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Bridget Prentice: The Electoral Administration Act 2006 Chapter 22, Part 1 states at Section 1 (10) The person designated as a CORE keeper must be a public authority. The Electoral Commission is our preferred choice to fulfil this role, and discussions are ongoing with them on this matter.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 29 February 2008, Official Report, column 1985W, on electronic government: finance, when he plans to make detailed allocations of funding for e-democracy and e-participation projects in the next three years; and what criteria will be used to make those allocations. 
Mr. Wills: The Ministry of Justice keeps the allocation of funding for projects that promote e-democracy under continuous review. Precise criteria are yet to be finalised, but funding decisions will take account of the degree to which projects encourage innovative approaches to online engagement and embed learning from the governments online engagement experiences.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much funding was allocated to legal advice for Travellers in 2007-08 by (a) his Department and (b) the Legal Services Commission (i) directly and (ii) in the form of grants to external organisations in 2007-08. 
The Legal Services Commission (LSC) contracts with the Community Law Partnership to provide a helpline for Travellers offering advice on a range of matters. The Travellers' telephone helpline receives funding each year contingent upon the contract holder, the Community Law Partnership, delivering 1,100 hours of work per year. The service has been established since 2004 and forms part of the LSC's national telephone helpline, Community Legal Advice. In 2007-08 the contract for this helpline was worth £56,540 excluding VAT.
In addition, the Ministry of Justice authorised the LSC to fund a total sum of £31,400 for legal advice and representation for Travellers through the exceptional funding scheme in 2007-08. This was for legal representation at planning inquiries.
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the performance of the Probation Service against its target to subcontract 10 per cent. of services to the voluntary sector in 2006-07; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: The target was for probation areas to sub-contract 5 per cent. in value of services to the private and voluntary sectors in 2006-07, rising to 10 per cent. in value of services in 2007-08. In 2006-07 we estimated, based on self-reporting from probation areas, that overall around 4 per cent. of probation budget was spent on sub-contracted services, although performance varied from area to area. Now that the second reporting period has come to an end we are beginning an assessment of performance against target for 2007-08.
As part of the transition from probation boards to probation trusts, we are currently consulting on whether to move towards a system of Best Value similar to that used by local government. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office, and on the internet at:
|Number of applications|
|(1) Years 1998 to 2001 are taken from manual returns.|
(2) Years 2002 to 2007 are taken from the FamilyMan IT system after it was introduced.
(3) Provisional but unlikely to change.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he plans to publish the Government's response to the consultation on the reform of legal processes relating to personal injury law. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will assess the adequacy of the (a) number and (b) frequency of mandatory drug tests at HMP Peterborough; and if he will make a statement. 
|Number of mandatory drug tests|
Maria Eagle: Information on the number of officer grade staff, prisoners and the number of prisoners per officer across the Prison Service, including both public sector and contracted estates is contained in the following table:
|Officers, prisoners and prisoner to officer ratio|
|31 March||Officers( 1, 4)||Prisoners( 2)||Prisoners per officer( 3)|
|(1) Includes prison officers, senior officers and principal officers within the public sector Prison Service and custody officers and senior custody officers within contracted establishments, where available. (2) Average prisoner population across the year has been used, 2007-08 figure is provisional. (3) Prisoners held at contracted establishments where officer numbers are not available have been excluded from the calculation. ( 4) Data for Lowdham Grange prior to March 2005 and Rye Hill prior to 2006 are not available due to archiving and could be provided only at a disproportionate cost. Data prior to 2004 are available only for one establishment, Parc, and information prior to 1999 is not available and could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.|
Maria Eagle: In general, retention within the public sector Prison Service is comparatively high. Excluding retirements, the average leaving rate across all grades of staff between April 2007 and March 2008 was 6.3 per cent. This is consistent with the rates for the past seven years.
Action has been taken recently to respond to the substantial increase in demand for prison officers, generated in particular by the National Offender Management Service's prison capacity building programme. A national prison officer recruitment campaign started on 7 January. It employed a major national advertising campaign, aimed at attracting a much wider range of applicants than had been achieved previously. It also created a new recruitment process, which reducing the time between application and appointment, introduced online application and sifting; and enabled more comprehensive information to be generated, on which to base selection decisions. Over 40,000 applications have been received to date.
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