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22 Jun 2010 : Column 127Wcontinued
Andrew Gwynne: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to assess the effectiveness of operation of the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Act 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Hoban: The Coalition Programme for Government stated "We will review what action can be taken against 'vulture funds'." The Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Act 2010 passed through Parliament in April and will mean that UK courts of law will no longer be used to pursue excessive claims against some of the poorest countries on their historic debts, ensuring that resources are available to tackle poverty. The sunset clause attached to this legislation requires that the Government review within a year whether or not to extend the Act.
The Government are committed to ensuring that countries receive the full benefit of debt relief from all their creditors-bilateral and commercial. We support the World Bank's debt reduction facility that enables countries to buy back their commercial debt at a deep discount with donor support. We are also supporting the recently founded African legal support facility that provides legal advice to countries facing litigation.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to consult trade unions in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies on cost reduction plans. 
Justine Greening: The Government published its proposals for the spending review on 9 June: 'The Spending Review Framework' (Cm 7872). As part of this, the Government will consult at the sectoral level, to ensure that all issues are properly considered and priorities balanced against each other. Departments, including HM Treasury, will be asked to do this over the summer to inform the spending review.
Officials from HM Treasury hold regular meetings with their recognised trade unions, and would consult them on any changes to terms and conditions of service.
As neither the Asset Protection Agency nor the UK Debt Management Office currently recognises a trade union, those bodies intend to consult staff directly on any changes to terms and conditions of service arising from pay or pension reductions as a contribution to the Government's deficit reduction plans.
Mr Watson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to answer Question 295, on departmental official vehicles, tabled on 25 May 2010. 
Justine Greening: The Treasury apologises for the delay in replying to the hon. Member and hopes to be in a position to reply shortly.
Alan Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has for the new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences. 
Mr Blunt: This Government are committed to ensuring that all new criminal offences are carefully examined to ensure that they are only added to the statute book where it is truly necessary. We are currently considering the detail as to how this mechanism will operate in practice.
Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many full-time equivalent staff at each Civil Service grade are employed in the private office of each Minister in his Department. 
Mr Kenneth Clarke: I am supported by a private office, which I inherited from my predecessor, of 12 full-time staff; one member of the senior civil service (pay band 1); and three staff at band A, three members of the fast stream, one band B, three staff at band C and one staff member at band D.
Each of the three junior Ministers in the Ministry of Justice are supported by a private office of one band A member of staff, two either from the fast stream, band C or an equivalent grade, and one band D.
The Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice reports jointly to me and to the Home Secretary. Private office support to him is supplied by the Home Office.
The pay scales for each of these grades is as follows: SCS (pay band 1): £58,200 to £117,800; band A: £47,228 to £66,965; band B: £33,835 to £44,300; band C: £27,825 to £35,704; band D: £22,755 to £28,000.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will assess the merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to make it an offence verbally to abuse a uniformed member of the armed forces. 
Mr Blunt: The Government are fully committed to fostering respect and support for our armed forces, in line with the Military Covenant. We deplore any form of verbal abuse of members of the armed services. However it would be a major step to make verbal abuse an offence where it does not involve harassment or violence or other criminal acts and have sufficient confidence in our armed forces that they need no such special protection. We therefore have no current plans to introduce such an offence.
Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost of providing accommodation to district judges in the North East region in the pursuit of their duties was in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr Djanogly: There are 84 district judges in the HMCS north east region (which includes Yorkshire and the Humber). 66 are based in the county courts and there are 18 district judges in the magistrates courts who are termed district judges (magistrates courts).
The district judges are accommodated in the relevant courthouses. As such, there is no additional cost incurred in providing accommodation to the district judges to carry out their duties, over and above the running expenses of the courts themselves. The running costs of the court buildings are not apportioned to individual members of the judiciary.
In 2009-10 (the last period for which figures are available), £903 was spent on overnight accommodation costs for district judges sitting in the civil courts in the north east. The chief magistrate's office incurred costs of £1,272.55 in the period from July 2009 to March 2010 (the period for which costs are available) on overnight accommodation costs for district judges (magistrates courts) in carrying out their duties. Of this sum, £765.01 related to prison adjudications.
In response to increasing work load and other factors, from time to time court accommodation is extended. The last period for which figures are available is for the financial year 2009-10. In that period, a dedicated family hearing centre was established within the Bradford combined court centre. As part of that scheme, a sum of £3,500 was expended in the creation of a retiring/meeting room for district judges (the overall cost of the scheme was £187,500). At York county court, additional district judge chambers were created within the existing court building at a cost of £83,020.
Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what accommodation is available to district judges in the North East region. 
Mr Djanogly: There are 84 District Judges in the county courts in the HMCS North East Region (which includes Yorkshire and the Humber). They are accommodated in the courts where they carry out their duties. District Judges in the civil courts usually conduct their duties in Chambers but, on occasions, will sit in open court.
There are 18 District Judges in the magistrates courts in the HMCS North East Region. They are also accommodated in the courthouses where they carry out their duties. The vast majority of their duties will be carried out in open court in the courtroom. They will normally be provided with an office where they may undertake more confidential work such as considering applications for search warrants. Should any overnight accommodation be needed then District Judges will use commercial hotel accommodation for which they are entitled to claim reimbursement.
Stephen Mosley: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many independent social workers are owed payment by the Legal Services Commission for work carried out in financial year 2009-10; and how much is owed on average. 
Mr Djanogly: The Legal Services Commission does not pay independent social workers directly. They are engaged by solicitors who can claim the cost as a disbursement on account. This means that the cost can be claimed at the time it is incurred rather than waiting for conclusion of a case. There is no record of the number or value of payments for independent social workers as the Legal Services Commission does not record details of individual disbursement payments.
Stephen Mosley: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much legal aid remains unpaid by the Legal Services Commission for work carried out in financial year 2009-10. 
Mr Djanogly: It is not possible to give a precise answer to this question. At any one time the Legal Services Commission (LSC) has liabilities to legal service providers of around £900 million for work that has not yet been billed. These liabilities include work done on cases lasting a number of years, not just over the most recent financial period. The LSC's financial statements for 2009-10 are currently in preparation and the liabilities for work undertaken to 31 March 2010 will be identified and published in the LSC annual report and accounts 2009-10.
Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the Government plans to make an assessment of the effects on the legal aid budget of provision of legal aid in respect of cases of criminal offences created in legislation enacted between 1997 and 2010. 
Mr Djanogly: The Government have no plans to undertake an assessment of the effect on the legal aid budget of criminal offences created in legislation enacted during the period 1997 and 2010.
However, the Government are conducting a review of existing criminal offences to identify those which serve no useful purpose and should be repealed in line with the commitment to roll back state intrusion. The Justice Secretary also intends to make a statement on reform of legal aid shortly.
Since 2005-06, Government Departments have been expected to carry out a legal aid impact test on those policies that are likely to impact on the legal aid fund. Since April 2005, a total of £28.8 million has been transferred to the legal aid fund from other Government Departments on the basis of estimates agreed between Departments of the cost of new policies. Some legislation may have an impact on both the criminal and civil legal aid fund. It is not therefore possible to identify how much of the transfer relates solely to criminal offences.
John Howell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners on day release from category C prisons were charged with offences in each of the last two years for which figures are available. 
Mr Blunt: The following table shows the number of prisoners released on temporary licence (ROTL) of any kind from Category C prisons in the past two years who were recorded as charged with offences committed whilst so released.
|Number of offenders|
|The figures in this table have been drawn from live administrative data systems which may be amended at any time. 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. These figures may change should any further offences relating to this period be identified and reported to NOMS.|
In 2008 the total number of recorded ROTL failures, which includes any breach of the licence and not just offending, was small in relation to the number of licences granted. Of the 439,294 ROTL licences granted only 266 failures were reported. The published statistics can be found using the following link;
John Howell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the re-offending rate for prisoners released from (a) each category of prison and (b) young offender institutions were in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr Blunt: Reoffending data by category of prison or by individual establishment are not currently produced. The Ministry of Justice is currently undertaking work to investigate whether meaningful data on the reoffending of former prisoners from individual institutions can be produced. It is our intention to publish some findings from this ongoing work in November 2010.
The available data on reoffending following a custodial sentence are included as follows.
Table 1 shows the actual rate of reoffending and frequency of reoffending for adults released from custody from the 2008 cohort, which is the latest period for which data are available.
|Table 1: Reoffending rates for adult offenders released from custody in the first quarter of 2008|
|Adults released from custody|
Juvenile reoffending covers offenders aged 17 and under. A release from custody could be from a Secure Training Centre, a Secure Children's Home or a Young Offender Institution. Data are not broken down by type of release establishment or by individual establishment.
Table 2 shows the actual rate of reoffending and frequency of reoffending for juveniles released from custody from the 2008 cohort.
|Table 2: Reoffending rates for juvenile offenders released from custody in the first quarter of 2008|
|Juveniles released from custody|
Further information on adult reoffending is available at:
Further information on juvenile reoffending is available at:
Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department has taken to prevent the use of drugs among the prison population in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Blunt: The 2008-11 National Offender Management Service (NOMS) drug strategy has three key elements for prisons that interlink to reduce drug related offending and address individual need:
reducing supply, through security measures and drug testing programmes;
reducing demand, through targeted interventions for low, moderate and severe drug-misusers; and
establishing effective through-care links to ensure continuity of treatment post-release in order to safeguard the gains made in custody.
In early 2008 the then director general of NOMS commissioned David Blakey, former HM Inspector of Constabulary, to report on the effectiveness of the service's drug supply reduction work. His review 'Disrupting the Supply of Illicit Drugs into Prisons' was published in July 2008 and made 10 recommendations, all of which were accepted. Progress has been made in implementing them. This includes:
instructing every prison to nominate a senior manager responsible for co-ordinating delivery of the local drug strategy at the prison;
publishing a revised good practice guide to assist prisons in tackling drug supply routes and a new guide on tackling mobile phones;
strengthening our relationship with Home Office Scientific Development Branch; and
working more closely with law enforcement agencies.
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