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12 May 2009 : Column 730W—continued

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

Recreation Spaces

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what support her Department provides to local authorities to assist them in discharging responsibilities to provide, manage and maintain parks, recreation grounds and other open spaces; and if she will make a statement. [273548]

Mr. Iain Wright: Public parks and green spaces are primarily funded through revenue support grant provided by Communities and Local Government. Central Government do not prescribe how much should be spent by each local authority on their open spaces; this is a matter for them to determine in line with local priorities.

Communities and Local Government also funds CABE Space, the Government adviser on public space issues, to provide support to all local authorities through advisory services, good practice guidance, campaigns and training. They also help to tackle the retention and recruitment problems that the sector is experiencing and improve the skills mix at the local level; continue to build a supportive evidence base for investment in parks and open spaces; and engage communities in improving their local green spaces.

Unitary Councils

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Department's latest estimate is of the cost of unitary restructuring in the areas which have new unitary councils. [273259]

John Healey: When seeking parliamentary approval for the nine new unitary councils, we estimated transitional restructuring costs of around £138 million, with total annual savings of at least £100 million. Our latest estimates, following a stocktake exercise we with the support of independent financial experts have undertaken prior to 1 April 2009, are for the restructuring costs to be around £135 million, slightly less than the original estimate.

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Unitary Councils: Freedom of Information

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which bodies will hold the records of local authorities which have been replaced under unitary restructuring for Freedom of Information Act 2000 purposes. [273209]

John Healey: The Local Government (Structural Changes)(Transfer of Functions, Property, Rights and Liabilities) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/2176) require that where predecessor councils are succeeded by one unitary council, property, rights and liabilities which would include records transfer to the successor council. Where two new unitary councils have been formed in a former county area, the regulations require that the records of the predecessor district councils transfer to the relevant new unitary and those of the predecessor county council transfer to one or other of the new unitary councils as agreed between them. The regulations also require that where there are two successor councils, the one holding the records must make them available to the other.


Ashwell Prison

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will publish the findings of the Prison Service investigation into the disturbance at HM Prison Ashwell on 11 April 2009. [273535]

Mr. Hanson: As I made clear to the House in my written ministerial statement on 20 April 2009, and in subsequent answers to parliamentary questions, I will make the findings of the investigation and our conclusions on it available to the House in due course.

Cabinet: Glasgow

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many (a) special advisers and (b) officials of his Department accompanied him to Glasgow for the Cabinet meeting on 16 April 2009; [273957]

(2) what car journeys he undertook in attending the Cabinet meeting in Glasgow on 16 April 2009; [273958]

(3) how much expenditure was incurred by his Department in respect of the Cabinet meeting in Glasgow on 16 April 2009; [273959]

(4) what expenditure on (a) travel, (b) accommodation and (c) food (i) he and (ii) officials in his Department incurred in connection with the Cabinet meeting in Glasgow on 16 April 2009. [273960]

Mr. Straw: I was not accompanied by officials or by special advisers when I attended the Cabinet meeting in Glasgow on 16 April 2009.

I travelled by car between Ambleside, Cumbria and Oxenholme station and between Glasgow Central station and the venue for the Cabinet meeting.

£132 was incurred for my return travel by train from Oxenholme station to Glasgow Central station. My transport by car to and from Oxenholme station and between Glasgow Central station and the Cabinet venue was provided by the Metropolitan police, the cost of which is a matter for them.

There was no departmental expenditure on accommodation or food and no officials from the Ministry of Justice attended the meeting.

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Children: Protection

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will take steps to encourage local authorities to issue child protection proceedings. [273665]

Beverley Hughes I have been asked to reply.

Local authorities have a clear statutory duty under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 to investigate where they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. Where as a result of that investigation they conclude they should take action to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare by for example applying for a care order, they must take that action. It is for individual authorities to decide when to initiate care proceedings under section 31 of Children Act 1989 when a child is at risk in their own home.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many child protection cases were heard by the family court in (a) 2005, (b) 2006, (c) 2007 and (d) 2008. [273676]

Bridget Prentice: The following table shows the number of care, supervision and emergency protection order applications made to the family courts in England and Wales during the specified years.

Number of (a) care applications (b) supervision applications and (c) emergency protection order applications in the England and Wales family courts, 2005-08
Application type 2005 2006 2007 2008( 1)

Care applications





Supervision applications





Emergency protection order applications





(1) Provisional
1. 2005-07 data cover all tiers of court, and are as published in the annual Ministry of Justice reports ‘Judicial and Court Statistics’.
2. 2008 data exclude applications made to the High Court (which typically account for around 3 per cent. of all child protection applications) and should be treated as provisional. Final figures will be published in ‘Judicial and Court Statistics 2008’ later in the year.
3. Figures relate to the number of children subject to each application. On this basis, an application relating to two children will be counted twice.
4. Figures for Family Proceedings Courts prior to April 2007 are likely to be an undercount. A new method of data collection was introduced in April 2007 which has improved the coverage and completeness of data. Any comparison with figures prior to April 2007 may be affected by the improved data recording.
HM Courts Service case management systems

An application will not necessarily result in a full court hearing in every case, as the application can be withdrawn or the proceedings otherwise discontinued before this stage is reached. It should also be noted that an application of one type can result in an order of a different type being made by the court.

Departmental ICT

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he has taken to reduce the level of carbon dioxide emissions arising from the operation of ICT systems in his Department under the Greening Government ICT Strategy. [273564]

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Maria Eagle: The Ministry of Justice is committed to reducing its carbon emissions in accordance with the campaign initiated by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Greening Government ICT Strategy. The MOJ recognises that reducing its ICT carbon emissions is not just about technology but also about embedding sustainability in its process and behaviour as well.

The MOJ has worked to implement the appropriate ‘Areas for ICT Carbon Reduction’ in the Greening Government ICT Strategy improving the sustainability of its printing, the energy efficiency of its desktop PCs and data centres.

The MOJ has built sustainable IT principles into its IT policy and consideration of sustainability forms part of process of evaluation of changes to the IT estate. The MOJ is working with its suppliers to improve the energy efficiency of IT operations both in its outsourced data centres and at its own sites. It has employed third party expertise to analyse the sustainability of IT operations managed by a sample of the MOJ's key suppliers and advise on how best to realise improvements. This work has already led to increased data centre energy efficiency, and work on the centralisation of data processing will further reduce server energy consumption without negative effect on the volume or efficiency of data processing carried out. The convergence of formerly separate networks offers better sharing of IT resources for staff and the reduction of the overall number of devices we need to deliver the same level of service.

The MOJ has also used initiatives to realise the positive impact that ICT can have on the overall carbon emissions of its operations. It continues to invest in video-conferencing and teleconferencing technology to reduce emissions. The imminent upgrade of desktop PCs will offer not just improved power management to reduce energy consumption but also roaming profiles allowing any users to log on to any machine helping support MOJ estates' goal of 80 per cent. desking and a reduction in the overall size of the MOJ HQ estate.

MOJ is also working on staff awareness of green IT issues. Campaigns have been run encouraging the shut down of electrical items outside of office hours, the reduction of printing and paper consumption and the better use of video-conferencing and teleconferencing to reduce travel.

Elections: Fraud

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many successful prosecutions there were for offences of electoral fraud arising from elections held in 2008. [274248]

Mr. Wills: The report recently published by the Electoral Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers entitled “Allegations of electoral malpractice at the May 2008 elections in England and Wales” found that the police had recorded 103 cases of electoral malpractice at those elections. Eighty-one per cent. of the cases required no further action by the police. One case has led to a prosecution, which resulted in a conviction of one person on a charge of making a false application to vote by proxy. Nine cases resulted in formal cautions which may lead to criminal records, with 12 cases under investigation or awaiting advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.

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These figures must be seen in the context of over 16 million votes cast at the local elections in England and Wales in May 2008 in nearly 4,000 separate elections involving over 13,500 candidates.

The report is consistent with earlier findings that the scale and volume of allegations of fraud at recent elections have been decreasing.

Extradition: Legal Aid

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what expenditure his Department has incurred on the provision of legal aid for cases involving extradition to the United States in each of the last five years. [274731]

Mr. Malik: Neither the Ministry of Justice nor the Legal Services Commission records extradition cases centrally in terms of the country that is requesting extradition. The information requested could therefore be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Judiciary: Ethnic Groups

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many black and minority ethnic people were appointed to the judiciary in each of the last five years. [273691]

Mr. Straw: Following the question tabled in February on appointments, we are in the process of cleansing our data. This has yet to be completed, so I regret that I am unable to respond at this time. I will write with further information in due course, and ensure copies of this information are made available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of applications to become a member of the judiciary were from black and minority ethnic candidates in each of the last five years. [273692]

Mr. Straw: We have not been able to provide all the information in the time requested, but are working to provide it. I will write with further information in the near future, and ensure copies of this information are made available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Legal Profession: Chinese Community

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what criteria are applied to the selection of applicants to participate in the Lord Chancellor's Training scheme for young Chinese Lawyers; and if he will consider the merits of increasing the number of places available under the scheme each year. [273768]

Mr. Wills: Applicants to the Lord Chancellor's Training scheme for young Chinese Lawyers must:

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From past experience it has also been found desirable that the 15 successful lawyers:

The Ministry of Justice has committed to fund the scheme until 2011. We will review the scheme in due course, using a set of criteria which is likely to focus on value for money, impact, achievements, and fit with our departmental strategic objectives. We will also need to consider the public sector's fiscal restraints at that time. I am sure that my hon. Friend will appreciate therefore that I cannot comment on the merits of increasing the number of places available until the review has been concluded.

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