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Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many bonuses and at what cost were awarded to senior civil servants working at his Department, its predecessor and its agencies in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08; and what estimate he has made of the equivalent figures for 2008-09. 
Mr. Straw: End year non-consolidated performance payments are only paid to high performing members of the senior civil service to reflect their individual contribution during the previous performance year.
(a) During the financial year 2006-07, pay determination was undertaken by the departments that existed prior to the creation of the Ministry. For the former Department for Constitutional Affairs, 116 SCS members received a non-consolidated performance payment at a cost of £866,500.
(b) As pay determination is retrospective, 2007-08 was the first year in which the Ministry of Justice paid awards to SCS staff following the creation of the Ministry in 2007. In 2008, 159 SCS members received a non-consolidated performance payment in the Ministry of Justice at a total cost of £1,648,000.
Pay for all members of the senior civil service in the Ministry of Justice is governed by a centrally determined pay system for which the Cabinet Office is responsible. The Ministry along with all other Departments, applies the pay system to the senior civil service members in accordance with the guidance provided each year by the Cabinet Office following the recommendation of the Senior Salaries Review Body.
Future remuneration including levels of non-consolidated performance payments will depend on the recommendations of this independent review body. It is therefore not possible to estimate payments for 2008-09.
Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people in his Department and its predecessors earned over £100,000 in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08; and how many he expects to do so in 2008-09. 
Mr. Straw: During the financial year 2006-07 the Department had 16 members of the senior civil service earning over £100,000. This figure relates to those staff within Department for Constitutional Affairs as the Ministry of Justice was formed in May 2007. During the financial year 2007-08, 35 members of the senior civil service were earning over £100,000. The numbers are higher as the size of the SCS grew with the transfer of staff from the Home Office on the creation of the Ministry of Justice. The number of staff earning over £100,000 as at 31 January 2009 is 36 (of approximately 80,000 staff).
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to utilise the proposed data-sharing provisions in the Coroners and Justice Bill to facilitate data-sharing between public authorities in relation to collation of the electoral register. 
Mr. Wills: There are no plans. However, the Electoral Administration Act 2006 introduced a new, explicit requirement for Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) to take all steps that are necessary for the purpose of complying with their duty to maintain the electoral registers. These steps, as set out in the legislation, include sending the canvass form more than once, making house to house inquiries in connection with the canvass, making contact by such other means as the ERO thinks appropriate with a person who does not have an entry in the register, and inspecting any record that the ERO is permitted by law to inspect. These records are those held by the local authority and include council tax, land and property, housing benefit and educational where available. It is for each ERO to decide on the best steps to use in conjunction with their local knowledge to ensure that requirements for making contact with persons and maintaining the register are complied with.
The Government remain concerned about the need to address levels of under-registration in Great Britain. To this end, we have recently tabled amendments to the Political Parties and Elections Bill, that will allow the Secretary of State to pilot data matching schemes, under which public authorities will provide registration officers with information to assist them in maintaining an accurate and comprehensive register. In addition, we plan to introduce secondary legislation to enable EROs in areas where there are two-tiers of local government
to be able to access data held by the higher tier to help them identify individuals who are not registered to vote. This will mirror arrangements in place for EROs in single tier areas.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the Answer of 6 March 2009, Official Report, column 1900W, on electoral register, what assessment he has made of the reasons for 13 of the 20 councils with the lowest electoral registration rates being in Northern Ireland. 
Mr. Wills: The Government have not made any such assessment as the National Statistician notes in the answer given on 6 March 2009, Official Report, column 1900W. Care should be taken when interpreting the figures provided in that answer, and the answer goes on to list some of the reasons for that.
However, recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics reveal that as of 1 December 2008, the number of local government electors in Northern Ireland had increased by 16,578 (1.5 per cent.) to 1,142,513. This rise was greater than those recorded for the same period in England (0.3 per cent.), Scotland (0.1 per cent.) and Wales (0.5 per cent.).
The Government have recently announced plans to put in place a statutory timetable for the introduction of individual registration in Great Britain; begin the rollout of measures to prepare both the public and the electoral system for that change; and put in place a series of tests, that will be independently assessed by the Electoral Commission, to ensure that the shift is only made once the system is ready for it. Northern Ireland already has a system of individual registration in place and we will want to learn from their experiences to ensure that registration rates are maximised. It is essential that the electoral register is both comprehensive and accurate.
In addition, we have tabled amendments to the Political Parties and Elections Bill that will allow the Secretary of State to pilot data matching schemes under which public authorities will provide registration officers with information to assist them in maintaining an accurate and comprehensive register. We also plan to introduce secondary legislation to enable EROs in areas where there are two tiers of local government to be able to access data held by the higher tier to help them identify individuals who are not registered to vote. This will mirror arrangements in place for EROs in single tier areas.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people were convicted for (a) possessing and (b) distributing prohibited (i) weapons and (ii) ammunition in each police force area in the last five years. 
Mr. Straw: Information on the number of persons found guilty at all courts for offences of possessing or distributing prohibited weapons or ammunition in England and Wales, by police force area from 2003 to 2007 (latest available) can be found in the table. The Criminal statistics data for 2008 are due to be published in November 2009.
These data are on the principal offence basis. The figures given in the following table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more
offences, the offence selected is the one for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
|The number of persons found guilty at all courts for offences relating to possessing or distributing prohibited weapons or ammunition in England and Wales, by police force area, 2003-07( 1,2,3)|
|(1) These data are on the principal offence basis.|
(2) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
(3) Includes the following Statutes and corresponding offence descriptions:
Firearms Act. 1968 Sec 5(1) (Group I) as amended by Criminal justice Act 2003 S.288Possessing or distributing prohibited weapons or ammunition.
Firearms Act 1968 Sec 5(1 )(b) (Group I) as amended by Criminal Justice Act 2003 Sec.288Possessing or distributing prohibited weapons designed for discharge of noxious liquid etc.
Firearms Act 1968 Sec 5(1A)(a) (Group I) as amended by Criminal Justice Act 2003 Sec.288Possessing or distributing firearm disguised as other object
Firearms Act 1968 Sec 5(1A) (b),(c),(d)(e),(f) or (g) as amended by Criminal Justice Act 2003 Sec 288Possessing or distributing other prohibited weapons
Office for Criminal Justice Reform, Evidence and Analysis Unit
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