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Departments: Databases

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make a statement on the Government’s plans to increase data-sharing across Government; and whether the Government plans to amend (a) the Data Protection Act 1998 and (b) other legislation to facilitate this. [158190]

Mr. Wills: As part of the Government’s Service Transformation Agreement the Ministry of Justice will lead a cross-government programme to deliver a package of measures over the next three to five years to tackle crime and terrorism, improve personalised public services, increase public safety and tackle social exclusion through information-sharing while maintaining openness and respect for citizens’ privacy and access rights. No legislative changes are being considered at this stage.

Departments: Freedom of Information

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidance his Department and its predecessor have issued on time limits on the right to request an internal review of a response to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [158198]

Mr. Wills: Guidance on the discharge of public authorities’ functions is provided in a code of practice under section 45 of the Act, which is laid before Parliament by the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor. This guidance sets the procedure for dealing with complaints, referred to as internal reviews. Any request for an internal review must be dealt with in accordance with the code of practice. It contains no specific guidance on time limits for requesters to ask for internal reviews. In response to FOI requests received by the Ministry of Justice, the requester is informed via a letter that they may ask for an internal review within two calendar months from the date of that letter. This is consistent with the time limit set out in the Environmental Information Regulations under Regulation 11(2) of 40 days to issue a complaint. Public authorities are free to decide, on a case by case basis, whether they will carry out an internal review requested after this period has elapsed.

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Elections: ICT

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans his Department has (a) to hold further remote electronic voting pilots, (b) to hold further electronic counting pilots and (c) to extend the use of electronic voting to mainstream elections. [158200]

Mr. Wills: In the Governance of Britain Green Paper the Government set out a long-term aim to investigate the potential benefits of remote electronic voting and to take advantage of emerging communication technologies to provide increased flexibility and choice in the way people vote.

The outcomes of the May 2007 electoral pilot schemes and the subsequent recommendations of the Electoral Commission are currently being considered. I expect to be able to set out our thinking on future piloting involving remote electronic voting and electronic counting pilots in the near future.

The Government currently have no plans to extend the use of e-voting. The Government believe that piloting innovations in e-voting and e-counting have been important in order to test the potential benefits, and establish the evidential basis for future decisions to be taken on whether or not electronic voting could be used more widely in elections.

Electronic Conveyancing

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the expected timetable is for the full implementation of electronic conveyancing by the Land Registry. [158199]

Mr. Wills: The latest revision of Land Registry's business case for the electronic conveyancing programme estimates that the programme of work will be fully implemented in 2014-15. The programme's implementation plan is constantly reviewed and updated to ensure that each new service and product is fully tested and that customer feedback is taken on board.

Fraud: Mortgages

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many cases of fraudulent registration in the Land Registry of ownership of another person’s property and associated mortgage fraud occurred in each of the last three years. [158304]

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Mr. Wills: It is not known how many applications have been made to Land Registry in each of the last three years that have resulted in a fraudulent registration, whether in respect of the ownership of land or of a mortgage on land. This is because, firstly, there may be cases that have not come to light, and, secondly, Land Registry does not presently keep a central record of all frauds that affect the register of title. Land Registry does keep a central record of all cases where it pays statutory compensation, including those which result from fraud. It is also in the process of developing a more comprehensive method of recording fraud, whether or not it results in the payment of compensation.

Any owner of land who suffers loss as a result of the registration of a forged transfer or mortgage through no fault of their own is entitled to be compensated for that loss by Land Registry.

Land Registry paid statutory compensation as a result of fraud on a total of 15 claims in 2004-05, 31 claims in 2005-06 and 24 claims in 2006-07. To put this into context, there are currently more than 21 million registered titles and, in each of the last three years, Land Registry received around 4 million applications to register transfers for value and mortgages.

General Elections

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what contingency preparations his Department made for the possibility of a general election being held in autumn 2007; and what the costs were of those preparations. [157052]

Bridget Prentice: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 15 October 2007, Official Report, columns 822-23W.

Housing: Prices

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average price was for a (a) residential property, (b) detached house, (c) semi-detached house, (d) terraced house and (e) maisonette/flat in each year in England since 1991 according to Land Registry data. [158140]

Mr. Wills: Land Registry began collating this data in 1995. Information prior to this is not available. The following table provides the requested data from 1995 to present.

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England average prices and volumes of sales 1995 to Q2 2007
Detached Semi-detached Terraced Flat/maisonette Overall average


Annual 1995






Annual 1996






Annual 1997






Annual 1998






Annual 1999






Annual 2000






Annual 2001






Annual 2002






Annual 2003






Annual 2004






Annual 2005






All regions

Annual 2006







Q1 2007






Q2 2007






Land Registry

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average price derived from Land Registry data was in each local authority area in England and Wales for (a) all homes, (b) flats/maisonettes, (c) detached homes and (d) semi-detached homes in the most recent period for which figures are available. [158270]

Mr. Wills: The latest available figures from Land Registry cover the period from April to June 2007 and can be found in the Libraries of the House.

Land Registry: Internet

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many properties are recorded by the Land Registry but not accessible on Land Registry Online. [158201]

Mr. Wills: All registered titles in England and Wales are publicly accessible via ‘Land Register Online’.

Land Registry: Revenue and Customs

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what access (a) HM Revenue and Customs and (b) the Valuation Office Agency have to the Land Registry land database for valuation or taxation purposes. [158193]

Mr. Wills: HM Revenue and Customs and the Valuation Office Agency have no automatic access to Land Registry's land database other than that which is available to business users of the electronic service ‘Land Registry Direct’.

Land: Registration

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment the Land Registry has made of the number of properties or items of land which are not recorded by the Land Registry. [158139]

Mr. Wills: At the end of September 2007, 61.7 per cent. of the freehold land area of England and Wales was registered with Land Registry representing just over 21 million registered titles. Land Registry estimates that the remaining 38.3 per cent. of the land area will generate around 4.5 million freehold first registrations.

Legal Aid

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what assessment his Department has made of the impact of fixed legal aid fees upon not-for-profit legal aid providers; [158221]

(2) what research his Department has undertaken into the effects of the Government’s legal aid reform plans upon different regions and areas of the country; if he will publish such research; and if he will make a statement; [158222]

(3) what assessment he has made of the effects of the Government’s legal aid reform plans upon (a) clients with severe mental health problems, (b) black and minority ethnic clients, (c) disabled clients, (d) clients with housing problems and (e) clients involved in complex children and family cases who use legal aid. [158225]

Maria Eagle: Each new fee scheme published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) has been accompanied by an impact assessment. These are available on the LSC’s website, and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Within the next few weeks, the LSC also intends to publish a combined cumulative impact assessment of the legal aid reform programme to date, including those changes due for implementation in January.

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what further plans he has to meet representatives of the legal profession and other organisations with an interest or involvement in the delivery of legal aid to discuss the future direction of the Government’s legal aid reform plans. [158269]

Maria Eagle: My noble Friend the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, has met a wide range of representatives from the legal profession and others with an interest in legal aid since he became the responsible Minister. He will continue to do so over the coming months to discuss the future direction of legal aid following completion of the introduction of the new fee schemes.

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