|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many vulnerable households in the private sector in pathfinder areas have (a)
accrued arrears, (b) been served a notice of possession and (c) been evicted. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Four per cent. of claimants in the pathfinder areas have accrued arrears of eight weeks or more, and payment of their benefit has transferred to their landlord. A further 12 per cent. of claimants have had payment of their benefit transferred to their landlord on the grounds of vulnerability or that they are unlikely to pay.
Information on the level of arrears accrued by vulnerable claimants is not available as the nine local housing allowance (LHA) pathfinders have each interpreted the LHA vulnerability safeguards according to local circumstances and operational practices.
Information on the numbers of tenants in the pathfinder areas who have been served a notice seeking possession and/or who have been evicted is also not available. However, evidence from the interviews with local authority and voluntary sector stakeholders, undertaken as part of the evaluation in the pathfinder areas, has not indicated that there has been any noticeable rise in levels of possessions or evictions due to the introduction of the LHA.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of local housing allowance on vulnerable tenants in private rented schemes in pathfinder areas. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The impact of the local housing allowance (LHA) on vulnerable tenants in private rented accommodation is a key theme of the evaluation. The working of the vulnerability safeguards have been examined at the six, 15 month and final stages of the evaluation. The six and 15 month stages have been reported upon and published and copies are available in the Library. The reporting of the final evaluation has now commenced.
The findings to date suggest that the safeguards have been applied appropriately to the various local conditions of the pathfinders and are generally working well. Consequently, very few problems have been identified by the welfare and advice agencies that are also included in the evaluation or in the research undertaken by the CAB and Shelter.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to give vulnerable (a) housing benefit and (b) local housing allowance claimants in the private sector the choice of direct payments to landlords. 
In the local housing allowance pathfinders there are safeguards in place to enable a local authority to identify when payment should be made to the landlord, rather than the tenant. These safeguards have worked well, and we shall continue to review them as we develop the details of the scheme for national roll out.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received in respect of the local housing allowance vulnerability procedures; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government outlined their proposals for extending the local housing allowance in the Green Paper A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work on Tuesday 24 January 2006. As part of the consultation process, and in informal discussions, representations have been received on all
aspects of the local housing allowance scheme, including the vulnerability procedures. These comments will be considered as the details of the scheme are developed for national roll out.
The findings to date from the evaluation of the local housing allowance suggest that the safeguards have been applied appropriately to the various local conditions of the Pathfinders and are generally working well. Consequently, very few problems have been identified by the welfare and advice agencies that are also included in the evaluation or in the research undertaken by the CAB and Shelter.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what recent estimate she has made of the carbon emissions of her Department; what commitment she has made to reducing such emissions; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: My Departments last published statement on carbon emissions is 14,900 tonnes of carbon equivalent (tC) for the 2004-05 reporting year. The DCA is fully committed to reducing carbon emissions and invests in a programme of energy surveys to identify areas of potential energy savings. In addition to this the Department has also opened discussions with the Carbon Trust to look at further methods of reducing emissions including further reduction in usage and self generation.
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to her answer of 14 June 2006, Official Report, column 1267W, on Dr. David Kelly, on what date she expects the original documents supplied to the Hutton inquiry, currently held at the National Archives, to be made available for public inspection. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what matters were discussed when officials met the Oxfordshire coroner on 11 August 2003; and whether they included consideration of the issuing of a death certificate for Dr. Kelly. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs who requested the meeting between officials and the Oxfordshire coroner on 11 August 2003; and who was at the meeting. 
Ms Harman: The meeting was requested by the Oxfordshire coroner. The Worcestershire coroner and Honorary Secretary of the Coroners Society, a senior lawyer and the Head of Tribunals Strategy Branch of the then Lord Chancellor's Department, were also present.
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to her answer of 26 June 2006, Official Report, column 304W, on Dr. David Kelly, under what authority the Oxfordshire coroner
conducted a resumed hearing of the inquest into the death of Dr. Kelly on 14 August 2003; and for what purpose. 
Ms Harman: The coroner resumed the inquest on 14 August 2003 in accordance with the authority he has under section 17A(2) of the Coroners Act 1988. The purpose of the resumed hearing was to take evidence as to the interim cause of death thus enabling the coroner to fulfil his duty of sending the Registrar of Deaths the necessary particulars concerning the death.
Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps she is taking to increase (a) voter registration and (b) electoral turnout in areas of deprivation. 
Bridget Prentice: The Government have embarked on a number of initiatives to promote participation in democracy. It does not directly promote voter turnout in elections; that is the role of political parties, the candidates and the Electoral Commission.
The Electoral Administration Bill makes a number of changes to improve the registration process. These include a new duty setting out the minimum steps that the electoral registration officer will be expected to take to ensure a comprehensive register and enabling people to register after an election has been called. The Bill also provides a new power for returning officers to promote participation at elections, and the Government have made available £2.5 million to support the new power.
Ms Harman: This information is not available in the form requested. There are 19 Judges of the Family Division of the High Court, apart from its President, and 20 District Judges in the Principal Registry of the Family Division. A further 166 judges are authorised to hear High Court family cases as Deputy High Court Judges. Family cases might also be heard in the Court of Appeal by any of the five Heads of Division, or 37 Lords Justices of Appeal, or on appeal to the House of Lords by any of the 12 Lords of Appeal in Ordinary.
There are currently 446 judges below the High Court with authorisations to hear private law Children Act cases in the county courts (dealing, for example, with contact and residence orders) and 594 judges below the High Court with authorisations to hear public law Children Act cases in the county courts (such as care proceedings).
Not all judges with such authorisations will, however, sit in family proceedings in any particular year. Other judges may deal with other forms of family proceedings including divorce and ancillary relief. Family proceedings other than divorce and ancillary relief are also dealt with by District Judges (magistrates courts) when sitting in the family proceedings courts.
Apart from the Family Division of the High Court and the Principal Registry there has been no fixed number of judges dealing with family proceedings, and so the number of vacancies for judges in family proceedings is impossible to quantify. No posts have been left vacant in the Family Division or the Principal Registry. Judges at different levels are deployed according to the needs of the courts.
The Judicial Appointments Commission is running a selection exercise for the District Bench and this may include judges who will sit in family proceedings. In addition it will be possible to ask the JAC to run selection exercises to fill vacancies in the High Court Bench and Circuit Bench and this may include specific family posts.
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will list the occasions on which an inquest has been adjourned under section 17A of the Coroners Act 1988; and how many deaths were involved in each case. 
Ms Harman: Inquests have been adjourned under section 17A of the Coroners Act 1988 on four occasions: (1) Ladbroke Grove Rail Crashinquests involving 31 deaths adjourned in February 2000; (2) deaths connected with Dr. Harold Shipmaninquests totalling 311 were adjourned in May 2001 and July 2002; (3) Dr. David Kellyinquest adjourned in August 2003; (4) the Gaul fishing vesselinquests involving four deaths were adjourned in November 2003.
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to her answer of 26 June 2006, Official Report, column 305W, on inquests, how many inquests have been adjourned since 1 January 1997 because of the creation of an inquiry; and how many of these were subsequently (a) resumed and (b) not resumed. 
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what proportion of judges in the north-west are themselves from the north-west; and if she will make a statement. 
The northern circuit, which covers the north-west, includes 93 circuit judges, 70 district judges, 15 district judges (magistrates courts), 177 recorders, eight deputy circuit judges and 129 deputy district
judges. Judges are required to live within reasonable travelling distance of their home courts, although this need not necessarily be within the boundaries of the circuit.
Four High Court judges are especially linked to the circuit and act as the two presiding judges of the circuit, the Family Division liaison judge and the Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster. They divide their time between London and the north-west. Other judges may also sit in the north-west as required.
John Mann: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) how many solicitors have refused to accept decisions of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in each of the last 10 years; 
(4) what performance standards she has set for the length of time a consumer complaint to the Law Society takes to be resolved, including where the solicitors refuses to accept decisions of the Law Society Adjudication Panel and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. 
Ms Harman: Her Majesty's Government was not represented at Tynwald Day on 5 July this year. Her Majesty the Queen was represented by the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, His Excellency Vice Admiral Sir Paul Haddacks KCB.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the net change in voter registration as a result of its 2006 local elections registration campaign. 
Bridget Prentice: The Government led a successful campaign using young urban artists to raise awareness of voter registration among 18 to 24-year-olds in London before the May 2006 local government elections. We are currently undertaking an evaluation of the campaign and the results will be available later this year.
Bridget Prentice: In London for the May 2006 local government elections, the Government spent £192,571 on the 1824 Collective campaign which promoted awareness of voter registration among London's urban youth using the creative concept of an urban music collective to appeal to 18 to 24-year-olds.
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to allow pastoral outreach workers assisting alcoholics without families engaged in detoxification programmes to be treated as next-of-kin for health information purposes. 
In the case of those patients who do not have that capacity, healthcare professionals may release such information to pastoral outreach workers where they consider the release would be in the best interests of their patient and that it would be in accordance with the right to respect for private life which is guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights.
These provisions are designed to provide a balance between the protection of the privacy of personal healthcare information and the communication of that information where that is appropriate, whether to pastoral outreach workers or to others.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|