Previous Section Index Home Page

28 Jan 2009 : Column 544W—continued

Parliament: Repairs and Maintenance

Mr. Amess: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what estimate has been made of the cost of repairs to the gates on Derby Gate; what reports he has received on the cause of the damage; and if he will make a statement. [248234]

Nick Harvey: The cost of completed repairs to the gates adjacent to 1 Derby Gate was £1,968.40. There are no reports available as the vehicle damage to the gates was minimal.

Portcullis House: Fire Alarms

Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission on how many occasions since 1 January 2008 Portcullis House has been evacuated for fire-related reasons; on how many of these occasions a fire was discovered; and what steps the Commission is taking to minimise the number of false alarms. [250745]

Nick Harvey: From 1 January 2008 to 21 January 2009 there were five evacuations from Portcullis House. None were actual fires. They were caused by:

To minimise disruption to the occupants, a system is operated in Portcullis House whereby upon actuation of smoke/beam/video smoke detectors outside the atrium, the parliamentary fire section has 15 minutes to identify and resolve an incident before the evacuation alarm is automatically activated. Three of the five evacuations in the last 12 months were triggered because it was not possible during the 15 minutes to verify that the building was safe. On the other two occasions, operation of a manual call point and the interruption of a beam detector in the atrium automatically triggered an evacuation. In order to minimise the number of unwanted alarms, a full fire incident investigation is carried out by the parliamentary fire section, fire safety manager and London fire brigade after every incident to establish the cause of the incident and to identify the person(s) responsible. Key personnel involved in the alarm activation are interviewed and remedial action taken. In the case of technical faults, the fire alarm engineers are called to site to investigate and take remedial action. Fire safety training is regularly reviewed and revised to address trends in activation of fire alarms.

28 Jan 2009 : Column 545W


Cannabis: Fixed Penalties

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidance he has issued on the referral of possession of cannabis cases to the magistrates' courts in circumstances where it followed the issuing of (a) one, (b) two and (c) three previous penalty notices for disorder to the same individual for the same offence. [249536]

Maria Eagle: When penalty notices for disorder become available for the offence of possessing cannabis, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will issue guidance under section 6 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 about their issue.

Also, the Association of Chief Police Officers will publish revised national guidance for the policing of cannabis possession as a Class B drug in England and Wales. This makes clear that while arrest is always the first option, an adult offender is likely to receive a cannabis warning for a first possession offence, and a penalty notice for disorder for a second offence. A third offence will result in arrest and consideration of likely further action including caution, conditional caution or prosecution. All subsequent offences are likely to result in arrest. If any aggravating factors are present the police will escalate the response accordingly. Ultimately, decisions as to the most appropriate disposal for an offender are made by the police and CPS using their professional judgment and experience.

Conveyancing: Fees and Charges

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) from what date the newly appointed charging fee for local authority property search regulations will be effective; [251410]

(2) when he expects to publish the charging fee for local authority property search regulations; and what the reasons are for the time taken to publish them. [251411]

Bridget Prentice: The fee for a personal search of a local land charges register in England is £11. It was set at this level in 2003. The Ministry of Justice is, however, considering whether the fee should be changed following the response to the joint Department for Communities and Local Government—Ministry of Justice 2008 consultation paper Local Authority Property Search Services: Charges for Property Search Services. We received a large response expressing a wide range of views. We are giving them careful consideration but have not yet reached a decision on the way forward. We aim to announce the outcome of the consultation and to publish a response document as soon as is practicable.

Other local authority property search fees in England are set by individual local authorities. The basis on which such fees are to be calculated is set out in the Local Authorities (England) (Charges for Property Searches) Regulations SI 2008 No. 3248 which came into force on 23 December 2008.

28 Jan 2009 : Column 546W


David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the (a) shortest, (b) longest and (c) average length of time in days taken by coroners in (i) Leicestershire and (ii) the rest of England to hold treasure inquests was in each of the last two years. [251129]

Bridget Prentice: Information on the time taken to conduct inquests into finds reported under the Treasure Act 1996 is not collected centrally by the Ministry of Justice, though informal figures collated by the British Museum suggest that the average time for inquests concluded in 2008, from notification of the find to a final verdict, is 173 days.

Ministry of Justice statistics on coroner caseload show that the two coroners whose districts cover the county of Leicestershire and the city of Leicester, between them conducted three inquests into treasure in 2007, and two in 2006. Figures for 2008 are not yet available, but are due to be published on the Ministry of Justice website in May.

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when the remaining provisions of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 will be brought into effect. [248652]

Maria Eagle: With two exceptions, all provisions in the Act were commenced on 6 April 2008.

The exceptions are:

Data Protection

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will bring forward proposals to give powers to the Information Commissioner to audit data controlled in the (a) private and (b) voluntary sectors. [251185]

Mr. Wills: The Information Commissioner already has powers to check and enforce the compliance of data controllers in the private and voluntary sectors with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).

The Information Commissioner may issue an Information Notice under the DPA on any data controller to assess compliance with the data protection principles.
28 Jan 2009 : Column 547W
If the Information Commissioner is satisfied that a data controller is contravening the data protection principles, he may issue an Enforcement Notice requiring the data controller to take action to ensure compliance. Failure to comply with either of these Notices is a criminal offence. Schedule 9 of the DPA also allows the Information Commissioner to apply for a warrant to enter and inspect the premises of any data controller he reasonably suspects to be in contravention of the data protection principles or committing an offence under the DPA.

The Information Commissioner may also currently undertake a Good Practice Assessment under s51 (7) of the DPA to assess the data processing procedures of any data controller, providing he has obtained their consent.

Departmental Training

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice which external organisations his Department has engaged to provide training for fast stream civil service staff in the last three years; and how many civil servants in his Department have participated in provision of training for external organisations in that period. [252228]

Mr. Wills: In the past three years the following external organisations have been engaged by the former Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) and the Ministry of Justice (since its creation in May 2007) to provide training for fast stream civil service staff:

Information regarding the number of civil servants in the Ministry of Justice (and formerly the DCA) who have participated in provision of training for external organisations in the same period is not collated centrally and could be determined only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Visits

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much his Department and the former Department for Constitutional Affairs spent on visits by their staff to Brussels in 2007-08; and how many such visits were made by (a) air and (b) rail. [241255]

Maria Eagle: It is not possible to determine how much was spent on visits by staff to Brussels as the expenditure is not separately identifiable within the Department’s financial systems. Data on how many overseas visits, to which countries and by which mode of transport are not held centrally. To obtain any such information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

It is possible however to provide data for the main divisions within the Department that undertook such journeys to Brussels for the period requested. These are detailed as follows.

28 Jan 2009 : Column 548W

The Department has published rules for official travel in its staff handbook, and all travel is undertaken in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Civil Service Management Code.


Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the number of (a) Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, (b) the Lord Chief Justice and Heads of Division and other judges of the Court of Appeal and High Court, (c) Crown and County Court judges, (d) district judges sitting in crime and civil and family matters and (e) High Court masters who are engaged in administrative and managerial work in addition to their judicial work; and what estimate he has made of the average number of days per calendar month that those in each category spend on such work. [251944]

Mr. Straw: The Ministry of Justice does not currently hold any information on the amount of time spent by judges on administrative and managerial work. All judges may be called on from time to time to assume responsibilities in relation to the courts and jurisdictions they work in. How much time these responsibilities take to discharge will depend on the level of responsibility, the circumstances and the judge.

I am informed that the Judges’ Council is undertaking work at present to provide better estimates of judges’ workloads. The collection, and any release, of this information is a matter for the Lord Chief Justice.

National Offender Management Service: Apprentices

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills on the participation of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) in his Department's public sector apprenticeship scheme; what apprenticeship schemes are operated by NOMS; and what plans he has to increase the availability of apprenticeships at NOMS. [250914]

Mr. Hanson: In June 2008, HM Prison Service introduced the Prison Maintenance Departments Apprenticeship scheme for people who are interested in learning a trade.

Currently, NOMS is working in partnership with Skills for Justice to develop an apprenticeship in business administration in the justice sector, tailored to the specific needs of all administrative staff working in NOMS. In the future, there is potential to explore further apprenticeship programmes such as a custodial apprenticeship.

NOMS has also, for some time, worked with Skills for Justice to develop appropriate qualifications for staff, aligned to national occupational standards.


Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his most recent estimate of the average cost per year of keeping an offender in (a) an adult prison, (b) a young offender institution and (c) a secure training centre is. [251160]

28 Jan 2009 : Column 549W

Mr. Hanson: The overall average resource cost per offender (prisoner) in England and Wales in 2007-08 was:


(a) adult prisons


(b) young offender institutions (YOI)


(c) secure training centres


Figures to the nearest £500

The average costs for adult prisons and YOIs comprise (a) the public sector establishments' direct resource expenditure as published in the “Annual Report and Accounts of Her Majesty's Prison Service (HMPS)”, increased by an apportionment of costs borne centrally by HMPS and the National Offender Management Service and (b) the resource expenditure of contracted-out prisons also increased by certain costs borne centrally. This involves some estimation. Income from the Youth Justice Board (YJB) in respect of services recharged to the YJB is excluded in order to show the overall cost to the Ministry of Justice. The figures do not include prisoners held in police and court cells under Operation Safeguard, nor expenditure met by other Government Departments (e.g. for health and education). The prisoner escort service is included.

The YOI figure comprises male open and male closed establishments. Adult includes all other establishments except male juvenile category.

The categorisation of costs into adult prisons and Young Offender Institutions is based on the main category of the prison establishment as at 31 March 2008, not on the mix of offenders in the establishments. So for example, where an establishment is primarily adult but has a young offender population, the young offender costs are not separately identified.

The secure training centre cost includes education, healthcare and VAT.

There are a number of factors which will cause differences in prison costs, such as the size, age, location and category of the prison, the mix of prisoners (including gender and age) and the internal regime and rehabilitation work followed.

Next Section Index Home Page