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Departmental Sick Leave

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many days sickness absence were taken by staff in his Department in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what the cost to his Department was of such absence. [305546]

Paul Goggins: The following table shows the number of working days lost from April 2009 to October 2009 and the cost to the Northern Ireland Office based on figures provided by Northern Ireland Statistics Research Agency.

Total number of working days lost overall Overall cost (£)

April 2009

972.8

83,837

May 2009

920.7

77,723

June 2009

1,075.2

108,357

July 2009

916.1

93,572

August 2009

1,050.7

101,502

September 2009

1,303.4

122,897

October 2009

1,198.3

117,459


Departmental Taxis

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many miles (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have travelled by taxi in the course of their official duties in each year since 1997; and at what cost to the public purse in each such year. [302708]

Paul Goggins: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO), including its arms length bodies and the Public Prosecution Service Northern Ireland but excluding its agencies and NDPBs, does not record information on miles travelled by taxi so cannot provide an answer to this part of the question.

The NIO Departmental Disposal policy states that financial records do not have to be held longer than seven years. The following table shows the expenditure on taxi fares where costs have been charged to the taxi expenditure code used for invoiced taxi costs from 2003-04 to 2008-09, the last six complete financial years.

Each member of staff is advised that, before any business related journey is made, the most cost-effective means of transport must be considered. Where the use of public transport or private car is not possible or economic, then the journey may be made by taxi.

Ministers Officials

2003-04

1,090

18,123

2004-05

754

24,102

2005-06

31

24,234

2006-07

0

28,031

2007-08

0

42,455

2008-09

34

77,736


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The increase in expenditure on taxis in the NIO followed a review in 2007 when the Department adopted a policy which made greater use of taxis rather than private hire cars. While this change in policy has led to an increase in the cost of taxis, it has generated estimated whole year net savings of £ 150,000.

Further taxi fares were claimed as reimbursable expenses but due to the processes involved in making these payments, costs can only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The NIO keeps the cost of travel on official business under regular review.

Hotels

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much his Department spent on hotel accommodation for (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) civil servants in each of the last five years. [305656]

Paul Goggins: The following table shows how much the Northern Ireland Office, including the Public Prosecution Service Northern Ireland, and excluding its agencies and NDPBs has spent on hotel accommodation for (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) civil servants in each of the last five years.

£

2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09

Ministers

(1)-

(1)-

(1)-

1,889

5,852

Special Advisers

(1)-

(1)-

(1)-

230

806

Civil servants

(1)-

(1)-

(1)-

198,482

200,335

(1) Figures not available prior to 2007-08.

Up until 2006-07, hotel expenditure was included within night subsistence costs. To extract only hotel costs in these years would exceed the disproportionate cost threshold of £750.

Travel by Ministers, special advisers and civil servants is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code respectively.

Details on overseas visits undertaken by Ministers costing over £500 can also be found on the Cabinet Office website by using the following link:

Human Rights Commission: Public Relations

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what payments the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has made to Stratagem in the last 12 months; for what purpose; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the contract under which such payments have been made. [305159]

Mr. Woodward: No payments have been made by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to Stratagem in the last 12 months. On 27 October 2008 the Commission paid Stratagem the sum of £411.25 (£350 plus VAT) for an annual subscription for monthly political updates covering the period 1 August 2008 to 21 July 2009. The service included updates on parliamentary business supplied to staff members by email and SMS. This subscription was not subsequently renewed at the expiry date.


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Terrorism

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent assessment he has made of the level of activity of dissident Republicans in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [305849]

Paul Goggins: As the most recent IMC report confirmed, Dissident Republicans continue to pose a serious threat. However, the devolution of policing and justice has been recognised as a potent intervention in allowing Northern Ireland to move forward.

Written Questions: Government Responses

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he plans to respond to question (a) 304525 and (b) 304526 on devolution of criminal justice and policing, tabled on 1 December 2009. [307611]

Paul Goggins: These questions were both answered on 10 December 2009, Official Report, column 533W.

Justice

Cemeteries: Islam

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what conclusions his Department drew from its 2007 Survey of Burial Grounds regarding cemetery provision for Islamic burial sites in London; [306266]

(2) what plans there are for future burial site provision for Islamic people in London; [306275]

(3) what steps his Department has taken following its 2007 Survey of Burial Grounds in respect of cemetery provision for Islamic burial sites in London. [306276]

Bridget Prentice: Provision of burial space in general is a matter for decision by local authorities and other local providers. This Department has no role in that process, but our Guide for Burial Ground Managers encourages consideration to be given, wherever possible, to setting aside areas within cemeteries for use by particular faith communities. Responses to the burial ground survey did not permit any valid conclusions to be drawn as to the level or adequacy of burial space for Muslims either in London, or in England and Wales as a whole, but that was not its primary purpose.

Convictions: Young People

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many children under the age of 16 years have been convicted of criminal offences in each of the last five years. [306449]

Maria Eagle: The number of persons aged 10 to 15 years found guilty of criminal offences in all courts in England and Wales, from 2003 to 2007 (latest available) is provided in the following table.

Data for 2008 are planned for publication on 28 January 2010.


16 Dec 2009 : Column 1240W
The number of persons aged 10 to 15 years found guilty at all courts for all offences, England and Wales 2003-07( 1,2)

Number

2003

33,484

2004

35,656

2005

37,121

2006

37,300

2007

38,761

(1) The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
(2) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
Source:
Justice Statistics Analytical Services-Ministry of Justice

Crime

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 11 November 2009, Official Report, column 470W, on crime, how many people were (a) found guilty at all courts and (b) cautioned for all offences in (i) 1987 and (ii) 1988. [306415]

Maria Eagle: I refer the hon. Member to the answer provided by the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend (Claire Ward) on 11 November 2009, Official Report, column 470W.

Data Protection

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will bring forward legislation to make custodial sentences mandatory for serious offences of breach of privacy and confidentiality through negligent loss, sale or abuse of personal data. [306539]

Mr. Wills: There are no plans to do so. The Government do not believe that mandatory custodial sentences are appropriate other than in exceptional circumstances: it is the function of the Court to decide the sentence in each individual case, subject to the maximum that Parliament has provided and any guidelines that may be laid down by the Sentencing Guidelines Council or the Court of Appeal.

However, the Government are consulting on the introduction of custodial sentences as a potential sanction for individuals who commit offences relating to the knowing or reckless misuse of personal data under section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). The consultation also seeks views on introducing a defence for those who can show that they acted for journalistic, artistic or literary purposes with a view to publishing journalistic, literary or artistic material, in the reasonable belief that they acted in the public interest. The consultation closes on 7 January 2010 and can be viewed at:

The Government have also recently launched a consultation on setting the maximum level for a Civil
16 Dec 2009 : Column 1241W
Monetary Penalty that the Information Commissioner could serve on data controllers who commit serious contraventions of the data protection principles, as set out in the DPA. The consultation closes on 21 December 2009 and can be viewed at:

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many staff of his Department were in its redeployment pool on 1 (a) January, (b) April, (c) July and (d) October 2009. [306713]

Mr. Wills: All staff seeking redeployment are gainfully employed and undertaking roles within the Ministry. They are engaged in work contributing to the delivery of public services, including core frontline activities, policy and project work and other operational roles. The number of staff who were actively seeking permanent redeployment are shown in the following table:

Reporting month Total number of staff actively seeking permanent redeployment( 1)

January 2009

(2)33

April 2009

(2)23

July 2009

246

October 2009

219

(1) The figures above comprise both full-time and part-time staff
(2) The data provided for 1 January and 1 April 2009, excludes redeployees from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) because during this period there was at the time no system in place for recording such staff.

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