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Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent changes have taken place in the (a) senior personnel and (b) administrative practices of the Office of the Public Guardian; and if he will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: Richard Brook, the Public Guardian and Chief Executive of the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) informed the Ministry of Justice in April of his intention to resign in order to take up a position within the charity sector. Beyond Richards planned departure in July, there have been no other changes to senior staff within the OPG or Court of Protection. The Ministry of Justice, is currently in the process of appointing his successor and we will announce shortly.
The administrative practices in the Office of the Public Guardian are largely determined by its governing legislation, the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Those practices are kept under review but have not recently been changed, although additional resourcesboth staff and IT capacityhave been provided to deal with current high volumes of work.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many Lasting Powers of Attorney have been registered by the Office of the Public Guardian under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 since their introduction; 
Bridget Prentice: In the eight-month period between the commencement of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in October 2007 and 4 June 2008, the Office of the Public Guardian has completed registration of 3,429 Lasting Powers of Attorney. During the same period it has completed registration of 13,939 Enduring Powers of Attorney.
Before October 2007 the Court of Protection was responsible for registering Enduring Powers of Attorney. Between October 2005 and October 2006 the Court registered 17,319 Enduring Powers of Attorney and between October 2006 and October 2007 it registered 20,585 powers.
Those figures indicate a significant increase in the number of powers attorney that have been registered with the OPG in its first eight months of operation. The figures do not include those applications already received that are still being processed, or where the OPG has sought further information. In addition, the OPG is continuing to see increases in the number of applications from month to month.
The Office of the Public Guardian will be reviewing the effectiveness of the Mental Capacity Act from October 2008 once it has been operation for a full year and there has been an opportunity to see how well it is working in practice. As part of this review the OPG will be looking at the way the new Lasting Powers of Attorney are operating, including their design and the accompanying guidance and determining what changes might be necessary or desirable.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent discussions he has had with Ministerial colleagues on policy to secure agreement with other countries on the transfer to them of prisoners of their nationality held in the UK. 
Mr. Hanson: A trilateral meeting has been established to discuss issues relating to the removal of foreign nationals from the United Kingdom, including the transfer of foreign national prisoners to their own country. The meeting is attended by Ministers of State from the Ministry of Justice, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Home Office. The group met on 5 June. Other meetings with ministerial colleagues take place on an ad hoc basis as necessary.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) in how many small claims cases in the county court in 2007 parties were represented at any stage by (a) counsel and (b) a solicitor; 
(3) how many complaints his Department received on the (a) system and (b) procedures of the small claims court in each of the last three years; and what three subjects were most frequently raised in such complaints; 
(4) how many successful small claims made in the county court in 2007 resulted in (a) recovery of monies claimed without recourse to further action, (b) recovery of monies claimed following intervention of bailiffs and (c) failure to recover monies claimed; 
(5) what average time elapsed between commencement and finish of county court cases for claims under the value of £5,000 which were defended and had a hearing in Chambers or courts in (a) 2000 and (b) 2007; 
(6) how many claims under £5,000 were lodged in the county court in 2007; how many were defended with (a) a defence and (b) a counterclaim; and how many defended actions were heard in (i) open court and (ii) in chambers. 
Bridget Prentice: Table 1 shows the numbers of small claims in the county courts of England and Wales in 2007, broken down according to whether the claimant was represented and whether the defendant was represented in each case. The data were sourced from the main administrative system in the county courts (CaseMan) which holds the details of legal representatives, but not whether these were barristers (counsel) or solicitors. Representation details can be added, amended or deleted from CaseMan at any stage during a case's progression through the court. The figures shown reflect the latest recorded data on representation in small claims hearings that took place during 2007.
Based on these figures it can be calculated that 32,163 (60 per cent.) of the 53,226 small claims hearings in 2007 involved at least one party which had legal representation. Claimants were not legally represented in 28,362 (53 per cent.) of cases.
HM Courts Service (HMCS) records its centrally received user complaints in one of 10 categories. These relate to the stage of the court process which prompted the complaint, rather than to the type of case being heard. It is therefore not possible to identify complaints that explicitly relate to small claims cases. However, Table 2 shows a breakdown by category of all complaints received centrally by HMCS in the last three financial years. These figures cover all areas of HM Courts Service business, encompassing over 1 million small claims among a total of over 4 million cases per year across civil, criminal and family justice.
During 2007, county court bailiffs recovered an average of 89.5 pence in the pound from correctly directed warrants of execution (i.e. where the creditor supplied the correct address) across all cases in the county courts of England and Wales in 2007. Data are not currently available for small claims alone, or on the recovery of monies other than through the actions of county court bailiffs.
During 2007, there were an average of 28 weeks between the date of issue and the date of hearing for small claims (whether for specified or unspecified amounts) disposed of at hearing in England and Wales. The equivalent figure for 2000 was 29 weeks, although there were changes in the data collection method during the intervening period meaning that the comparison should be treated with caution.
There were 1.194 million claims issued in the county courts of England and Wales for specified amounts of £5,000 or less during 2007. Of these, 382,000 (32 per cent. of the total) were issued at named local county courts, rather than via the Money Claims On-Line (MCOL) service or the County Court Bulk Centre (CCBC). There were 92,000 defences entered in response to these locally-issued claims, with 11,000 of these defences incorporating a counterclaim.
In addition, there were 107,000 claims issued via MCOL or the CCBC which were transferred into local county courts after either a defence or a counterclaim was received. Most of these claims will relate to specified amounts of £5,000 or less, and therefore the total number of defences issued for all claims of this type (regardless of the issuing route) is around 200,000. However, please note that a single claim can name more than one defendant, and can therefore lead to more than one defence being entered.
During 2007, there were 49,000 small claims hearings in claims involving specified amounts of £5,000. These claims may have originally been issued in 2007 or in earlier years. Information is not available on whether these hearings took place in open court or in chambers.
Please note that all figures given for the year 2007 should be considered provisional. Final figures for this year will be published in the Ministry of Justice report Judicial and Court Statistics which is planned for release later this year.
|Table 1: Small claim hearings by party representation in the county courts of England and Wales, 2007|
| Notes: 1. There is considered to be a defendant representation if at least one defendant in a case is represented. 2. The breakdown by party representation is estimated and excludes data from a very small minority of courts. Source: HMCS CaseMan system.|
|Table 2: Number of complaints received by type in the county courts of England and Wales, 2005-06 to 2007-08|
| Note: The complaint categories are reviewed annually and it was decided that the "Other administrative error" category should be removed for 2007-08. This was because the other categories provided sufficient flexibility for complaints to be recorded under them. Source: HMCS, Customer Analysis and Feedback system.|
John Healey: Central Government do not collect data on the amount of revenues raised from the unoccupied property rate. However, it is estimated that the recent changes to the empty property rate will reduce the costs of empty property rate relief by £950 million in 2008-09.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of unoccupied domestic properties in (a) private and (b) local authority ownership in each London borough. 
|Vacancies by tenure for London boroughs, 2007|
|Total empty homes( 1)||LA( 2)||Registered social landlord( 3)||Other public sector( 2)||Private sector( 4)|
|(5 )Not applicable since Bexley and Bromley have no local authority stock.|
(1) Council Tax Base 1 as reported by local authorities at October 2007.
(2 )Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix as reported by local authorities at 1 April 2007.
(3 )Regulatory Statistical Return as reported by Registered Social Landlords at 31 March
Residual i.e. CTB total less LA, RSL and other public sector .
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