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30 Apr 2008 : Column 514W—continued


Elections: Slough

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department plans to take in response to the recommendations of the Electoral Commissioner in the recent electoral court case in Slough. [201559]

Bridget Prentice: We have noted the findings and comments in the judgment of the election court. Since 2005, the Government have introduced a range of new measures to strengthen the integrity of our electoral system, and there have been very few proven incidents of fraud since the new measures were brought into force. They include:


30 Apr 2008 : Column 515W

We will take account of the election court's judgement in any further development on electoral registration and postal voting processes and legislation.

Legal Aid: Contracts

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the number of criminal law practitioners who will apply for a new criminal legal aid contract in 2008. [200923]

Maria Eagle: The Legal Services Commission is currently inviting applications for a new criminal legal aid contract due to take effect in July 2008. Applications are being returned at a steady rate but the final number will not be known until after the application period closes on 2 May 2008.

The previous tender exercise for the January 2008 General Criminal Contract resulted in 2,295 applications from firms that already had a contract and a further 90 applications from new providers, ensuring full coverage for publicly-funded defence services in police stations and courts across England and Wales.


30 Apr 2008 : Column 516W

Magistrates Courts

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many cases where defendants have been charged and appeared before a magistrates court but no further hearing has been held there were in each magistrates court in the south-west region, broken down by constabulary in each of the last five years; and what percentage this represented of all cases in each area in each year. [202242]

Maria Eagle: The following tables show the annual number of completed charged criminal cases (adult and youth), and the estimated proportion disposed of at first hearing, for court groupings in the south-west region of HM Court Service for the years 2002 to 2006. Figures are not yet available for 2007.

Figures are provided based on the location of the magistrates court, as data broken down by police force are not available. However, magistrates courts typically hear cases drawn from their local area.

Figures for the number of cases disposed of at the first hearing are estimates taken from a quarterly survey of magistrates courts. These estimates are therefore subject to sample survey variability, with margins of error as shown in the table.


30 Apr 2008 : Column 517W

30 Apr 2008 : Column 518W
Number of charged cases and estimated proportion disposed of in one hearing in the south- west region magistrates courts, 2002-06
2002 2003 2004
Area( 1) Number of cases( 2) In one hearing( 3) (%) Margin of error( 4) (+/- %) Number of cases( 2) In one hearing( 3)(%) Margin of error( 4) (+/- %) Number of cases( 2) In one hearing( 3) (%) Margin of error( 4) (+/- %)

Avon and Somerset

Bath and Wansdyke

2,409

30

8

2,561

34

8

2,011

39

8

Bristol

6,649

25

5

7,456

28

4

6,667

33

5

North Avon

2,327

24

10

2,559

24

9

2,364

37

9

South Somerset

1,327

35

12

1,283

37

13

1,208

34

10

Taunton Deane

1,077

28

8

2,764

39

8

2,321

34

7

Woodspring

1,890

35

13

1,985

33

9

1,859

40

10

Avon and Somerset—total

15,679

28

3

18,608

31

3

16,430

35

3

Devon and Cornwall

Central Devon

4,023

60

7

3,913

53

8

3,316

49

7

East Cornwall

2,124

41

9

2,370

45

8

1,962

45

9

North Devon

1,725

46

10

1,591

54

10

1,434

39

11

Plymouth District

3,845

31

7

3,690

35

7

3,601

36

7

South Devon

3,643

35

8

3,707

48

7

3,378

49

8

West Cornwall

2,117

34

9

2,159

39

8

2,079

40

9

Total

17,477

41

3

17,430

45

3

15,770

43

3

Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire

Gloucestershire

6,190

33

5

5,925

32

6

5,900

41

6

North West Wiltshire

2,310

39

11

2,520

48

9

2,492

39

8

Poole

6,959

43

5

6,553

41

5

6,438

44

4

Salisbury

1,557

39

11

1,631

47

10

1,552

50

9

Swindon

2,816

39

8

2,719

41

7

2,620

36

8

Total

19,832

38

3

19,348

40

3

19,002

42

3

Hampshire and Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight

1,773

45

11

2,038

42

9

1,796

35

10

North East Hampshire

6,676

42

7

7,101

51

5

6,915

34

5

South East Hampshire

9,583

39

5

9,068

36

4

9,592

35

4

Southampton

7,948

37

5

7,843

40

5

7,601

35

4

Total

25,980

39

3

26,050

41

2

25,904

35

2

South West Region t otal

78,968

37

1

81,436

39

1

77,106

39

1


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