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Ministers: Members Interests

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform who the trustee of the blind trust operated on behalf of the Secretary of State is; and on what basis that person was chosen. [272382]

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Mr. McFadden [holding answer 5 May 2009]: In accordance with the requirements of the ministerial code, my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State declared this information to the permanent secretary and the independent adviser on Ministers’ interests. However, it is personal information and disclosure is not required.

Press: Competition

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of likely levels of competition within the newspaper and magazine wholesale distribution market in the period up to autumn 2009. [273408]

Mr. Thomas: The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has undertaken a detailed examination of newspaper and magazine distribution arrangements over a period of several years. In October 2008, the OFT issued a final opinion providing guidance to industry on the compatibility of those arrangements with competition law. At the same time, the OFT published for consultation its proposed decision not to refer the newspaper and magazine supply sector (which includes newspaper and magazine distribution) to the Competition Commission for a market investigation. The consultation closes on 19 May and the OFT plans to publish its decision by autumn 2009. BERR understands the OFT is monitoring recent market developments, and will carefully consider representations made by interested parties, including those on likely levels of competition, before taking a final decision on a referral.

Retail Trade: Cleveland

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent steps his Department has taken to assist the retail industry in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency; and if he will make a statement. [274087]

Ian Pearson: The Government have launched the “Real Help Now” initiative to assist businesses through the downturn. This is a new service providing employers and individuals with easy access to free advice and support. In the North East the campaign “Real help for Businesses and People Now” aims to highlight the funds and finance made available by One North East, Business Link, Learning and Skills Council, Jobcentre Plus and the Government office for the North East.

The regional development agency, One North East is supporting businesses and business sectors across the region. Information and support on the Real Help Now initiative can be accessed in the Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland area via Business Link. Latest figures for 2008-09 show that 102 retails businesses were supported by Business Link across the NE region, unfortunately data is not available for individual constituencies.

Royal Mail

Frank Dobson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 5 May 2009, Official Report, column 56W, on Royal Mail, how much he estimates will be charged in fees by (a) UBS, (b) Freshfields and (c) Deloitte for advising on the proposed part-privatisation of Royal Mail. [275089]

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Mr. McFadden: The work on the partnership deal for Royal Mail is ongoing. It would not be appropriate to give an estimate of the overall cost of advisers’ fees at this stage, as this remains subject to a range of variable factors. These include the length of the process, number of interested parties and the final shape of any partnership agreement.

Government will, of course, make the overall expenditure on advisers available once the deal has been completed and the costs are known.


Antisocial Behaviour: Fixed Penalties

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent representations he has received on proposals to increase the level of fines issued under the penalty notices for disorder system; and if he will make a statement. [274611]

Mr. Straw: Apart from those from the hon. Lady, no representations have been received on reported proposals to increase the fine levels for penalty notices for disorder. I will be writing to the hon. Lady shortly in response to her letter of 28 April.

Under the Penalty Notice for Disorder Scheme introduced under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, the penalty amounts are £80 for higher tier offences such as criminal damage and £50 for lower tier offences such as trespassing on a railway. If the recipient of a notice neither pays this penalty nor opts for a court hearing a fine of one and a half times the penalty amount is registered against him and enforced as any other fine. We have no plans to change these arrangements.

Ashwell Prison

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice which (a) rooms and (b) other areas of HM Prison Ashwell are inoperable following the disturbance of 11 April 2009; and for how long he estimates the damaged areas will be inoperable. [272822]

Mr. Hanson: Following the disturbance A, B, C, and D wings, totalling 415 accommodation rooms, are out of use.

On the non-accommodation areas, the Potatopak workshop is out of use. It is not yet possible to say for how long the Plastics workshop will be out of use. The Paints CIT (Construction Industry Training) workshop is due to be ready for use on 11 May, and the Offender Management Unit (OMU) will be refurbished and is due for completion in September 2009.

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the disturbance at HMP Ashwell on 11 April 2009 arising from (a) damage to prison property, (b) deploying additional Prison Service staff and other emergency services personnel to deal with the disturbance, (c) transporting prisoners to other prisons and (d) conducting an investigation into the incident. [272823]

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Mr. Hanson: The National Offender Management Service (NOMS)/Prison Service investigation which is due to be completed by 29 May will estimate the cost to NOMS of resolving the disturbance. I will make the findings of the investigation and our conclusions on it available to the House in due course.

The investigation will not cover damage to property as decisions which will determine the costs of damage have yet to be made, and are not within the scope of the investigation. I will write to the hon. Member when known.

The cost of the other emergency services is a matter for the individual emergency services.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 13 February 2006, Official Report, column 1615, on commonhold tenure, what steps have been taken to promote the operation of shared ownership leases in residential commonhold units since 2006. [274712]

Mr. Hanson: No steps have been taken to promote the operation of shared ownership leases in residential commonhold. Long leases of more than seven years, including shared ownership leases, are not possible in commonhold.

Affordable housing can be provided in commonhold by means of shared ownership trusts. The Finance Act 2007 extended the same stamp duty land tax treatment available to shared ownership leases in leasehold to shared ownership trusts in commonhold.

Coroners: Complaints

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many complaints his Department has received on (a) coroner Dr. Paul Knapman and (b) deputy coroner Dr. William Dolman in the last five years; and what steps have been taken in response to such complaints. [272880]

Mr. Straw: The Lord Chief Justice and I have joint responsibility, through the Office for Judicial Complaints, for considering complaints against the judiciary, including coroners. However, those powers do not extend to deputy coroners.

We have recently announced that we will usually make public information about members of the judiciary who are removed from office as a result of the consideration of a complaint or conduct issue about them. We do not normally comment, however, on whether or not a complaint has been lodged against a named member of the judiciary until such time as any such matter is fully investigated and the Lord Chief Justice and I have decided that a disciplinary sanction is required. In exceptional circumstances, however, the Office for Judicial Complaints may confirm that an investigation is under way, where the matter is already in the public domain.

Departmental Databases

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his most recent estimate is of the number of inaccurate records on the (a) National Offender Management
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Information System, (b) Offender Risk Assessment System, (c) Offender Management National Infrastructure and (d) Libra Case Management System. [274191]

Mr. Straw: NOMIS is currently operating solely as a pilot system in the Isle of Wight cluster. NOMIS holds 1,508 offender records, solely relating to offenders currently held within HMP Isle of Wight. There have been 31 instances of records being incomplete, six instances of inaccurate records due to user error and a further 22 records whose inaccuracy will be resolved by the system being upgraded to the latest version. Incomplete and inaccurate records are less than 4 per cent. of all NOMIS records. The number of inaccurate records is small. Any errors are corrected as soon as they are identified. All systems have processes in place to minimise data input errors.

No information is kept of the number of occasions it is necessary to amend records held on the Offender Assessment System (OASys), which are shared with the offender in order to maintain accuracy. If an inaccuracy is identified, it is corrected immediately.

The Offender Management National Infrastructure (OMNI) is the IT infrastructure used within the National Probation Service: it is not in itself a database and thus does not hold records.

Although there is no process for summarising the number of inaccurate records, HM Courts Service has systems in place to maximise the accuracy of the data held on the Libra system. Any inaccurate records that are found on the system are corrected as soon as they are identified.

Housing: Sales

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average price was of a property sold in each year since 1995, expressed in 2009 prices. [274876]

Mr. Wills: The information requested is shown in the following table.


Annual average price Annual average price at Q1 2009 prices











































The third column of the table shows the average price of properties sold in each year, adjusted to Q1 (January-March) 2009 prices using the all-item non-seasonally adjusted retail prices index (RPI). The RPI has been used because it includes price changes to housing-related items such as mortgage interest payments, depreciation, council tax, dwelling insurance and ground rent, which are not included in the consumer prices index.

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Knives: Convictions

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people aged under 21 years have been convicted for offences related to possession of a knife in each of the last five years; and how many received
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(a) a caution, (b) an absolute or conditional discharge, (c) a fine, (d) a community sentence, (e) a suspended custody, (f) immediate custody and (g) another disposal. [274192]

Mr. Straw: The information requested is contained in the following table.

Offences involving the possession of a knife or offensive weapon resulting in a caution or sentence( 1,2) , committed by offenders aged under 21, England and Wales, 2004-08

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008







Caution, reprimands and final warnings






Absolute/Conditional discharge












Community sentence






Suspended sentence






Immediate custody






Other disposal






(1) As recorded by the police on the police national computer.
(2) The figures are a count of offences rather than offenders. Where an offender has been sentenced for several possession offences each sentence has been counted.

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