Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the results of the review of family law cases following the Cannings judgment; and what steps he is taking to increase confidence in medical expert witnesses in child protection cases. 
Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.
Following the statement made by the then Minister for Children my right hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Margaret Hodge) on 23 February 2004 (in response to the Court of Appeals judgment in the appeal against the conviction of Angela Cannings) the then Department for Education and Skills issued Circular LAC (2004)5 to local authorities on 25 February 2004. This asked local authorities to consider those cases that are affected by the Attorney Generals review.
The Association of Directors of Social Services subsequently undertook a survey of local authority cases. The results were placed in the Library on 17 June and 16 November 2004. The then Minister for Children made a statement to the House on 17 June summarising the results of the first stage of the survey, and on 16 November the second stage of the survey.
The Legal Services Commission is working with the Department of Health to pilot key proposals from the Chief Medical Officers 2006 reportBearing Good Witness: Proposals for reforming the delivery of medical expert evidence in family law cases. Once implemented, these important reforms will help ensure that the family courts in England have access to the best information when making decisions that will affect the lives of some of our most vulnerable children.
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many driving bans were served concurrently with prison sentences in each region of England and Wales in (a) each of the last 10 years and (b) 2008 to date. 
Maria Eagle: Although the court proceedings data held by my Department provide information on the sentencing of individuals for individual offences, including whether they are disqualified from driving as a result of those offences, it does not hold information on whether each person is already banned from driving when sentence is passed.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent steps the Government has taken to improve public accountability of the family courts. 
Bridget Prentice: The Ministry of Justice has consulted twice about improving the accountability and openness of family courts. Central to this openness has been recognition of the need for better provision of information about the work of the family courts. There are clear benefits to the public having access to a record of the decisions courts have made, which reflects the public interest in the due administration of justice.
In July 2007 we announced our intention to pilot the provision of written judgments when a final order is made in certain family cases. The courts in the pilot areas will for the first time routinely produce for county court and High Court cases, a written record of the court's decision, i.e. a hard copy of a judgment. Family Proceedings Courts will continue to provide the written reasons, which they are already required to do. The judgments or written reasons will be: (1) issued to the parties, (2) retained on the court file for the child to access on reaching adulthood, should they choose to do so; and (3) made anonymous and published online for the public to view.
Providing judgments to the parties is intended to help those who have been through proceedings to understand why decisions were reached. Publication of anonymised judgments online is intended to improve perceptions of the family courts within society.
The Government are committed to improving the transparency and accountability of family courts, while protecting those most vulnerable in society. My Department intends to make further detailed announcement on the pilot soon.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when his Department expects to publish its substantive response to its consultation on Confidence and confidentiality: openness in family courts - a new approach. 
Bridget Prentice: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 14 October 2008, Official Report, column 1031W, to the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Todd).
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of his Department's performance against its objectives in respect of the proportion of women in the judiciary. 
Mr. Straw: Some progress is being made in improving the number of women judges in England and Wales. As of 1 April 2008, 19.03 per cent. of the judiciary were femalean increase from 2001's figure of 14.1 per cent. At District Judge level and below, women account for 25.6 per cent. of the judiciary. In the senior judiciary, the recent appointment of five female High Court judges will bring the total number of female judges in the High Court and above to 20, the highest ever number, out of a total of 164 in the senior judiciary (High Court, Court of Appeal, Heads of Division and Law Lords).
There remains a long way to go before we have a judiciary that reflects society in gender terms. In recognition of this fact, all measures that could help to improve diversity in the judiciary are currently being considered. This will ensure that we maintain the highest possible standards of those appointed.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the change in the percentage of eligible women barristers entering the judiciary has been since the date of his predecessor's 2004 consultation on increasing diversity in the judiciary. 
Mr. Straw: Prior to 2006-07, no formal statistics were compiled on the pool of people eligible for a given judicial appointment in England and Wales. Moreover, the eligibility criteria vary widely between different types of judicial post. For these reasons, statistics on the number of women barristers eligible for judicial appointment are not available.
The following table presents statistics for the years 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2007-08 on:
women appointed to the judiciary of England and Wales as a proportion of all appointees (fee-paid or salaried)
women barristers appointed to the judiciary of England and Wales as a proportion of all barrister appointees (fee paid or salaried).
Comparable statistics are not available for 2006-07, as this was a transitional year during which responsibility for judicial appointments was passed from the former Department for Constitutional Affairs to the Judicial Appointments Commission. Comparisons over time should be made with caution, as the set of judicial posts to which appointments are made will vary from year to year.
|All appointments||Barrister appointments|
|Total||Women||Women as percentage of total||Total||Women||Women as percentage of total|
| Source: Judicial Appointments annual reports, Judicial Appointments Commission.|
During the period covered by this table, the overall proportion of women serving in the Judiciary of England and Wales increased from 15.8 per cent. (at 1 April 2004) to 19.0 per cent. (at 1 April 2008). These figures include both salaried and fee-paid judicial office holders in the courts, but do not include members of the Tribunals judiciary.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when his Department plans to answer the letter dated 31 July sent by the hon. Member for Billericay to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Access to Justice on the subject of Britain's nuclear test veterans. 
Bridget Prentice: I replied to the hon. Members letter on 14 October 2008. I apologise for the delay.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what representations he has received on the waiting period for the processing of an application for a lasting power of attorney; and if he will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: Since the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005 in October 2007 the Public Guardian is responsible for registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney. One of the key safeguards of the registration process is the requirement for a statutory six-week waiting period for objections against registration to be made.
Representations were made to the Secretary of State for Justice by the President of Solicitors for the Elderly in June 2008, and by the President of the Law Society in July 2008, that the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) was failing to issue the required notice to start the waiting period in a timely manner.
The OPG is now issuing the notice required to start the waiting period within its published target of 10 working days. Where there are problems with an application for Lasting Power of Attorney, applicants are similarly notified within 10 working days.
The OPG has received representations generally about Lasting Powers of Attorney and will be looking at whether the current registration processes are proportionate and effective during the review of the implementation of the MCA launched earlier this month.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the (a) daily, (b) weekly and (c) monthly (i) percentage and (ii) total turnover of inmates was in each prison establishment (A) in each of the last 10 years and (B) in each month in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Hanson: Information on the turnover of prisoners in each prison establishment is not available. However, during 2006, the last year for which the information is available, there were 90,000 receptions under immediate custodial sentence into all prison establishments in England and Wales. In the same year, there were 78,500 discharges from sentences.
These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many custodial sentences of (a) less than one month, (b) between one and three months, (c) between three and six months and (d) between six and 12 months were handed down in each of the last 10 years, broken down by offence. 
Maria Eagle: The requested information is contained in the following table.
Statistics for 2007 will be published at the end of November.
|Number of persons sentenced( 1) for various offence groups by sentence length, all courts, England and Wales, 1997 to 2006|
|Number of persons|
|Offence description||Less than 1 month||1 month and up to and including 3 months||Over 3 months and up to and including 6 months||Over 6 months and up to and including 12 months|
|(1) These data are on the principal offence basis.|
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
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|