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16 July 2007 : Column 138W—continued

Palestinians: International Assistance

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he expects the final decision on the terms for the restoration of EU funding to the Palestinian Authority under the Temporary International Mechanism to be made; and when he expects the delivery of aid under the Mechanism to be resumed. [148957]

Mr. Malik: The Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) has continuously provided support since June 2006 to Palestinian Authority employees and to the poorest Palestinians. The Quartet recently extended the TIM until the end of September 2007. On 9 July the European Parliament Commission approved an additional €90 million for payments through the TIM. This will provide sufficient resources to fund TIM payments until the end of September.

On 18 June, European Union Foreign Ministers discussed the resumption of assistance to the PA. They concluded that the EU should urgently develop the conditions for direct practical and financial assistance. The EU is currently discussing with Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad how best to assist the Emergency Government.

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Bedford Prison: Prisoners Release

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners have been released early from HM Prison Bedford in each month since January 2007; and if he will make a statement. [149552]

Mr. Hanson: Under the Criminal Justice Act 1991, those sentenced to determinate sentences of four years or more are eligible for parole halfway through their sentence. If parole is not granted then release occurs at the two-thirds point of the sentence (or at a subsequent parole review if earlier). Numbers of prisoners recommended for parole are shown at table 10.4 of the offender management caseload statistics 2005, a copy of which can be found in the Library. Prisoners sentenced to determinate terms of under four years under the 1991 Act are generally released automatically at the halfway point of their sentence. The Home Detention Curfew scheme (HDC) has been in operation since January 1999. Subject to meeting the eligibility criteria and passing a careful risk assessment, prisoners serving sentences of between three months and less than four years may be released up to four-and-a-half months (135 days) early from prison subject to an electronically monitored curfew normally between 7pm and 7am. Information on the numbers of prisoners released under Home Detention Curfew (HDC), can be found in table 10.3 in the offender management caseload statistics 2005.

The End of Custody Licence was introduced on 29 June 2007. Eligible prisoners serving between four weeks and less than four years may be released under licence from prison up to 18 days before their automatic release date.

Figures on the numbers of releases on Home Detention Curfew from HMP Bedford between January and June 2007 can be found in the following table:

Releases from HMP Bedford on Home Detention Curfew, January to June 2007













Additionally there were 41 releases from HMP Bedford on End of Custody Licence between 29 June and 5 July 2007, and one release on parole from Bedford Prison in June 2007.

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.

Bombings: Compensation

Mr. Ian Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many complaints he has received from hon. Members on the level of compensation offered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to those injured as a result of the bombing of tube trains and a bus on 7 July 2005. [149276]

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Maria Eagle: Victims of the London bombings of 7 July 2005 are eligible for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme on the same basis as victims of other violent crime in Great Britain. Three MPs wrote of their own volition to say that amounts of compensation payable to 7/7 victims should be increased, and a further two wrote in support of constituents' letters saying that the compensation payable following fatal injury was not enough.

Committal Proceedings

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the average cost of an adjourned committal hearing. [147959]

Maria Eagle: The average cost per hour in a magistrates court in 2005-06 was £415 on a full cost basis, including apportionment of central overheads.

While there are other interpretations, this answer is based on that of a Section 6 (1) and Section 6 (2) committal hearing definition. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest these times can vary considerably from one area to another depending on the practices of the Justice’s Clerk.

A section 6(1) committal in which the defence object to being committed to the Crown court (e.g. no case to answer on the papers argued). Then the magistrates court adjourns to a convenient date for the prosecution to prepare their case, to enable the Bench to read the papers and to hear the legal argument at the adjourned hearing. This would probably run to 2 if not 3 hours including the time taken by the magistrates to read the papers and hear the legal argument. The estimated cost for a Section 6(1) committal hearing is between £830 to £1,245.

A section 6(2) committal is where the court decides to commit to the Crown court for trial and there is a 6-week adjournment for the prosecution to prepare their case. This type of committal would last on average 30 minutes. The average cost for a Section 6(2) is £207.50.

Departments: Official Visits

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much was spent on overnight accommodation by civil servants within his Department’s areas of responsibilities in the last 12 months. [149050]

Maria Eagle: It is not possible to list the costs spent on overnight accommodation by civil servants in the last 12 months without incurring disproportionate costs as the expenditure is not separately identifiable within the Department’s accounts.

All official travel by civil servants is undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the “Civil Service Management Code”, a copy of which is also available in the Library of the House for the reference of Members.

Departments: Publicity

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the cost effectiveness of advertising commissioned (a) by his Department and (b) in relation to policy areas for which it is now responsible in the last 12 months. [148510]

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Maria Eagle: Since 9 May when my Department was created we have commissioned advertising for the Camberwell Green Magistrates Court Payback scheme, magistrates recruitment; recruitment to judicial and executive posts; and recruitment to civil service posts within the Department.

Between 6 July 2006 and 9 May 2007, the Department for Constitutional Affairs commissioned advertising to publicise the Operation Payback initiative targeting fine defaulters, and recruitment advertising for magistrates, for judicial office and for executive posts within the civil service.

Response to the Camberwell Community Payback advertisement was monitored and evaluated by the operational team at Camberwell court. The advert achieved the desired response through extensive positive media coverage and this is still ongoing.

On magistrates recruitment, the numbers recruited in 2006-07 exceeded the target for the year. All other advertising has been for recruitment which is evaluated by the number and calibre of applicants successfully filling vacancies.

Each judicial selection exercise has a specifically tailored marketing plan to ensure use of the most appropriate advertising channels which to date has achieved higher numbers and better quality of applicants.

In respect of recruitment to the Senior Civil Service, my department is working with Cabinet Office and a number of other Departments to explore how we can adapt and improve recruitment and achieve cost savings in line with best practice in the market place. This includes a migration to on-line advertising with all vacancies being advertised on the Civil Service Recruitment Gateway and using generic adverts with signposting to enable the Ministry to pool resources and advertise with other Departments in a single advert to reduce use of newspaper space.

Departments: Racial Harassment

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many complaints of racial abuse relating to staff for which his Department is responsible have been (a) investigated and (b) upheld in the last 12 months. [149248]

Maria Eagle: Complaints of racial abuse within my Department are dealt with by a specialist “Dispute Resolution Team”. The Dispute Resolution Team is responsible for appointing two trained investigators, who will investigate the allegations and prepare a report for a Determining Authority. The Discipline Policy lists a breach of the equality and diversity or harassment policies as an example of gross misconduct for which the sanction of dismissal may be considered.

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Due to a small number of complaints it is not possible to give the exact details as this could breach the confidentiality of the persons involved.

In the Prison Service, formal complaints of racial abuse are investigated in accordance with Prison Service Order (PSO) 8460 “Conduct and Discipline” which sets out the procedures for dealing with staff misconduct and contains detailed guidance on the conduct of all types of investigations; and PSO 2800 “Race Equality” which contains policy and guidance on the management of race equality.

Investigation Support Section (ISS) records show that at least 79 formal disciplinary investigations into allegations of a racist nature were commissioned during the 12-month period to 13 July 2007. Of these 79 cases, nine are awaiting completion, 35 investigations have resulted in the complaint being upheld and 35 have resulted in no further action. It is not possible to break the figures down any further as one investigation can involve a complaint being made against more than one member of staff and whilst the initial outcomes are recorded by ISS, details of successful appeals are held locally.

The Ministry of Justice does not tolerate racist behaviour of any nature, including racial abuse. All staff undertake mandatory “Diversity Training” on taking up an appointment with the Ministry of Justice and the “Ministry of Justice News” carries regular items regarding diversity issues. There are several Staff Networks (including PROUD—“People of diverse Racial Origins Uniting the Department”) which hold regular meetings and produce newsletters.

Drugs: Ribble Valley

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people were convicted for drugs-related offences committed in Ribble Valley constituency in each of the last 10 years. [148935]

Maria Eagle: Data on court proceedings held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform are not broken down by constituency area. However, information on the number of persons convicted of drug offences and motoring offences related specifically to drugs, in courts in the Ribble Valley area for the years 1996-2005 are available, and are provided in the table.

It is not possible to identify the number of other offences, for example murders, assaults or robberies which involved defendants who were taking illegal drugs as the court proceedings database does not hold specific information on offences beyond descriptions provided by the statutes under which prosecutions are brought. These detailed circumstances are held only on court files, and are not reported to the Office For Criminal Justice Reform. Information for 2006 will be available in the autumn.

Number of persons found guilty of drug offences and other selected offences involving drugs as a result of proceedings brought in courts in the Ribble Valley area, 1996-2005( 1,2)
Drug offences( 1)
Local criminal justice area 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

South Ribble











Blackburn, Darwen and Ribble Valley











(1) These data are on the principal offence basis.
(2) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the police forces and courts. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

16 July 2007 : Column 143W

Driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle whil e unfit through drink or drugs (impairment)—drugs Road Traffic Act 1988 S.4(1)( 1)
Local c riminal justice area 2004 2005

South Ribble



Blackburn, Darwen and Ribble Valley



(1) Offences of Driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle and being in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle while unfit to drive through drink or drugs (impairment) were split in 2004 to provide separate offences for drink and drugs.

Being in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle while unfit to drive through drink or drugs (impairment)—drugs Road Traffic Act 1988 S.4(2)( 1)
Local c riminal justice area 2004 2005

South Ribble

Blackburn. Darwen and Ribble Valley


(1) Offences of Driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle and being in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle while unfit to drive through drink or drugs (impairment) were split in 2004 to provide separate offences for drink and drugs.

Family Courts

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many applicants to the family courts were referred for (a) mediation, (b) early intervention and (c) reports in public law in the 2006-07 financial year; and at what cost to the public purse. [149750]

Bridget Prentice: The Government believe that mediation can have considerable advantages over going to court in the settling of family disputes, especially where children are involved. There are already 10 in-court referral schemes, where family mediators work together with CAFCASS and the courts to refer appropriate cases for mediation. These have developed locally. The number of referrals is not collected centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost by analysing court files.

In 2005-06 the Legal Services Commission (LSC) funded a total of 14,000 mediation cases for family disputes at a cost of £13.8 million. In about 60 per cent. of publicly funded cases, mediation results in a resolution of all the issues. Figures for 2006-07 will be published shortly and are broadly similar. Provisional figures show the success rate rising to 66 per cent. Expenditure on publicly funded mediation where family proceedings were commenced cannot be identified separately by the LSC.

In terms of early intervention, CAFCASS and CAFCASS Cymru are providing an in-court conciliation service for cases brought under section 8 of the Children Act 1989. These are most commonly applications made to the courts as a result of parental disputes about a contact or residence matter. The service is available in every county court at the first hearing. The Family Court Adviser assists and encourages the parties to reach agreement themselves rather than proceed to a contested hearing and judicial adjudication. Research into various models of in-court conciliation shows that 76 per cent. of parents reported a full or partial agreement. CAFCASS is now piloting earlier conciliation meetings that take place away from court.

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