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Prime Minister


David Davis: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions he and his predecessor have authorised warrants under section 7 of the Intelligence and Security Act 1994 since 1997. [271252]

The Prime Minister: Warrants issued under section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 (ISA) must be authorised by a Secretary of State rather than the Prime Minister.

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Register: Databases

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Electoral Commission plans to seek to keep the new CORE electoral registration database. [271287]

Sir Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it does not wish to assume the role of keeping the CORE electoral registration database. The Commission set out its reasons in a letter sent to Ministry of Justice officials dated 26 November 2008. A copy of the letter has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Voting Methods

Mr. Maude: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what guidance the Electoral Commission has issued on the use of personal identifiers to verify (a) postal vote applications, (b) proxy vote applications and (c) postal vote ballot papers in respect to the (i) selection of identifiers and (ii) proportion of papers to be checked. [269947]

Sir Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it issues detailed guidance to electoral registration officers and returning officers on the verification of personal identifiers included on postal and proxy vote applications and postal voting statements.

The guidance gives full information on the identifiers that may be used by an electoral registration officer to verify a postal or proxy vote application. The guidance also strongly recommends that returning officers should verify 100 per cent. of returned postal voting statements.

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The Commission's most recent guidance, for electoral registration officers and local returning officers at the 2009 European parliamentary elections, can be found on the Commission's website:

Copies have been placed in the House of Commons Library.


Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many officials in his Department are suspended; how many are suspended on full pay; for how long each has been suspended; and what the reasons are for each such suspension. [270514]

Mr. Wills: Suspension forms part of the MoJ's discipline policy. Staff may be suspended during a disciplinary process if initial fact finding shows that the employee's actions might amount to gross misconduct; may impact on the health and safety of the employee or other employees might be at risk; it is suspected that potential witnesses might be influenced by the employee; the working relationship with the employee has broken down; or it is suspected that there is a risk to MoJ's property. Under the Civil Service Management Code individuals under criminal investigation or disciplinary procedures may be suspended from duty to protect the public interest.

Suspension is not a disciplinary sanction nor is it considered an indication of guilt and, in most cases, employees will not be suspended during the disciplinary process. A suspended employee will normally continue to receive full pay and is expected to remain available during their normal working hours and to fully co-operate with a disciplinary investigation. In some circumstances, for example when an employee is remanded in custody, an employee may be suspended on no pay.

MoJ policies in this area are made available to all employees via our intranet.

The records for MoJ, excluding the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) show that, as at 21 April 2009, 17 employees were suspended. All of them were suspended on full pay in line with the MoJ policy and all of these were suspended for reasons that initial investigations indicated might fall into one or more of the categories set out above.

The length of time suspended from duty of the 17 employees referred to above varies from one to five months.

NOMS does not hold the detailed information centrally in a format that would enable us to answer this question without incurring disproportionate cost.

Electoral Register

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the timetable is for the introduction of individual electoral registration in Great Britain; in what ways the system will differ from that deployed in Northern Ireland; and whether he plans to pilot different systems prior to permanent adoption. [269892]

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Mr. Wills: As I announced at Commons Report stage of the Political Parties and Elections Bill, the phased introduction of individual registration will involve the voluntary collection of personal identifiers (alongside the existing process of household registration) from the autumn 2010 annual canvass until the autumn 2015 canvass. From this point it would be compulsory to provide identifiers for new registrations. By 2017 the provision of identifiers would be compulsory for all entries on the register. The shift to compulsory provision of identifiers in 2015 would be subject to a parliamentary vote on a recommendation by the Electoral Commission as to whether two statutory tests relating to the state of preparation for the change and the robustness of the registration system had been met.

The Government will table amendments to the Bill ahead of Grand Committee in the House of Lords to put this into effect. The system proposed will be closely modelled on that introduced in Northern Ireland in 2002, although we will wish to learn the lessons of Northern Ireland when implementing in Great Britain.

The proposed phased introduction of individual registration is intended to ensure that we can deliver a register that is both accurate and comprehensive. It will also allow the opportunity to effectively plan the necessary infrastructure to deliver the system. In addition, clauses 22 and 23 of the Bill provide for the piloting of data matching schemes that will allow us to test, in a controlled way, new tools to help electoral registration officers improve the accuracy and comprehensiveness of their registers.

Legal Aid: Finance

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will publish the recent statement by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) on managing the remaining BACS payment runs for March; how legal aid providers are informed that they can contact their regional office for urgent payment; for what reasons the LSC made its statement; and when Ministers were informed (a) of the matter and (b) the LSC's decision on how to manage it. [268098]

Mr. Malik: The LSC received a query on 24 March 2009 from CrimeLine about payments over the end of the financial year. On 26 March, the LSC issued the following response to CrimeLine:

The LSC did not consider it necessary to publish a more formal statement, given the discussions that had taken place with the Law Society and Legal Aid Practitioners' Group. While my Noble friend Lord Bach, the Minister for Legal Aid, was involved in the wider discussions on providers' cash flow problems, he was not aware of the specific issue relating to the Financial Year end.

The LSC allocates a designated Relationship Manager for each provider. Providers can contact with their Relationship Manager with any queries they have concerning their contracts or payments.

Legal Aid: Negligence

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 11 March 2009, Official Report, column 453W, on legal aid: negligence, when he expects the information requested to be available. [271493]

Mr. Malik: I wrote to the hon. Member on 20 April with the information sought. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library of the House of Commons.

Offenders: Databases

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) records and (b) data fields there are in (i) the National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis), (ii) the Offender Risk Assessment System (OASys), (iii) the Offender Management National Infrastructure (Omni) and (iv) the Libra Case Management System. [265740]

Mr. Hanson: There are currently 4,915 records in the C-NOMIS (now Prison-NOMIS) system using 16,639 data fields.

Prison-NOMIS (formerly C-NOMIS) will replace the Prison Service case management system, 139 instances of Local Inmate Database System (LIDS), with an enhanced centralised system that also incorporates a fully integrated Management Information System (MIS) and Operational Reporting solution. It will therefore improve the information available to decision makers, and will increase the speed of access to information for those monitoring performance across a range of activity. The improved quality of information is expected to lead to better operational effectiveness and offender management, e.g. better sentence planning; better sentence delivery and better targeting of interventions.

Prison OASys currently contains 178,165 and Probation e-OASys 2,738,379 offender assessments using 750 data fields. The Offender Assessment System (OASys) is critical to the offender management process in that it enables the recording of static and dynamic risk factors as well as the risk of serious harm that an offender may pose to others. The next release of OASys, due in July 2009, will provide additional functionality for practitioners enabling a more efficient approach to offender assessment. The new OASys release will facilitate a shorter offender assessment depending upon the risks the offender poses. This will enable efficiencies specifically when working with lower risk offenders. The two current OASys applications in prison and probation will be replaced
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during 2011 by a single application developed within the OASys R project which is a project within the NOMIS programme.

There are 478,596 active case records held on the Libra system. There are 568,043 fields. This is the number of fields that are defined in the database. Included in these figures are fields that are system generated and therefore do not require individual data input.

Libra replaced the ageing magistrates courts computer systems with a single, national infrastructure and case management application. This has enabled HMCS to implement standard national business processes, improving efficiency across England and Wales. The Libra system improves joined up justice by providing electronic links between the courts and criminal justice partners such as the police, CPS, OCJR, Prisons and Probation and the DVLA.

The OASys assessments and C-NOMIS can be shared between prison and probation.

Libra holds information in a more structured and standardised format than the legacy systems within the magistrates courts. Holding the information in a structured way enables it to be exchanged effectively between the systems of different criminal justice organisations, reducing the need for the information to be re-keyed and improving overall efficiency for both courts and criminal justice partners. This means that there are more data fields than previously, as many of these fields have defined purpose for the sharing of information. While more data fields are required, Libra re-uses these much more effectively than legacy systems and so increases efficiency both within HMCS and across the criminal justice system.

The OMNI Infrastructure is a hardware and software mechanism for delivering IT services to the national Probation Service. It is not, in itself, a case management system and thus has no records or data fields.


Banks: Iceland

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date (a) his Department and (b) the Financial Services Authority informed local authorities of the risks in depositing funds in Icelandic banks. [270432]

Ian Pearson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) on 11 November 2008, Official Report, column 1083W.

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s guidance on local government investments issued under section 15 of the Local Government Act 2003 is available on the Department’s website at:

Banks: Iran

Mr. Hague: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 9 March 2009, Official Report, column 101W, on banks: Iran, if he will place in the Library a copy of the advisory notice issued to all businesses on transactions with Iran. [270552]

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Ian Pearson: The advisory notice issued on 11 March 2009 is available on the HM Treasury website at:

I am arranging for a copy to be placed in the Library.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the amount of assets frozen in the United Kingdom is under the EU and UN sanctions on Iran; and if he will make a statement. [270651]

Ian Pearson: All funds belonging to, owned, held or controlled by individuals or entities designated under EU and UN sanctions on Iran are required to be frozen in the UK. The Iran (Financial Sanctions) Order 2007 and the Iran (European Community Financial Sanctions) Regulations 2007 give legal effect to the EU and UN measures in the UK and include a requirement for all UK persons to report frozen funds they hold to HM Treasury.

There is a significant amount of funds frozen in the UK under the EU and UN sanctions against Iran, as these measures have frozen the assets of Bank Sepah Iran and Bank Melli Iran, including their London-based subsidiaries, Bank Sepah International plc and Melli Bank plc.

Given the number of entities involved it would not be appropriate to set out the total amount of funds frozen under UN and EU sanctions. To do so would breach considerations of commercial confidentiality.

Capital Gains Tax

Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 21 May 2008, Official Report, column 304W, on capital gains tax, if he will estimate the revenue implications of taxing capital gains at the same marginal rates as income tax, with indexation from April 2009 for the fiscal years (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11 and (c) 2011-12; and if he will make a statement. [269032]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 20 April 2009]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 23 February 2009, Official Report, column 313W.

Council Tax: Valuation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2009, Official Report, column 1184W, on inheritance tax: housing, what the differences are between a locality and a locality group in relation to the use made of them by the Valuation Office Agency. [270666]

Mr. Timms: Localities are geographic areas of dwellings, which are subject to the same or similar market forces. Locality groups comprise a set of one or more localities, which are subject to similar market forces.

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