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Anne Milton: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what average payment has been made to claimants in successful cases heard by small claims courts where the claimant (a) had legal representation and (b) had no legal representation in each year since 1997. 
Ms Harman: Information on the average payment made to claimants on successful cases heard by small claims courts is not collected since payment will often be made between the parties without the court having been informed. The following table gives information on the average level of award in cases where the claimant (a) had legal representation and (b) had no legal representation in each year since 1997, drawn from a sample collected from 29 county courts during the months of February, July and November each year and aggregated to provide national figures.
|Small claims procedures|
|Number of claims made where claimant was represented by a solicitor||Average size of award for claims using a solicitor (£)||Number of claims made by the claimant in person||Average size of award for claims made by claimant in person (£)|
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many cases
have been heard by small claims courts where (a) claimants had legal representation and (b) claimants had no legal representation in each year since 1997. 
Ms Harman: Information on the number of cases that have been heard by small claims courts where (a) claimants had legal representation and (b) claimants had no legal representation in each year since 1997 is contained in the following table. The data are derived from case samples collected from 29 county courts during the months of February, July and November each year, which has then been aggregated to provide national figures.
|Number of claims||Represented by a Solicitor||Claimant in person|
David Tredinnick: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what progress the Government have made with their plan for consultation on alternative options for dealing with the small claims limit. 
Vera Baird: The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has an important role in the social exclusion agenda. We are promoting the benefits of good early advice services for those most in need. Evidence shows that this can prevent relatively simple civil legal issues spiralling into more complex problems. We are also encouraging closer working across Whitehall. Our role is crosscutting in highlighting the worth of advice services to Government colleagues. DCA is also the facilitating Department for other Government Departments that require a final remedy to be decided upon by a court or tribunal.
Specialisation and innovation in the courts system is also relevant. We are looking at both preventing crime through community justice initiatives, and re-integrating offenders into society. The Community Justice Centre in North Liverpool is spearheading such an approach.
Another main area of influence is the role of family courts. The recent Review of the Child Care Proceedings System in England and Wales (produced jointly with DfES) aims to achieve better lives for children and their families by improving the care proceedings system and eliminating unnecessary delay in care cases, while ensuring that the process remains a fair one. The DCA is also a key player on the Domestic Violence Inter-Ministerial Group. There are currently 25 Specialist Domestic Violence (DV) courts. A bidding process is currently under way to establish a second tranche of these courts by 1 April 2007.
Vera Baird: Good, early advice services can prevent relatively simple civil legal issues developing into more complex and numerous problems. This is evidenced by the recent Legal Services Research Centres Causes of Action publication, which also highlights the tendency for inter-related problems to develop around a key theme (broadly around family, homelessness and economic clusters). The Legal Services Commissions new Community Legal Service Strategy is informed by this research, and proposes that newly created Community Legal Advice Centres are located in areas of high deprivation in order to target the most vulnerable. My Departments recent Getting earlier, better advice to vulnerable people document underlines the need for ensuring advice is people focussed, with problems not being considered in isolation. It also highlights the importance of getting advice right first time, and ensuring more effective referral networks are in place so that people get the service they need regardless of their point of access to the system.
Vera Baird: As part of its role in delivering legal aid, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) considers the need for its services to help prevent social exclusion. The LSC can play its part by ensuring that services are better co-ordinated, focussed and effective, and that acts of advice/assistance increase. The new Community Legal Service (CLS) Strategy proposes that Community Legal Advice Centres (CLACs) are located in areas of high deprivation in order to target the most vulnerable. In less densely populated areas Community Legal Advice Networks (CLANs) will ensure that clients are able to access a range of high quality advice services regardless of their geographic location. Community Legal Service Direct also allows easy access for clients. The new CLS Strategy, in proposing that CLACs and CLANs will cover all five areas of social welfare law (Community Care, Housing, Debt, Employment and Welfare Benefits), will further promote social inclusion.
Ms Harman: I met with Mary Williams, the chief executive of Brake, on 3 May 2006 and discussed whether victims advocates should be extended to include deaths caused by driving offences. I also have regular discussions about the progress of the pilots with key stakeholders, in the pilot areas. No decisions will be taken about the future of the victims advocates scheme until we have assessed the success of the pilots.
Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British officials are serving with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan; and what their objective is. 
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what recent assessment she has made of the impact on Christians of the use of blasphemy laws in Pakistan; and what recent representations she has made on religious freedom in Pakistan; 
Working with our EU partners, we raise our human rights concerns with the Government of Pakistan through regular démarches, as well as bilateral lobbying. The most recent demarche was presented to the Government of Pakistan in June 2006. In the démarche we reiterated our concerns over the abuses of
the blasphemy laws and renewed our requests for the Government of Pakistan to repeal or modify them, to remove the possibility of the law being misused against minority communities.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of reports of (a) violence and (b) infringements of freedom of religion against Christians in Pakistan. 
Dr. Howells: There continues to be incidents of violence against Christians in Pakistan, although the Government in Pakistan is quick to condemn them. I raised the situation of Christians during my meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, on 7 March, asking him to take action to protect religious minorities in Pakistan.
We condemn instances where individuals are persecuted because of their faith whenever it happens and whatever religion of the individual or group concerned. We make regular representations to the Government of Pakistan on this issue, both through bilateral lobbying and working with our EU partners. This was last raised through an EU démarche in June 2006.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made since January on behalf of Younis Masih, on trial for blasphemy in Lahore, Pakistan. 
Dr. Howells: We have not made any representations on this case since January. We continue to lobby, both bilaterally and as part of the EU, on minority issues in Pakistan, to remove the possibility of the law being misused against minority communities. In June 2006, an EU démarche on human rights was delivered to the Government of Pakistan, which reiterated our concerns over the abuses of the blasphemy laws and renewed our requests to repeal or modify them.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Cunningham) of 28 June 2006, Official Report, column 439W, on Palestine, which parts of the Quartet aid mechanism to the Palestinians are expected to begin to deliver support in July; and if she will make a statement. 
Emergency support through the temporary international mechanism has already begun to reach the occupied Palestinian territories. On 11 July, the European Community began providing fuel for emergency generators for hospitals in Gaza. This will enable essential health services to continue after electricity supplies were affected by recent damage to the Gaza power station. We expect that further assistance to health services throughout the West Bank and Gaza will begin during July.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the likelihood of recent events in Gaza (a)
delaying and (b) otherwise affecting the launch of the Quartet aid mechanism to the Palestinians; and if she will make a statement. 
The UK Government are deeply concerned at the increased violence between Israel and the Palestinians. We continue to urge both parties to act with restraint and to end the current cycle of violence. The case for the temporary international mechanism is strengthened by the worsening humanitarian situation. The mechanism has already provided emergency fuel supplies to generators at Gaza hospitals, keeping vital services going. Other assistance to continue health services is expected to begin shortly.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries have (a) made and (b) undertaken to make contributions to the temporary international mechanism to provide assistance to the Palestinian people; and if she will make a statement. 
The temporary international mechanism is open to any donor that wishes to contribute. The European Community has committed €105 million. DFID intends to provide up to £12 million through the mechanism. We are aware that several European countries are considering contributions, but any announcement will be for them to make.
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