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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) offered different types of severance terms to (a) VOSA directors and (b) other staff working at VOSA headquarters. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: VOSA directors were offered voluntary early severance terms as their grade meant that there were no realistic opportunities for them to find other posts within the Agency. This situation did not apply to other staff.
Maria Eagle: I refer the hon. Member to the answer of 27 October 2008, Official Report, column 743W, to the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Prisk) which provides information on the spend on Christmas functions in 2007-08.
Attendance at and hosting of hospitality events including Christmas parties by departmental staff may be recorded in local hospitality registers, in accordance with Ministry of Justice policy. The data are not collated centrally, and gathering information from local registers (including operational establishments) would be possible only at disproportionate cost.
The Department does not fund Christmas parties although staff may personally contribute towards the cost of such an event. At any time of year awards may be made through the reward and recognition scheme in line with departmental guidelines for team celebrations including modest parties.
All expenditure on entertainment should be incurred in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety that are based on the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many committal hearings were held in each of the last five years; and what estimate he has made of the cost of committal hearings in each of those years. 
Bridget Prentice: Committal hearings in the magistrates courts for the years 2003 to 2007 were: 51,492; 48,656; 47,939; 47,023; and 50,027. Cost data were not collated centrally prior to the creation of Her Majesty's Courts Services on 1 April 2005. Consequently, it is not possible to estimate the costs of committals in 2003 and 2004. The estimated costs of committals for the years 2005 to 2007 are: £5.6 million; £4.6 million; and £5.2 million.
Mr. Hanson: No court cells are currently in use or have been since February 2008. Court cells were used to accommodate prisoners overnight between January and June 2007, and again in February this year. Invoices to the value of £2.54 million have to date been paid to escort contractors who staffed the cells.
Expenditure on hospitality is made in accordance the Department's internal hospitality policy and is consistent with the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, columns 1669-70W, on departmental public participation, when his Department will publish a response to each of the completed consultations still awaiting response. 
Maria Eagle: Further to my answer of 26 November 2008, the following response papers have since been published by my Department: Pandemic Influenzaguidance on the operation of the coroner system; Confidence and Confidentiality: Openness in family courtsa new approach; and Claims Management Regulationfee levels for 2009-10.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) strives to publish its response papers in a timely fashion and will endeavour to publish the other outstanding response papers as soon as possible. The date of publication depends on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the subject matter, the number of responses received and securing clearance by Cabinet Committee.
Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what percentage of people convicted of carrying an illegal firearm under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 received the mandatory sentence established by the Act in each of the last five years, broken down by age group; and what the average length of sentence of those convicted of carrying an illegal firearm under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 was in each of the last five years. 
The Criminal Justice Act 2003 prescribed mandatory minimum custodial sentences for the offences of: Possessing or distributing prohibited firearms or ammunition and Possessing or distributing firearm disguised as other object where the offences were committed on or after the 26 January 2004.
The minimum sentence it set was three years where the offender was aged between 16 and 18 at the time of the offence and five years for offenders aged over 18 at the time of the offence.
Data held by the Ministry of Justice cannot determine the date the offence took place or the age of the offender at the time of the offence rather it is the date the sentence was passed and the age of the offender at the time of sentencing that is held.
Data provided in this answer shows all offenders given the mandatory minimum from 2005-07, while not all offenders sentenced in 2005 would have been eligible for the mandatory minimum it is not possible to separately identify those cases that occurred prior to 26 January 2004.
Those offenders in the juvenile (10 to 17-years-old) age band are all assumed to be eligible for the three-year mandatory minimum, similarly those in the adult age band (21+) are all assumed to be eligible for the five-year mandatory minimum, those offenders in the young adult age band (18-20) could potentially have been eligible for either minimum sentence so the numbers given between three and five years and over five years have been shown separately.
|Persons sentenced for firearms offences liable for mandatory minimum custodial sentence as prescribed by the Criminal Justice Act 2003( 1) , 2003-07|
|(1 )Offences under Firearms Act 1968 of: Possessing or distributing prohibited weapons or ammunition, or Possessing or distributing firearm disguised as other object. (2) The mandatory is applicable only for offences that occurred on or after 26 January 2004. (3) Mandatory minimum for persons aged under 18 at time of offence and for offences taking place after 26 January 2004 is three years. (4) Average custodial sentence length (months) excludes life and indeterminate sentences. (5) Mandatory minimum is dependant on age at the time of the offence. Data held by the Ministry of Justice only shows age at time of sentence so offenders in this age group could have been liable for three or five years. Offenders have not been double counted. (6) Mandatory minimum for persons aged over 18 at time of offence and for offences taking place after 26 January 2004 is five years. 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, Ministry of Justice.|
Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many freedom of information cases referred to the Information Commissioner (a) are under investigation by a caseworker and (b) are awaiting allocation to a caseworker. 
Mr. Wills: Relevant figures are only available up to August 2008. In August 2008, 1,234 cases were being dealt with by the Information Commissioners Office under the Freedom of Information Act. Of these, 640 were being investigated by a complaints officer and 594 were awaiting allocation.
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