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28 Apr 2008 : Column 119W—continued

Children: Maintenance

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he expects the European Union to ratify the Hague Maintenance Convention. [201973]

Bridget Prentice: The 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other Forms of Family Maintenance will be ratified by the European Union on behalf of all member states. The European Union has not yet indicated when they expect to be able to do this.

Work is being taken forward on this ratification in tandem with the negotiation of a new EU regulation on maintenance.

Coroners: Mesothelioma

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidance is issued on the procedure to be followed in coroners’ inquiries following a death from mesothelioma. [201448]

Bridget Prentice: In February this year, the Coroners’ Society circulated best practice suggestions on mesothelioma investigations in England and Wales to all coroners and made the suggestions available on its website. The best practice suggestions were produced by the British Lung Foundation with the support of the Coroners’ Society and my Department.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will bring forward legislative proposals to require (a) a specific authority to train police staff in areas where inquiries are conducted by police staff following a death from mesothelioma and (b) registered medical practitioners to compile medical evidence prior to a death from mesothelioma which can later be used in a coroners’ inquiry. [201456]

Bridget Prentice: The Government’s intention are to introduce a Coroners Bill when parliamentary time allows. One of the key aims of the Bill is to deliver an improved service for all bereaved people, including those bereaved as a result of mesothelioma. The Coroners Bill will establish the post of chief coroner who will be responsible, among other things, for establishing national standards and providing guidance and training to coroners and their staff. The chief coroner will not have direct authority over police officer training or the practices of medical practitioners but he or she will work closely with local police authorities to promote best practice and will have authority to intervene if investigations are not conducted in accordance with agreed guidance. Under a reformed system, the new national medical adviser to the chief coroner will provide an additional valuable resource for bringing guidance to the attention of those professionals in the health service who interact with people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma.

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Crimes of Violence: Young People

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people aged (a) under 16 and (b) between 16 and 25 years were convicted of a violent crime in each of the last five years. [202231]

Maria Eagle: The information requested covering convictions for indictable offences within the violence against the person category for the years 2002-06 is provided in the following table.

The figures given in the table relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences, the offence selected is the one for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

Number of defendants found guilty at all courts for violence against the person offences by age group, England and Wales, 2002-06( 1,2)
10-15 16-25 26-35 36 and over All ages































(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 collections processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
Court proceedings database—Office for Criminal Justice Reform—Ministry of Justice

Criminal Proceedings: Genetics

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) in how many criminal prosecutions low template DNA has been used as evidence; and how many of those prosecutions resulted in conviction; [201449]

(2) in how many criminal prosecutions mixtures of DNA have been used as evidence; and how many of those prosecutions resulted in conviction. [201450]

Maria Eagle: The data held centrally by my Department on the court proceedings database do not contain information about the circumstances behind each case, including the use of DNA, other than the information that may be gleaned from the offence itself. As a result prosecutions involving the use of DNA evidence cannot be identified.

Departmental Data Protection

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 27 March 2008, Official Report, columns 356-7W, on departmental data protection, if he will include information assurance data on data loss incidents in previous years in his Department's next annual report. [199183]

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Mr. Wills: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister on 21 November 2007, Official Report, column 1179, and the written ministerial statement made my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 98WS. The review by the Cabinet Secretary and security experts is looking at procedures within Departments and agencies for the storage and use of data.

The interim report of 17 December 2007 committed to put in place a programme to examine and improve data handling procedures. An update on this commitment will be included in the final report, expected in spring 2008, and this report will detail the
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information to be included by Departments on data loss in their annual reports.

Drugs: Sentencing

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the Answer of 1 April 2008, Official Report, columns 890-2W, on drugs, how many of those sentenced to immediate custody for dealing in (a) Class A, (b) Class B and (c) Class C drugs received the maximum possible prison sentence in each of the last five years. [200625]

Mr. Straw: The requested information is contained in the following table:

Number of persons given the maximum custodial sentence( 1) for supplying various classes of controlled drugs, all courts, England and Wales, 2002-06
Number of persons
Controlled drug c lass Number sentenced immediate custody Maximum custodial sentence( 2)


Class A


Class B(3)


Class C(3)




Class A


Class B(3)


Class C(3)



Class A



Class B(3)


Class C(3)



Class A



Class B(3)


Class C(3)



Class A


Class B(3)


Class C(3)


(1) Principal offence basis.
(2) The maximum custodial sentence for the offences of supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug and for having possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply are life for Class A, 14 years for Class B and Class C. In 2003 the maximum penalty for supplying and possessing with intent to supply Class C. drugs was increased from five to 14 years imprisonment.
(3) In January 2004 Cannabis was reclassified from a Class B to a Class C drug.
1. All figures are for the offences of supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug and for having possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply.
2. These figures have been drawn from administrative data systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system.
Analytical Services, Ministry of Justice

Electoral Register

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he last met the Electoral Commission to discuss its proposals for individual voter registration. [201144]

Bridget Prentice: I meet regularly with the Electoral Commission. My next meeting is on 15 May 2008 and individual registration will be on the agenda.

Our vision for electoral registration is clear: We want to protect the rights of every eligible person to participate in the United Kingdom's democratic process by ensuring complete, accurate and secure electoral registration.

Any new system of electoral registration in GB would need to be tailored to current circumstances, and in particular would need to address the challenge of under registration in GB, where an estimated 3.5 million eligible electors are not registered to vote.

Internet: Data Protection

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effects of
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widespread up-take of internet technologies on the capacity of the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 to provide for the protection of personal data. [200777]

Mr. Wills: We have commissioned an independent review to consider whether there should be any changes to the legislation governing data protection. The Data Sharing Review, being conducted by the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, and Dr. Mark Walport, will publish its report before the end of June. The impact of technology was one of the issues covered by the review’s consultation paper and we look forward to seeing the final report. More generally, the Government and the Information Commissioner’s Office keep legislation under review in light of ever-increasing technological changes in the field of data protection.

Legal Advice and Assistance

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what changes he plans to make the civil legal aid system as a result of the resolution of the dispute between the Law Society and the Legal Services Commission. [200922]

Maria Eagle: I refer my hon. Friend to the written ministerial statement I made on 2 April 2008, Official Report, column WS104. Following constructive discussions between the parties, a settlement has been reached between the Ministry of Justice, the Law Society and the Legal Services Commission in the legal dispute over contracts. This will provide stability and certainty for civil legal aid providers, and heralds a strong commitment from all parties to a new collaborative working approach in the future to address concerns highlighted by representative bodies.

Details of the agreement include a revised arrangement covering historic unrecouped payments on account, increases in some fees paid to civil providers, and new joint collaborative working practices adopted between the parties to ensure that future concerns can be resolved in this way rather than through litigation.

Prisons: Paganism

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to Prison Service Instruction
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2005/33, on the practice of paganism in prison, how many wards are available in prisons in (a) England, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland. [201871]

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

No prison in England and Wales contains a ward.

There are four categories of prison health care. Type 1 provides daytime cover, generally by part time staff, with no in-patient facilities. There are 26 prisons in England, and two prisons in Wales that provide type 1 care.

Type 2 provides daytime with full time staff, with no in-patient facilities. There are 50 prisons in England, and no prisons in Wales that provide type 2 care.

Type 3 provides a health care centre with 24 hour nurse cover, usually with in-patient facilities. There are 56 prisons in England, and three prisons in Wales that provide type 3 care.

Type 4 is as type 3, but also serves as a national or regional assessment centre, used by other prisons. There are five prisons in England, and no prisons in Wales that provide type 4 care.

The management of prisons in Northern Ireland is a devolved matter for the Northern Ireland Administration.

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