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Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 14 May 2008, Official Report, column 1627W, on taxation, whether (a) the 2005 business rates revaluation and (b) the most recent council tax revaluation in Wales were revenue neutral. 
The 2005 business rates and 2005 council tax revaluation in Wales were revenue-neutral. The overall increase in receipts in the year of revaluation arose from councils decisions to increase council tax rates, and were broadly in line with increases in the previous years.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 2 July 2008, Official Report, column 966W, on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC): Chorley, what the evidential basis is for his assessment that the effects on Chorley residents of the vacating of the HMRC office there will be minimal. 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 15 July 2008]: Further to the answer I gave my hon. Friend on 2 July 2008, Official Report, column 966W, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has given a commitment to continue to provide inquiry centre services in locations where decisions have been made to withdraw, as is the case with Chorley. As a result, the services HMRC provides directly to the population of Chorley will remain unaffected.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Lingmell House, Chorley are (a) full-time and (b) part-time; how many and what proportion of HMRC staff at this office will be (i) relocated, (ii) made redundant and (iii) undergo some other change in employment conditions as a result of HMRC plans; and if he will make a statement. 
Alternative locations for all staff in Chorley have been identified, although final decisions on which individuals can relocate to the proposed location for
their work within reasonable daily travel have not been reached for all staff at this stage. HMRC is committed to avoiding redundancies wherever possible and will seek to identify alternative solutions for anyone who cannot move with their work.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment his Department has made of the possible effect on child poverty if fraud and error were eradicated from working tax credit payments; and if he will make a statement; 
The Government are keen to ensure that support goes to the right customers at the right time, and is committed to reducing error and fraud across tax credits. I refer the hon. Member to my written statement of 14 July 2008, Official Report, columns 1-2WS.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps the Government has taken to minimise any harmful effects on children arising from their participation in court proceedings. 
(i) A Practice Direction from the Lord Chief Justice provides among other things for familiarisation with the courtroom prior to the hearing, frequent breaks during the process, the ability of a very young defendant to sit with family members and the court to ensure an understanding by the young defendant of what is happening and what is being said throughout the process.
(ii) There is also provision within the criminal law to protect the anonymity of the young defendant.
(iii) There are also restrictions on public attendance at the youth court.
Children can apply for special measures to assist them in giving their best evidence in court. This includes giving evidence outside the courtroom through a televised link or screens around the witness box to shield the witness from the defendant.
Children involved in family proceedings do not normally attend court. Children who are subject to an application for care or supervision proceedings by social services (public law) are entitled to separate representation by a Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS) Childrens Guardian and a solicitor, and are made a party to proceedings. Childrens Guardians are there to help achieve the best possible outcomes for
the child they represent. The Government have consulted on the representation of children in private law proceedings, when families disagree about who children should live or spend time with. However, research has shown that bringing a child into proceedings could be stressful and put too much responsibility on the child. Therefore, party status and separate representation will only be ordered in private law cases which involve an issue of significant difficulty and consequently will occur only in a minority of cases.
Victim Support, an independent charity, is the Governments main provider of services to victims and witnesses of crime across England and Wales. Over recent years annual Government funding to Victim Support has increased from £11.7 million to £30 million. The Office for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR) has provided additional investment in Victim Support to rollout Victim Support Plus nationally (£5.6 million in 2007-08 and £7 million in 2008-09).
In addition, the Government funds a number of specialist services for victims of individual crime types. The charity Support After Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM) receives a grant of £140,000 a year to provide services to family and friends bereaved through murder and manslaughter.
Over the last four years, we have invested £6.5 million in specialist services for victims through the Victims Fund, with the majority going directly to Third Sector organisations. In 2008-09 a further £1.75 million has been invested into the fund. Specialist services that receive funding through the Victims Fund provide support to victims of sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse, hate crime and homicide.
Since 2003 the Government has worked in partnership with Eaves Housing for Women to deliver bespoke specialist services for women trafficked into sexual exploitation, through the Poppy project. We are investing a further £1.3 million into the project this year, taking the total to £5.8 million since it opened.
In 2007-08 the Government provided £3 million for Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVAs), trained specialists who provide a service to victims who are at high risk of harm, to support victims as their cases progress through Specialist Domestic Violence Courts (SDVCs).
Bridget Prentice: The new Family Procedure Rules will make court procedures easier to use and understand. They will provide a modernised and simply expressed code of practice for all levels of court. A significant first segment, the Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules, was made in October 2005. The Department and the Family Procedure Rule Committee are now completing the task for all family proceedings.
Court procedures have also been recently improved in domestic violence and care proceedings cases. On 1 April 2008, the judicially led Public Law Outline came into force, streamlining the care proceedings process and contributing to a reduction in unnecessary delay. In May 2008 a new practice direction changed current procedures in private law proceedings to give better protection for children in cases where domestic violence has been raised as an issue.
Bridget Prentice: We have consulted twice on how we could improve transparency in family courts. It is important that the courts are more open and accountable and it is important that childrens interests are protected. The right of the public to know what is happening needs to be balanced with a childs rights to privacy.
It is also important to help the public understand what happens in family courts and how the courts make these difficult decisions. That is why we have already announced that we will be piloting the publication of judgments for some family cases.
This is an important and complex area of policy about which people have strong views. We must ensure we get it right. We will be making an announcement to the House about the pilots, and our other proposals, after the summer.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to his answer of 8 July 2008, for what reasons individuals found in unlawful possession of a firearm were not given the mandatory sentence of five years, broken down by category of mitigating factors. 
Examples of exceptional circumstances might be where the holder of a firearms certificate inadvertently forgets to renew his authority or where a war trophy is discovered among a deceased person's effects. Rehman. R v .  EWCA Crim 2056 (18 July 2005) considers the issue of exceptional circumstances.
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the merits of (a) audit and (b) scrutiny of the recording of (i) complaints to
the Legal Services Commission and (ii) responses to correspondence by (A) the Legal Services Commission and (B) his Department. 
Bridget Prentice: It is well established practice throughout the public sector to ensure that there are robust systems in place to deal with correspondence and complaints handling. Proportionate auditing and scrutiny are a normal part of those systems. I also refer the hon. Member to my answer to him of 22 May 2008, Official Report, column. 411-12W.
Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many complaints under the Legal Services Commission's complaints procedures were recorded by the Legal Services Commission in each year since 2004-05. 
Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what procedures are used to process complaints on action by the Legal Services Commission in breach of its complaints procedures guarantee. 
Bridget Prentice: I refer the hon. Member to the answers to him on 4 June 2008, Official Report columns 1040-41W and 22 May 2008, Official R eport columns 411-12W. If a complainant does not feel that their complaint has been dealt with in accordance with the LSC's complaints procedure, the parliamentary ombudsman can investigate. All complaints referred to the ombudsman must be done so through a Member of Parliament.
Bridget Prentice: The Legal Services Commission introduced a customer service single score from 2003-04 in its regional offices and throughout the organisation from 2004-05 to reinforce its commitment to improve all levels of customer service. The measures used in the score are tailored to each department and include: the time taken to perform key tasks; telephone handling skills; quality control; complaints handling and the ability to respond swiftly. In 2007-08, the LSC achieved 93 per cent. in its customer service score against a target of 90 per cent.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice on how many occasions since 2003 he has been informed of instances where individuals have claimed falsely to be a justice of the peace; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: Such instances are very rare and my Department does not keep a record. My hon. Friend is obviously aware of the matter regarding Ray Lewis, former Deputy Mayor for London for young people. He has not been appointed as a magistrate.
Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State plans to reply to the email from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire, dated 18 June 2008, Ref: 204969, on the transcript of an appeal proceedings. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make it his policy to bring forward proposals to remove the current provisions in common law which prevent a person with mental illness from standing or
remaining as an hon. Member; and if he will make a statement. 
We will consider with our stakeholders whether a similar change should be made to remove the current provisions in common law which may be used to prevent a person who has experienced mental health problems from standing or remaining as an hon. Member.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 9 July 2008, Official Report, column 1620W, on offensive weapons: young people, what sentence was imposed in each case in each year; and, where fines were imposed, what the (a) smallest, (b) largest and (c) average fine imposed was in each year. 
|Number of persons sentenced( 1) by result for the offence of selling a knife to a person under 18 years, all courts, England and Wales, 2002-06|
|Number of persons|
|Offence description||Year||Total proceeded against( 2)||Absolute/ conditional discharge||Fine||Community sentence||Fully suspended sentence||Immediate custody||Otherwise dealt with|
Selling to a person under the age of 18 years a knife, knife blade, razor blade, axe or any other article which has a blade, that is sharply pointed and which is made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person
|(1) These data are on the principal offence basis.|
(2) Will include cases that were withdrawn or dismissed.
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.
OMS Analytical Services
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