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6 July 2009 : Column 607W—continued

Welfare Tax Credit

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes have been made since the introduction of tax credits in 2003 to (a) the clarity of award notices, (b) the length of the accompanying notes and (c) the numbers of duplicate items. [283643]

Mr. Timms: A revised version of the award notice, reflecting comments from the voluntary and community sector has been in use since April 2006, giving the customer information about entitlement, overpayments and recovery arrangements. Additionally, claimants now receive a summary sheet that explains the most important aspects of their award. This summary highlights the key areas of their award that they need to check, for example, number of children, child care costs, income and account details.

HMRC seek to minimise the number of times it has to send notices to both couples in a household. For example, HMRC generally only issues one annual renewal pack per household if a reply is required. There are some instances where legislation means HMRC have to send out individual notices to each partner but HMRC constantly review their communications and are always exploring ways to improve the customer experience.

Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 2 June 2009, Official Report, column 413W, on the Lenders' Panel, on what dates the Lending Panel has met; and on what dates it is scheduled to meet. [283692]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: At the 2008 pre-Budget report, the Government announced the creation of a new Lending Panel, which meets regularly to monitor lending to businesses and households. The Lending Panel brings together lenders, trade bodies, consumer groups, and the Government, regulators and the Bank of England. The Lending Panel has met approximately monthly since its inception, and will continue to meet as appropriate.

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Welfare Tax Credit: Revenue and Customs

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what methods HM Revenue and Customs uses to measure the effectiveness of its service to tax credit claimants. [283511]

Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs uses a range of methods to measure the effectiveness of its service to tax credits claimants. The key ones are explained in HMRC's Business Plan for 2009-10 'Delivering our Vision' available at



Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State of Business, Innovation and Skills on that Department's estimate of its (a) current and (b) projected liabilities arising from the use of asbestos; and if he will make a statement. [284310]

Bridget Prentice: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has provided the Ministry of Justice with estimates of its liabilities for pleural plaques in the context of the Government’s consideration of the issues raised in its consultation on pleural plaques.

Burges Salmon Solicitors

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what recent representations he has received on the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s handling of the case of complaints against Burges Salmon Solicitors; and if he will make a statement; [284437]

(2) what recent representations he has received on Burges Salmon Solicitors’ provision of mortgage and other financial advice; and if he will make a statement. [284438]

Bridget Prentice: Three Members of Parliament have written to me concerning the conduct of Burges Salmon LLP and the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) subsequent investigation into complaints received from members of the public. I have also received representations from a concerned member of the public. All the representations I have received are in relation to the provision of legal advice in mortgage and other financial matters.

Complaints about professional misconduct of solicitors are matters for the SRA to investigate, as the legal profession is independent from the Government. As such, I cannot comment on individual cases. If consumers are unhappy with the way the SRA has conducted its investigation or the final decision reached, they should refer the matter to the Legal Services Ombudsman (LSO). The LSO protects the interests of the consumers of legal services by ensuring that the professional regulators conduct fair, thorough and efficient investigations of complaints about their members.

Community Orders

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for what reasons offenders undertaking unpaid work under the Children and Adoption Act 2006 are not required to wear identifiable clothing. [263855]

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Mr. Straw: The Children and Adoption Act 2006 makes unpaid work available as a requirement of an enforcement order for breach of a child contact order in the Family Proceedings court, County court and High Court. A person who has breached a contact order can be required to undertake between 40 and 200 hours unpaid work, which is intended to ensure future compliance with the contact order. The fact that these offenders have not been included in the Community Payback scheme is anomalous. I am therefore actively considering the inclusion of these orders in the scheme.

Community Supervision

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people who were the subject of community supervision during (a) 2007 and (b) 2008 had previously been held in custody; and how many people were on community supervision in each of those years. [282400]

Maria Eagle: The information requested is shown in the table.

As at December each year Community supervision Previously in custody







1. The number of offenders on community supervision in 2007 has been drawn from the Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2007 report which includes all pre CJA orders, community orders and suspended sentence orders. The number of offenders who had a previous immediate custodial sentence has been derived from the dataset for the publication extracted from the police national computer.
2. Information on the previous criminal history of offenders under community supervision at end 2008 will be published in Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2008 on 31 July 2009.

The case load figures can be found in Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2007 at:

and in the Probation Statistics Quarterly Brief October to December 2008 at:

The police national computer is an administrative IT system which, as with any large scale recording system, is subject to possible errors with data entry and processing. The figures are provisional and subject to change as more information is recorded by the police.

County Courts: Judgments

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for what reasons the civil procedure rules do not require a claimant applying for a county court judgment to produce evidence of admission of the defendant. [284250]

Bridget Prentice: The civil procedure rules require a defendant who wishes to admit a claim to send their admission direct to the claimant to allow them to make an offer of payment, or pay the claim in full, without unnecessarily involving the court.

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A claimant may request a judgment based on an admission by filing a prescribed form. By signing the form, the claimant certifies that the defendant admits that all the money is owed.

Rule 32.14 of the civil procedure rules provides that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against a person if he makes, or causes to be made, a false statement. Where a party does make a false statement, the courts, when such actions are brought to their attention, treat them very seriously and judges may make orders as they see fit. However, such instances are very rare.

Courts: Reprography

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many courts provide photocopying facilities in (a) England and Wales and (b) the East Midlands; and how many courts charge for the use of such a facility. [283608]

Bridget Prentice: HMCS does not hold information about the number of courts within England and Wales, including the East Midlands, which provide photocopying facilities. However, all courts will usually provide some facility for copying documents. A fee is payable for a request to copy documents in civil and family courts and in any probate registry as prescribed by the relevant fees orders.

Departmental Consultants

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how much was spent by his Department on (a) consultants and (b) agency staff in 2008-09; [279236]

(2) how much (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies spent on external consultancy in 2008-09; [276479]

(3) how much the National Offender Management Scheme spent on consultants in (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09. [277804]

Mr. Straw: The information requested is set out as follows:


The Ministry’s provisional expenditure on external consultants in 2008-09 is £53,600,000. This is disclosed in the Ministry of Justice Departmental Annual Report 2008-09 on page 72 which can be found in the following link:

This amount covers the Ministry of Justice HQ, HM Courts Service, Tribunals Service, and the National Offender Management Service. This figure is an early estimate and will be subject to change.

The Office of Government Commerce collates data on consultancy expenditure as part of its Consultancy Value programme which assists Departments in driving greater value from Government’s use of consultants. The Ministry’s expenditure on consultancy for 2007-08 is reported as £56 million and can be found in the following link:

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The finalised figures for 2008-09 will be available on this website in due course. A manual data collection exercise for this period is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2009 with the data expected at 31 October 2009.

Expenditure on external consultants by the National Offender Management Service in the financial year 2007-08 was £6.9 million of which £3.5 million relates to HM Prison Service. These figures were provided in a written answer by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Justice (Mr. Wills) to the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Browne) on 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1655W. Data for April 2008 to March 2009 are expected at 31 October 2009.

Agency Staff

The final audited figures for agency staff expenditure will be reported in the Ministry’s 2008-09 resource accounts which are expected to be laid before Parliament by the summer recess. Draft figures are shown as follows:

Draft figures (£)

Ministry of Justice HQ


HM Courts Service


Tribunals Service


Office of the Public Guardian


National Offenders Management Service




This expenditure represents a reduction of 18 per cent. compared to the figure reported in 2007-08.

As part of the Ministry of Justice’s ongoing Performance and Efficiency programme to deliver £l billion of savings to March 2011 we are looking at ways to reduce people costs, including cutting back on interim and contract staff. However, in specific circumstances consultancy support offers MOJ a fast and flexible way of obtaining skills and experience that are not available in house. All contracts, in such cases, are let with best value for money in mind and follow established Office of Government Commerce frameworks.

Departmental Public Consultation

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will place in the Library a copy of each tender document relating to his Department's consultation on (a) the rights and responsibilities Green Paper and (b) a British statement of values. [283524]

Mr. Wills: Tender documents relating to the consultations on values, rights and responsibilities cannot be placed in the Library as this could prejudice commercial interests.

Land Registry

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his most recent estimate is of the number of deeds and documents held by the Land Registry. [283528]

Mr. Wills: The Land Registry estimates that the number of documents it holds is in excess of 122 million (with an estimated 747 million pages). This figure includes documents held in both paper and electronic form.

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Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many original deeds and documents have been destroyed by the Land Registry since 28 February 2009. [283530]

Mr. Wills: In accordance with Rules 203 and 204 of the Land Registration Rules 2003 the Land Registry has destroyed approximately 5.5 million deeds and documents since 28 February 2009. The destruction of these documents results from a decision to store records electronically rather than physically. The Land Registry holds a large number of documents in electronic format. This has allowed the creation of a service for professional customers to view and download these documents online, and speeded up the services available to the general public.

Register related documents are managed with the electronic register and are within the scope of the Land Registry's IT security measures, which are externally accredited. This includes a requirement that the Land Registry:

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of land and property registrations overseen by the Land Registry took place solely by electronic means in each year since 2003. [283531]

Mr. Wills: The information prior to September 2007 is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. I will, however, be able to provide the number of electronic applications received by Land Registry since 2007. I will write to the hon. Member with this information and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the number of original records which will be destroyed by the Land Registry in 2009-10. [283532]

Mr. Wills: No estimate has been made of the number of original records that will be destroyed by the Land Registry in 2009-10. Figures are available for documents destroyed to date in 2009-10 and are as follows:

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