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In addition to upgrading SFA, around £32 million was spent in FY 2007-08 on improvements such as new kitchens or bathrooms, improving the quality of life for service families.

Service Personnel: Retention

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are being taken to increase levels of retention of service personnel. [252613]

Mr. Kevan Jones [holding answer 9 February 2009]: Taking the armed forces as a whole, retention rates are relatively stable and we have seen no unexplained peaks of personnel leaving in the last 10 years. There is real concern, however, that in some important areas exit rates are too high and appear to be increasing, if only slightly, year on year. These pinch point trades are continuously monitored and specific action is taken to improve retention and indeed recruitment. The recent Command Paper (July 2008) set out over 40 measures aimed at addressing many of the disadvantages of service life while the Government's response to the Report of Inquiry into National Recognition of our Armed Forces has now been presented to Parliament detailing how we have accepted the majority of recommendations. In addition, a wide range of measures are in place to improve retention, including career management, improvement to conditions of service and work/life balance, commitment bonuses and targeted financial retention initiatives.


Bail Accommodation and Support Services

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 21 January 2009, Official Report, column 1554W, on approved premises; how many bail hostels other than those operated by ClearSprings (a) operate and (b) are planned to open in (i) Eastbourne and (ii) England. [254096]

Mr. Hanson: The properties provided by ClearSprings are not bail hostels. What were known as approved hostels, probation hostels and bail hostels are now approved premises. There are 97 approved premises in England, and four in Wales. None is in Eastbourne, and there are no plans to open one there or to expand the number of approved premises in England or Wales. The core purpose of approved premises is to protect the public from offenders who pose a significant risk of harm, and, at 30 November 2008, only 157 of the 2,205 places were filled by defendants on bail.

Civil Proceedings: Legal Costs

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice on how many occasions wasted costs have been ordered against the defence in Crown courts in each of the last five years; and what the total sum awarded was in each case. [254258]

Bridget Prentice: Information on wasted costs orders against the defence in the Crown court and the total sum awarded in each case is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses: Costs

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost was of the 2006 recruitment campaign for a Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses. [254024]

Mr. Straw: The total cost of the 2006 recruitment campaign for the role of Victims’ Commissioner was £96,625.

The recruitment exercise for the role of Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses was carried out according to the code of practice for public appointments. The recruitment exercise included the use of an executive search agency specialising in public appointments which targeted individuals perceived to be of the right calibre for the role and public advertisements in relevant publications. However, we were not successful in identifying a candidate with all of the appropriate skills necessary for the proposed role and Ministers decided not to appoint.

Coroners: Leicestershire

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what the average time taken for a coroner to hold a treasure inquest, once requested, was for finds from Leicestershire in 2007; and if he will make a statement; [254575]

(2) what the longest time taken by a coroner to hold a treasure inquest, once requested, was for cases reported in (a) 2006, (b) 2007 and (c) 2008; and if he will make a statement. [254576]

Bridget Prentice: The Ministry of Justice collects statistics on the number of finds under the Treasure Act 1996 reported to coroners in England and Wales during each calendar year, the number of treasure inquests concluded during the year and, of these, the number of verdicts of treasure returned. Information is not collected on the time taken to conduct treasure inquests.

Informal figures are, however, collated by the British Museum. These show that in 2007, the British Museum requested that coroners in Leicestershire hold seven treasure inquests. An average time taken between the inquests being requested and a verdict being returned is not available because one of these inquests is still ongoing, although the time taken for the other six ranged from 82 days to 515 days. A statistical average based on such a small number of cases would be very volatile and heavily dependent on the particular circumstances of each case.

The longest time taken by a coroner to hold a treasure inquest for cases reported in 2006, 2007 and 2008 is not yet known from the British Museum figures, because some inquests from each of these years have still not reached a conclusion.

Departmental Public Appointments

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice which of the public appointments for which his Department is responsible are due to be (a) renewed and (b) filled in the next 24 months; what the (i) remit, (ii) salary, (iii) political restriction, (iv) eligibility requirement and (v) timetable for each appointment is; and what records his Department keeps in respect of such appointments. [254235]

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Mr. Straw: The Ministry of Justice is responsible for 40 public bodies which have over 9,000 members. These appointments are not centrally co-ordinated and therefore the activity required to provide an answer to the question raised exceeds the acceptable cost parameters.

Ministerial appointments to public bodies are regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in accordance with the Public Appointments Order in Council 2002 and conducted in accordance with the Office of the Commission for Public Appointments Code of Practice. Appointments to these bodies and the records pertaining to them are subject to audit conducted by external auditors engaged by the Commissioner.

Duchy of Cornwall

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the constitutional status of the Duchy of Cornwall; and if he will make a statement. [255056]

Mr. Wills: The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate that funds the public, charitable and private activities of the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Prince Harry.

Information Commissioner: Finance

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he plans to announce the Information Commissioner's budget for 2009-10. [255445]

Mr. Wills: The Information Commissioner is funded by a combination of grant in aid from the Ministry of Justice to pay for his freedom of information responsibilities and notification fees paid direct to the Commissioner by data controllers to pay for his data protection work.

Discussions are continuing with the Commissioner on the level of his grant in aid for 2009-10. A decision is expected shortly and will be notified to the Commissioner. The final figure will be published in the Main Estimate 2009-10 in April.

Following consultation last year, secondary legislation will shortly be introduced to Parliament to provide for tiered notification fees payable by data controllers. This will increase the Information Commissioner's funding in line with his estimate of the cost of meeting both his existing and proposed new statutory data protection responsibilities. The tiered notification fees will come into effect from October this year.

Magistrates Courts: Closures

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 19 January 2008, Official Report, columns 1125-6W, on magistrates' courts at Lyndhurst, for what reason any closure of Lyndhurst magistrates' court would be temporary; what criteria would be used to decide when to re-open it following such a temporary closure; and if he will make a statement. [251267]

Bridget Prentice: As part of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), HMCS Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (HMCS HIOW) has to make efficiency savings over the next three years. The proposal to close Lyndhurst temporarily and transfer its work to Southampton, a modern purpose- built magistrates court is one of a series of measures identified by local management to improve efficiency and reduce the running costs of the area during this period.

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No decision has yet been made but consideration will be given to the needs of those who live and work in the New Forest area and their ability to access justice.

A decision to re-open a court following temporary closure would depend on the prevailing factors at that time. All decisions to close individual courts permanently are for Ministers.

Magistrates Courts: Wisbech

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans HM Courts Service has for Wisbech magistrates court. [254005]

Bridget Prentice: Wisbech magistrates court is a two criminal court room building in an accessible part of Wisbech. The building is co-located alongside the local police station (Cambridgeshire Constabulary) and its custody suite which is accessed by the courthouse. Cambridgeshire Constabulary are the tenants of HMCS. Many of the building services are linked to the adjacent police station. The courthouse has the use of two cells under a shared arrangement with the police and the Prisoner Escort Service (PECS). Recently Cambridgeshire Constabulary has made public its intention to move custody arrangements to a new county facility in March, Cambridgeshire from the end of March 2009 and will no longer provide this at Wisbech police station. The Wisbech police station will remain as an operational unit. HMCS have been actively involved in discussions with both the Cambridgeshire Constabulary and the PECs delivery organisation (GSL) as to how HMCS can ensure practical occupation of the cell area in order for the HMCS business to continue to operate as usual. Without the use of an available and suitable on-site custody suite the use of the courthouse would be considerably reduced which is why the local HMCS area has been working proactively alongside both Cambridgeshire Constabulary and PECs to resolve this situation successfully. There are no current plans or proposals to change or reduce the use of this courthouse.

Mass Media

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost of his Department's contracts with press monitoring services was in each year since it was established. [251173]

Mr. Wills: The Ministry of Justice was created in May 2007. The cost for press monitoring services in 2007-08 was £103,385.63.

Media monitoring services include clippings of newspaper articles on subjects relevant to the Department that are compiled on a daily basis and summaries of broadcast news programmes throughout the day. It is important to monitor the climate of opinion so policy development can take place in the fullest context. Media monitoring is one way to do this and also provides useful instant feedback on policy announcements.

In common with other Government Departments of a similar size, the Ministry of Justice also monitors a wide range of media to ensure Government policy is reported accurately to the public to enable clear understanding of the work of Government and that inaccuracies are spotted and corrected.

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Members: Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he plans to reply to the letter of 22 December 2008 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. I. Laing. [253874]

Mr. Straw: I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 30 January. I am sorry for the delay in replying.

National Identity: Languages

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the United Kingdom has an official language. [254736]

Mr. Wills: The UK does not have an official language defined in statute, although English is the predominant language by custom and usage. In addition, under the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages the UK Government have recognised Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Scots, Ulster Scots and Cornish as minority languages within the UK.

Offenders: Personal Records

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 2 February 2009, Official
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column 918W, on offenders: personal records, whether the Offenders Index is updated regularly; and when it was last updated. [254832]

Mr. Hanson: The Department no longer uses the Offenders Index to provide routine data on reoffending and criminal history. We are currently analysing the final cohorts of offenders extracted from the Offenders Index which are based on data up to December 2006. The Ministry of Justice has no plan for further updates.

Since 2005, the Ministry of Justice has been using data extracted from its police national computer database to provide the published figures on reoffending. This database is updated weekly.


Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average adult reoffending rate was for (a) men and (b) women ex-prisoners after their release in the last five years for which figures are available. [254010]

Mr. Hanson: The following table shows the one-year reoffending rates for offenders leaving custody in the first quarter of the years 2002 to 2006, by gender. The table shows the proportion of offenders who committed at least one further offence and the number of further offences committed per 100 offenders.

One-year reoffending rates, offenders leaving custody by gender, 2002-06

Number of offenders Actual reoffending rate (Percentage) Number of offences per 100 offenders





















































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