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10 Sep 2008 : Column 1972W—continued


Offenders: Rehabilitation

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of theatre and drama participation in improving the behaviour of violent offenders; and if he will make a statement. [223369]

Mr. Hanson: No specific assessment has been made of the effectiveness of theatre and drama participation in improving the behaviour of violent offenders. However, there is anecdotal evidence on the beneficial impact of the arts more generally on offending. The small scale of many arts programmes for offenders can present difficulties for high quality evaluations.

We are supporting the development of an independent Arts Alliance which will provide a representative voice for the arts sector and improve understanding of how arts interventions can be used more effectively. An Arts Forum will be also set up to facilitate discussions between the Arts Alliance and other stakeholders such as Government Departments and the Arts Council, about the role and development of the arts in supporting offender management.

Offensive Weapons: Sentencing

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent discussions his Department has had with the Sentencing Guidelines Council on penalties for those charged with carrying knives. [221454]

Mr. Straw: There is a formal process of consultation in respect of draft Sentencing Guidelines Council guidelines. The Government offer comments to the SGC as part of this process. Oral discussions with the SGC and Ministers do not normally occur.

Political Parties: Finance

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether proposals in the White Paper on party finance and expenditure on increased transparency will apply to donations to political parties from trade unions; and whether proposals for a higher definition of campaign spending will include funding allocated directly by the trade unions to campaigning; and if he will make a statement. [221398]

Mr. Wills: The Political Parties and Elections Bill, (Bill 141), puts in place arrangements to improve the transparency of all donations of more than £200 to political parties and other recipients of donations that are subject to the requirements of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (‘the 2000 Act’). The new arrangements will require all donors giving over £200 to declare whether or not they have received £200 from an individual in connection with the making of the donation. The requirements will apply to all such donations made by permissible donors, including trade unions.

The White Paper proposed

(‘Party finance and expenditure in the United Kingdom’ (CM7239) page 40). Those limits apply to spending by registered political parties on matters listed in the relevant schedule (schedule 8) in the 2000 Act. It is anticipated that any revision of the limits will be done in due course through secondary legislation.

The 2000 Act does not directly regulate trade union expenditure on campaigning. There is extensive statutory regulation of such expenditure in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. Expenditure
10 Sep 2008 : Column 1973W
by domestic bodies other than political parties (including trade unions) is capable of being regulated if, through its activities, an entity becomes subject to the rules on third party election campaigning or participation in a referendum campaign. The White Paper also said that consideration would be given to bringing forward proposals to build on the current system for regulation of third party campaigning organisations.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) whether the triggering rules outlined in the White Paper on party finance and expenditure will apply to third party campaign spending by (a) trades unions and (b) charities; [221416]

(2) pursuant to the answer of 7 July 2008, Official Report, column 1310W, on political parties: finance, whether the new proposed trigger rules will apply to members of the devolved Assemblies and European and Scottish Parliaments; [221464]

(3) whether the new proposed trigger rules will apply to parliamentary by-elections. [221466]

Bridget Prentice: As set out in the White Paper, party finance and expenditure in the United Kingdom (CM7329), published on 16 June 2008, and in the Political Parties and Elections Bill (Bill 141), introduced on 17 July 2008, the proposals to reintroduce triggering will apply only to spending by candidates at a parliamentary general election. That is in line with the original position set out in the Representation of the People Act 1983, under which the original triggering rules only ever applied to Parliamentary candidates.

The triggering proposals will not apply to third parties, whose campaign spending is regulated over a period of 365 days up to the date of the election.

The triggering proposals will not apply to candidates at parliamentary by-elections, for which existing rules will remain in place. This is made clear on the face of the Bill.

The triggering proposals will not apply to members of the devolved Assemblies and Scottish Parliament. As set out in the White Paper, it is intended that the regulated period for candidate expenses for elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly will be set at four months. The Government intend to bring forward secondary legislation to give effect to this proposal in due course.

The triggering proposals will not apply to candidates for election to the European Parliament. Party candidates are not subject to individual election expenses limits at European Parliament elections. Expenditure incurred to promote party list candidates is treated as party campaign expenditure and is therefore regulated by the relevant provisions of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA).

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he plans to introduce a compliance grant to assist with the costs of moving procedure and practice into compliance with the provisions of any Act resulting from the White Paper on party finance and expenditure. [221418]


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Bridget Prentice: Sir Hayden Phillips’ draft agreement, which he put to the inter-party talks in August 2007, proposed public funding to assist the parties with compliance with the new regulations. He proposed that this scheme be capped at a maximum of £1.5 million in total. Sir Hayden’s proposed scheme was a more radical departure from current arrangements than the proposals set out in the Political Parties and Elections Bill. In particular he recommended a cap on donations and a significant enhancement of public funding. We have no current proposals for compliance grant but we are open to representations on this.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the Answer of 7 July 2008, Official Report, column 1310W, on political parties: finance, (1) what assessment his Department has made of the compliance of introducing the new trigger rules in the middle of a Parliament with Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights; [221463]

(2) if he will make it his policy for any new triggering rules to commence at the start of the next Parliament; [221469]

(3) how the new triggering rules will affect parliamentary candidates who have already declared their candidature or incurred local campaign expenditure. [221470]

Bridget Prentice: The Government intend that the measures to re-introduce triggering set out in the Political Parties and Elections Bill (Bill 141), introduced on 17 July 2008, would come into force on the day on which the Bill received Royal Assent. The provision in the Bill on candidate spending will apply to all expenses for electoral purposes which are incurred after that date.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor has made a statement under section 19(l)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in his view, the provisions of the Political Parties and Elections Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 7 July 2008, Official Report, column 1310W, on political parties: finance, whether the new proposed trigger rules will apply to hon. Members who are re-adopted as parliamentary candidates by their constituency association prior to the dissolution of Parliament. [221465]

Bridget Prentice: The Political Parties and Elections Bill (Bill 141), introduced on 17 July 2008, includes measures to reintroduce the ‘trigger' for candidate spending limits. This is intended to ensure that all spending which is used for the purposes of the candidate's election will be regulated. Any spending used for such purposes by a readopted parliamentary candidate will therefore be regulated by the limit in the same way as other candidates, regardless of whether such expenditure occurs before or after the date of dissolution of Parliament.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 7 July 2008, Official Report, column 1310W, on political parties: finance, what the timetable is for the publication of the impact assessments referred to. [221467]


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Bridget Prentice: Impact assessments for the Political Parties and Elections Bill (Bill 141) were published alongside its introduction to the House on 17 July 2008. The five impact assessments can be found on the Ministry of Justice website:

or in the Vote Office.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 7 July 2008, Official Report, column 1310W, on political parties: finance, whether the impact assessments will include a privacy impact assessment. [221468]

Bridget Prentice: The Government made their commitment to carrying out privacy impact assessments at the planning stage of policy development from July 2008 onwards. The policies set out in the provisions of the Political Parties and Elections Bill were beyond the planning stage at that time: the White Paper, Party finance and expenditure in the United Kingdom, which sets out the proposals given effect in the Bill, was published on 16 June 2008; and at the start of July the Bill was in near-final form. The impact assessments for the Political Parties and Elections Bill therefore do not include a full privacy impact assessment.

Privacy impact assessment guidance indicates that for some projects all that may be needed is a check on their compliance with privacy laws. Having reviewed the Bill's provisions I am satisfied that they are consistent with the principles set out in the Data Protection Act 1998 and with the common law of confidentiality.

Polling Stations: Disabled

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent steps the Government have taken to facilitate access to polling stations for those with disabilities. [221677]


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Bridget Prentice: The Government are keen to ensure that the electoral process is accessible to all electors. The Electoral Administration Act 2006 extends the duty placed on local authorities to review polling places to ensure that as far as is reasonable and practicable they are accessible for electors with disabilities. Under the Act, local authorities must carry out a full review of polling places at least every four years, and representations can be made to the Electoral Commission in respect of reviews carried out by local authorities. Further, the returning officer for an election must now provide at every polling station an enlarged hand-held sample copy of the ballot paper for the assistance of voters who are partially sighted. The Government also provide grant assistance to local authorities of up to 50 per cent. of the cost of temporary ramps to improve access to buildings which may need them for the purpose of elections.

Prison Sentences

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment his Department has made of the relationship between the length of custodial sentence and the re-offending rate. [220810]

Mr. Hanson: It is not appropriate to compare actual re-offending rates between custodial sentences of different lengths as both the sentence and the likelihood of re-offending are influenced by the criminal history of the offender and his or her offence.

For example, offenders sentenced to longer custodial sentences (over one year) have on average committed a more serious offence and have fewer previous offences. Thus, their re-offending rate is likely to be lower, but this does not mean that the sentence is more effective.

The re-offending rates for offenders released from custody, broken down by length of sentence are shown in the following table.


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10 Sep 2008 : Column 1978W
Frequency and actual (yes/no) re-offending rates with progress rates from 2000 by custodial sentence length
Frequency Binary (yes/no)

Number of offenders Number of re-offences per 100 offenders Unadjusted progress from 2000 Actual re-offending rate Adjusted progress from 2000( 1)

Custody

2000 Q1

15,727

245.5

0.0

51.4

0.0

2002 Q1

15,578

288.2

17.4

55.0

2.1

2003 Q1

14,358

279.1

13.7

53.9

-0.3

2004 Q1

15,761

253.1

3.1

51.9

-4.8

2005 Q1

14,595

228.5

-6.9

49.1

-9.3

2006 Q1

14,380

208.4

-15.1

46.5

-12.5

Less than 12 months

2000 Q1

10,334

296.8

0.0

58.0

0.0

2002 Q1

10,633

356.0

19.9

63.6

3.5

2003 Q1

9,146

362.5

22.1

64.7

2.1

2004 Q1

10,578

319.8

7.7

61.9

-1.9

2005 Q1

9,688

294.3

-0.8

59.7

-5.0

2006 Q1

9,103

282.7

-4.8

58.8

-6.7

12 months to less than two years

2000 Q1

2,480

179.2

0.0

43.6

0.0

2002 Q1

2,271

180.7

0.8

43.4

1.6

2003 Q1

2,280'

179.7

0.3

43.4

0.8

2004 Q1

2,130

154.1

-14.0

38.9

-8.5

2005 Q1

2,046

133.7

-25.4

34.3

-15.8

2006 Q1

2,028

101.9

-43.1

29.6

-25.3

Two years to less than four years

2000 Q1

1,941

142.3

0.0

40.1

0.0

2002 Q1

1,763

129.4

-9.1

36.0

-9.9

2003 Q1

1,889

108.0 .

-24.1

32.3

-15.3

2004 Q1

1,993

109.8

-22.9

31.3

-20.3

2005 Q1

1,863

82.0

-42.4

26.9

-32.2

2006 Q1

2,013

80.5

-43.5

25.9

-32.9

Four years and over

2000 Q1

972

75.3

0.0

23.4

0.0

2002 Q1

911

71.8

-4.7

21.3

-6.9

2003 Q1

1,043

75.3

-0.1

21.2

-10.6

2004 Q1

1,060

55.0

-27.0

17.9

-24.7

2005 Q1

998

57.6

-23.5

17.9

-26.9

2006 Q1

1,236

45.0

-40.3

17.3

-28.8

(1) Adjusted to take offender characteristics into account.

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