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8 Jan 2008 : Column 430W—continued

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the outcome has been of the examination of individual liability through the review of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, with reference to the statement of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of 16 May 2007, Official Report, column 705, on corporate manslaughter and homicide. [171345]

Mrs. McGuire: I have been asked to reply.

The Government are keeping under review the need for further legislation placing duties on individual directors.

Following its review in 2006, the Health and Safety Commission took steps to strengthen the existing arrangements on directors' responsibilities for health and safety. The Commission will evaluate the impact on directors' behaviour of these steps in the context of wider developments such as the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, and advise Ministers.

Land Registry

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his timetable is for the settlement of the pay award for 2007 for Land Registry staff; for what reasons the settlement has not yet been reached; what the timetable is for the 2008 settlement; and if he will make a statement. [175618]

Mr. Wills: Land Registry made a formal pay offer to the Unions on 21 December and is aiming to pay the award to staff in February 2008.

After the publication of the remit guidance preliminary meetings were held with the Unions to obtain their views on what Land Registry should request in its pay remit. The pay remit was initially submitted to the Treasury on 10 August 2007 and, after correspondence with Treasury officials, was resubmitted on 5 October 2007. Land Registry staff have been kept regularly informed of progress of the
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pay review. Clearance of the pay remit was received from the Treasury on 3 December 2007. Meetings were then held with the Unions on 6 December, 11 December and 19 December.

Until the 2007 pay review is settled, Land Registry will continue to apply the rules agreed for the 2006 pay settlement that ended on 31 May 2007.

Land Registry is not in a position to confirm the timetable for the 2008 pay award. However, the target settlement date remains 1 June 2008 and Land Registry will do its utmost to work with the Unions to reach a conclusion as close to 1 June as possible.

Angela Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average cost to the Land Registry was of processing a land registry search for a domestic property in England for the purposes of a sale in 2006-07. [174019]

Mr. Wills: Land Registry is a trading fund and is required to recover the costs of its operation from fee income, together with a return on average capital employed, currently 3.5 per cent. In 2006-07 Land Registry dealt with 4.38 million official searches in England and Wales. It is not possible to distinguish whether these were on domestic or other types of properties. The estimated cost was £16.25 million, including the return on average capital employed of 3.5 per cent. This gives an average cost of £3.71 per transaction. It is important to note that this information is obtained from sampling exercises and is purely an estimate. Sampling exercises are carried out to inform the required level of Land Registry fees charged to customers. Currently, the fee charged for an Official Search of the Land Register for England and Wales is £3 if the application is made electronically or £6 if made by post or in person. Land Registry does not collect detailed information on resource utilization for non-electronic applications for its statutory land registration services as the administrative cost of doing so would be significant and would have to be passed on to its customers.

Prisoners: Drugs

Nia Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what the highest number was of drug-related offences committed by one individual in the latest period for which figures are available; [174737]

(2) how many offences were drug related, including those not charged but taken into account, in the latest period for which figures are available; [174738]

(3) what proportion of the total number of offences recorded in the last 12 months were drug related. [174740]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

Data collected centrally on recorded crime do not identify whether offences are drug related. We are unable to provide information on drug related offences committed by individuals or those taken into account. The recorded crime statistics do include the number of specific drug offences; there were 194,302 drug offences, in total, recorded in England and Wales in 2006-07.

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Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many claims of discrimination have been made under the Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007 to date. [172327]

Barbara Follett: I have been asked to reply.

We do not hold this data centrally, but to date we are not aware of any claims having been brought.

Voting Rights

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to ensure that 100 per cent. of identifiers of postal votes are checked in election counts for the 2008 local and London elections. [176519]

Bridget Prentice: Returning officers are currently required to check personal identifiers on at least 20 per cent. of returned postal votes at elections though they have discretion to check a higher proportion, or all, of the returned postal votes. The Government have indicated in their response to the Electoral Commission's evaluation report ‘The introduction of absent voting personal identifiers in England and Wales’( that they agree with the Commission that no changes to the legislation for the checking of identifiers at elections should be contemplated for implementation in England and Wales prior to 31 May 2008. It is therefore not planned to mandate 100 per cent. checking of returned postal votes at the elections scheduled for May 2008. The Government are committed to the principle that 100 per cent. of returned postal votes should be checked, and work with the Electoral Commission, electoral administrators and software suppliers in order to establish when it will be appropriate and safe to mandate 100 per cent. checking of returned postal votes.

Young Offenders

David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many first time entrants to the youth justice system there were in 2006-07. [175996]

Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.

Data collected from Youth Offending Teams in England and Wales, and verified by the Youth Justice Board, indicate that there were 93,730 first-time entrants to the criminal justice system during 2006-07.

Work and Pensions

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment was made of the likely responsibilities of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission in determining changes in the numbers of officials employed by the Child Support Agency. [172721]

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Mr. Plaskitt: Current staffing reductions in the Child Support Agency are part of the Department-wide headcount reduction targets, which relate to the period ending in March 2008. They are not linked to the set up of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, and the Commission has no responsibility for these reductions.

Child Support Agency: Payments

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many requests were made for consolatory payments by the Child Support Agency in each year since 1997. [172828]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information requested is unavailable.

Children: Maintenance

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what procedures will be put in place to monitor the private child maintenance arrangements included in the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill. [172722]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission's Information and Support Service will help parents to put in place effective private arrangements by providing information on how to review, renegotiate or re-establish arrangements if they break down. We expect the Commission will provide parents with a template enabling them to calculate, record and agree the terms of their arrangement between themselves. We recognise that maintenance arrangements can last for many years and therefore expect the Commission will also encourage parents to re-contact the Information and Support Service at any point if their arrangement breaks down. Help at this point may include supporting parents across to the statutory maintenance service for a more formal and enforceable arrangement.

We are also committed to evaluating how the objectives of the redesigned system are being met including looking at the numbers of effective voluntary arrangements. This will be through both qualitative and quantitative research as well as the use of surveys such as the Family Resources Survey.

Departmental Equal Opportunities

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to (a) promote age diversity in the workplace and (b) enable older people to gain equal access to training opportunities. [171045]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Since 2000, through our Age Positive initiative, we have been strongly promoting the business benefits of employing older people as part of a mixed age workforce.

Between May 2005 and October 2006 the DWP ran the ‘Be Ready' National Guidance campaign to prepare employers for the introduction of workplace age discrimination legislation on 1 October 2006. The launch commenced with a mailing of basic information to 1.4 million employers. The campaign was designed both to raise awareness of age discrimination
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legislation, and to provide practical guidance to help employers become more age diverse in their employment practices.

The ‘Be Ready' materials were developed with the support and advice of the Age Partnership Group, which consists of leading business and Government bodies including the CBI, TUC, Chambers of Commerce, CIPD, Institute of Directors, DBERR and ACAS. Many of the members and a number of key trade sector organisations worked with us to actively promote the materials through their own employer networks.

Through our Age Positive initiative we are continuing to promote to employers the benefits of employing older people as part of a mixed age workforce and the adoption of flexible work and retirement policies.

Opportunities for older people to learn new skills in a changing labour market are essential. We are working with the Department of Innovation Universities and Skills to consider how older workers can be better supported to stay in work.

There is a wealth of non-age related support already available which can benefit all workers, including older workers, and those seeking to return to the labour market. The level 2 entitlement, Train to Gain, Skills for Life, Information Advice and Guidance, New Deal for Skills and the development of Skills Accounts are all age neutral. Adult learning grant is also available to people over the age of 25. The LSC have allocated a further £16.7 million for adult apprenticeships in 2007-08 and Government will invest £90 million in total over the CSR period to support an additional 30,000 adult apprenticeship places.

Disability Living Allowance: Sight Impaired

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to pay the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance to people with severe sight loss; and if he will make a statement. [176778]

Mrs. McGuire: To qualify for the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance, a person must generally have a physical disablement which renders them unable or virtually unable to walk. I have met with representatives of the Royal National Institute for Blind People on their campaign to extend the higher rate component to certain people with severe sight loss. Officials from the Department are in discussion with the Royal National Institute for the Blind on the details of their proposals and the policy implications.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number and proportion of people who were in temporary work and who were seeking permanent work in each year since 1997. [173893]

Angela Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

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Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 7 January 2008:

Industrial Health and Safety: Influenza

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the obligations on employers under (a) the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and (b) other health and safety legislation to prepare for a potential influenza pandemic; and if he will make a statement. [172768]

Mrs. McGuire: In any influenza pandemic, employers will continue to have obligations under health and safety legislation. That legislation is sufficiently flexible to allow employers to tailor their risk assessments to an emergency situation without the need to disapply or suspend any of their responsibilities. The Heath and Safety Executive's website has information for employers to assist them in the event of a pandemic influenza.

Jobcentre Plus: Stroud

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many benefit recipients who (a) previously signed on at the Dursley Job Centre Plus and (b) are living in the area previously covered by that office now sign on at the Stroud Job Centre Plus office. [171008]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 8 January 2008:

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