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6 Feb 2008 : Column 1180W—continued


Local Government Finance

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 13 December 2007, Official Report, columns 898-99W, on local government finance, if she will place in the Library a copy of the demographic change modelling which informed the settlement. [182815]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I have been asked to reply.

The requested information has been placed in the Library.

Political Activities: Fees and Charges

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she (a) has given and (b) plans to give to local authorities on the provision without charge of local authority facilities for political campaigning. [183528]

John Healey: Guidance with regard to the content, style, distribution and cost of local authority publicity is contained in the “Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity”, issued by my Department under Section 4 of the Local Government Act 1986. In particular, the Code stresses that local authorities should not use public funds to mount publicity campaigns to persuade the public to hold a particular view.

Following consultation by my Department last year and the report of the independent Councillors Commission, we intend to consider further the future of the Code with local government stakeholders this year.

Social Services: Finance

Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of each local authority in England’s spending on adult social care (a) in absolute terms and (b) as a proportion of total expenditure in each of the last three years; and what proportion of such expenditure was funded by central Government. [183759]

John Healey: The information about spending on adult social services, in absolute terms and as a proportion of local authority revenue expenditure, in each of the last three years, for England was published for England has been published in Statistical Releases and editions of Local Government Financial Statistics and I have placed a table showing this information for individual local authorities in the Library of the House.

The proportion of expenditure on adult social services funded by central Government is not available.

Justice

Approved Premises: Ribble Valley

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many bail hostels there are in (a) Ribble Valley constituency, (b) Lancashire and (c) England; and what their total capacity is. [185063]

Mr. Hanson: I understand this question to refer to the Bail Accommodation and Support Service. These are not bail hostels. The service provides accommodation in flats and houses with up to five people sharing, and support to users. A list of towns or areas where
6 Feb 2008 : Column 1181W
accommodation is currently provided or is being sought was included in my written answer of 21 January 2008, Official Report, column 1655W. There is no accommodation used by BASS in Ribble Valley and there are no plans to acquire any. Five BASS properties are currently located in Lancashire providing 18 of the 20 bed spaces sought. At present we aim to provide 705 bed spaces in around 150 properties across England and Wales, mostly placing people in the community from which they originate.

If the hon. Member is referring to approved premises, there are none in Ribble Valley, three in Lancashire (60 bed spaces) and 105 across England (2,162 bed spaces).

Circumcisions: Females

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people were successfully prosecuted for carrying out female circumcision in each of the last five years. [184844]

Maria Eagle: In the last five years for which data is available (2002-06) no persons have been proceeded against at magistrates’ courts in England and Wales for offences under the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 or the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (which repealed and replaced the 1985 Act with effect from 3 March 2004).

Departmental Freedom of Information

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what percentage of Freedom of Information requests received by his Department have given rise to responses that have been published by his Department. [180212]

Mr. Straw: My Department adopts a selective disclosure log whereby only information of wider public interest is routinely published. Between January 2005 and September 2007 my Department received around 2,300 freedom of information requests, 89 per cent. of which were answered in time and 2.2 per cent. were published on our disclosure log. This figure includes responses to requests received by the National Offender Management Service and the Office for Criminal Justice Reform since the Ministry of Justice was established in May 2007. It is of course open to the person making the FOI request to make the information received more widely available. I am ready to make arrangements for the hon. Gentleman to view other information released if he so wishes.

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will list the special advisers employed in his Department and its predecessor since 6 May 1997; and what the (a) start and (b) end date of employment was in each case. [184370]

Angela Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

Since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis the names and numbers of special advisers in each pay band. For the most recent information I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 22 November 2007, Official Report, columns 147-150WS.

Information on the employment of special advisers prior to 2003 was provided at regular intervals and is available in the Library of the House.


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Departmental Travel

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how much his Department and its predecessors spent on travel (a) within and (b) outside the UK for officials in each of the last 10 years; and what percentage of his Department’s overall expenditure was spent on such travel in each such year; [181536]

(2) how many overseas visits by officials in his Department took place in each of the last 10 years; which countries were visited; and how much was spent on such visits in each such year. [181600]

Maria Eagle: The spend on travel within and outside the UK for officials in each of the last 10 years is not separately identifiable in the Department’s accounts. The Department’s annual accounts group travel, subsistence, and hospitality in one line, and where it may be possible to separate the travel and subsistence element, to distinguish the travel element from this figure may be provided only at disproportionate costs.

Costs of overseas travel for officials incurred by the Department in the last 10 years are not separately identifiable within the Department’s accounts and may be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The data on how many overseas visits, to which countries, and the related costs are not required to be centrally held. These costs are not separately identifiable within the Department’s accounts and may be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Department has published rules for official travel in its staff handbook, and all travel is undertaken in accordance with the guidelines set out in the “Civil Service Management Code”.

All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the “Ministerial Code” and “Travel by Ministers”, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

The Government’s annual publication about overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers is accessible at:

The list includes details about the number of officials accompanying the Minister when non-scheduled travel is used for the trip. Copies of lists covering information going back to the 1997-98 financial year are available in the Libraries of the House.

Divorce

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to encourage the use of mediation in divorce proceedings not covered by legal aid; and if he will oblige solicitors to offer mediation to respondents entitled to legal aid in such proceedings where the applicant is a private client not so entitled. [184547]

Bridget Prentice: The Government believe that mediation can offer considerable advantages over going to court in the settling of family disputes, especially where children are involved, irrespective of how cases are funded.


6 Feb 2008 : Column 1183W

To encourage the use of mediation, we have established the Family Mediation Helpline and its supporting website. The Helpline telephone number is 0845 60 26 627 and the website address is

We have also sponsored a public awareness campaign and facilitated judicial awareness seminars.

The Government will make changes to court rules and application forms to facilitate referrals to family mediation where the court considers this would be beneficial.

The Children and Adoption Act 2006 when fully implemented will enable the court to direct parties to attend a meeting to learn about mediation in cases where it considers this is appropriate.

In proceedings where one of the clients is in receipt of legal aid, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) pays for an assessment meeting for both the funded client and the privately paying client to enable them to find out about the potential benefits of mediation without incurring costs. If mediation is considered appropriate, the LSC will continue to fund the legally aided client but the privately paying client will pay private rates set by the mediation service. Some services charge on a sliding scale, depending on the client's means.

Mediation by its very nature is a voluntary process and not suitable in all cases, for example where domestic violence is an issue. In both family and civil mediation, parties have to want the process to work in order to reach any agreement.


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The Government want to ensure that everyone involved in family disputes knows about the process of, and the possible advantages of, mediation.

Driving Under Influence: Prosecutions

Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people were prosecuted for drink driving over the Christmas period in each of the last five years. [184720]

Maria Eagle: Data on prosecutions held by my Department do not include the date of offence nor the circumstances behind each one.

Firearms Act 1968: Convictions

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 23 January 2008, Official Report, column 2105W, on the Firearms Act 1968: convictions, what proportion of those found guilty were over the age of 18. [184881]

Maria Eagle: Of the 1,077 convictions for offences under section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 in England and Wales in 2006, 92 per cent. (991 defendants) were aged over 18.

A detailed breakdown of prosecutions and convictions by police force area and age group are provided in the table as follows.


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6 Feb 2008 : Column 1186W
Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for offences under Section 5 of the 1968 Firearms Act, broken down by police force area and age group, England and Wales, 2006 ( 1,2,3)
10 to 17 18 and over All a ges
Police force area Proceeded against Found guilty Proceeded against Found guilty Proceeded against Found guilty

Avon and Somerset

2

2

22

19

24

21

Bedfordshire

6

4

6

4

Cambridgeshire

11

8

11

8

Cheshire

20

16

20

16

City of London

6

1

6

1

Cleveland

8

8

8

8

Cumbria

7

3

7

3

Derbyshire

11

13

11

13

Devon and Cornwall

12

11

12

11

Dorset

8

8

8

8

Durham

7

6

7

6

Essex

3

3

31

23

34

26

Gloucestershire

4

5

4

5

Greater Manchester

5

4

103

90

108

94

Hampshire

1

1

26

23

27

24

Hertfordshire

2

2

22

21

24

23

Humberside

13

11

13

11

Kent

1

27

27

27

28

Lancashire

24

18

24

18

Leicestershire

1

1

17

15

18

16

Lincolnshire

1

1

7

5

8

6

Merseyside

3

2

51

54

54

56

Metropolitan Police

61

43

324

274

385

317

Norfolk

12

9

12

9

North Yorkshire

6

5

6

5

Northamptonshire

2

2

2

2

Northumbria

4

4

39

30

43

34

Nottinghamshire

1

1

27

29

28

30

South Yorkshire

4

4

36

31

40

35

Staffordshire

10

9

10

9

Suffolk

8

8

8

8

Surrey

7

7

7

7

Sussex

1

1

19

14

20

15

Thames Valley

1

1

26

19

27

20

Warwickshire

8

6

8

6

West Mercia

13

11

13

11

West Midlands

8

9

76

69

84

78

West Yorkshire

4

4

41

43

45

47

Wiltshire

1

1

13

6

14

7

Dyfed-Powys

2

1

2

1

Gwent

2

1

9

6

11

7

North Wales

1

15

8

16

8

South Wales

16

15

16

15

England and Wales

106

86

1,152

991

1,258

1,077

(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 courts and police forces.
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.
(3) The found guilty column may exceed these proceeded against, as it may be the case that the proceedings in the magistrates court took place in the preceding year and they were found guilty at the Crown court in following year, or the defendants was found guilty for a different offence to the original offence proceeded against.

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