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29 Mar 2010 : Column 651W—continued

Departmental Lost Property

John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what property has been recorded as (a) lost and (b) stolen from his Department in the last 12 months; and what estimate has been made of the cost of the replacement of that property. [322080]

Mr. Straw: With the exception of HM Prison Service, details of individual cases of lost and stolen property are held at a local level across the Department. Occurrences of theft or loss are reportable to the central security team and amount to 354 incidents during the period 1 January to 31 December 2009.

To determine whether these occurrences relate to theft or loss and to estimate a replacement cost would involve a review of individual local records which would incur disproportionate cost.

Separate records are kept by Her Majesty's Prison Service (HMPS), which is part of the National Offender Management Service agency. For the 12 month period 1 January to 31 December 2009 the value of lost or stolen property was £310,078. This comprises:

These figures are currently unaudited. A full stock count will be undertaken at the end of the financial year 31 March 2010.

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Departmental Publications

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the dates of publication of any regular statistics or reports by his Department have been affected by planning for the forthcoming general election. [323468]

Mr. Straw: On the announcement of a general election, the Cabinet Secretary issues guidance to Departments on their activities during the pre-election period. This will be published on the Cabinet Office website.

Regular statistical releases and reports will continue to be issued and published during the election period on dates which have been pre-announced.

Once the general election is announced, the expectation is that reports which have not been pre-announced and are not yet ready for publication will be delayed until after the purdah period. This includes Ministry of Justice social research reports which are not routinely pre-announced.

I also refer the right hon. Member to the statement released by the Ministry of Justice's chief statistician on 19 March 2010 regarding the release of youth justice statistics. A copy of the statement is available at:

Departmental Senior Civil Servants

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many grade 2 civil servants are employed in his Department. [324958]

Mr. Wills: There are 74,000 full-time equivalent members of staff in the Ministry of Justice, of which 10 are grade 2 (SCS Payband 3) senior civil servants.

Departmental Telephone Services

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 27 October 2009, Official Report, columns 331-32W, on departmental telephone services, whether contracts were awarded for the provision of services relating to the helplines. [324114]

Bridget Prentice: Of the helplines listed in my earlier answer, contracts have been awarded in respect of the following services: the Community Legal Advice helpline, Criminal Defence Service Direct, the Duty Solicitor Call Centre, the National Mediation Helpline, the Family Mediation Helpline and the Nacro Resettlement Plus helpline.

Departmental Translation Service

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much was spent on translation services in the justice system in (a) Ribble Valley, (b) Lancashire and (c) England in each of the last five years. [324421]

Bridget Prentice: The Ministry of Justice was formed on 9 May 2007. Information is available for two complete financial years, 2007-08 and 2008-09. Data for 2009-10 will be available in summer when annual accounts have been prepared and audited.

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Expenditure on translation services in Ribble Valley and Lancashire by the Department and its agencies.

There has been no expenditure recorded within Ribble Valley and Lancashire by HM Courts Service. Information for other parts of the Department is not recorded on a regional basis and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Expenditure on translation services in England by the Department and its agencies

HM Courts Service and the Tribunals Service are able to isolate expenditure in England which is as follows:


2007-08 2008-09

HM Courts Service (HMCS)(1)



Tribunals Service



(1) This figures represents expenditure by Crown courts only as no central records are maintained that breakdown expenditure by magistrates courts.

Other parts of the Department do not maintain records in a way that would enable expenditure in England to be separately identified from expenditure in Wales or Scotland. Total expenditure is shown as follows and will include the cost of translating documents under the Welsh language scheme.


2007-08 2008-09

Ministry of Justice HQ



National Offenders Management Service-interpretation and translation(1)



Office of the Public Guardian(2)



(1 )This figure includes translation costs as well as interpretation costs. The amounts are not separately recorded and can be disaggregated only at disproportionate cost. Additionally, the NOMS figure excludes expenditure by the National Probation Service which is held locally by 42 probation boards and trusts who use separate and different accounting systems. Information could be determined only at disproportionate cost through examination of local records.
(2 )Figures for the Office of Public Guardian are an estimate of the translation component within a wider category of expenditure.

Interpretation and translation services are provided on the basis of need. Costs are kept to a minimum and, when translation and interpretation services are taken together across all territories served by the Ministry of Justice, expenditure has not risen in recent years.

EC Action: Children

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps the Government are taking to ensure that the 1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children is ratified by all EU member states before 5 June 2010 in accordance with Council Decision 2008/431/EC of 5 June 2008; and if he will make a statement. [324640]

Bridget Prentice: Eight EU member states are already Contracting States to the Convention. Council Decision 2008/431/EC authorised the UK and other remaining EU member states to ratify or accede to the convention, and requires the simultaneous deposit of their instruments of ratification or accession, if possible before 5 June 2010.

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In November 2009 the UK expected to conclude its legislative process by June 2010. Under the convention this would have enabled implementation three months later, on 1 October 2010.

However, it will not now be possible for the UK to complete its implementing legislation as intended in June 2010. The intention now is to have all necessary legislation in place to enable the UK to ratify by 16 July 2010 after the general election. Implementation would then follow on 1 November. Whether ratification can take place then is, however, dependent on the position of the remaining EU member states. The Council Secretariat has called for an update from member states for discussion at the May General Questions meeting of the Council's Committee on Civil Law Matters.

The UK remains firmly committed to ratification and implementation of this important convention and is working to achieve this.

Electoral Register: Freedom of Information

Mr. Shepherd: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for what reasons electoral registration officers are not subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [324178]

Mr. Wills: The generally held view is that the office of Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) is distinct from the local authority that appoints them, and that EROs are therefore not currently within scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the FOI Act").

In order to come within the scope of the FOI Act, EROs would need to be designated by a section 5 Order under that Act or through an amendment to the primary legislation.

The Government conducted a public consultation between 25 October 2007 and 1 February 2008 to seek views on which bodies might be included within the scope of the FOI Act by way of a section 5 Order. This would be the first such order made under the FOI Act. Electoral Registration Officers were not identified as part of this consultation, or in the responses, as candidates for inclusion.

The list of bodies proposed for inclusion in this first section 5 Order is:

However, the Government made clear in their response to the consultation, published on 16 July 2009, that the first section 5 Order would be an initial step, and that the extension of the FOI Act would be kept under review. I have asked my officials to undertake further work to examine the potential for the FOI Act to be extended to EROs, and to consult the relevant parties on this issue.

Electoral Register: Houseboats

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department is taking to ensure that residents of boats without a postcoded address are able to register to vote without having to declare themselves homeless. [324159]

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Mr. Wills: If a boat, houseboat or other residence has a permanent mooring it is treated by registration officers as a permanent dwelling in which an elector may be resident for registration purposes, and residents can be registered as electors in the standard way.

If the boat or other residence does not have a permanent mooring, then it is open to the resident(s) to make a 'Declaration of Local Connection' for the purposes of registering to vote. The residents should register at a place where they spend the most time or where they have some connection, such as the area where they were last permanently registered or any boatyard they may use for maintenance.

The provisions are designed to support participation in the electoral process by recognising that there will be some individuals who are unable to supply a fixed address, but are nonetheless eligible to register and vote. Electors registered by means of a local connection may vote using the same methods as ordinary electors. We have no current plans to amend the relevant legislation.

The Electoral Commission has published guidance for electoral registration officers on these provisions.

Employment Tribunals Service: York

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people living in City of York (a) in total and (b) with less than two years employment won unfair dismissal claims in (i) 1997 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available; and how much on average was paid out in such claims in each such year. [324216]

Bridget Prentice: The information requested is either no longer held, or is not collated centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

In relation to information on cases in 1997, while the Tribunals Service continues to hold certain statistical data, it is not possible to interrogate those data on the basis of, for example, residency of one or more of the parties involved. The case details held in local employment tribunal offices are anonymised and archived one year after the disposal of the proceedings.

In relation to cases involving employees with less than two years employment, that information is only recorded on individual employment tribunal claim forms. Those forms are kept in hard copy in each local office and information is not entered onto IT systems. Therefore, it could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

In relation to the most recent data concerning unfair dismissal judgments, data are not held centrally in respect of where individual claimants live.

The allocation of claims to all Employment Tribunal office is determined by the postcode of the respondent against whom the claim has been brought. Employment tribunal claims brought by people living in the City of York may, therefore, depending on the business address of the respondent, be made in any Employment Tribunal office in England, Wales or Scotland. Therefore, it could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

However, information was sought from the two offices which deal with employment tribunal cases with respondents (i.e. employers) based in York (Leeds and Newcastle).

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Those data have been interrogated to identify the number of successful unfair dismissal awards brought against respondents with a work address with a YO postcode. This shows that in the period 23 March 2009 to 22 March 2010, 35 successful unfair dismissal claims were brought against respondents whose postcode began with YO. The average award was £4,832.51.

Fines: Non-Payment

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people served a custodial sentence for the non-payment of fines in England and Wales in each financial year since April 2005. [323903]

Maria Eagle: Figures showing the numbers of prisoners received into all prison establishments in England and Wales in the financial years 2005-06 to 2007-08 (the latest year for which data are available) are shown in the following table:

Fine defaulter first receptions into prison establishments in England and Wales 2005-08
Financial year Number







First receptions are an estimate of the number of prisoners entering the Criminal Justice System by individual offence in a given time period.

Offenders may be committed to prison for fine default: their sentence remains a fine.

Imprisonment for non-payment of a financial penalty remains the ultimate sanction for the most wilful defaulters. However, only after the court has considered or tried all other methods of enforcing payment of the sum and it appears to the court that they are inappropriate or unsuccessful. The court must also be convinced that the person has either "wilfully refused" to pay or have been "culpably neglectful" which means the person has had the means to pay but have simply neglected to pay.

These figures are a sub-set of first reception data in the first line of table 6.1 in Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2008, adjusted from a calendar year to a financial year basis. They have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

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