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Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether his Department plans to issue a formal response to the Electoral Commission's August 2008 document, Electoral Administration in the UK; and if he will make a statement on its recommendations for regional electoral management boards in England. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether his Department has established a timetable for the introduction of individual electoral registration in Great Britain; and if he will bring forward legislative proposals to introduce one. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether a fees limit applies to requests for information under (a) the Freedom of Information Act and (b) the Environmental Information Regulations. 
Mr. Wills: Under section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act, public authorities have a duty to provide advice and assistance, so far as it would be reasonable to expect the authority to do so, to people who have made or who propose to make requests for information. The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 set out the rules and procedures for charging a fee to respond to a request for information.
There is no fees limit for requests for information under the environmental information regulations. The regulations stipulate only that a public authority may charge what is, in its view, a reasonable amount (regulation 8 (3)). DEFRA is the Department responsible for these
regulations and publishes guidance, including advice on costs and charging, on its website at:
Bridget Prentice: Up until the 1 April 2005 magistrates courts were the responsibility of locally managed Magistrates Courts Committees who were statutorily independent. They were not required by statute to inform the Department of the number of magistrates courts or closures that were not subject to an appeal under section 56(3) of the Justices Peace Act l997 (now repealed). The following table shows the number of magistrates courts at year end since 2005:
|Year end||Number of magistrates courts|
David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his estimate is of the change to the budget of the National Offender Management Service Legacy Programme under the Ministry of Justice Financial Plan for the Comprehensive Spending Review for 2008-11. 
Maria Eagle: Under the agreement reached in the last comprehensive spending review the Ministry of Justice is seeking efficiency savings over the next three years as set out in the Departments annual report for 2007-08.
Alongside the work to determine what savings can be achieved by introducing new HQ structures and new ways of working in prisons and probation, the National Offender Management Service will be implementing into prisons a number of projects that have been under development for some time. It is anticipated that these legacy programmes will contribute £22 million savings in 2009-10 and a further £17 million in 2010-11.
David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his estimate is of the change to his Department's budget as a result of Prison Service de-layering under his Department's Financial Plan for the Comprehensive Spending Review for 2008 to 2011. 
Discussions are currently taking place with all National Offender Management Service trade unions on broad proposals for pay and workforce reform. The financial impact of the overall programme will not be fully known until those negotiations have concluded. However, the Government have already announced that they are willing to invest an extra £50 million in pay for prison staff in 2008-09 to support the
implementation of an agreement that would deliver long-term improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of public sector prisons.
there had been a positive impact since common assault became an arrestable offence (as are all criminal offences now)strengthening and clarifying police powers and the positive arrest policy. Early findings indicated an increased use of common assault provisions;
the impact of making breach of non-molestation orders a criminal offence was less clear-cut among professionals. Victims and advocates generally welcomed the measure, in the hope that better enforcement and heavier sanctions would result; and
it was not possible to conclude that the drop in family court injunctions was wholly as a result of implementation of section 1 of the Act.
Given the relatively short time since the change in the law on 1 July 2007, it is not possible to conclude that the drop in family court injunction applications and orders is a direct result of the change in legislation, or whether it represents a consolidation of previous trends as the number of family court injunction orders (non-molestation and occupation orders) has fallen gradually. It is apparent that there are variations between geographical areas and changes in volumes of non-molestation and occupation orders being made.
Figures for 2002 to 2007 are not comparable to figures for 1998 to 2001 as they are based on different methods of data collection.
1998 to 2001: Manual returns by county courts. Published in individual editions of Judicial Statistics 1998 to 2001. 2002 to 2007: HMCS FamilyMan system. Published in Judicial and Court Statistics 2006 and 2007.
In the year the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act was passed (2004), the criminal courts dealt with 34,839 cases involving domestic violence(2). By 2007, this figure rose to 63,819. More victims are choosing to report incidents to the police to take the criminal court route.
Furthermore, the charge to conviction rate in the final quarter of 2007-08 was to 70.7 per cent., exceeding the CPSs April 2008 target of 70 per cent. This is a significant improvement against the background of the 59.7 per cent. conviction rate four years ago. The national average for all domestic violence prosecutions was 72 per cent. in July-September 2008, meeting the 2008-09 target ahead of time.
The Ministry will continue to monitor the levels of applications and orders for non-molestation orders and is working with the judiciary and stakeholders to improve the family and criminal justice systems response to victims of domestic violence.
While there are no specific plans to review the way non-molestation orders or ex parte applications are processed through the courts, a new Allocation and Transfer of Proceedings Order will come into effect on 25 November 2008. The objective is to ensure that proceedings are heard at the appropriate level of court and that the capacity of magistrates courts is properly utilised. This may mean that more cases under the Family Law Act 1996 will be dealt in the Family Proceedings Courts, as opposed to the county courts.
(1) Judicial and Court Statistics 2007
(2) Crown Prosecution Service
These data are on the principal offence basis. The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant
has been found guilty of two or more offences, the offence selected is the one for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
|The number of defendants convicted at all courts for offences relating to child abuse in England and Wales, 2004 to 2006( 1,2,3,4)|
|(1) These data are on the principal offence basis.|
(2) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, It is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts, and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations, are taken into account when those data are used.
(3) Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 s.5 came into force on 21 March 2005.
(4) The Sexual Offences Act 2003 came into force on 1 May 2004.
OCJRE and A: Office for Criminal Justice ReformEvidence and Analysis Unit
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