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30 Apr 2009 : Column 1439W—continued

Departmental Operating Costs

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the written ministerial statement by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions of 12 February 2009, Official Report, columns 116-19WS, on departmental expenditure limits, what increased operating costs relating to the introduction of the Employment and Support Allowance were incurred by his Department. [271700]

Bridget Prentice: The Tribunals Service received £695,000 in the Spring Supplementary Estimate to process 3,665 cases forecast for 2008-09. A further £760,000 was also paid by DWP to the Legal Services Commission for people who might require legal aid in appealing against ESA decisions. Together, the Spring Supplementary payments total £1,455,000.

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Electoral Register: Commonwealth

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 18 March 2009, Official Report, columns 1214-5W, on electoral register: Commonwealth, whether a person from a Commonwealth country resident in the UK on a student visa issued under tier 4 of the points-based system is eligible to vote in a general election. [270716]

Mr. Wills: A person is entitled to be registered as a parliamentary elector if he or she is resident in the relevant constituency, is of voting age, is not subject to a legal incapacity to vote (age apart), and is either a British citizens, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland.

As explained in my answer on 18 March 2009, Official Report, columns 1214-5W, under the Representation of the People Act 1983, "qualifying Commonwealth citizen" is defined as a Commonwealth citizen who either does not require leave to enter or remain under the Immigration Act 1971 or who does require leave, but for the time being has any description of such leave. This means that if a person who requires leave to enter or remain has been granted leave to enter or remain then he or she will be deemed to be a qualifying Commonwealth citizen.

Commonwealth citizens who have leave to enter or remain will have been granted this leave under any of the current or previous categories of the immigration rules, including as the spouse of a British Citizen, as a highly skilled migrant, work permit holder, student, under any of the new points based system categories or as dependants of any "lead" migrants granted leave under these categories.

This will include a citizen from a Commonwealth country who has obtained leave to enter or remain under the previous immigration rules relating to students, or since 31 March 2009, leave to enter or remain under tier 4 of the points based-system. Accordingly, provided they meet the other criteria for registration set out above, such a person would be entitled to be included in the register of parliamentary electors.

Housing: Sales

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many domestic properties were sold for (a) under £175,000 and (b) £175,000 and over in each of the last three years. [271536]

Mr. Wills: Figures of residential properties sold for (a) under £175,000 and (b) £175,000 and over in each of the last three years are given in the following table:

Total sales under £175,000 Total sales over £175,000










30 Apr 2009 : Column 1441W

National Probation Service for England and Wales: Redundancy

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many job losses there have been in the Probation Service in (a) Leeds, (b) West Yorkshire and (c) England and Wales in the last 12 months. [262524]

Mr. Hanson: Information on the number of job losses in the probation service over the past 12 months is not available centrally as the 42 probation areas/trusts are responsible for their own staffing levels and this information has not previously been collected from them.

Making savings always involves difficult choices, but protecting the public remains the priority for the probation service and this will not be compromised. I have agreed a prudent programme of savings with the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) that will maximise central savings and protect the most valuable front-line work.

From 1 April 2009, regional Directors of Offender Management have been in place to provide the necessary strategic oversight of offender management services at a regional level. They are accountable for making sure all delivery agencies, probation, public and private sector prisons and the voluntary sector contribute effectively to offender management. An important part of this role is to ensure that efficiency targets are achieved without undermining service delivery, and they will be expected to monitor any plans for staffing reductions closely.

Probation has received significant increases in resources since this Government came to power in 1997. Total probation staffing (expressed as full-time equivalents) was up from 13,968 in 1997 to 20,894 by 2007, a 50 per cent. increase over the period.

Prison Service: Resignations

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prison service staff resigned in each year since 2003. [271672]

Mr. Hanson: Information on the number of prison service staff resignations and staff in post, in each year since 2003 is provided in the table. The information relates to both public and private sector establishments and the Headquarters of the National Offender Management Service. The resignation rates are lower than the public sector average of 9.4 per cent. and private sector services average of 13.4 per cent(1).

Resignations from the Prison Service 2003 - 08

Resignations Staff in post Percentage resigning

























(1) Information for 2003 relates to the public sector only.

30 Apr 2009 : Column 1442W

Victim Support Schemes

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he plans to announce arrangements for the Victims' Fund for 2009-10. [271719]

Maria Eagle: £1.25 million has been allocated to the Victims Fund for Sexual Violence for 2009-10. We have written to organisations that were successful in securing a grant in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 application process informing them that they are eligible to have their grants renewed at the same level as in the previous two years. The Home Office administered funds for victims of homicide and hate crime will be announced in the next few weeks.

Leader of the House

Members: Allowances

John Mann: To ask the Leader of the House what sums have been budgeted for the payment of expenses of hon. Members from the Members' Vote in each of the next six financial years. [271778]

Chris Bryant: The House of Commons: Members Estimate is laid before Parliament each year. These financial figures are based on the level of pay and allowances agreed by the House adjusted to reflect the historical level of claims received. The estimate for 2009-10 includes £109.3 million in respect of Members' allowances. This includes £7.4 million on Members' travel. The annual nature of the estimate means that no budgeted figures beyond 2009-10 have been agreed.

Northern Ireland


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with reference to the Prime Minister’s response of 22 April 2009 to the e-petition submitted by Miss A Birt and others on the extension to Northern Ireland of the Abortion Act 1967, when he expects the Northern Ireland Assembly to assume responsibility for criminal law in Northern Ireland, including the law on abortion; what recent representations he has received on this issue; what recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the issue; and if he will make a statement. [271441]

Paul Goggins: The announcement by the Northern Ireland First and Deputy First Ministers on 18 November 2008 set out a process, the completion of which would see policing and justice matters devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The process is continuing to move forward. The Northern Ireland Act 2009 provided the necessary legislative framework for the Assembly to move to the next stage of that process. It will be for the Assembly to decide when to request the transfer of powers but the Government remain committed to doing whatever it can to facilitate progress towards devolution.

I continue to receive correspondence from people in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK both supporting and opposing any changes to the law on abortion in Northern Ireland. The Government’s position remains that these are matters best dealt with by the Northern Ireland Assembly when it assumes responsibility for the criminal law.

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Olympic Games 2012: Contracts

Pete Wishart: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many (a) applications for contracts have been received and (b) contracts have been awarded to Scottish-based firms by the Olympic Delivery Authority. [270481]

Tessa Jowell: The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) does not keep a record of the number of applications it receives in relation to ODA procurement opportunities.

To date there are 13 businesses registered in Scotland that have won work directly supplying the ODA. These figures do not include those contracts awarded to sub- contractors based in Scotland. The ODA is currently undertaking research into businesses winning sub-contracts in its supply chains, with initial results due in the coming weeks.

Olympic Games 2012: Cycling

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what her policy is on the balance between the number of cycling events open to (a) men and (b) women at the London 2012 Olympics. [269294]

Tessa Jowell: My hope is gender equality is established across the Olympic and Paralympic sports programme, including all cycling events. However, the decision rests with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee in conjunction with the respective international federation, but I have asked UK Sport to work with the British Olympic Association and national governing bodies to identify and support those sports where gender imbalance exists and where changes could be achieved by London 2012.


Departmental Assets

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when his Department last reviewed its assets and land and property holdings with a view to identifying and disposing of surpluses. [269852]

Ann McKechin: The Scotland Office regularly reviews its assets and are unlikely to be disposing of any assets in the next year.

Departmental Billing

John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of its suppliers his Department has paid within 10 days of receipt of invoice in each of the last five months. [272252]

Ann McKechin: The percentage of suppliers paid within the 10 day target by the Scotland Office is as follows:

30 Apr 2009 : Column 1444W
Month Percentage of suppliers paid in 10 days












Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Scottish whisky industry in advance of the recent Budget Statement. [271847]

Mr. Jim Murphy: I have regular discussions with my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor on a range of issues.


Driving: Licensing

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) EU, (b) UK, (c) departmental and (d) Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) public procurement requirements applied to the recent extension of the DVLA photo-licence contract with the Post Office. [271535]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department for Transport and its agencies are required to adhere to EU procurement regulations and these are consolidated into its own and departmental procurement operating instruction and guidance.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) holds a major contract with Post Office Ltd. (POL) that covers a number of services, including that for its ‘Check and Send’ service for collection and checking of driving licence applications at Post Office counters. This service has been in place for nearly 10 years. Based on legal advice DVLA formed the view that an extension to include the collection of a photograph as part of the same transaction could be undertaken within the flexibility of the existing contract terms as a variation.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will respond to the hon. Member for Billericay's letter of 9 February 2009, on his constituent Mr G. Bores. [272001]

Mr. Hoon: The Department for Transport has no record of receiving a letter dated 9 February 2009 from the hon. Member for Billericay.

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