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Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to reply to the letters from the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood dated 9 November and 15 December 2009 regarding Melicia Ann Brown (Home Office reference: B1080260). 
Mr. Woolas: Reply was sent to the right hon. Member's office on 11 January 2010. A copy of the response has been sent by e-mail to the right hon. Member's office on 24 February 2010. The letter confirms that the correspondence has been passed to a caseworking unit for further consideration as the MP provided representations which required further attention.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he plans to reply to the letter of 14 January 2010 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton regarding Mr. I. Khan. 
Sir Gerald Kaufman:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he plans to reply to the
letter of 21 January 2010 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton regarding Mrs. H. Mohsin. 
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of the relationship between the number of police officers in police forces and their effectiveness in carrying out frontline policing. 
Mr. Hanson: This Government's investment in the police is at record levels. There are nearly 17,000 more police officers than in 1997, and more than 16,000 PCSOs on the streets. Crime is down by 36 per cent. In every area, crime is falling and confidence is increasing. 50 per cent. of the public now agree that the antisocial behaviour and crime issues that matter to them are being dealt with.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to reduce the amount of time spent by police officers on administrative tasks since 1997; what steps he plans to take in the next six months; what estimate he has made of the average amount of time spent by police officers on administration per (i) day, (ii) week and (iii) month; what recent representations he has received on police morale; what reply he gave; and if he will make a statement. 
Reducing by up to 50 per cent. the amount of data that we routinely collect from police forces;
Piloting a more proportionate approach to the recording of crime and incidents;
Scrapping the requirement for police officers to complete time sheets for the purposes of activity-based costing;
Removing the requirement for police officers to complete a form when carrying out a stop and account encounter;
Investing £80 million in the rollout of mobile technology, saving officers up to 30 minutes per shift as they are able to send and receive information while on the beat;
Publishing a Policing White Paper which includes measures to improve efficiency in policing and also sets out our response to the recommendations made by Jan Berry, the independent Reducing Bureaucracy Advocate.
Ensure that these steps are fully implemented by all police forces;
Work with the service to formally recognise proportionate crime recording as good practice and promote its adoption by forces;
Legislate to reduce the reporting requirements for stop and search;
Support the piloting of an approach to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy involved in the police charging process; and
Continue to work with Jan Berry and the police service to encourage the adoption of more efficient business processes by police forces.
Measures of time spent on patrol and administrative tasks have been discontinued as part of the Government's commitment to reduce the burden on police forces imposed by statistical and other data. The scrapping of activity-based costing has been estimated to save up to 260,000 hours per year across the police workforce. This allows officers to concentrate their efforts on fighting crime and being more visible.
The Home Office has not received any specific representation on the subject of police morale but my ministerial colleagues and I continue to enjoy constructive and regular discussions with police stakeholders, including the police staff associations.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough of 22 February 2010, Official Report, column 379W, on powers of entry: public consultation, what the reasons are for the time taken to publish Lord West's report; and when he expects it to be published. 
Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many staff of his Department and its agencies are seconded to trade unions; what facilities are made available to them; how many days other staff of his Department and its agencies spent on trade union activity in the latest year for which figures are available; and what recent estimate he has made of the annual cost to the public purse of such activity. 
Mr. Woolas: One member of staff is currently seconded to PCS for a period of six months under normal secondment arrangements. The Home Office is not responsible for salary payment, or provision of facilities, during the period of secondment.
The Home Office and its agencies, UKBA, IPS and CRB, employ approximately 28,000 staff in total. There are four recognised unions with 13 members of Home Office staff working as full-time union representatives under the Departmental Facilities Agreement (one FDA, one Prospect, nine PCS and two ISU representatives). In addition to the 13 full-time representatives, we also provide three members of Home Office staff as administrative support for the union representatives.
A further 79 members of our staff (three ISU and 76 PCS representatives) undertake trade union duties on an "as required" basis. The Home Office Departmental Facilities Agreements formalise the arrangements under which our staff can claim facility time but we do not keep a central record of how much time is used.
As part of our Departmental Facilities Agreement full-time representatives have access to dedicated office space with associated business equipment, e.g. computers, photocopying and telephony and may also utilise departmental mail, email, internet and video conferencing facilities. Union representatives provided with "as required" facility time are given access to the same or similar facilities.
"We take the Ombudsman's recommendations seriously and welcome the assessment that our complaints systems are improving.
The UK Border Agency is continuing to make progress in dealing with the legacy backlog of older asylum cases and has already concluded more than 220,000 cases. I am confident we are on course to conclude these cases by the summer of 2011."
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 15 March 2010]: The work of providing all hon. Members with a pass code for the UK Border Agency MPs' enquiry line was done as part of the day to day business of the MPs' enquiry line at minimal cost.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what recent assessment he has made of the effects on small businesses of the recent downturn in the economy; what assistance he plans to give during the next six months to small businesses; what representations he has received on this issue; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what steps his Department (a) has taken since June 2007 and (b) plans to take in the next 12 months to improve the flow of credit from financial institutions to (i) small and (ii) medium-sized businesses; what recent discussions (A) he, (B) other Ministers in his Department and (C) officials in his Department have had with the Confederation of British Industry on this issue; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: The Government recognise the importance of small businesses to the UK economy. The lending commitments agreed with RBS and Lloyds over the 12 months from March 2009 have made significant amounts of lending available to creditworthy businesses. To help provide continued confidence to the business sector, these commitments will remain in place until March 2011.
The Government are also exploring the development of non-bank lending channels, as outlined in their 2009 discussion paper. Officials have engaged with key stakeholders on this topic, including the CBI which supports the idea of non-bank lending for diversifying sources of business finance. As indicated at pre-Budget report, the Government will provide an update on non-bank lending in the upcoming Budget.
More generally, the UK's small businesses proved resilient during the downturn: company liquidations were lower than in the 1990s recession and there were on average a total of 47,366 new start-ups each month in 2009-higher than both 2007 and 2008.
Ministers and Government officials have continued to engage with trade bodies and the major banks throughout the crisis and will continue to do so in order to monitor the flow of credit to businesses. Ongoing work with banks and business groups through the Small Business
Finance Forum aims to improve the transparency of banks' lending practices and help to restore confidence to the business sector.
targeted, temporary access to finance support through the 'Real Help' for business package, which included the Working Capital Scheme, Capital for Enterprise Fund and Enterprise Finance Guarantee (now extended to April 2011);
a mix of permanent and targeted, temporary tax support to ease cash flow difficulties through Time to Pay (which will extend payment times for business tax on a permanent basis), extended loss carry-back arrangements (until November 2010) and a deferral in the planned increase of the small companies taxation rate (with the rate remaining at 21 per cent. during 2010-11);
further progress in cutting the costs of regulation through a planned reduction of 25 per cent. in administrative burdens of regulation by May 2010; and
increased funding for SME employers to invest in the training of their staff through Train to Gain.
Ruth Kelly: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the performance of stakeholder Child Trust Funds managed by the Official Solicitor or Accountant of Court on behalf of looked-after children. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry [holding answer 17 March 2010]: The Child Trust Fund legislation provides that the Official Solicitor for England and Wales and the Official Solicitor for Northern Ireland manage the Child Trust Fund accounts of looked-after children where there is no one with parental responsibility. It is part of their duties to review the Child Trust Fund accounts under their control to ensure they continue to meet the best interests of the child.
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