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Electoral Commission

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his Department’s policy is on whether the Electoral Commission should be the (a) regulator and (b) administrator in relation to electoral services. [239703]

Mr. Wills: The Government believe that the Electoral Commission has an important role to play as the regulator of party finance and expenditure, and of electoral services. The Commission’s regulatory role includes:


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The Government consider that the measures in the Political Parties and Elections Bill to reform the Electoral Commission’s governance and powers in line with the recommendations in the Eleventh report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life will help to make the Commission a more effective regulator of electoral services, and better enable it to deliver its wider regulatory role.

The Government have no plans for the Commission to take overall responsibility for electoral administration. This responsibility will continue to rest with locally appointed returning officers and electoral administrators.

Electoral Commission: Powers of Entry

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make it his policy to ensure that the new powers of entry to be exercised by the Electoral Commission must be authorised by a judge rather than by a local magistrate. [239700]

Mr. Wills: The issue of judicial oversight was raised in debate at Committee stage of the Political Parties and Elections Bill. As I said in that debate, we are actively considering further the appropriate level of judicial oversight for the warrant procedure provided in the Bill.

The powers of entry under a warrant provided by paragraph 3 of Schedule 19A (contained in Schedule 1 to the Political Parties and Elections Bill) will be exercised by a constable, who may be accompanied by other persons named in the warrant and any other constables as required.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the evidential basis is which underlies the proposals to grant the Electoral Commission powers to enter people's homes. [239704]

Mr. Wills: The proposals to reform the commission's powers and governance seek to make the commission a more effective regulator. In its 11th Report, the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) stated that: “PPERA should be amended to make it clear that the Electoral Commission has a duty to investigate proactively allegations or suspicions of failures to comply with the regulatory framework” (CSPL 11th Report, p31).

In their report on Propriety and Peerages published in December 2007, the Public Administration Select Committee noted that: “There is now a striking consensus behind the need to make the Electoral Commission into a more effective, proactive regulator. We add our voice to that consensus. The Government is currently considering what steps to take next. One of these steps might need to be changes to legislation to give new powers to the Commission.” (Public Administration Select Committee, Propriety and Peerages: Second Report of Session 2007-08, paragraph 99, p34).

In order to ensure that the commission can effectively carry out its functions as a regulator, the Government have proposed that the commission should have the ability to apply to a magistrate for a warrant, which will be exercised by a constable, together with other persons named in it, to seek entry to premises in connection with an investigation.


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The power to grant a warrant to enter and search premises on an application from the Electoral Commission, which is set out in Paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 to the Bill, is similar to the power given to grant a warrant on an application from the Financial Services Authority, which is set out in section 176 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

As I said during Committee stage, I am reflecting further on the points made on this issue and will return to them at the next parliamentary stage.

Electronic Voting

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost was of operating electronic counting at elections for (a) Bedford borough council in 2007, (b) Breckland district council in 2007 and (c) the London Mayor and the London Assembly in 2008. [233950]

Mr. Wills: The Ministry of Justice provided funding of £177,364 to Bedford and £164,805 to Breckland to cover the costs of operating the electronic counting pilots.

The Greater London Authority entered into a contract worth just over £4.5 million for the provision of electronic counting services, supply of the three types of ballot papers and support services for the 2008 London Mayor and London Assembly elections. There will have been some savings from not conducting a manual count.

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much has been paid to Indra in respect of work on the operation of e-counting pilots. [233951]

Mr. Wills: Indra were selected as one of seven suppliers on the Government's Electoral Modernisation Programme framework of suppliers and have participated in three e-counting pilots. Selection for these pilots was done by the local authorities via a tender among the suppliers on the framework.

In 2003 in Epping Forest they were paid £50,000 to deliver e-counting services as part of a wider electoral modernisation pilot. In 2007 the Government supported e-counting pilots in Bedford and Breckland where Indra were paid £165,792 and £148,831 respectively. There will have been some savings from not conducting a manual count.

Employment Tribunals Service: Disabled

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he has taken to ensure that employment tribunals are fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and what mechanisms are in place to ensure that employment tribunals fully implement their disability equality schemes. [239182]

Bridget Prentice: The Employment Tribunal, as part of the Tribunals Service, carries out Disability Discrimination Act audits on all of its sites. Those identified as needing improvement to the facilities have these carried out on a priority basis.

The Tribunals Service is covered by the Ministry of Justice Disability Equality Scheme and reports to the Department on its equality scheme action plans. The
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Employment Tribunal has equality and diversity representatives, who ensure that the Tribunal is compliant with the scheme.

Fines: Surcharges

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much he expects to collect from the victims surcharge in each of the next five years. [238860]

Maria Eagle: The Victims Surcharge is a £15 charge imposed on fines given in the magistrates and Crown courts in England and Wales on all offences committed on or after 1 April 2007.

Forecasts have not been made for the next five years as the scheme is still in a relatively early stage of its operative life. Initial estimates were that in due course it would generate £16 million in a fully operational year. Firm forecasts will be made after two years of operation. All commitments given on surcharge revenue will be honoured by the MoJ.

Fixed Penalties

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for what reason magistrates are not able to access information on fixed penalty notices issued to those before them who have pleaded guilty. [237780]

Mr. Straw: The Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) was established under sections 1-11 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. Under section 2 (4), a penalty notice is defined as a notice offering the opportunity, by paying the penalty, to discharge any liability to be convicted of the offence to which the notice relates.

Unlike cautions, where there is an admission of guilt during a recorded PACE-compliant interview, PNDs do not involve such an admission and are issued solely on the belief of a police officer that an offence has been committed. PNDs for recordable offences must be recorded on the Police National Computer, not least to ensure that they are not issued to those who repeatedly offend. I am however considering how to improve the reliability of recording of PNDs on the Police National Computer and whether they should be different arrangements by which their issue could be taken into account by a court.

HM Prison Service: Religion

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice which religions HM Prison Service recognises. [238859]

Mr. Malik: The Prison Service facilitates the practice of a wide range of religions and denominations. Longstanding Prison Service policy has been not to recognise Scientology, Nation of Islam, or Rastafarianism for the purposes of facilitating religious ministry in prison. All prisoners have the opportunity to register their religious affiliation and to practise within the constraints of good order and discipline.

Human Rights

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the number of judgments made by the European Court of Human Rights which
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required amendments to UK legislation in the last 10 years; what the date was of each such judgment; and in how many cases such amendments have not been made. [238189]

Mr. Straw: In the 10 years between 1 November 1998 (when the European Court of Human Rights in its current form came into existence) and 1 November 2008, the Court’s statistics record that of the 289 cases involving the United Kingdom in which a full judgment was delivered, 185 resulted in a finding of at least one violation of the convention. All judgments of the European Court of Human Rights may be accessed in full through the Court’s website at:

Not all of these judgments required amendment of primary and/or secondary legislation; in many cases, either no general measures are required by the judgment, or the general measures may be effected by changes in policy or administrative practice. We do not collate information centrally as to the nature of the remedial measures required by these judgments, so it would be possible only at disproportionate cost to determine how many of these cases did require amendments to primary and/or secondary legislation.

There are at present 42 judgments in respect of which remedial measures remain the subject of scrutiny by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe; of these, about half are part of a single group of cases settled by the Government on the basis of a leading judgment by the Court. Of the remainder, the number that may require further amendment to legislation will depend on the final form of the general measures taken.

Human Trafficking: Sentencing

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many of the convictions for human trafficking offences in each of the last five years led to (a) a custodial sentence of more than one year, (b) a custodial sentence of less than one year, (c) a community sentence and (d) a fine. [232956]

Jacqui Smith: I have been asked to reply.

Of the 90 convictions for human trafficking to date 80 have attracted a sentence of more than one year, four have attracted a sentence of one year or less and five are awaiting sentence. In one case the conviction resulted in a suspended sentence.

Information from the UKHTC indicate there have been no cases which resulted in a community sentence or a fine.

Intellectual Property: Crime

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many convictions for intellectual property crime under (a) the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and (b) the Trademarks Act 1994 there were in (i) 2006 and (ii) 2007; how many of these convictions resulted in (A) a custodial sentence and (B) a fine; what (1) total and (2) average amount paid in such fines was; and what the average custodial sentence in each year was. [239792]


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Mr. Hanson: The available information for 2006 is contained in the following table. Information on fines paid is not available.

The attention of the House is drawn to the Sentencing Statistics 2007, which will be published on 27 November and copies of which will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Data for 2007 will become available once “Sentencing Statistics, England and Wales, 2007” has been published on 27 November.

Number of offenders( 1) sentenced for intellectual property offences under Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and Trademarks Act 1994 by selected disposals, all courts, England and Wales, 2006
Principal statutes
Number of offenders, average fine amount and average length of sentence (months) Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 Trade Marks Act 1994

Total number convictions

249

920

Total number sentenced

243

932

Total number fined

109

270

Total fines imposed (£)

80,958

108,119

Average fine amount (£)

742.73

400.44

Immediate custody

58

248

Average custodial sentence length(2)

3.1

4.0

(1) Includes companies, public bodies etc.
(2) Months. excludes life and indeterminate sentences.
Note:
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.
Source:
OMS Analytical Services

Intellectual Property: Training

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment his Department has made of the merits of training in intellectual property law for judges and magistrates and their advisers; and what guidance has been issued to the Judicial Studies Board pursuant to recommendation 44 of the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. [239791]

Mr. Hanson: It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. and learned Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Judicial Appointments Commission: Finance

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the anticipated capital expenditure is of the Judicial Appointments Commission in the next (a) five and (b) 10 years. [237893]

Maria Eagle: The Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission has no plans for any significant capital expenditure for the CSR period (2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11). Funding beyond the CSR period has not yet been agreed.

Judicial Appointments Ombudsman: Finance

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the anticipated capital expenditure is of the Judicial Appointments Ombudsman in the next (a) five and (b) 10 years. [237894]


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Maria Eagle: The Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Ombudsman has no plans for any significant capital expenditure for the CSR period (2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11). Funding beyond the CSR period has not yet been agreed.


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