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Sentences: Offensive Weapons

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many people have been sentenced to custody in the 10 knife action programme areas for knife-related crimes; [246748]

(2) how many people have been given community supervision orders in the 10 knife action programme areas for knife-related crimes. [246749]

Mr. Straw: Finalised data for sentencing for knife and offensive weapon possession in the 10 Tackling Knives Action Programme (TKAP) areas in 2008 will not be available until ‘Sentencing Statistics 2008’ is published in November 2009. However, as part of TKAP, provisional data from management information systems are being gathered. These data will be subject to continual revision. The provisional figures available from the Police National Computer indicate that between June and October 2008 in the TKAP areas, 2,036 community penalties, 1,356 immediate custodial sentences and 669 suspended sentence orders were given for offences relating to the possession of a knife or offensive weapon in a public place or on school premises. These figures include adult and juvenile offenders.

The figures quoted in this answer have been taken from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Crime: Treason

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will bring forward amendments to legislation governing offences of treason so that such offences are defined as crimes against the state. [244672]

Maria Eagle: We have no plans at present to reform this area of law. However the Law Commission identified this area as one they might tackle under their simplification of criminal law project in their 10th programme of work (Law Com 311 HC 605).

Data Protection: Internet

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the written ministerial statement of 4 December 2008, Official Report, columns 9-11WS, on the Justice and Home Affairs Council, what assurance the Government sought that member states operating the e-justice programme will have in place sufficiently high data security standards to meet UK standards; what assessment his Department has made of the potential for increased fraud as a result of implementation of the e-justice programme; and if he will make further representations on the matter at EU level. [244757]

Mr. Straw: Work on e-Justice is at an early stage and has the objective to improve access to justice for citizens and cooperation between the authorities in each member state. Projects so far have concentrated on the creation of a portal which will allow access through this one site
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to databases and registers already available to the public. Such databases are already subject to national and European data protection legislation. For future projects, transfers of data to and from the UK must comply with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.

As e-Justice work is still at an early stage of development there have been no specific assessments of the potential for increased fraud but security standards and the associated considerations of identification, authentication and authorisation to use systems are the subject of ongoing discussion. We believe that it is essential that such work must provide sufficient safeguards to minimise the risk of fraud or unauthorised access to data. These are matters which we will continue to press at both official level and at relevant Justice and Home Affairs Councils.

Departmental Aviation

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many journeys (a) he and his predecessors and (b) his officials made by aeroplane in the course of their duties in each of the last five years. [246669]

Mr. Straw: My predecessors, officials and I have undertaken a number of flights over the last five years, the details of which are not possible to provide within the disproportionate cost limit. The Ministry of Justice has no historic record of flights undertaken by the Secretary of State or Ministry of Justice officials. Since April 2007 a record of flights I and my predecessor Lord Falconer have undertaken and the number of officials accompanying us on these flights has been kept by my office. This record indicates that from April 2007 to April 2008 my predecessor undertook one return international flight with two accompanying officials; I undertook one domestic flight with two accompanying officials and three return international flights with four accompanying officials on each journey. Between May 2008 to present I have undertaken one domestic flight with one accompanying official; one return international flight with another Minister and three accompanying officials; one return international flight with three accompanying officials and one multi-stop international visit involving five flights, with four accompanying officials. Travel by Ministers and civil servants is undertaken in accordance with the ‘Ministerial Code’ and the ‘Civil Service Management Code’ respectively.

Departmental Correspondence

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) letters and (b) e-mails received by his Department had not been responded to as at 15 December 2008. [244710]

Mr. Straw: The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to correspondence from Members and Peers. Information relating to 2008 will be published as soon as it has been collated. The report for 2007 was published on 20 March 2008, Official Report column 71-74WS. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House. When responding to all correspondence Departments should abide by the guidance as set out in ‘Handling correspondence from MPs,
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Lords, MEPs and Members of Devolved Assemblies’ which was published by the Cabinet office in July 2005 and may be read at:

As at 22 December (the nearest date for which I have records), 81 letters from MPs were outstanding and had not received a response within target.

In respect of emails and correspondence from the public, it is not possible to provide the information within the £750 disproportionate cost limit.

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what percentage of correspondence from hon. and right hon. Members he (a) personally answered, (b) passed to ministerial colleagues and (c) asked officials to answer in the last 12 months. [244910]

Mr. Straw: During 2008 I received 4,113 letters from hon. and right hon. Members that raised issues that fell within my Department’s remit. I responded to 946 (23 per cent.) of those letters and, except for a small number answered by officials, my ministerial colleagues responded to the remainder.

In addition, I received 649 letters in 2008 that raised issues outside my Department's remit. These were transferred to the relevant Department for answer.

Departmental Data Protection

Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many contracts (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have which allow contractors to store personal data of UK citizens overseas; for which contracts this applies; in which countries the data for each contract are held; and how many people have their data stored overseas in the case of each such contract. [245348]

Mr. Straw: The Ministry of Justice and its agencies, has one contract for an online training facility which is provided from the United States of America. The application holds the names and payroll references for approximately 4,000 staff who have completed an e-learning package. The company is a member of the United States Safe Harbor agreement, which ensures a similar level of data protection to that required by UK data protection law. All data transfers are required to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998.

The contract expires in April 2009. Options for the future are being considered with a view to ensuring the data will be stored in the UK after that date.

Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when his Department appointed a senior information risk owner in accordance with the report, Data Handling Procedures in Government and the accompanying document Cross-departmental Actions: Mandatory Minimum Action; when the appointment was made; and what grade the person holds within the Department. [245367]

Mr. Straw: The Ministry of Justice’s senior information risk owner (SIRO) is the Director General of the Democracy, Constitution and Law Group who took over this responsibility in spring 2008, in advance of the Data Handling Review’s publication. Prior to her taking over the role, the Ministry of Justice’s SIRO was the Director General of Strategy.

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Departmental Energy

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department is taking to reduce the amount of energy it wastes. [244600]

Mr. Wills: The Government’s delivery plan for “Sustainable Procurement and Operations on the Government Estate” update published 18 December 2008 outlines what actions the Ministry of Justice is taking to reduce its energy waste.

Progress will be made through behavioural change: encouraging staff to switch off lights and electrical and electronic equipment when not needed; and as a result of energy audits looking at increasing energy efficiency of the existing estate through initiatives such as: upgrading lighting, installing voltage optimisation kit, optimising time settings for boiler and chiller systems.

Departmental Freedom of Information

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 were made to his Department since 2005; how many requests were (a) agreed to and (b) refused in each of those years; how many refusals were subject to appeal to the Information Commissioner in each of those years; how many appeals were successful; if he will place in the Library copies of the material subsequently provided in each case; how much was spent by his Department opposing each appeal; which (i) consultants and (ii) law firms were employed by his Department in connection with each appeal; and if he will make a statement. [244831]

Mr. Wills: The Ministry of Justice has published annual reports containing statistical information on Freedom of Information requests received by monitored bodies (including central Government Departments) in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Statistics on requests received in the first three quarters of 2008 have also been published.

These reports include statistics on the number of non-routine requests received by this Department and the initial outcomes of these requests. They also contain the number of complaints to the Information Commissioner of which we have been notified, and the outcomes of these complaints.

The reports can be found at the following address:

In addition, copies of each report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Providing copies of material subsequently provided in each case, and identifying any costs relating to consultants or law firms incurred in handling them would incur disproportionate cost. However, in most cases under investigation. Ministry of Justice officials use departmental lawyers or the Central Clearing House, also based here, for specialist advice where necessary. As such, no external cost is incurred.

Departmental Official Hospitality

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much his Department spent on Ministerial hospitality in (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06, (c) 2006-07 and (d) 2007-08, expressed in current prices. [241241]

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Mr. Straw: The Ministry of Justice has offered various forms of ministerial hospitality over the last four years, the cost of which is not possible to provide within the disproportionate cost limit. Since April 2007 a record of the cost of receptions and formal dinners hosted by me as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has been kept by my office. This record indicates that in the financial year 2007-08 spending in these matters was £42,452. The total spending to date in 2008-09 financial year is £68,331. The bulk of this spending is for the Lord Chancellor's Breakfast, hosted for the judiciary and foreign dignitaries on the occasion of the Opening of the Legal Year. All spending on official entertainment is made in accordance with the principles set out in ‘Managing Public Money’.

Departmental Pay

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make it his policy to ensure that those temporary and permanent employees at the same grade in his Department who are paid at an hourly rate are paid at the same rate. [244388]

Mr. Wills: All staff employed directly by the core Ministry of Justice and the National Offender Management Service are subject to the same arrangements for pay irrespective of whether they are temporary (i.e. fixed term) employees or permanent staff.

Where they exist, differences in hourly pay rates for individuals within the same grade are for reasons other than whether the member of staff is fixed term or permanent. Such differences may be the position within the pay band or location. Following machinery of Government changes, there are a small number of staff within the Ministry employed on their former employers' terms and conditions and who opted to retain their legacy pay arrangements. These staff therefore have an hourly salaries determined by those legacy terms.

Hourly rates paid to the staff engaged through temporary Staffing Agencies are determined between the Agency and the individual. When Parliament has decided the implementation date of the Agency Workers Directive, guidance on the terms will be reviewed with suppliers.

Disclosure of Information: Identity Cards

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the status is of the Information Tribunal’s consideration of the Appeal by the Office of Government Commerce against the decision notices issued by the Information Commissioner on the disclosure of gateway review documents relating to the Home Office’s Identity Cards Programme. [243034]

Angela Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

The Information Tribunal first made a decision on this appeal in May 2007, upholding the decision notices of the Information Commissioner requiring the disclosure of the OGC gateway review documents relating to the Home Office’s Identity Cards Programme.

In March 2008, this decision was quashed by a High Court ruling, the judge ordering that the appeal should return to a remitted, newly constituted Information Tribunal.

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The remitted tribunal sat between the 29 to the 31 October 2008 and heard closing arguments on 10 December 2008, with further written submissions invited from both parties, to be submitted by the 19 December 2008.

The tribunal has indicated that it is likely to release a decision in late January or early February 2009.

Drugs: Rehabilitation

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average cost was of keeping a person in residential drug rehabilitation for (a) one week and (b) one year in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [243285]

Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) supports an online directory of residential drug and alcohol treatment services, which is available via the NTA website at:

This directory contains a range of information, including cost, self-reported by approximately 75 per cent. of residential rehabilitation services in England and Wales, and as such it does not represent a comprehensive or necessarily robust picture. Of the providers in the directory, the average (median) cost, as at the end of November 2008, of a week in a residential rehabilitation service is around £500. A residential programme typically runs for three to six months. Information about the cost of residential drug rehabilitation programmes which last for a year is not separately identified.

Elections: Greater London

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what timetable has been set for the completion of the cost-benefit assessment of e-counting in the 2008 London elections; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the assessment once it is completed. [245976]

Mr. Wills: London Elects, as the body responsible for running the London Mayoral and Assembly elections, is conducting a cost-benefit analysis of e-counting in the 2008 London elections. The Ministry of Justice is not involved. I will nevertheless ask London Elects if they will write to the hon. Member with details.

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