform

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what funding will be provided for the five-year plan for judicial reform. [67084]

Ms Harman: The Department's strategy 2004–09, as amplified by Doing Law Differently", sets out the Department's commitment to constitutional and judicial reform. The funding allocated to Judicial Group within DCA, which includes the running costs for the new bodies set up under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 for 2006–07, is around £25 million. The allocation of funding for 2007–08 has not been finalised and funding for subsequent years is subject to the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007.

Justices of the Peace Act

Mr. Amess: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on the operation of Section 60 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997. [65028]

Ms Harman: The payment of fines and fees, under section 60 of the Justice of the Peace Act (JPA)1997, was a matter for the Justice's Chief Executive of the magistrates courts committee up until March 2005. The Justice's Chief Executive role ceased on 1 April 2005 when magistrates courts committees were abolished and responsibility for magistrates courts along with the payment of fines and fees passed to Her Majesty's Courts Service.

Land Disputes

Mark Williams: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many title deed cases have been referred to the adjudicator at HM Land Registry under section 73 of the Land Registration Act 2002 in each year since 2002. [63959]

Ms Harman: The referral of cases to the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry began after the Land Registry Act 2002 and associated rules came into force 13 October 2003. Cases referred because of a dispute relating to title deeds may include disputes claims based in adverse possession of land against the holder of the documentary title; or disputed claims to ownership of land where the title deeds have been lost or destroyed.
Number of cases referred to the Adjudicator since October 2003

Total
October 2003–March 2004137
2004–051,523
2005–061,649

The figures include disputes that do not necessarily relate to title deeds, such as disputed restriction and notice applications. Land Registry does not currently categorise the disputes that are referred to the Adjudicator as 'title deed' and 'non title deed' cases.

Mark Williams: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many complaints concerning title deeds have been
 
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investigated by HM Land Registry in each of the last 10 years; and how many of these complaints have been upheld. [63961]

Bridget Prentice: Land Registry records the total number of complaints received annually and these are normally categorised according to the nature of the complaint. Complaints that concern title deeds might include, for example, complaints that title deeds have been lost while in the custody of Land Registry, or that the provisions of a particular title deed have been reflected incorrectly in the register of title. However, complaints concerning title deeds are not recorded as a distinct category. The following figures reflect the total number of complaints received and—so far as they have been recorded as such—the number of complaints considered to be unjustified or misdirected. These figures therefore reflect complaints of all categories, including those that do not concern title deeds such as, for example, complaints about the way in which a particular application has been handled, aspects of the legislation governing land registration or specific Land Registry policies and procedures.
Total number of complaints (all categories)

Number of complaints recorded as unjustified / misdirected
1996–97578
No record
1997–98701
No record
1998–992,059
245
1999–20002,398
699
2000–012,710
810
2001–023,594
891
2002–033,015
1,425
2003–042,849
1,228
2004–052,579
1,181
2005–062,483
1,159

Land Registry Fees

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what fee structure the Land Registry uses for those looking to buy or sell a residential property. [66250]

Bridget Prentice: Land Registry's fee structure is set out in statutory Fee Orders, the current orders being the Land Registration Fee Order 2004 (SI 2004 No. 595) and the Land Registration Fee (Amendment) Order 2004 (SI 2004 No. 1833).

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what charges the Land Registry will levy for the provision of information for home information packs. [66654]

Bridget Prentice: No special charging arrangements will be made by Land Registry for the provision of information for home information packs. As with other
 
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statutory services provided by Land Registry, the fees for official copies of the register and other relevant documents will be those contained in the Land Registration Fee Order which is current at the time.

Legal Aid

Mrs. James: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on access to legal aid for people who claim state benefits. [65078]

Ms Harman: Those in receipt of income support, income based jobseeker's allowance, or guarantee state pension credit, automatically qualify financially for legal aid. Income received from other state benefits is assessed as part of the financial means test for civil legal aid.

Lords of Appeal

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs which Lords of Appeal in Ordinary who were serving on 18 July 2003 had expertise in media law. [65231]

Ms Harman: The term media law" is not precise and media law includes a number of areas of law, for example, contract law, tort, insurance law, human rights and freedom of expression (article 10 of the ECHR), and other areas. The Government believes that all Lords of Appeal in Ordinary serving on 18 July 2003 had, whether as counsel or judges or both, exposure to these areas of law.

Magistrates Courts

Vera Baird: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on the sum spent in 2005 on trials and hearings in magistrates courts that did not go ahead. [64847]

Ms Harman: The National Audit Office (NAO) report estimated that ineffective trials and hearings cost the criminal justice system £173 million and, of this figure, the courts was responsible for £21 million. The defence was responsible for £96 million, the police for £24 million, the Crown Prosecution Service for £24 million and the police and the CPS together for a further £8 million. The NAO found examples of good practice and the recommendations will help improve performance. We are working with the police and the CPS to improve performance in the magistrates courts. The proportion of ineffective trials has declined from 31 per cent. in 2002 to 21 per cent. in September 2005.

Vera Baird: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps she plans to take to ensure the implementation of the recommendations made by the National Audit Office on reducing waste and delay caused by ineffective hearings and trials in magistrates courts. [64849]

Ms Harman: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Djanogly) on 27 February 2006, Official Report, column 112W.
 
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Ministerial Cars (Fuel Cars)

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the fuel costs were for ministerial cars used by her Department in each of the last five years. [67018]

Bridget Prentice: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Transport (Dr. Ladyman) on 27 April 2006, Official Report, column 1227W.


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