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Electoral Registration

Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much funding was allocated to each local authority area for registration of electors in 2006-07. [112136]

Bridget Prentice: In addition, to funding already provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government in order for local authorities to perform registration activities, additional funding has been provided in light of the new obligations introduced under the Electoral Administration Act 2006, of which registration of electors is one.

£19.9 million has been transferred to English Local Authorities in 2006-07 and £1.2 million will be transferred to the National Assembly for Wales in 2006-07. The same sums will be transferred in 2007-08. In addition, up to £12.2 million for the new absent vote personal identifier arrangements will be provided over 2006-07 and 2007-08. The exact sum will depend on the number of electors on absent voter lists on 1 January 2007 and on postal voting volumes on 3 May 2007.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will introduce elsewhere in the UK individual electoral registration as adopted in Northern Ireland. [112170]

Bridget Prentice: The Government have no plans to introduce individual registration in the rest of the UK.


Mr. Clegg: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many and what percentage of fines issued by courts were unpaid in each of the last five years, broken down by the category of offence for which they were issued. [112321]

Ms Harman: Information on fines imposed and collected is provided by the 42 HMCS court areas in England and Wales. The current payment rate for financial impositions for the 2006-07 year-to-date (April-November) is 90 per cent., against a target of 83 per cent. The following table shows the payment rate for the last five years.

Data are collected on the value of financial penalties (including fines) imposed and outstanding. Figures relating to categories of offence are not held centrally and could be made available only at disproportionate cost.

Financial year Fine payment rate—England and Wales (Percentage)













2006-07 year-to-date (April-November)


Payment rate = amount paid divided by new net amount owed

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The primary performance indicator is the payment rate. It is defined as the amount paid into court as a percentage of the new net amount owed. Methods of calculating the new net amounts owed have changed a number of times and are detailed as follows:

From April 2003 onwards, confiscation and civil amounts have not been included in any of the enforcement calculations. It is not possible to separate those elements out from the figures before that date. As a result of these revisions, direct year-on-year comparisons cannot be made.

Libra IT Project

John McDonnell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the cost has been of the Libra IT project. [117457]

Vera Baird: Expenditure on IT within my Department is contained within separate contracts that support strategic business change programmes across the Department. The Libra contracts include the provision of IT infrastructure and office automation for all magistrates courts and delivery of a national case management system.

Details of expenditure under the Libra contracts are as follows:

£ million













Magistrates Court Appearance

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what estimate she has made of costs arising from the non-appearance of defendants in magistrates courts in 2006-07. [112040]

Ms Harman: The Government do not have a precise estimate of costs arising from defendant non-attendance in magistrates courts. The Government are committed to improving defendant attendance at court and ensuring those who do fail to attend are brought back to court as quickly as possible and dealt with robustly. By the end of 2006, the proportion of trials failing to complete due to defendant non-attendance had fallen from 5.6 per cent. to 2.2 per cent. since 2002-03.

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Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps she is taking to reduce the incidence of defendants failing to attend magistrates court hearings. [112400]

Ms Harman: Through the National Criminal Justice Board (NCJB) and local Criminal Justice Boards the criminal justice system is pursuing a strategy to address non attendance at court in three ways: improving defendant's first-time compliance with bail, improving the enforcement of failure-to-appear warrants, and dealing robustly with Bail Act offences.

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the (a) destination and (b) cost to the public purse was of each of the foreign trips undertaken by junior Ministers in her Department in the 2005-06 financial year. [114008]

Ms Harman: Junior Ministers at the Department undertook trips to the following foreign destinations during the last financial year:

To find the cost of these trips would incur disproportionate costs as this information is not held centrally.

Open Source Software

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what percentage of her Department's computer systems use open source software; what percentage of the systems planned to be installed use such software; and whether she plans to increase the use of open source software in her Department. [111165]

Ms Harman: Open source software is used in my Department alongside other non-open source software on a range of different technology platforms, and it is not possible to calculate the percentages attributable to each type of software.

My Department will continue to consider open source solutions on an overall value for money basis in accordance with the Government's 2004 policy statement.

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Bus Travel

13. Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what responses he has had to his proposals for a modernised framework for bus services. [112067]

Gillian Merron: We are greatly encouraged by the response to the Government's proposals for a modernised framework for improving bus services. They have been widely welcomed by bus operators, users and local authorities alike, with whom we are working closely to take forward the proposals, in preparation for the draft Road Transport Bill.

Road Traffic Accidents

14. Mr. Neil Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to improve the clearing of motorways and trunk roads after accidents. [112068]

Dr. Ladyman: Measures have been taken to improve clearance of motorways and trunk roads following incidents by deploying traffic officers and incident support units across the network on a 24/7 basis.

Deregulated Bus Services

15. Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of passenger satisfaction with deregulated bus services. [112069]

Gillian Merron: The Department for Transport has conducted a bus passenger satisfaction survey in England outside London every quarter since 2000-01. The average rating for overall service in 2005-06 is 83 out of 100.

Rail Franchise Agreements

16. Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will provide for new rail franchise agreements to include a requirement for a maximum time a rail commuter should expect to stand without having access to a seat. [112070]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Government recognise the pressures now faced by many passengers at the busiest times on the busiest routes into work.

This is why, in all franchises we let, we set a target that standing should not exceed 20 minutes and that peak capacity should meet demand. The recently let First Capital Connect and South Western Trains franchises contain commitments to increase capacity.

We recognise that demand for rail has increased markedly in the past decade and this summer, for the first time, the Government will publish a fully funded strategy to buy extra capacity where it is most needed.

First Great Western

17. Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to improve reliability and service provision on First Great Western railways. [112071]

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Mr. Tom Harris: First Great Western has acknowledged that service provision has suffered because it underestimated passenger demand. It has already taken steps to restore capacity in some areas and expects the position to improve further in the coming weeks. Performance issues are the subject of action plans between the company and Network Rail which are monitored monthly.

A1: Nottinghamshire

18. John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the A1 in Nottinghamshire to be fully dualled. [112072]

Dr. Ladyman: The A1 in Nottinghamshire has been dualled since the mid 1960's. Work to improve safety and ease congestion at the A1 junctions near Blyth, Apleyhead and Markham Moor started in September 2006 and is expected to be complete by August 2008.

Public Transport Links

19. Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he plans to take to improve public transport links between Merseyside, Cheshire and north east Wales. [112073]

Gillian Merron: We recognise the importance of good transport links for economic and social regeneration and for improving access to jobs and key services. The Government support long-term and sustained investment in public transport schemes in England through the Local Transport Plans. The Merseyside, Halton and Cheshire Local Transport Plans highlight the joint working they have been undertaking with neighbouring Welsh authorities and we encourage them to continue that.

Railway Timetables

20. Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to encourage improvements in the railway timetable to improve connecting services. [112074]

Mr. Tom Harris: Rail franchise contracts let by the Department for Transport will, where appropriate, seek to retain and improve the opportunities for connecting services.

The specific detail in the timetable is a matter for the Train Operating Companies and Network Rail who work together to deliver an optimum timetable.

Rail Freight

Chris Mole: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his estimate is of the change in the volume of freight carried by rail since 1997. [112059]

Mr. Tom Harris: The amount of freight moved by rail increased from 15.1 to 22.11 billion net tonne kilometres between 1996-97 and 2005-06. This represents an increase of 46.4 per cent.

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Airport Security

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what additional security arrangements have been put in place at airports since August 2006. [112055]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: New aviation security measures which have been implemented at UK airports in light of August's security alert include the controls on liquids and the limit on the number and maximum size of cabin bags. Other new measures which have been implemented since August are not visible to passengers.

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