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Information Commissioner's Office: Complaint

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many complaints made to the Information Commissioner's Office had not been investigated within eight months of the complaint having been made in (a) 2008-09 and (b) 2009-10; and what steps are being taken to reduce this number. [318381]

Mr. Wills: The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is the UK's independent authority established to promote access to official information and to regulate the protection of personal data.

Complaints received by the ICO are recorded and logged in a casework management system. The complaints are then allocated to a caseworker for investigation. Of a total of 22,237 complaints received in the financial year 2008-09, the ICO took more than eight months to allocate 1,552 cases for investigation. The ICO allocated a total of 20,681 complaints for investigation within eight months of receipt in 2008-09, with four cases still awaiting allocation.

A complete picture for the current financial year is not yet available. However, in quarters one to three of 2009-10 the ICO received 18,463 complaints. To date, 318 of these complaints were more than eight months old when allocated for investigation. In the first three quarters of 2009-10, 16,561 complaints were allocated within eight months of receipt, notwithstanding a 21 per cent. increase in freedom of information complaints and a 42 per cent. increase in the number of data protection complaints in comparison to the same period in the previous financial year. The remaining 1,584 requests had yet to be allocated for investigation at the end of the third quarter. This information has been provided by the ICO.

The Information Commissioner is committed to speeding up the complaint handling process in his Office. The ICO is changing its internal systems and processes to focus on closing less complex cases more quickly. Additional grant in aid over and above its baseline funding has also been made available by the Ministry of Justice to help the ICO reduce its backlog of freedom of information cases in this financial year and the previous four.

Legal Aid

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) whether an assessment has been made of the appropriateness of funding by legal aid of concluded MMR vaccine litigation; [321634]

(2) whether an assessment has been made of the appropriateness of funding by legal aid the research carried out on claimants and controls in connection with concluded MMR vaccine litigation; [321635]

(3) whether an assessment has been made of purported ethical approval and clinical indication for lumbar punctures funded by legal aid performed on claimants in connection with concluded MMR vaccine litigation; [321637]

(4) whether there are plans to recover legal aid money paid to Dr. Andrew Wakefield in connection with concluded MMR vaccine litigation. [321622]

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Maria Eagle: The MMR vaccine litigation involved allegations that, as a consequence of a national vaccination campaign, children were very seriously injured because the vaccine in question was defective. Legal aid funding, which covered litigation services, advocacy and disbursements for experts, was granted in the early stages of the case, and was supported by the opinions of leading counsel, which took into account the expert evidence available at the time.

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) is obliged to review continually the merits of funded litigation, and to withdraw funding where a case no longer meets the legal merits test. Funding for MMR claims was therefore discontinued when they no longer met this test. Since the MMR vaccine cases concluded, the civil legal aid Funding Code guidance has been revised, and there are now more stringent criteria for funding high-cost cases, and a presumption that legal aid will not be used to fund new scientific research.

We are not aware of any assessment of the ethical approval of procedures carried out as part of the expert evidence provided for this case. This would be a matter for the General Medical Council, not the Ministry of Justice or the LSC. The LSC has no plans to recover legal aid fees paid to Dr. Andrew Wakefield in connection with expert advice in the concluded MMR litigation.

National Offender Management Services: Licences

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost was of the licences purchased by the National Offender Management Service from (a) MPLC and (b) Filmbank. [316316]

Mr. Straw: The showing of films by video/DVD to groups of prisoners or staff requires a licence as it constitutes public performance.

There are two licences as no one licensing body covers all the main studios.

The cost of licences in the 2008-09 financial year for the Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) and
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Filmbank was £315,883 and £39,774 respectively. This equates to £3.60 per prisoner per year (or lp a day).

Films have been shown to prisoners for many decades.

Property: Sales

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 1 March 2010, Official Report, column 940W, on property: sales, how many property transactions took place where the sale price was more than (a) £60,000, (b) £125,000, (c) £175,000 and (d) £250,000 in each (i) local authority area and (ii) region since 1997. [321283]

Mr. Wills: Land Registry is able to provide information based on the total number of residential properties sold at full value(1) in the requested categories in each year since 1997. The information has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Youth Custody

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what proportion of sentences handed down to (a) juveniles and (b) young adults of each sex from (i) magistrates' courts and (ii) Crown courts were custodial sentences in (A) 2008 and (B) 2009. [321595]

Claire Ward: The requested information for 2008 is shown in the following table. Data for 2007 have also been supplied. Data for 2009 will become available once Sentencing Statistics 2009 is published in the autumn.

This information is also available in Sentencing Statistics 2008 via the following link:

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Number and percentage of persons sentenced to immediate custody, by court type, age band and sex, 2007-08
Magistrates court Crown c ourt

Immediate custody Total sentenced Proportion (percentage) Immediate custody Total sentenced Proportion (percentage)



10 to 17







18 to 20








10 to 17







18 to 20









10 to 17







18 to 20








10 to 17







18 to 20







Notes: 1. These figures have been drawn from administrative data systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. 2. These data have been taken from the Ministry of Justice Court Proceedings database. These data are presented on the principal offence basis. Where an offender has been sentenced for more than one offence the principal offence is the one for which the heaviest sentence was imposed. Where the same sentence has been imposed for two or more offences the principal offence is the one for which the statutory maximum is most severe.

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether his Department has received a copy of the National Audit Office's draft report on custody placements in young offenders institutions; if he will bring forward proposals to improve his Department's system for reporting costs of custody in the youth secure estate; and if he will make a statement. [321629]

Maria Eagle: The Ministry of Justice is not aware of any such report by the National Audit Office (NAO). The work of the NAO is a matter for the NAO's Comptroller and Auditor General. The Department welcomes any recommendations the NAO has to secure greater value for money and would carefully consider its response thereafter. Details on the costs of custody are published in the Youth Justice Board's annual report and accounts.

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