Previous Section Index Home Page

14 Jun 2010 : Column 322W—continued

Union Flag

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his policy is on flying the Union flag each day from each official building for which his Department is responsible. [1809]

Mr Blunt: The information requested is as follows and covers the Ministry of Justice estate including HM Prisons, HMCS and Tribunal Services buildings that have functioning flag poles.

The Ministry of Justice has no corporate policy for flag flying in place. Instead we follow the Department for Culture, Media and Sport guidance for the flying of the Union flag on UK Government buildings. The guidance encourages the Union flag to be flown 365 days a year, and as a minimum all Departments must fly the Union flag on the 19 special designated days, e.g. Queen's birthday, Remembrance Day, etc. and other special occasions as required, e.g. State Opening of Parliament.

The Ministry of Justice flies the Union flag 365 days of the year, with the exceptions being flag pole maintenance, flag cleaning and special instruction from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Departmental Manpower

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) front line and (b) other staff were employed by (i) his Department and (ii) each of its agencies in the latest year for which figures are available; and what his most recent estimate is of the annual cost to the public purse of employing staff of each type at each of those bodies. [541]

Mr Kenneth Clarke: In 2009, it is recorded that 27,500 employees were employed in the Ministry of Justice and its agencies, Her Majesty's Court Service and the Tribunals Service and The Office of the Public Guardian (but excluding NOMS).

It is not possible to clearly distinguish front line staff from other staff as many staff in local offices, courts and tribunals across England and Wales work in both
14 Jun 2010 : Column 323W
public facing and back office roles. However, we can confirm that of the above 27,500 staff, 21,130 worked in Her Majesty's Court Service, 2,990 worked in the Tribunals Service and 370 were employed in the Office of the Public Guardian all of which have primarily a public service delivery or "front line" functions. The annual cost to the public purse of employing staff in the Ministry of Justice and its agencies (excluding NOMS) from August 2008-09 is £736,269,325.

The remaining 3,010 staff are employed in the Ministry of Justice corporate functions, including Ministerial Offices, Finance, HR, Legal, Criminal Justice Policy and Communications.

The National Offender Management Service is an Agency of the Ministry of Justice. Information on the number and cost of directly employed NOMS civil service staff (i.e. not including Probation Trust employees) at 31 December 2009 shows that 45,538 staff were employed in Public Sector Prisons and therefore in "front line" roles. The employment cost of these staff was £1,405,000,000. Non front line staff (including those working in shared operational support, area support and central headquarters) totalled 4,198 and the employment costs were £181 million.

All the salary details above are calculated from average salaries, including Earnings Related National Insurance Contributions and Accruing Superannuation Liability Contributions.

Departmental Official Cars

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the (a) make, (b) model and (c) place of manufacture is of the car allocated for the use of each Minister in his Department. [1486]

Mr Blunt: The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) were allocated four cars to its Ministers. One is a Jaguar XJ TDVi Sovereign and manufactured in the UK, one is a Toyota Prius T3 and manufactured in Japan and two are Honda Civic ES Hybrid and manufactured in Japan.

The Home Office provide the arrangements in relation to the Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice, who also has ministerial responsibilities at the Ministry of Justice.

These arrangements are changing following the publication of the new Ministerial Code which contains changes that affect ministerial entitlement to travel by Government car. The code states that

Cabinet Office has provided clarification on how the code should be interpreted. The expectation is that Ministers not in the Cabinet will use the pool service and that Cabinet Ministers who have an allocated car will wish to consider how that car might be utilised by other Ministers within the Department before calls are made on the Government Car Service Pool.

The Department for Transport and its Government Car and Despatch Agency are working with Departments to effect the transition to the new arrangements.

14 Jun 2010 : Column 324W

Electoral Register

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment has been made of the Electoral Commission's ability to (a) monitor and (b) increase the electoral registration rates of individual local authorities in the last 10 years. [111]

Mr Harper: I have been asked to reply.

The Government have not made such an assessment. The Government have announced their intention to speed up the implementation of a system of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) in Great Britain. We will be considering the electoral registration system in the context of the move to IER.

Responsibility for registering electors lies with individual electoral registration officers (EROs) based within local authorities. The Electoral Commission provides guidance to EROs in undertaking electoral registration, and sets and monitors performance standards for EROs. It also undertakes work to promote public awareness of electoral registration.

The Electoral Commission published research on electoral registration and a report on ERO's performance in March 2010: 'The completeness and accuracy of electoral Registers in Great Britain; and the Report on Performance Standards for Electoral Registration Officers in Great Britain'.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what research his Department has commissioned on (a) postal ballot fraud and (b) under-registration in the last 10 years. [728]

Mr Harper: I have been asked to reply.

The Government have not commissioned research on postal ballot fraud in the last 10 years. However, the Electoral Commission has addressed the issue of the integrity of the electoral process, including in relation to postal voting, in its statutory reports on elections in accordance with section 5 of the Political Parties and Elections Act 2000. In addition, the Electoral Commission also undertook detailed analysis of case files held by the Crown Prosecution Service which covered the period 2000-06, and published their findings in its reports, "Allegations of electoral malpractice in England and Wales 2000-2006" and "Further analysis of CPS files on allegations of electoral malpractice in England and Wales 2000-2006". More recently, the Electoral Commission in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has published the reports "Allegations of electoral malpractice at the May 2008 elections in England and Wales" and "Analysis of allegations of electoral malpractice at the June 2009 elections". These reports give details of allegations of electoral malpractice reported to police during the elections in 2008 and 2009.

The Government have not commissioned research on under-registration in the last 10 years. However, in 2005, the then Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) made use of existing research to inform work aimed at identifying an evidence base for policy development and service targets. More recently, the Electoral Commission published their report, "The completeness and accuracy of electoral registers in Great Britain", in March 2010.
14 Jun 2010 : Column 325W
This, their latest of several studies on this subject, was based on a range of national data sources and case studies of eight local authorities across Great Britain. Among its key findings, the report found that,

The social groups to which the report referred are those most likely to move home. Specifically among these, its case studies identified 17 to 24-year-olds, private sector tenants and black and minority ethnic (BME) groups as having higher than average rates of under-registration.

General Election 2010: Absent Voting

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how long was provided for postal ballot papers for the recent general election to be (a) issued and (b) delivered to UK citizens residing overseas. [705]

Mr Harper: I have been asked to reply.

Ballot papers cannot be printed before the deadline for the close of nominations. At a UK parliamentary election, under the Representation of the People Act 1983, this is 11 working days before polling day. Postal ballots are not issued before the last date for existing postal voters to cancel or vary their arrangements. For UK parliamentary elections this is also 11 working days before polling day.

The returning officer will issue ballot papers to be delivered to postal voters as soon as possible after this date, within a period of approximately one to two weeks prior to polling day. Postal ballot papers are printed before those to be used in polling stations on polling day, and the Electoral Commission guidance to administrators recommended that postal ballot papers to be sent overseas should be issued first.

Legal Aid Scheme: Finance

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the speech by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 24 May 2010 on public spending reductions, whether part of the £325 million in-year reduction in his Department's budget will be met by a reduction in the legal aid budget. [2151]

Mr Kenneth Clarke: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 2 June 2010, Official Report, column13W.

Each area of the Department is contributing to the delivery of these savings (including arm's length bodies). These savings will be achieved by reducing discretionary spend, reducing capital and IT spend and stopping or deferring planned change programmes. When identifying these savings we have sought to ensure that they will not adversely affect services.

We will be in a position to announce full details of the savings plans at the time of the Budget on 22 June 2010.

Mental Health: Tribunals

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effect on the provision of services to those appearing before mental health tribunals of recent changes in civil legal aid; and if he will make a statement. [1913]

14 Jun 2010 : Column 326W

Mr Djanogly: A fixed fee scheme for legally aided mental health work was introduced in January 2008. The provision of publicly-funded mental health services, including those related mental health tribunals, is monitored through the monthly collection of reports from legal aid providers by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). The LSC is confident that the provision of and access to mental health services including mental health tribunals remained good following those changes. This is evidenced by the increasing numbers of cases allocated to and started by mental health providers.

A recent tender exercise has, been carried out by the LSC for new mental health contracts commencing in October 2010. The tender exercise has been significantly oversubscribed in all strategic health authorities.


Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he plans to take to reduce the prison population. [2024]

Mr Blunt: The Government believe that we need enough prison places for those whom the courts judge should receive a custodial sentence.

The Government will conduct a full review of sentencing and will introduce a "rehabilitation revolution", under which rehabilitation will be at the heart of a truly fit-for-purpose and cost-efficient prison system.

Long-term decisions on prison capacity programmes will be taken in the light of these policy developments.

Prisons: Education

Mr Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to increase levels of literacy and numeracy among the prison population. [1974]

Mr Blunt: The Ministry of Justice works closely with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to provide prisoners with the skills they need to secure employment on release. That includes the literacy and numeracy skills that underpin so much else. Education and employment are critical factors in turning prisoners away from crime. The Government's priority on rehabilitation-"The rehabilitation revolution"-will mean that tackling prisoners' learning requirements, including those related specifically to increasing literacy and numeracy, will be high on our agenda.

Prisons: Food

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidelines are in place for the provision of meals in prisons to inmates with (a) kosher, (b) halal, (c) vegetarian, (d) vegan and (e) other dietary requirements. [1766]

Mr Blunt: Prisons offer a range of meals that enable prisoners to make preferred choices using a multi-choice menu system, including meals suited to their dietary, religious or cultural needs, including kosher, halal, vegetarian, vegan and other dietary requirements. Menu choices should reflect the establishment's population ethnicity.

14 Jun 2010 : Column 327W

Full guidance, including mandatory requirements, is set out in Prison Service Order 5000-the Prison Service Catering Manual.


Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of those convicted of rape in England and Wales in each of the last five years were known to their victims. [1586]

Mr Blunt: The Court Proceedings Database held by the Ministry of Justice contains information on defendants proceeded against, found guilty and sentenced for criminal offences in England and Wales. Other than where specified in a statute statistical information available centrally does not include the circumstances of each case. It is therefore not possible to separately identify those defendants found guilty of rape who were known to their victim.

Cabinet Office

Cabinet Committees: Public Finance

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the estimated cost will be of establishing a Star Chamber. [1964]

Mr Maude: "The Spending Review Framework" published on 8 June 2010 announced that the Prime Minister has appointed a Committee of senior Cabinet Ministers, the Public Expenditure Committee (PEX), to advise the Cabinet on high level decisions that will need to be taken in the Spending Review.

It is not possible to isolate costs associated with individual Cabinet Committees; however, as a committee of Cabinet, costs incurred by PEX will be met from the Cabinet Secretariat's existing resources.

A copy of "The Spending Review Framework" will be placed in the Library of the House.

Civil Servants: Recruitment

Jo Swinson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps he plans to take to increase the number of central Government job vacancies published online. [1605]

14 Jun 2010 : Column 328W

Mr Maude: The Government expect the number of central Government vacancies to reduce as a result of the recruitment freeze announced as part of £6 billion savings this year. Where external vacancies do arise, these will all be published online on the civil service jobs site.

Jo Swinson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what effect the planned freeze on civil service recruitment will have on the civil service fast-stream graduate recruitment programme. [1606]

Mr Maude: The Fast Stream is exempt from the recruitment freeze, and we are proceeding to place successful candidates from the 2010 competition as normal. We also plan a 2011 intake, details of which will be announced on the Fast Stream website:

later this year.

The exemption of the Fast Stream acknowledges the importance to the civil service of an uninterrupted supply of some of the country's best graduates.

Next Section Index Home Page