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13 Jun 2006 : Column 1122W—continued

World Expo

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) why the UK has not signed up for the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010; [73616]

(2) what resources her Department has allocated to British participation in the World Expo in 2010. [73617]

Mr. McCartney: We are considering the Chinese Government's formal invitation to participate in the Shanghai Expo 2010. As part of that process we are looking at how UK participation might be funded and we are discussing this with a wide range of possible stakeholders including Government Departments, other parts of the public sector, and many private sector companies.

Constitutional Affairs

Asylum and Immigration Tribunal

26. Mr. Bone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what average time was taken by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal to process an appeal in relation to asylum seekers and immigration cases in the latest period for which figures are available. [76566]

Bridget Prentice: In the financial year 2005-06, the average time taken to promulgate immigration judge appeals in asylum cases was 15 weeks and in immigration cases, 14 weeks.

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Legal Services

27. David Taylor: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps she is taking to reform the regulation of legal services. [76567]

Bridget Prentice: The draft Legal Services Bill (Cm 6839) which was published on 24 May 2006, sets out the Government’s proposals for reform in the way legal services are regulated to deliver a better deal for consumers. These provide for the creation of a strong and independent oversight regulator, the Legal Services Board, a new independent Office for Legal Complaints and a provision for legal services to be provided in new ways to meet the needs of consumers. The draft Bill is currently subject to Pre-Legislative Scrutiny by a Joint Committee which is expected to report by 25 July. The Government will carefully consider the Joint Committee’s recommendations and will introduce a full Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Domestic Violence Court (Swansea)

28. Mrs. James: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what consideration has been given to establishing a specialist domestic violence court in Swansea. [76568]

Ms Harman: Swansea magistrates court is being considered as a venue for a specialist domestic violence court. An announcement will be made later this year after assessments of all bids across England and Wales including that from Swansea have been considered.

Victims of Crime

29. Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what mechanisms are in place to ensure that victims of crime and their families have a voice in court proceedings. [76569]

Ms Harman: The Government are currently piloting victims advocates at five Crown courts. The scheme allows the relatives of murder and manslaughter victims the choice to speak in court about the impact of the crime on them, after conviction and before sentence.

Electoral Turnout

30. John Robertson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer of 9 May 2006, Official Report, column 159W, on electoral turnout, what initiatives the Government have undertaken to promote participation in democracy. [76570]

Bridget Prentice: The Government’s “1824 Collective” campaign aimed to raise awareness of registration in advance of the May 2006 London elections. They are also working with local authorities to pilot ways of increasing registration nationally. They
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have also undertaken pilots in the 2006 elections aimed at modernising the voting process. The Electoral Administration Bill contains a number of clauses to encourage participation at elections.

Fine Defaulters/Bail

31. Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what progress has been made in introducing measures to deal with people who do not pay fines and who break their bail conditions. [76571]

Ms Harman: On 27 March we completed the full national rollout to the magistrates courts in England and Wales of the tough new measures introduced in the Courts Act 2003 to deal with fine defaulters. We have also introduced a strategy to improve first time compliance with bail conditions, speed up the execution of Fail to Appear warrants and deal with Bail Act offences robustly when offenders are brought back before the court.

Next of Kin

32. Jeremy Wright: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans the Government have to review who is considered to be next of kin in cases where the next of kin is accused of the murder of the deceased. [76572]

Ms Harman: The Government have no plans to carry out such a review.

Being someone’s next of kin does not automatically give a person the right to do anything. Being next of kin does not, for example, give a person a right to bury someone, or to administer their estate.

Family Courts

Ms Keeble: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will bring forward proposals to end enforcement action by family courts without a public hearing. [76573]

Ms Harman: My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that the Government will soon be publishing a consultation paper on improving the openness of family courts which will focus on all family proceedings. I am sure hon. Members will take the opportunity to consider it and respond on this very important issue.

Dr. David Kelly

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer from the Under-Secretary of State at the Home Department of 5 June 2006, Official Report, column 274W, on Dr. David Kelly, whether the Oxfordshire coroner consulted the police in this case in line with rule 6 of the Coroners Rules 1984. [76692]

Ms Harman: Yes. The details are set out in the evidence given by ACC Page of Thames Valley police to the Hutton Inquiry on 3 September 2003.

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Home Department


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he proposes to take (a) to discourage alcohol volume drinking and (b) to promote soft drink alternatives to alcohol; and what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to this end. [74613]

Mr. Coaker: The Government are proposing a number of measures to discourage alcohol volume drinking: it will later on this year begin a campaign to discourage binge-drinking, focusing on specific groups at the highest risk of harm; it is currently working with the alcohol industry and others to refresh and promote the “sensible drinking message”, including on product labelling; and it is working with the industry to prevent irresponsible drinks promotions, in particular those that encourage people to drink too much, too quickly.

The Government support the industry’s Social Responsibility Standards document and the Portman Group’s code of practice, both of which include guidance on preventing irresponsible promotions. We are also encouraging the licensed trade to promote the safe consumption of alcohol, for example by linking alcohol promotions with soft drinks or food.

The Department for Trade and Industry was involved in the development of the Social Responsibility Standards document and has provided advice on the competition issues impacting price promotions.

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many alcohol-related crimes have been committed in each of the last five years, broken down by (a) age and (b) sex of offenders. [75407]

Mr. Coaker: From the information collected, it is not possible to identify those offences which are alcohol-related. Such offences are not specifically defined by statute and details of the individual circumstances of offences do not feature in either the recorded crime or court proceedings data series.


Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to prevent people using illegal drugs on buses. [76669]

Mr. Coaker: The initial responsibility in such circumstances falls to the bus operator. Any instances of drug misuse on buses should be reported to the police who will advice on the issue in general and respond to specific instances as appropriate.

Caravan Thefts

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were successfully
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prosecuted in Hampshire for the theft of a caravan in each of the last five years. [76549]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 12 June 2006]: It is not possible to identify separately the number of thefts of caravans from other theft offences on the Court Proceedings Database held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform; data are therefore unavailable.

Child Trafficking

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what studies his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the future of child trafficking victims after they have been returned to their home countries. [75977]

Mr. Coaker: The Government have not commissioned any evaluation into the futures of child trafficking victims who have returned to their county of origin. However Her Majesty’s Government are aware that children returned to certain countries could be put at risk of further harm, with the likelihood of being re-trafficked. As a general principle, therefore, children will only be returned, where it is considered both possible and safe to do so and only after a full assessment of each case has been thoroughly carried out. Before considering the return of a child, full consideration is given to the Government’s obligations under the immigration laws and the European Convention on Human Rights and the unique circumstances of each case including an assessment of the country of origin.


Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will answer the letter to his predecessor dated 27 February from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Ms E. Lennon. [72164]

John Reid: My right hon. Friend’s letter, addressed to my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was received by the Home Office on 22 March. My hon. Friend, the hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) replied on 27 March.

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letter to his predecessor dated 10 April from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, about Mr. H. Kadir. [75881]

John Reid: A reply was sent to the right hon. Member on 20 April 2006.

Criminal Justice Act

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the custody plus provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to be introduced. [76744]

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Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 12 June 2006]: While continuing to work towards an implementation date of Autumn 2006 for Custody Plus, the Government would not implement such an important sentence unless it was satisfied that the National Offender Management Service could cope with the additional work. The issue of capacity to implement this fully and effectively is being considered.

Criminal Records Bureau

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how much compensation the Criminal Records Bureau has paid for delays in processing criminal record checks in each year since it was established; and how many applicants received such compensation payments in each year; [74584]

(2) what total compensation was paid to individuals who were incorrectly assigned a criminal record at the Criminal Records Bureau in each of the last five years; [75299]

(3) what steps he is taking to compensate individuals wrongly assigned a criminal record by the Criminal Records Bureau. [75307]

Joan Ryan: The Criminal Records Bureau compensates customers for any loss which is a consequence of its maladministration. This includes errors and mistakes which the CRB have made that have delayed it from issuing Disclosures. However, there are a range of other factors that can contribute to delays in completing Disclosures, including incomplete or inaccurate application forms that require further information from the applicant or Countersignatory; the existence of criminal record information or other relevant non-conviction information and, for Enhanced Disclosures, the performance of Disclosure Units within police forces.

The CRB aims to return customers to the position they would have been in but for its maladministration; this is by making ex-gratia awards. In financial year 2002-03, the CRB made 19 awards totalling £30,603 for consequential loss; in 2003-04 it made 47 awards totalling £56,618; in 2004-05 it made 32 awards totalling £26,489 and in 2005-06 it has made 59 awards totalling £67,014. The following table illustrates the number of awards made against the number of disclosures issued in each of those years:

Number of:
Financial year Disclosures issued Awards Value of awards (£)

















Figures to determine the number of applicants that these sums were paid to are not available, because in some circumstances the awards were paid to Registered Bodies, employers or Umbrella Bodies.

Information is not available to determine the total amount of compensation paid by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) for individuals who were issued with a Disclosure which, following investigation, was found to contain incorrect conviction information.

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