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Sandra Osborne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what additional funding has been allocated to (a) local authorities in England and (b) Scotland under the Barnett formula for the costs of dealing with Single Status matters. 
Yvette Cooper: No additional funding has been made available in England in the form of grants from central Government specifically for Single Status implementation. All financial pressures on local authorities are taken into account when deciding the financial settlement for local government in spending reviews. Local authorities in England have been given permission to capitalise expenditure on the implementation of Single Status agreements. In 2006-07 the amount capitalised for this purpose was £121.1 million. In 2007-08 capitalisation directions totalling £500 million have been issued to local authorities, but actual use of these directions will be published in summer 2008.
No additional Departmental Expenditure Limit funding has been made available to the Scottish Executive under the Barnett formula, because no additional funding for Single Status implementation was made available to English local authorities. The funding of local authorities in Scotland is a devolved matter within the framework of the UK public expenditure system.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 1054W, on personation, if he will make an assessment of the potential risk of identity theft arising from tax-related correspondence between HM Revenue and Customs and members of the public. 
Jane Kennedy: HMRC utilises a variety of means to both send and receive information to and from its customers. Each of these processes has specific procedures to ensure that customer information is protected securely. Risks are assessed on a regular basis.
Kieran Poynter is conducting an independent review of HMRC's data handling procedures and his interim report was published on 17 December and is available in the Library of the House. He is expected to consider the need for any further procedural changes in his final report which is due in the first half of 2008.
It has always been the aim of the Tax Credit Office to reply to the majority of letters from hon. Members within three weeks. Following the administrative issue I referred to in my statement of 25 July 2007, Official Report, columns 62-63WS, some parts of HMRCs tax credits business have been subject to delays, but HMRC are continuing to make progress to recover that position.
Mr. Pope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of the removal of the 10 per cent. tax band on low income working people who do not qualify for working tax credits; 
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what comparative assessment he has made of the treatment received under the taxation regime by married couples with children and single people without children. 
Jane Kennedy: The principle of independent taxation means each individual has his or her own allowances and income tax rate bands. Levels of financial support in the tax credit system are determined by the level of need, and do not favour any particular household composition.
24. Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of restorative justice programmes in increasing public confidence in the criminal justice system. 
Mr. Hanson: No specific assessment has been made. But research on the Crime Reduction Programme Restorative Justice pilots found, among other things, that victims and offenders who had taken part in the restorative justice conferences were more satisfied than control group participants with how the criminal justice system generally handled their case.
Maria Eagle: Restorative justice, including reparative measures, is an important way of ensuring victims of crime and society in general has increased confidence in our criminal justice system. Many disposals provide for the delivery of this; for example, through financial compensation and unpaid work in the community. Conditional cautions are a relatively new way of doing this5,300 have been issued since April 2005. About four in five include some form of reparation from compensation and apologies to repairing criminal damage. The compliance rate is about 6 per cent. It is up to the courts and prosecutors, as appropriate, to determine the most suitable disposal in each particular case.
17. Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he has taken to ensure that there is no risk to public safety from offenders and defendants accommodated in ClearSprings' bail and accommodation support service. 
Mr. Hanson: The Government have public protection as their highest priority. Sex offenders and others who pose a significant risk are excluded from the ClearSprings service. The courts decide whether a defendant can be bailed into the service. The only sentenced prisoners released into the service are on home detention curfew.
Bridget Prentice: Section 124 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 states that where a grant of probate has been issued in respect of a will, both the grant and the will are open to public inspection unless the court directs otherwise. These documents may be inspected at the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London or at one of the District Probate Registries where the grant was issued. I have no plans to review the law in this area.
19. Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to bring forward proposals to strengthen the protection of personal data held by public authorities; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wills: My Department will launch a consultation early in 2008 on proposals to strengthen the Data Protection Act 1998. This includes measures to enable the Information Commissioner to inspect public sector organisations without prior consent; new penalties for the most serious breaches of the Data Protection Act and proposals for funding the Commissioner's Office to carry out the work.
Mr. Hanson: The Bail Act 1976 gives power to the courts to impose bail conditions to prevent offending on bail. These include exclusion from specified areas, not to approach witnesses or curfew at the home address.
In addition we have provided a number of options for the courts to choose from when imposing conditions. These include tagging to enforce a curfew, bail accommodation, with support, and in certain areas a requirement to undergo a drugs assessment.
Mr. Straw: I am leading cross-party talks, taking forward the outcome of last year's free votes in this House for a wholly- or mainly-elected second Chamber. In due course, the Government intend to publish a White Paper reflecting these talks.
22. Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the conclusions of HM Inspector of Prisons' report on Chelmsford prison on suicides; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hanson: Confidence in community sentences is increasing. A three year PR campaign has raised the profile of community sentences, using innovative ideas such as local radio disc jockeys undertaking community order requirements on air. A new campaign is being launched using TV, internet and print to focus particularly on how effective community sentences can be. In the last 10 years the number of community sentences has increased by 44 per cent.
Maria Eagle: The Government want to work towards making community justice the way in which local justice is provided in all our courts. Therefore, we have set up 13 community justice courts across England and Wales, one of which is in Birmingham, with a view to test the concept fully. The problem solving approach to tackling the causes of offending has shown promise in boosting community confidence in the Criminal Justice System and reducing re-offending.
Bridget Prentice: My Department is committed to reducing its carbon emissions in line with the Sustainable Operations in Government Estate targets. In addition, we have produced our own Sustainable Development Action Plan which clearly defines how the Department will deliver reduced carbon emissions and lead by example.
Mr. Stewart Jackson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many residential units maintained by ClearSprings under the Bail Accommodation and
Support Service there are in Peterborough constituency for (a) individuals on bail, (b) ex offenders and (c) those subject to home detention curfew; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hanson: There are four properties in Peterborough leased by ClearSprings for the Bail Accommodation and Support Service. On 23 January there were two defendants on bail and four offenders released on home detention curfew in these properties. The scheme is available only to those on bail or home detention curfew.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much funding has been allocated to the implementation of the Corston Reports recommendations that have been accepted; and if he will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: The Governments response to the Corston report published on 6 December 2007 highlights where additional funding has already been identified for new initiatives to take forward the recommendations and sets out a number of ways in which provision and services will be improved and made more appropriate for women. We have accepted 40 out of the 43 recommendations and implementation of many of the commitments will be possible within the resources already identified for providing more effective interventions and services for offenders.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the average length of time taken by the Court of Protection to deal with an application in the most recent period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: Since the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) on 1 October 2007 we have received 4,871 applications to the Court of Protection. In the same period the court has issued 3,163 orders although many of these will have been for applications on legacy cases and received prior to 1 October 2007.
Where an application to the court requires an oral hearing the Court of Protection aims to list it to be heard within 15 weeks and all cases received since 1 October are within this target. Where there is no hearing required the Court of Protection aims for customers to have received a direction within 21 weeks and new cases are broadly in line with this target.
These are the maximum time limits and allow for the serving of papers by the parties involved and the submission of their evidence. Cases can be dealt with more speedily than this if these processes do not take the full time allowed for them under the court's rules. However, targets assume that parties will take the full time available to them to serve papers and provide further evidence. There is also a process to allow for interim directions to be made during this period if a judge feels it is appropriate.
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