Previous Section Index Home Page

16 Mar 2010 : Column 831W—continued

Greater Manchester

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will set out, with statistical information related as directly as possible to Manchester, Gorton constituency, the effects on that constituency of the policies of his Department and its predecessors since 1997. [322138]

Mr. Wills: The Ministry of Justice's work spans criminal, civil and family justice, democracy, rights and the constitution. Every year around nine million people use our services in 900 locations across the United Kingdom, including 650 courts and tribunals and 139 prisons in England and Wales.

The range of the Department's policies and actions is wide and the statistical information relating to it is not normally collected on a constituency basis. Consequently, some of the information requested in the question cannot be provided in the form requested except at a disproportionate cost.

16 Mar 2010 : Column 832W

In addition, at a national level:

Legal Aid

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what mechanisms are in place to provide for flexibility in the number of matter starts which may be allocated to take account of increased demand at local level. [321828]

Bridget Prentice: The Legal Services Commission (LSC), like all other public bodies, must work within a fixed budget. However, the LSC is responsive to increased demand for services at local level within that budget. Last year, the LSC increased the number of cases funded of initial civil advice and assistance in areas like debt and housing to over one million in response to the economic downturn-a record amount. The LSC also allocated cases in areas where clients had previously found services hard to access. The LSC will continue to maintain this flexible approach where there is evidence of both need and demand for additional services.

Should the commission find, that there is insufficient access to advice in a particular area, either following the tender or during the life of the contract, they will consider further measures within their budget constraints. This will range from offering increased matter starts to existing contracted providers, to undertaking further interim bid rounds to encourage the development of additional services.

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he plans to take to ensure that the requirements of vulnerable people receiving services under the new Legal Services Commission contracts are met. [321826]

Bridget Prentice: The Government are committed to ensuring that the most vulnerable people in society have access to quality, publicly-funded legal advice for family and social welfare issues. This is why we increased expenditure on Legal Help, which covers initial advice and assistance, from £176 million in 2008-09 to £200 million for 2009-10. We have also increased the number of acts of assistance provided from 595,000 in 2004-05 to over a million last year. During 2010-11, funding for advice and assistance will be maintained to ensure that people can continue to access the help they need.

16 Mar 2010 : Column 833W

The new civil contracts will begin on 14 October 2010. One of the main changes made to advice provision under the new contract will be the requirement to provide services in housing, debt and welfare benefits holistically, under one contract. This will provide a more integrated service and meet clients' needs more effectively. Practitioners who do not currently provide all three services have the option of forming consortia to bid for this work.

The tender process for social welfare law and family services opened on 26 February. Practitioners wishing to bid for new contracts can access procurement plans, detailing numbers of case starts available in specified geographical (procurement) areas, on the LSC website.

If access problems arise during the life of the new contract, the LSC will take appropriate action-within budget-to encourage additional services.

Legal Costs

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he plans to publish his response to the Jackson review of litigation costs. [321827]

Bridget Prentice: We are very grateful to Lord Justice Jackson for his far reaching report, which makes significant recommendations for reducing costs in the civil justice system. We are now actively assessing the implications of Sir Rupert's principle recommendations. This is a substantial task and will inevitably take some time. However, we will announce our next steps once this initial analysis is completed.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much his Department and its predecessors have spent in (a) legal fees and (b) compensation on legal cases concerning remuneration of its employees in each of the last 10 years. [322063]

Mr. Wills: Details of Legal Fees and Compensation paid on (and following) legal cases concerning remuneration of Ministry of Justice employees, excluding the National Offender Management Service, are shown for the last three financial years (and for 2009-10 to end of February 2010).


Legal Fees Compensation Total













It is not possible to provide details covering years before 2007-08 without incurring disproportionate costs.

It has not been possible to provide information in answer to this question for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) without incurring disproportionate cost. Many prison establishments defend and settle their own cases locally and records of compensation paid or legal fees are not retained centrally.

Prisoners: Rehabilitation

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what proportion of offending behaviour programmes are (a) offered in each category
16 Mar 2010 : Column 834W
of prison and (b) assessed as suitable for offenders with learning (i) difficulties and (ii) disabilities; and if he will make a statement. [322044]

Maria Eagle: Out of a total of 25 accredited offending behaviour and substance misuse programmes which are offered in different establishments within the prison estate:

The security categories A, B, C, and D and local category B relate to establishments which hold adult male prisoners. Female establishments and those for young offenders are not categorised.

Prisons which have been designed and built to accommodate prisoners up to a particular security category may hold prisoners of a lower category to enable the effective management of the estate, particularly where the establishment is fulfilling a number of functions. The predominant function of each establishment has been used in producing the figures above which may be subject to changes in delivery. The programmes which are offered cover four broad areas set against levels of offender risk and need, which address substance misuse, general offending behaviour, sexual and violent offending.

In addition to accredited programmes there are a number of non accredited programmes which are approved locally to meet particular needs and other activities such as training, education, work, support and resettlement are offered to prisoners to help reduce the risk of re-offending.

Further information on the delivery of accredited programmes across the estate can be found in the National Offender Management Service annual report 2008-09

Offending behaviour programmes accommodate a broad range of offenders. Where appropriate, prisons must make reasonable adjustments to ensure programmes are accessible to all those who could potentially benefit. If there are concerns for example about mental or physical health, intellectual ability, language, literacy, dyslexia, or disability then an assessment should be undertaken or specialist advice obtained to see if the particular deficits can be worked with within the programme. Participation on a particular programme will depend on the assessment and scale of the issues in an individual case. There may be more than one factor that precludes an individual from participating in a programme.

Further work may be possible to prepare an individual, however there will be some offenders who are unable to participate due to the intensive nature and cognitive focus of the programmes. If a programme is not suitable then one to one work may be considered. If an individual is still unsuitable then other interventions or activities should be considered to meet their needs. Offending behaviour programmes are only element of National
16 Mar 2010 : Column 835W
Offender Management Service work to address the risks and needs of offenders and reduce their risk of reoffending.

Prisons: Lancashire

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has for a new prison in East Lancashire; and if he will make a statement. [321883]

Maria Eagle: On 27 October 2009, Official Report, column 10WS, I announced a new search for sites capable of supporting 1,500 place prisons that would focus on those areas of greatest strategic need, specifically London, the north-west, North Wales, and West Yorkshire.

No decision has yet been made about where these new prisons will be built. We hope to have a final shortlist of potential sites ready for publication by the summer. Before the publication of this shortlist, there will be a consultation with local Members of Parliament and planning authorities to achieve the most open and transparent process possible. A full public consultation will be conducted before any planning application for a prison is put in.


Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what guidance he issues to magistrates on the activation of suspended sentences of imprisonment where the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty during the period of suspension to the commission of a further (a) non-imprisonable and (b) imprisonable offence in circumstances where an imprisonable offence has previously been committed and the suspended sentence has not yet been activated; [321999]

(2) what guidance he has issued to magistrates on the activation of suspended sentences of imprisonment where the defendant is either found guilty or pleads guilty during the period of suspension to (a) a breach of a requirement forming part of the suspended sentence, (b) the commission of a non-imprisonable offence and (c) the commission of an imprisonable offence. [322042]

Claire Ward: Suspended sentence orders were introduced in April 2005 to provide the courts with a tougher and more flexible suspended sentence as an alternative to immediate custody, where appropriate. It provides for the court both to suspend the custodial sentence and also to impose community requirements such as curfew, community payback and drug rehabilitation.

The Government do not issue guidance to magistrates or judges on sentencing. The issuing of guidance is a matter for the Sentencing Guidelines Council. Breach of a suspended sentence order is governed by schedule 12 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Essentially, where an offender breaches a suspended sentence by failing to comply with a community requirement or by committing a further offence the presumption is that the suspended sentence will be activated, unless the court finds it would be unjust to do so. If it activates the suspended sentence the court can set a shorter term for the offender to serve if it wishes. If the court finds that it would be unjust to activate the suspended sentence it can keep the sentence suspended but amend the order to make the community requirements more onerous, or to extend the supervision or operational periods.

16 Mar 2010 : Column 836W

Victim Support Schemes: York

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much was spent on supporting victims of crime and witnesses who were party to proceedings at York (a) magistrates court and (b) Crown court in (i) 1997 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available; and how many victims of crime and witnesses were offered support in each such period. [322127]

Claire Ward: Data on supporting victims of crime and witnesses who were party to proceedings at court are not available prior to 2001-02. The data in 2001-02 relate to spending by Victim Support to provide support victims and witnesses of crime in court and is only available for York Crown court and the total of those supported in all magistrates courts in North Yorkshire. York magistrates court data were not available until Victim Support became a single charity in 2007.

The following tables provide data for 2001-02 (earliest data available) and 2008/2009 (the latest year for which figures are available).

(i) 2001-02

(a) All North Yorkshire magistrates courts (b) York Crown co urt only Total

Funding provided (£)




People Supported




(ii) 2008-09

(a) York City magistrates court only (b) York Crown court only Total

Funding provided (£)




People Supported




Next Section Index Home Page