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19 Jun 2007 : Column 1708W—continued


Vocational Guidance

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to require all publicly-funded providers of post 16 learning, other than universities, to put in place a programme of careers education. [143121]

Mr. Dhanda: We have no plans to place a statutory duty on providers of post 16 learning to provide a programme of careers education.

Justice

Voting Age

25.Tom Brake: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what representations she has received since 2005 on lowering the voting age for elections in the UK. [143371]

Bridget Prentice: I have received a number of representations since 2005. These have included approximately 36 letters that were mainly from young people, nine letters from Members of Parliament and four Parliamentary Questions.

Children’s Panel Solicitors

26. John Mann: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice how many children’s panel solicitors there are in Nottinghamshire; and how many there were three years ago. [143372]

Vera Baird: The Law Society has informed me that there are 36 solicitors currently registered on the children’s panel in Nottinghamshire. However they do not hold historical data on specific regions.

Departmental Responsibilities

27. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what matters concerning the establishment and operation of the Ministry of Justice remain under discussion between her Department and members of the senior judiciary. [143373]

28. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice if she will make a statement on her Department’s working group with the senior judiciary on recent reorganisation of government departmental responsibilities. [143374]

Ms Harman: Discussions between the judiciary and the Lord Chancellor and officials in the Ministry of Justice are ongoing.


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Postal Votes

29. Mr. Allen: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what provisions are being made to ensure that all those eligible who wish to do so are able to vote via postal voting. [143375]

Bridget Prentice: In 2001, postal voting on demand was introduced to encourage greater participation in the electoral process, by allowing electors to vote using a method that is convenient for them.

The Government continue to believe, given today’s lifestyles and its popularity, that people should continue to have the choice of a postal vote available to them. However, the Government also recognises that the integrity of the electoral process must be maintained, and to that end, has introduced new security measures through the Electoral Administration Act 2006 and Regulations, including the introduction of personal identifiers for absent voters.

Court Staff: Regional Pay Rates

30. Mr. Illsley: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice if she will make a statement on the introduction of regional pay rates for court staff. [143377]

Ms Harman: Regional pay is a reality in the economy as a whole-pay variations by location are not new. The system we are introducing offers greater coherence, greater transparency and enables us to target public money most effectively on those areas where there is greatest need. It will allow us to offer competitive salaries to attract and retain staff with the skills we need, where we need them.

Prisons: Treatment Provision

31. Stephen Hammond: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what steps she is taking to increase provision for treatment in prisons. [143378]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Investment in prison health care has increased significantly from £118 million in 2002-03 to £200 million in 2006-07. This includes £20 million specifically available for mental health in-reach services each year from 2006-07. In 2007-08 the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and the Department of Health are jointly investing £18.7 million in the introduction of the integrated drug treatment system (IDTS) in prisons.

Prison Swimming Pools

32. Mark Pritchard: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what the running costs are of maintaining swimming pools in prisons in England and Wales; and if she will make a statement. [143379]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer on 5 June 2007, Official Report, column 387W.


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Legal Services Bill

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what assessment she has made of the likely impact of the Legal Services Bill, if enacted, on the right to practise of British lawyers (a) in Germany, (b) in other European jurisdictions and (c) outside Europe. [143165]

Bridget Prentice: Sir David Clementi considered the impact of his proposals, which form the basis of the Legal Services Bill, on the right of British lawyers to practise in other jurisdictions. Appendix 2 of his Report of December 2004, contained a legal opinion from Slaughter and May which concluded that:

Throughout the development of our proposals, we have consistently taken account of the international position, and remain confident that while the proposals in the Legal Services Bill are likely to increase the competitiveness of the legal services industry of England and Wales, they will also safeguard and strengthen its independence.

The only opposing evidence we have identified came from Bundesrechtsanw√§ltskammer or BRAK—which is the self-regulatory body of the German legal profession and acts as the umbrella organisation which represents the 27 regional Bars and the Bar at the Federal Court of Justice. BRAK did make representations both to the Joint Committee on the draft legal Services Bill and to Lord Neill of Bladen who debated some of the issues raised by BRAK during Lords passage of the Bill.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what representations she has received on the impact of the Legal Services Bill on the right to practise of British lawyers (a) in Germany, (b) in other European jurisdictions and (c) outside Europe. [142623]

Bridget Prentice: I have received no representations from bodies which are responsible for the recognition or regulation of legal professions in other jurisdictions about the impact of the right of British lawyers to practise as a result of the Legal Services Bill. However, I am aware that the Bundesrechtsanw√§ltskammer or BRAK—which is the self-regulatory body of the German legal profession and acts as the umbrella organisation which represents the 27 regional bars and the bar at the Federal Court of Justice—did make representations both to the Joint Committee on the Draft legal Services Bill and to Lord Neill of Bladen who debated some of the issues raised by BRAK during Lords passage of the Bill.

Of particular relevance in this context, appendix 2 of Sir David Clementi’s report of December 2004 contained an opinion from Slaughter and May, which concluded that:


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Children: Abuse

John Battle: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what plans she has to bring forward proposals to make the (a) creation and (b) possession of (i) cartoon and (ii) computer generated graphic images of the sexual abuse of children a criminal offence. [143675]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Government are consulting on the issues raised in respect of the possession of non-photographic visual depictions of child sexual abuse, including the option of creating a new offence of possession of such material. The consultation period ends on the 22 June 2007. The Government will publish a summary of responses and its conclusions.

Crime: Greater London

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (1) how many crimes (a) were and (b) are alleged to have been committed in the Metropolitan Police District by offenders convicted of child abuse and wearing electronic tags in each London borough in each year since their introduction; [142624]

(2) how many crimes were (a) committed and (b) alleged to have been committed in the Metropolitan Police District by offenders wearing electronic tags in each London borough in each year since their introduction; [142625]

(3) how many offenders convicted of child abuse (a) re-offended and (b) are alleged to have re-offended in the Metropolitan Police District while wearing electronic tags in each London borough in each year since their introduction; [142627]

(4) how many offenders (a) re-offended and (b) are alleged to have re-offended in the Metropolitan Police District while wearing electronic tags in each London borough in each year since their introduction. [142628]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Data on re-offending committed by offenders wearing electronic tags are only collated centrally for those offenders released on to the Home Detention Curfew Scheme. However, the data are not broken down by the offender’s original offence or by the local government area in which any subsequent offence was committed. To provide such information would involve a manual trawl of the data and would incur disproportionate cost.

Serious violent offenders and all sexual offenders are either statutorily excluded or are presumed unsuitable for release on HDC. In addition, prisoners convicted of other serious offences considered to be of particular concern to the public are also presumed unsuitable for release on HDC unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Crime: Schools

Mr. Watson: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of safer schools partnerships in reducing crime in schools. [143210]

Bridget Prentice: A University of York evaluation published in January 2006 showed that Safer School Partnerships (SSPs) are proving effective in improving
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behaviour and attendance, with truancy falling significantly and pupils feeling much safer. Unfortunately this evaluation was not able to measure any changes in offending because the appropriate data were not held. However, positive feedback on changes in behaviour and offending has also been received from many police officers, teachers and other local agencies that have been involved in SSPs.

Departments: Consultants

Mr. Carswell: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice how much the Department for Constitutional Affairs spent on consultancy and professional services in 2006-07. [143369]

Vera Baird: Expenditure by the Department for Constitutional Affairs to 30 November 2006 was £7.8 million on consultancy and £12.4 million on other professional services. Figures for the full year are currently being collated and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as they are available.

Industrial Health and Safety: Coroners

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what steps she has taken to ensure that health and safety regulations requiring employers to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to health and safety to which employees are exposed while at work have been carried out by those responsible for coroners and coroners’ officers. [144099]

Ms Harman: Coroners are appointed and funded by the relevant local authority. Their officers are employed by the relevant local authority or police authority. The issue of the health and safety in coroner’s offices is a matter for the relevant local authorities and police authorities.

Legal Services Board: Public Appointments

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what representations the Government have received from consumers of legal services on the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice in appointments of members to the proposed Legal Services Board. [142329]

Bridget Prentice: We have discussed the issue of the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice in appointments of members of the Legal Services Board with the Secretary of State’s Consumer Advisory Panel, established to advise on the Ministry’s programme of reform of legal services regulation and delivery. The panel’s view was that peers’ amendments to require the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice in appointments to and dismissals from the board should be overturned.

We have also had a number of separate meetings with a broad range of consumer organisations during the passage of the Legal Services Bill. The issue of concurrence has been discussed at several of those meetings and all such organisations were opposed to the amendments made in the House of Lords on Lord Chief Justice concurrence.


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Life Imprisonment: North West Region

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what the profiled maximum number of prisoners with sentences of indeterminate imprisonment for public protection (IPP) and life sentences is in each prison in the North West Region; and what the number of IPP and life sentenced prisoners is in each of those prisons on the most recent date for which figures are available. [142457]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Information on the numbers of prisoners sentenced to life or indeterminate sentences for public protection held in prison establishments in the North West prison region in England can be found in the following table:

Life/IPP population in prisons in NW region( 1)
Establishments in the NW region with IPP/Life population Rounded IPP/Life population figures

Total

1,000

Altcourse

70

Buckley Hall

20

Forest Bank

40

Garth

250

Hindley

30

Haverigg

20

Kirkham

30

Lancaster

0

Lancaster Farms

30

Liverpool

120

Manchester

180

Preston

50

Risley

60

Styal

30

Wymott

60

(1) Extract taken on 30 April 2007.
Note: These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

The issue of what is acceptable as the maximum number of such prisoners held in prison establishments against the available resources for their treatment and training is currently the subject of court action in the form of a judicial review to be heard on 22 June and in these circumstances it would not be appropriate for me now to make a statement on this part of the question.


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