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15 May 2007 : Column 680W—continued


Updated information may be obtained directly from local authorities.

Abu Hamza

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice pursuant to the answer of 19 February 2007, Official Report, column 290W, on Abu Hamza, when she expects to be in a position to provide details of claims on the legal aid fund by lawyers acting for Abu Hamza. [136675]


15 May 2007 : Column 681W

Vera Baird: £131,412 has been paid from the legal aid fund so far. However, the full costs are estimated to be £1 million. A Recovery of Defence Costs Order (RDCO) was made against Abu Hamza to pay this back to the Legal Services Commission (LSC).

Administration of Justice: Females

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice when she expects to publish her response to Baroness Corston’s review of women in the criminal justice system. [137481]

Vera Baird: The Government have given a broad welcome to the report. The 43 recommendations which it makes are wide-ranging and propose action by a number of different Government Departments and organisations. We are carefully exploring the
15 May 2007 : Column 682W
recommendations with all the Departments and agencies concerned and will develop a detailed response as soon as possible.

Ballot Papers: Greater London

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice how many and what percentage of ballot papers were spoilt (a) in total and (b) in each Assembly constituency at the last (i) London mayoral and (ii) Greater London Assembly elections; and if she will make a statement. [137057]

Bridget Prentice: The following table shows the number and percentage of the rejected (spoilt) ballot papers at each constituency in the Assembly elections, and the total number for the election of the Mayor of London on 10 June 2004.

London Mayor
London Assembly member: total rejected Constituency Assembly member: t otal rejected 1st choice: t otal rejected 2nd choice: t otal rejected
Constituency Number Percentage Number Percentage Number Percentage Number Percentage

Barnet and Camden

3,204

2.2

7,538

5.3

3,552

2.5

25,917

18.2

Bexley and Bromley

3,207

1.9

5,766

3.5

3,765

2.3

25,987

15.8

Brent and Harrow

3,697

2.9

9,141

7.2

4,334

3.4

26,356

20.9

City and East

5,262

3.6

15,287

10.5

7,321

5.0

30,047

20.6

Croydon and Sutton

3,166

2.2

6,727

4.8

3,675

2.6

22,062

15.6

Ealing and Hillingdon

4,375

2.9

8,715

5.9

4,779

3.2

28,147

19.0

Enfield and Haringey

3,116

2.5

7,953

6.4

3,746

3.0

23,052

18.6

Greenwich and Lewisham

2,712

2.3

6,866

5.9

3,049

2.6

17,633

15.2

Havering and Redbridge

3,638

2.7

7,271

5.3

4,028

2.9

22,554

16.5

Lambeth and Southwark

3,471

2.8

10,248

8.2

3,794

3.0

19,647

15.8

Merton and Wandsworth

3,134

2.4

6,993

5.3

3,425

2.6

21,509

16.4

North East

3,521

2.5

10,698

7.7

4,375

3.1

22,854

16.4

South West

3,018

1.9

6,969

4.5

3,692

2.4

21,957

14.2

West Central

3,105

2.4

8,323

6.7

3,339

2.7

21,383

17.2

Total

48,536

2.5

118,495

6.2

56,874

3

329,105

17.1


Mr. Dismore: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what steps she plans to take to ensure that in preparation for the elections for the London Mayor and Assembly (a) the layout of the ballot paper is improved to reduce the risk of spoilt ballot papers and (b) (i) scrutiny of spoilt papers by counting agents and (ii) decision making by the returning officer and staff is improved; and if she will make a statement. [137058]

Bridget Prentice: The Government have been working closely with the Greater London Returning Officer in the development of the updated rules for the conduct of elections to the GLA. As part of this process, the GLRO has undertaken a detailed study of the design of the ballot papers, including user testing of different possible formats (four for the mayoral election and two for the Assembly). Equally, the work on developing the new GLA elections rules will specifically look at the provisions for counting of votes to maximise transparency of the count process. The GLRO will look at what training and support will need to be provided to each of the constituency returning officers to achieve consistency in the decisions on rejected ballot papers.

Departments: Marketing

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what she expects the cost to be of replacing the (a) signs, (b) stationery, (c) clothing and (d) other items bearing the name or insignia of the Department for Constitutional Affairs. [136470]

Vera Baird: The full costs to replace the (a) signs, (b) stationery, (c) clothing and (d) other items bearing the name or insignia of the Department for Constitutional Affairs have not yet been identified due to the launch of the Ministry of Justice not occurring until 9 May 2007.


15 May 2007 : Column 683W

Electoral Register: Barnet

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what steps she is taking to monitor and improve (a) electoral registration and (b) postal vote registration in Barnet; and if she will make a statement. [137056]

Bridget Prentice: One of the aims of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 (EA Act) was to improve electoral registration. Section 9 of the EA Act sets out the necessary steps that all Electoral Registration Officers must take to maintain the electoral register.

These steps include sending the canvass form more than once to any address, conducting house to house inquiries and making contact by such means as appropriate. Each local authority has adopted an approach that is appropriate to their local circumstances, within the context of the necessary steps.

A later registration date was also available for the May 2007 local elections allowing electors to register up to 11 days before the poll.

Section 67 of the EA Act requires the Electoral Commission to set and monitor performance standards for electoral services and this will also help to monitor and improve electoral registration.

As of 1 December 2006 the number of registered electors in Barnet had increased by 5,580. We have not taken any specific action to improve postal vote registration, as how an elector chooses to vote is a matter of choice for the elector. A person can now apply for a postal vote at the same time as they apply to register to vote. The annual canvass form now includes a tick box for this purpose and the poll card issued to electors also provides information about how to apply for a postal vote. The requirement for the applicant to provide a signature and date of birth is also an improvement to the security of the postal vote process.

Electoral Systems

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice whether the Government have commenced their review of electoral systems in the United Kingdom. [137183]

Bridget Prentice: The review is under way in the Ministry of Justice and commenced after the May 2005 elections.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what the timetable is for the publication of the Government's review of electoral systems in the United Kingdom. [137185]

Bridget Prentice: The review is currently under way in the Ministry of Justice and it is anticipated that the review will be completed within the lifetime of this Parliament. Ministers will take decisions on any next steps, if necessary, after the review is completed.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice how many full-time equivalent civil servants
15 May 2007 : Column 684W
have been allocated to work on the Government's review of electoral systems in the United Kingdom. [137186]

Bridget Prentice: The number of full-time equivalent civil servants working on the review has varied over time. The work is currently allocated to one full-time equivalent civil servant. However work has been spread among a number of people with different levels of resource at different times.

Fines: Victim Support Schemes

Mr. Malins: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what (a) internal accountancy procedures and (b) computer programmes are in place to ensure that surcharge moneys paid by defendants in the criminal courts are kept separate from fines and compensation. [136785]

Ms Harman: When results from cases are input into existing magistrates courts computer systems, financial impositions are split to show the breakdown of compensation, Victims Surcharge, costs and fine. When payments are received this then enables the courts to identify at the end of the month the sum to be paid to a Victims Fund.


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