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19 Jun 2008 : Column 1118W—continued


This analysis is based on postcode information provided at time of application (correspondence address). Not all applicants provide a valid postcode.

Appointments are still ongoing from campaigns 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.

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Royal Ulster Constabulary: Part-Time Employment

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many man hours of service were provided by part-time members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary between 1981 and 2001. [208328]

Paul Goggins: The Chief Constable has provided the following answer:


Absent Voting

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent discussions he has had with the Electoral Commission on steps to ensure that each elector who has applied for a postal vote receives it. [212307]

Bridget Prentice: Responsibility for the conduct of elections, including the delivery of postal votes to electors, rests with the relevant returning officer. The Electoral Commission issues guidance to returning officers on the issue and distribution of postal votes. My Department has regular discussions with the Electoral Commission on a range of issues concerning the administration of elections, including the arrangements for processing postal votes. Whilst the issue that the hon. Member raises has not been discussed with the Electoral Commission recently, it will be included in future discussions with the Electoral Commission.

Departmental Accountancy

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's (a) chart of accounts and (b) resource account codes and usage descriptions for the 2008-09 financial year. [210995]

Mr. Wills: Since the creation of the Ministry of Justice, the Department uses a number of different accounting systems and each of these employs its own chart of accounts. The main accounting systems currently in use are:

A copy of these three charts of accounts will be placed in the Library at the beginning of July.

The Department is taking steps to rationalise its accounting arrangements, with NOMS migrating from Adelphi to Phoenix and OCJR migrating from Adelphi to ARAMIS during the current financial year. Ultimately, the aim of the Department's Shared Service Programme will be to move to the use of a single accounting system.

The charts of accounts for 2008-09 therefore reflects the Department's structure as it currently is and will not necessarily reflect the 2007-08 structure, or that of
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future years. The charts show the relationship between parent codes (used for preparing resource accounts) and children codes (used for more detailed management purposes). Each code has a brief description that describes its use.

Departmental Furniture

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) chairs, (b) desks and (c) other office furnishings have been purchased by his Department and its agencies in each of the last five years; and at what cost in each case. [211771]

Mr. Wills: My Department does not hold central records of the number and cost of chairs, desks and other office furniture purchased in the last five years, to retrieve such information would involve manual checks of local records at disproportionate time and cost.

Within National Offender Management Service (NOMS), it is our policy to make furniture in-house from raw materials sourced from a range of suppliers, rather than buy the furniture as finished products.

Departmental Pilot Schemes

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice which pilot projects initiated by his Department since its creation have not proceeded to further roll-out. [211840]

Mr. Wills: Since the creation of the Ministry of Justice on 9 May 2007 no pilot projects have been initiated which have not proceeded to roll out, they are either on-going or have been rolled out.

Departmental Sick Pay

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much sick pay to staff in his Department and its predecessor cost in the last five years for which figures are available. [211858]

Mr. Straw: It is estimated that the cost of sick pay within the public sector Prison Service during 2007 was £68 million. Estimated costs for other parts of the Department are not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Cabinet Office published a report on sickness absence in the civil service on 7 February 2008. The report included an analysis of the days lost due to sickness absence. The report included an estimate of £887.66 for 2006-07 as the cost of absence per staff year in respect of all civil servants.

Departmental Television

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what subscriptions (a) his Department and (b) its agencies has for (i) premium Sky, (ii) digital terrestrial and (iii) cable television channels; and what the annual cost of each was in the most recent period for which figures are available. [211130]

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Mr. Wills: The Ministry of Justice receives its feed for satellite television from the Houses of Parliament and therefore does not pay for subscriptions.

The National Archives, the Boundary Commission for Wales, the Office of the Public Guardian, the Land Registry, the Boundary Commission for England, the Judicial Appointments Commission, the Legal Services Commission and the Tribunals Service do not pay subscriptions for (i), (ii) and (iii).

HMCS headquarters does not pay a subscription for (i), (ii) and (iii), but does pay for satellite and cable services at some judges' lodgings at a total cost of £5,979.38 in 2007-08.

The National Offender Management Service headquarters does not pay a subscription for (i), (ii) and (iii). No prisoners in public sector prisons receive satellite or other television channels in their cells for which a subscription is payable. In-cell television is conditional on good behaviour.

20 public sector prisons have satellite television in association areas and pay a basic subscription for it. Information on the costs of such facilities is not held centrally and would incur disproportionate cost to obtain.

Private sector prisons' contracts do not specify costs for such services as they form part of the overall operating cost which of course has been competitively tendered prior to agreement. The contractor is required to obtain best price and under the terms of our contracts providers are obliged to obtain commercially competitive rates throughout the duration of the contract.

High Court: Judges

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 13 June 2008, Official Report, columns 607-08W, if he will make it his policy to make details of expenses claims by High Court judges available for inspection by the public. [212427]

Mr. Straw: In accordance with general principles, I have no plans to make available, for inspection by the public, details of expenses claims by High Court judges. As I explained in my earlier answer to the hon. Member, the expenses which may be claimed by High Court judges are governed by their terms and conditions and are subject to appropriate control procedures.

Legal Aid: Voluntary Organisations

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment his Department has made of the effects of fixed fees for legal aid on the funding of voluntary sector organisations providing legal advice. [211593]

Maria Eagle: Fixed fee schemes were calculated on the basis of historic spend by both solicitor firms and not for profit (NfP) agencies and no money has been removed from the overall civil legal aid budget.

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) undertook a full regulatory impact assessment (RIA) of the effect of the introduction of fixed fees. The final RIA is available on their website

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Transitional arrangements have been introduced to assist NfP providers to adjust to recent reforms. The LSC regularly monitors the operation of these arrangements. The great majority of NfP providers are adapting well to fixed fees.

The LSC will be reviewing the operation of the first stage of graduated and fixed fees (implemented in October 2007 and January 2008) to see if any changes should be made to those existing schemes for April 2010. It intends to publish the outcome of that review in January 2009, with a further six-week consultation on any changes to be made to the stage 1 fees as a result. Any such changes would take effect in the new contracts from 1 April 2010.

Office of the Public Guardian: Powers of Attorney

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much the Office of the Public Guardian spent on training staff in the processing of registrations of lasting powers of attorney in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what training his Department provides for this purpose. [210922]

Bridget Prentice: The Mental Capacity Act 2005 came fully into force in October 2007. Prior to that point training provision was the responsibility of the Public Guardianship Office—the Office of the Public Guardian's predecessor. This included training for the new processes and procedures relating to Lasting Powers of Attorney that the Act introduced.

Since October, the OPG has been responsible for meeting all ongoing training needs. Over the last 12 months, specific training on the registration of LPAs has been provided to staff in the Applications and Processing area, which deals with the registration of LPAs, and to staff in the Contact Centre, which advises clients on LPA process and the progress of individual applications.

Additionally, all staff at the OPG attended awareness seminars on the new Act and LPAs. Initial training is gained through such seminars and similar themed workshops. Practical assistance has then been provided via desk bound training and a buddy scheme whereby experienced staff “shadow” new staff members and undertake additional floor-walking. This helps to ensure that staff are familiar with new systems and processes from which they may begin to put theory into practice.

Because of the range of training offered and in particular the significant amounts of flexibly provided by desk training, it has not been possible to provide exact figures on the total cost. However, based on average staff costs and reasonable assumptions of the average amount of time per staff member spent on training, we estimate a sum of £73,680 has been spent on staff training in relation to LPAs to date.

Training is continuing to be provided as the OPG develops its processes and court decisions become known.

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Prisoners: Employment

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps the Government has taken to assist prisoners to gain employment when released. [211935]

Mr. Hanson: The Ministry of Justice is working in partnership with the Departments for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and Work and Pensions to implement the “Reducing Re-offending through Skills and Employment: Next Steps” action plan, in which the three priorities are to:

Work to implement the plan includes ensuring that offenders are given advice on job searching from Jobcentre Plus while still in custody and that this support continues after release. Many offenders are able to benefit from employment programmes such as the new deal and Progress2Work.

In addition, on 31 January 2008, the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor Official Report, column 37WS, my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) announced the publication of the Prison Policy Update briefing paper which set out the Government’s plans to increase the range of constructive work available to prisoners inside prisons, which will in turn increase their chances of getting a job on the outside. This work is well under way.

On 12 June he also announced four new workshops at Stocken prison. Bricklaying, painting and decorating, and learning to refurbish and repair hire equipment for builders’ merchant Travis Perkins are among the skills being taught in the workshops.

On 10 June I launched a major new vocational training scheme at Wandsworth prison with Cisco Systems, Bovis Lend Lease and Panduit. The scheme will train prisoners in installing voice and data cabling within business and residential developments and, where possible, employing them within the Bovis social enterprise Be Onsite.

Young Offender Institutions: Social Services

Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many social workers left employment inside juvenile prisons in the last year. [211361]

Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.

Seven people left social worker posts in young offender institutions during the 12 months to 31 March 2008. (Information supplied by the Youth Justice Board.)

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Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the ratio of social workers to children in each juvenile prison is. [211362]

Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.

The following table, based on information supplied by the Youth Justice Board, shows the ratio of social worker posts to trainees in each young offender institution in the secure estate for children and young people. To a certain extent, the varying ratios reflect the differing sizes of establishments. Steps are being taken to fill five posts that are currently vacant.

YOI Ratio of social workers to trainees







Cookham Wood




Eastwood Park




Foston Hall






Lancaster Farms


New Hall




Stoke Heath


Warren Hill






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