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17 Mar 2009 : Column 1117W—continued

Drug Use: Prisoners

16. Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent assessment he has made of levels of illegal drug use by prisoners. [263761]

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Mr. Hanson: I keep the issue of drugs in prison under constant review. A comprehensive range of measures is in place to reduce the supply of drugs into prisons, with levels of drug misuse kept under regular review. The level of drug misuse, as measured by random mandatory drug testing, has reduced by 63 per cent. since the 1996-97 financial year.

House of Lords Reform

17. Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent progress has been made in discussions on House of Lords reform. [263762]

Mr. Wills: The Government are reflecting on responses they received to their 2008 White Paper. More detailed plans for comprehensive reform will be developed and put to the electorate as a manifesto commitment at the next general election. Comprehensive legislation would then be possible in the next Parliament.

23. Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he last met representatives of other political parties to discuss reform of the House of Lords. [263769]

Mr. Wills: The last such meeting was that with the cross-party group on House of Lords reform on 9 June 2008, before the publication of the White Paper on Lords reform, on 14 July 2008.

Administrative Burdens: Courts

18. Mr. David Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department has taken to reduce administrative burdens on courts. [263764]

Bridget Prentice: We continually look for ways to reduce administrative burden so that court resources can be focused on activities that make a real difference to the public. We are currently implementing lean ways of working to ensure that unproductive activity is removed from all our processes. In the magistrates courts CJSSS has reduced the average number of hearings and therefore administrative tasks across the criminal justice system. We are also ensuring that more of our services from the civil courts are available online through systems such as money claims online and possession claims online.

Identity Cards: Ministerial Responsibility

19. Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the list of ministerial responsibilities of November 2008, what responsibilities the Under-Secretary of State in his Department has for policy on identity cards. [263765]

Mr. Malik: My responsibilities have been to ensure that the Ministry of Justice’s interests in relation to identity cards are communicated to the Identity and Passport Service, and that the Ministry’s operational arms are able to accept the cards as valid forms of identification.

Prisoners: Education and Training

20. Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department is taking to increase educational and training opportunities for prisoners. [263766]

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Mr. Hanson: Together with the Department for Innovations, Universities and Skills and, Department of Children, Schools and Families we have published a Green Paper and a follow-up Next Steps document setting out the Government’s strategy on reducing reoffending through increasing educational and training for offenders, and are working closely together in two regional test beds to trial a range of initiatives focused on employment outcomes.


21. Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent representations he has received on his Department’s plans to make provision for some inquests to be held without juries. [263767]

Bridget Prentice: At Second Reading my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor told the House that the Government were open to suggestions and amendments about these proposals. Many have responded to my invitation from both sides of the House.

In consequence, we are this afternoon tabling amendments to fundamentally recast the proposals. First: the criteria for a Secretary of State certification will be significantly tightened.

Second: The Secretary of State’s certificate will trigger consideration by a High Court judge—sitting as the coroner—whether it is necessary to hold an inquest without a jury but the decision will be for the High Court judge, who will be able to consider whether special measures with a jury would be adequate to protect the sensitive information concerned. There would be a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Pleural Plaques

22. Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) when he expects to publish the Government’s response to the consultation paper on pleural plaques; and if he will make a statement; [263768]

(2) when the Government plans to publish its response to his Department’s consultation on pleural plaques. [263502]

Bridget Prentice: The consultation on pleural plaques closed on 1 October 2008 and has generated a large number of responses. We are carefully analysing all the submissions received, many of which are detailed and complex, and will seek to publish a response paper outlining the way forward as soon as possible.

Secure Accommodation: Young People

24. Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent assessment he has made of the availability of secure accommodation for young people in the criminal justice system. [263770]

Mr. Hanson: The Youth Justice is responsible for commissioning and purchasing places in the under-18 secure estate. The board is preparing a new Strategy for the Secure Estate, setting out its plans for the financial years to 2012-13. It intends to issue a draft for consultation within the next few months.

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Prison Capacity

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to ensure adequate capacity in the prison system. [263759]

Mr. Hanson: The Government have a duty to protect the public from the most serious, dangerous and persistent offenders. Prison is the right place for these people and we will always make sure that we have enough places for these offenders.

The expansion of our building programme following the Carter Review will see a net 15,000 places delivered, expanding capacity to around 96,000 places by 2014.

Community Sentences

Mr. Flello: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to increase public awareness of community sentences. [263760]

Mr. Malik: The Government are committed to increasing public visibility of community sentences, particularly Community Payback, through involving communities in selection of projects and offenders wearing high visibility community payback vests.

The Justice Seen, Justice Done campaign which launched on 3 March, will further raise awareness of Community Payback and the policing pledge.

Antisocial Behaviour Orders

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many individuals below the age of 18 years have been imprisoned for (a) less than six months and (b) six months or more for breaching an anti-social behaviour order in each of the last two years. [262050]

Mr. Alan Campbell: I have been asked to reply.

Information held by the Ministry of Justice on the numbers of antisocial behaviour orders breached shows that 986 offenders aged 10 to 17 received a custodial sentence for breaching their antisocial behaviour order between 1 June 2000 and 31 December 2006 (latest available). Of these, 753 received a custodial sentence of up to and including six months, and 233 received a custodial sentence of more than six months. An offender may have breached their ASBO more than once and these data refer to the occasion of the severest sentence received.


Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department is taking to enhance a sense of Britishness. [263420]

Mr. Wills: Since the publication of the Governance of Britain Green Paper in July 2007, the Government have been conducting an inclusive discussion on citizenship and the values that underpin what it means to be a member of UK society, through a series of online discussions, and local events. We expect to continue this discussion alongside the consultation on our Green Paper on a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, which we expect to publish very shortly.

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Consultants: Expenditure

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much (a) his Department, (b) the National Offender Management Service and (c) HM Prison Service spent on consultancy fees on implementation of the Workforce Modernisation programme in each financial year since 2006-07. [263783]

Mr. Straw: Since its inception in October 2007, the NOMS Workforce Modernisation programme has engaged a number of consultants to assist with the delivery of various aspects of the programme. In FY 2007-2008 the programme spent £530,000 and in FY 2008-09 to end of January 2009 the programme spent £1.92 million, on consultancy services. In all instances, consultancy is only used to cover areas where in-house skills do not exist, is time limited and relates to very clear outcomes for the programme. Necessary workforce changes in NOMS will need to be implemented to support delivery of significant long term efficiency savings within the public sector Prison Service.

Courts: Repairs and Maintenance

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much was spent on the refurbishment of court buildings in each of the last three years. [263051]

Mr. Straw: The following amounts were spent on refurbishment of Crown, county and magistrates court buildings in each of the last three financial years:

Financial year Refurbishment expenditure (£ million)







The large increase during 2008-09 is due to the completion of major refurbishment projects during the year at the Royal Courts of Justice, and at the Crown court at Isleworth.

Departmental Surveys

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 4 March 2009, Official Report, column 1703W, on departmental surveys, if he will place in the Library a copy of the results of the most recent staff survey undertaken by his Department. [263642]

Mr. Wills: I will arrange for a copy of the results of the most recent staff survey, the Ministry of Justice Staff Engagement Survey, to be placed in the Libraries of the House shortly.

Domestic Violence: Sentencing

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many convictions for offences related to domestic violence in (a) Cumbria and (b) Copeland constituency resulted in (i) a custodial sentence and (ii) a community-based sentence in each year since 1997. [263428]

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Maria Eagle: The requested information is not available. Offences of domestic violence cannot be separately identified from other violent offences on the courts proceedings database, as only the offence is recorded not the circumstances of the offence.

Driving Offences: Insurance

Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many prosecutions for offences related to driving without insurance there were in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008; [264230]

(2) what the average fine imposed for driving without insurance was in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008. [264233]

Mr. Malik: The number of proceedings at magistrates courts for the offence of using a motor vehicle uninsured against third party risks, and the average fine at magistrates courts and the Crown court in England and Wales 2007 is shown in the following table.

Data for 2008 will be available in the autumn of 2009.

The number of proceedings at magistrates courts and average fine imposed at magistrates courts and the Crown court for offences of using a motor vehicle uninsured against third party risks, England and Wales, 2007( 1, 2, 3)
Average fine (£)
Offence description Proceedings Magistrates' courts The Crown c ourt

Using a motor vehicle uninsured against third party risks




(1) Includes offences under the Road Traffic Act 1988 s. 143 (2).
(2) It is known that for some police force areas the reporting of court proceedings, in particular those relating to summary motoring offences, may be less than complete.
(3) 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 limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
Office for Criminal Justice Reform—Evidence and Analysis unit.

Elections: Expenditure

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 9 March 2009, Official Report, columns 88-89W, on the Electoral Register, how much was provided by his Department to the returning officer in each local authority to meet costs incurred for administering parliamentary and European parliamentary elections in each of the last three years; and what the name of each returning officer was. [263429]

Mr. Wills: The costs incurred by returning officers for administering parliamentary and European parliamentary elections are paid by the Government out of the Consolidated Fund under section 29 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1983 and section 6 of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002, respectively. Funding for these elections is not made available to returning officers on an ongoing basis—the Ministry of Justice is responsible for the distribution of the funding to the relevant returning officers for these elections, including by-elections, as and when they are held.

The funding covers the necessary costs incurred by returning officers for administering the election in the area for which they act, which will include:

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Returning officers are also paid a fee for their services in administering the election.

In the last three years, the following amounts have been paid to the returning officers for the constituencies tabled for administering the parliamentary by-elections that have been held in those constituencies:

Constituency (date of by-election) Amount (£000)

Blaenau Gwent (29 June 2006)


Bromley and Chislehurst (29 June 2006)


Ealing, Southall (19 July 2007)


Sedgefield (19 July 2007)


Crewe and Nantwich (22 May 2008)


Henley (26 June 2008)


Haltemprice and Howden (10 July 2008)


(1) These figures are subject to final confirmation and may change.

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