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Mr. Straw: The Government do not routinely collect or hold information about the number of Henry VIII provisions. However in response to an earlier question from the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien) on the number of Henry VIII powers that had been enacted up until that point in the 2008-09 Session, a detailed exercise was undertaken to collate the information.
As you know, a Henry VIII clause is a power in a Bill which enables primary legislation to be amended or repealed by secondary legislation. Such provisions are included in legislation for a variety of reasons.
Due to the diverse nature of this type of power, we cannot be sure that we have captured every instance. However we estimate that there are around 70 such powers contained within legislation enacted so far this Session. At least 10 of these powers are not new, but have been re-enacted this Session and at least 15 of the powers are provisions allowing for consequential amendments. The majority of the remaining powers are narrow in scope, applying in specific circumstances, including 18 powers in the Finance Act 2009.
15 of the 70 powers are contained in the Banking Act 2009, which was passed in response to the recent period of sustained disruption in global financial markets. The more substantive of these 15 powers are necessary to ensure that the special resolution regime can be used effectively to resolve a failing bank or building society, in order to protect depositors and maintain financial stability.
Parliament has long-and rightly-been hostile to the principle of Henry VIII powers, and so have I and my colleagues. They are only used when there is substantial call for them; no practical alternative of dealing with the issue in the original legislation; and such powers are rarely wide-ranging. The exercise of any Henry VIII power will be subject to subsequent parliamentary approval, either by way of the negative resolution procedure (for example where the change is technical, consequential or minor) or, as in most cases, the affirmative resolution procedure.
All of the powers themselves were subject to parliamentary scrutiny prior to their enactment and were accepted as necessary by Parliament having considered the views of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.
In order to answer this question fully, a similar exercise is being undertaken to take account of the Acts that have received Royal Assent since 10 November and I will write to the hon. and learned Member as soon as this exercise is complete. A copy will be placed in the House Library.
Bridget Prentice: The Legal Services Commission (LSC) only records the number of claims from providers of asylum work rather than the number of publicly funded asylum seekers at any given point. In the period from April 2008 to March 2009, the LSC funded 46,628 asylum matter starts.
Bridget Prentice: There is not a separate budget for legal aid in respect of asylum seekers. Asylum seekers may seek legal aid in categories of law other than asylum and like all those seeking legal aid, must satisfy the means and merits tests where it is required in respect of civil categories of law and the means test and interests of justice test where it is required for criminal law.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) whether he has had discussions with the Secretary of State for Health on the implications for the Isle of Man of the decision to cancel the reciprocal agreement between the NHS and the Isle of Man with effect from 1 April 2010; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) whether he had discussions with the Secretary of State for Health on the implications for (a) Jersey and (b) Guernsey of the cancellation of the reciprocal agreement between each island and the NHS from 1 April 2009 prior to the decision to cancel the agreement; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wills: There were no discussions between Ministry of Justice and Department of Health Ministers. The decision to cancel the agreement was a matter for Department of Health Ministers alone, but prior to the decision being taken discussions took place between officials of both Departments.
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent research he has commissioned to assess changes in the distribution of payments in respect of personal injury litigation between (a) insurers, (b) solicitors, (c) claimants and (d) defendants since the 1996 Woolf Report on Access to Justice; and if he will make a statement. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the consequences of the introduction of a
fixed costs regime in personal injury litigation with regard to road traffic accidents; and if he will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: No new research has been commissioned. However, data on current costs were made available to the representative organisations involved in the mediation process which resulted in the agreed fixed costs.
Bridget Prentice: I have not recently commissioned research specifically on models of funding for personal injury litigation. However, in June 2008 my Department commissioned a scoping project on 'no win no fee' agreements covering a number of areas including personal injury. We expect to publish the report of the scoping project shortly.
Maria Eagle: A prison's "certified normal accommodation" (CNA) is its agreed capacity when there is no crowding. A prison's "operational capacity" is the maximum number of prisoners it is allowed to hold over and above CNA taking into account control, security and the proper operation of regimes. Operational capacity in prisons is set by the Director of Offender Management on behalf of the Secretary of State.
Operational managers must ensure that each cell used for the confinement of prisoners has sufficient heating, lighting and ventilation and is of adequate size for the number of prisoners to be held in it.
|Average number of prisoners in overcrowded accommodation||Average percentage of prison population in overcrowded accommodation|
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what progress has been made in the review of Prison Rule 39 on privileged prisoner correspondence recommended by the Blakey Review on disrupting the supply of illicit drugs into prisons; and if he will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: While not making this a formal recommendation in his report David Blakey highlighted the potential for abuse of Rule 39 mail for smuggling drugs. The Government undertook that the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) would review Rule 39 mail to maintain legal privilege while reducing misuse.
The National Offender Management Service takes very seriously the principle of confidential communications between prisoners and their legal representatives which is embodied in Prison Rule 39. Any interference in these communications needs to be against a background of reasonable cause to believe that the communication is being made with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose.
Since the report NOMS is consulting with the operational field and its law enforcement partners to establish the threat posed by current Rule 39 procedures and will shortly engage the Law Society to investigate whether and if so how these can be improved.
Maria Eagle: All figures as follows are provided in full-time equivalent (FTE). As at 31 October 2009, there were a total of 33 agency staff and contractors working in public sector female prisons (13 operational support grades, 11 administration grades, eight nursing grades, and one psychology grade). There were a total of 2,970 staff working in female public sector prisons.
There were a total of three agency staff (all healthcare grades) working in contracted out private female prisons. There were a total of 894 staff working in female contracted out private prisons. Kalyx (the private prison contractor) are currently running a recruitment campaign for nurses.
Agency staff and contractor figures provided for the public sector prisons are collected from manual staffing returns supplied by stakeholders in individual establishments and are therefore liable to inaccuracies associated with records of this type. Information for the contracted out private prisons was provided by Kalyx. Information on the number of agency staff and contractors is not held separately within NOMS/HMPS. The figure shown for public sector female prisons therefore relates to the cumulative total of agency staff and contractors.
Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what projects under what budget headings were funded by the £324,000 plus value added tax spent on due diligence work in connection with the proposed prison site at Caernarfon. 
Maria Eagle: A fresh site search was announced on 27 October 2009 for further sites for new prisons. This will focus in or near areas where the demand for prison places is greatest, including North Wales. Potential sites are in the process of being identified and a shortlist will be drawn up and published in spring 2010.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 11 November 2009, Official Report, columns 482-3W, on offensive weapons, how many of the six offences receiving the maximum sentence relate specifically to possession of an article with a blade or point. 
Claire Ward: Since 12 February 2007 the maximum custodial sentence for knife or offensive weapon possession offences is 4 years. Therefore the answer gives data from March 2007 to June 2009 (the most recent published data from the Knife Crime Sentencing Quarterly brief). Further information is available at:
With reference to the answer of 11 November 2009, Official Report, columns 482-83W, on offensive weapons, which stated six offences received the maximum sentence of four years custody for possession of a knife or offensive weapon, two of these offences (committed by two offenders) were for possession of an article with a blade or a point.
More custodial sentences are being given for knife and offensive weapon possession and those that are sent to jail are serving longer sentences. The proportion of immediate custodial sentences given for possessing a knife or offensive weapon increased from 17 per cent. to 19 per cent. of all sentences between the second quarter of 2008 compared with the same period in 2009. The average sentence length in the second quarter 2009 was 194 days which is a 42 per cent. increase from the same quarter in 2008.
These figures have been drawn from the police's 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.
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