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Iran: Human Rights

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on human rights in Iran. [29610]

Alistair Burt: The human rights situation in Iran remains deeply disturbing. We regularly raise our concerns with the Iranian authorities, urging them to cease all abuses. Last month, we secured strong international condemnation of Iran's human rights record by the UN, through a resolution which was passed by 80 countries representing every continent. We are working closely with other EU member states to consider how to increase pressure on the Iranian regime urgently to improve its human rights record.

Iran: Prisoners

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made representations to his Iranian counterpart on the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh; and if he will make a statement. [30111]

Alistair Burt: I remain deeply concerned about Nasrin Sotoudeh, lawyer and human rights defender currently in prison in Iran on charges which include working for a human rights organisation. We have repeatedly raised our concerns about human rights defenders in Iran with the Iranian authorities. On 15 November 2010, 1 issued a statement expressing my deep concern about Ms Sotoudeh. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary also raised her plight in a message to mark International Human Rights Day on 10 December.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what recent representations he has made to the Government of Iran on the continued detention of Reza Shahabi; [30398]

(2) what representations he has made to the Government of Iran on the hunger strike of Reza Shahabi in Evin Prison, Tehran. [30399]

Alistair Burt: I raised our concerns about the ongoing detention of Iranian trade union leader Reza Shahabi with the Iranian ambassador in August. Since then, we have highlighted our wider concerns about the restrictions placed on Iranian trade unions in a resolution passed by the UN in November, condemning Iran's human rights record. We are concerned by reports that Mr
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Shahabi is on hunger-strike and I have asked my officials to seek further information. I will continue to raise our concerns about Iran's human rights record, including the repression of trade union activities, with the Iranian authorities.

Israel: Fires

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of casualties in the forest fire in Haifa and the Carmel Forest, Israel; whether any British casualties have been recorded; and if he will make a statement. [29839]

Alistair Burt: We were in close touch with Israeli authorities following the outbreak of this fire. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made a statement on 3 December underlining that our thoughts were with all those who had lost family members or had had to leave their homes due to the blaze. As of 5 December the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre report that the fires had claimed 42 lives. None of these are reported as British nationals.

The UK through the Royal Air Force deployed two helicopters from Cyprus to assist with the international effort to put out the fires. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister also spoke to the Israeli Prime Minister on 3 December to underline our support.

Japan: Whales

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to his counterpart in Japan on Japanese policy on whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. [29558]

Mr Jeremy Browne: I refer the hon. Member to my response to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Joan Walley) of 8 December 2010, Official Report, column 315W.

Kashmir

Simon Danczuk: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's policy is on self-determination in Kashmir. [30012]

Alistair Burt: The long-standing position of the UK is that it is for Pakistan and India to find a lasting resolution to the situation in Kashmir, including the issue of self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Any resolution should therefore take into account the wishes of Kashmiris. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or to mediate in finding one. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reiterated this in the Foreign Affairs debate on 27 May and during his visit to Pakistan in June.

Simon Danczuk: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the potential security threat to (a) the UK, (b) India, (c) Pakistan and (d) Kashmir arising from changes in the level of al-Qaeda presence in Kashmir; and what account has been taken of such assessments in his Department's policy on Kashmir. [30013]


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Alistair Burt: We continue to call for an end to external support for violence in Kashmir and recognise that al-Qaeda core pose a significant threat by directing other groups, networks and individuals to mount attacks in all areas in South Asia as well as against UK interests. The UK is working with the governments of Pakistan and India to tackle terrorism and violent extremism which threatens all our interests.

However, the long-standing position of the UK is that it is for Pakistan and India to find a lasting resolution to the situation in Kashmir, one which takes into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or to mediate in finding one. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reiterated this in the Foreign Affairs debate on 27 May and during his visit to Pakistan in June.

Lithuania: Anti-Semitism

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the letter of 25 November 2010 sent by the UK and other ambassadors in Lithuania concerning the growing manifestations of anti-Semitism in Lithuania. [29665]

Mr Lidington: It has not been the practice of successive Governments to publish letters sent by diplomats in a confidential capacity. It is important for the effective conduct of international relations for diplomacy to be able to take place on a confidential basis where necessary.

Mikhail Khordorkovsky

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will instruct Her Majesty's ambassador in Moscow to convey to the judicial authorities in Russia the concern of many right hon. and hon. Members regarding the continuing imprisonment of Mr Mikhail Khordorkovsky. [29762]

Mr Lidington: It is not for the Government to comment on the specifics of ongoing judicial processes, but our long-standing position has been to stress the importance of the rule of law-including fair and impartial trials. Our embassy in Moscow is closely watching developments in Mr Khodorkovsky's case, and is participating in trial monitoring with EU partners and the United States. We regularly raise concerns with the Russian Government bilaterally-including through our annual human rights dialogue-and with EU partners, and will continue to do so.

Pakistan: Capital Punishment

Mr Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Pakistan authorities on the death sentence on Asia Bibi under blasphemy laws; and if he will make a statement. [30057]

Alistair Burt: The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. In Pakistan, alongside EU colleagues, we regularly raise our support for its abolition and work with civil society to encourage reform.


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Our high commission in Islamabad has raised the case of Mrs Asia Bibi with the Punjab Government and we will continue to do so at a senior level. Specific representations to the Government of Pakistan are being made by the head of the EU delegation, with UK support, in Islamabad. I raised the case of Asia Bibi with the Pakistan Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, on 9 December 2010.

Uganda: Press Freedom

Pauline Latham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with representatives of the African Union on the likely effects on the international obligations of Uganda of enacting the Press and Journalist Amendment Bill in that country. [29542]

Mr Bellingham: I have not discussed Uganda's Press and Journalism Amendment Bill with African Union representatives. Officials from our high commission in Kampala have, however, raised the proposed Bill with the Ugandan Foreign Minister, the Minister of Guidance and Information, and the Deputy Attorney-General.

In each case the UK has called for the legislation to be drafted in line with Uganda's own constitution and relevant international standards. The UK also has a regular dialogue with the African Union Commission on governance, including press freedom, in Africa.

USA: Disclosure of Information

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the US administration on the disclosure of classified material by Wikileaks. [28797]

Alistair Burt: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to Secretary Clinton on 26 November 2010 about a range of issues including Wikileaks.

Written Questions: Government Responses

Mr Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to provide a substantive answer to Question 27479, on the Council of Ministers, tabled on 24 November 2010. [30253]

Mr Lidington: From May to September 2010 (the latest month for which there is an official EU record publicly available), the Government agreed to adopt the following legal acts by legislative procedure:


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The following measures, on which the Government abstained were adopted (on the basis of qualified majority voting):

During this period, the Government have not voted against any measures adopted on the basis of qualified majority voting.

Communities and Local Government

Council Tax Benefits

Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will publish his Department's analysis of the effects of the implementation of the Government's policy to localise and reduce council tax benefit by 10 per cent. on (a) Sunderland city council, (b) other local authorities in the North East and (c) local authorities in England. [29550]

Robert Neill: The Government are working to develop the new arrangements. As such, the Department has not undertaken such analysis.

Departmental Consultants

Brandon Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will place in the Library a copy of the (a) contract and (b) project brief relating to the engagement by his Department of LLM Communications to assist the Campaign for More and Better Homes. [29379]


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Grant Shapps: The last Government used public funds to pay LLM Communications to organise a series of housing debates on behalf of the Campaign for More and Better Homes (an independent coalition of cross-sector housing organisations).

I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of the Programme Proposal that was provided by the Campaign for More and Better Homes. The Department no longer holds on record a copy of the contract relating to the Campaign for More and Better Homes and LLM Communications.

As outlined in my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's press notice of 5 August 2010, my Department has instructed its arm's length bodies to cancel all outstanding contracts with lobbyists:

Departmental Contracts

Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps his Department plans to take to encourage and support small and medium-sized enterprises and third sector organisations to compete for departmental contracts in line with value-for-money policy, UK regulations and EU procurement directives. [28117]

Robert Neill: The Department fully support the Government's aspirations to award 25% of contracts to small and medium-sized enterprises while ensuring that value for money to the tax payer is not compromised. The steps the Department has taken so far to engage with these enterprises are:

The Department has started to make positive steps in levelling the playing field for these enterprises while also acknowledging that there is more work to be done. 16% of the Department's spend in the last financial year was with small and medium-sized enterprises.

Departmental Public Expenditure

Brandon Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay of 8 April 2010, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA454, on government expenditure, by how much the previous administration proposed to reduce funding to (a) the New Deal for Communities programme, (b) the Working Neighbourhoods Fund, (c) the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative, (d) the Housing and Planning Delivery Grant, (e) other time-limited
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communities programmes funded by his Department, (f) other programmes operated by his Department and (g) housing growth and regeneration funding. [29361]

Robert Neill: The previous Government's pre-Budget report in December 2009 proposed cuts of £340 million from regeneration funding. This includes £40 million from closing the New Deal for Communities, and £300 million from cuts to Regional Development Agency regeneration spending and programmes; the Working Neighbourhoods Fund; the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative, and the Housing and Planning Delivery Grant.

The savings also included cutting £25 million from smaller DCLG communities programmes and £100 million from other small DCLG programmes, as well as savings of £35 million in housing benefit from reducing fraud.

Decisions on the split of savings between individual programmes were not finalised by the previous Administration.

Brandon Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will place in the Library a copy of the most recent accounts of each part of the Local Government Group. [29384]

Robert Neill: The Local Government (LG) Group is owned by its member local authorities. It is independent of central Government, and questions about its activities should be put directly to them. However, the LG Group has provided the Department with the 2009-10 annual accounts for the bodies within the group:

Copies of these accounts will be placed in the Library.

Departmental Publications

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the expenditure of his Department and its predecessors on printing (a) Command Papers, (b) papers laid before Parliament by Act, (c) consultation documents and (d) other papers in each of the last 10 years. [28387]

Robert Neill: The requested information is not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Housing: Construction

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much land in each local authority area (a) is available for development and (b) was so available in each of the last 10 years. [30159]

Grant Shapps: Local authorities publish information on how much land is available for housing in their Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments.


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Information on previously developed land that may be available for development is provided in the National Land Use Database. Statistics for 2008 are published on the Homes and Communities website in Table S1 in the report at the following link:

Statistics for 2006 and 2007 are published on the Department for Communities and Local Government website, via the following link:

Statistics for 2001 to 2005 are available through the archived National Land Use Database website, via the following link:

Housing: Prices

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking towards the policy aim of being in a position where house prices continue to grow; and what estimate he has made of house price growth in each of the next five years. [30226]

Grant Shapps: House prices have doubled in the last 10 years, putting home ownership beyond the reach of many potential first time buyers. This Government believe that what is needed now is not a return to rapid house price growth, but a period of house price stability. House price stability creates the right conditions for the building industry, and can thus contribute to a sustainable economic recovery.

Achieving this depends above all on the return to economic and financial stability which the Government are seeking to achieve through debt reduction and their commitment to abolish the structural deficit.

The recent house price forecasts produced by the new independent Office of Budget Responsibility for the autumn statement and the latest average of the HM Treasury's independent forecasts suggest there will be modest falls in house prices in 2011 and rises beyond.

Details can be found at:

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment he has made of the likely effects of falling house prices to 2015 on (a) the number of homes that will be sold and (b) the number of homeowners in negative equity. [30227]

Grant Shapps: The Department for Communities and Local Government does not publish housing market forecasts.

According to the recent house price forecasts produced by the new independent Office of Budget Responsibility for the Economic and fiscal outlook report this autumn, and the latest average of the HM Treasury's independent forecasts, there will be modest falls in house prices in 2011 and rises beyond.


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Any effects of falling house prices on (a) the number of homes that will be sold and (b) the number of homeowners in negative equity, will be correspondingly modest.

For further details please see:

Negative equity estimates are produced by the Bank of England. The most recent figures can be found at:

Land: Registration

George Freeman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment he has made of the effect on local authorities of funding personal land charge searches through general council tax revenues rather than payments by the service user. [28397]

Mr Djanogly: I have been asked to reply.

The Government have carried out an assessment of the costs of revoking the fee for a personal search of the local land charges register. As I explained to my hon. Friend in my answer to his question of 16 September 2010, Official Report, column 1190W, there should not be any loss of income to local authorities in England in the current financial year, as the loss will be met by central Government. For 2011-12 and in future years the ongoing loss of fees has been taken into account as part of the spending review settlement.

Local Government Finance

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to pilot tax increment financing measures in 2011-12. [30162]

Robert Neill: The Government have confirmed that they will legislate to introduce powers to allow tax increment financing and we will move as quickly as possible to do so. We are considering how to deliver tax increment financing in the context of our wider proposals on business rates retention. The Local Government Resource Review will look at both issues in the round and develop proposals by July 2011.

Mortgages

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions he has had with (a) the Chancellor of the Exchequer and (b) the Financial Services Authority on the its mortgage market review; and if he will publish the record of each such discussion. [30228]

Grant Shapps: The new Government are committed to supporting aspiration to home ownership and share the underlying objective of the Mortgage Market Review to create a stable, sustainable market for all participants. We must avoid the boom and bust that the property market has experienced in the last decade.


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We want to see a regulatory framework that supports access to home ownership and new housing supply while preventing repossessions.

The Government believe the regulatory changes made by the Financial Services Authority must be proportionate and avoid unnecessary prescription on the mortgage industry.

My officials have worked closely with the Financial Services Authority and the Council of Mortgage Lenders on these proposals and will continue to do so. I have discussions with Treasury Ministers on a range of issues relating to my ministerial brief. The Financial Services Authority recently made a presentation on their responsible lending proposals to the Home Finance Forum, which I jointly chair with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

Private Rented Housing: Rents

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department uses information from propertyfinder.com to determine average market rents. [29925]

Grant Shapps: The Department does not use information from propertyfinder.com to determine average market rents.

Revenue Support Grant

Mark Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he plans to announce the Revenue Support Grant for 2011-12. [29974]

Robert Neill: I refer my hon. Friend to the oral statement made today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Right to Buy Scheme

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to change the discount level on Right to Buy sales. [30107]

Grant Shapps: The Government have no plans to change Right to Buy discounts.

Social Rented Housing

Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will publish his Department's impact analysis on the social effects of implementing the Government's policy on flexible social housing tenancy. [29545]

Grant Shapps: We will publish an impact assessment on social housing tenure reform in due course.

Mr Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will assess the effect on the (a) right to remain, (b) rent levels and (c) succession rights of social housing tenants of his proposals for social housing. [29643]

Grant Shapps: There will be no changes to the security and rights of existing social tenants. The Government proposes to provide social landlords with freedom to offer fixed-term or lifetime tenancies and additional succession rights to new tenants.


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We propose that landlords will continue to let properties at social rents except where development agreements reached with the Homes and Communities Agency provide for an Affordable Rent to apply.

Detailed information about the new delivery model for affordable housing will be published in the new year. In addition a written ministerial statement setting out more details on the Affordable Rent product was made on 9 December 2010, Official Report, columns 31-34WS.

Our policy paper on social housing reform 'Local decisions: a fairer future for social housing' has been placed in the Library of the House, and we welcome representations and comments during the consultation period.

Mr Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what steps he plans to take to inform (a) local authorities and (b) housing associations on the level of income above which tenants may be required to vacate social housing; [29644]

(2) what provision he plans to make for (a) local authorities and (b) housing associations to collect information on the incomes of social housing tenants under his proposed reforms and what estimate he has made of the likely cost to the public purse of such activity. [29645]

Grant Shapps: The Government proposes to provide local authorities and housing associations with freedom to offer fixed-term or lifetime tenancies to new tenants. Social housing providers will be expected to set their own policies for the award and renewal of tenancies of different types.

There will be no changes to the security and rights of existing social tenants.

These proposals are subject to consultation and a copy of the policy paper has been placed in the Library of the House.

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he plans to publish a draft direction on the new Tenancy Standard arising from his proposals for changes to social tenancy conditions. [30160]

Grant Shapps: We will publish a summary of responses to our proposals (set out in "Local decisions: a fairer future for social housing") following the end of the consultation period on 17 January, and will at that stage make clear our views on the likely content of a Tenancy Direction.

Full consultation on a formal direction to the regulator on the content of a Tenancy Standard will take place later in 2011.

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what his Department's policy is on tenant management of housing owned by (a) local authorities and (b) registered social landlords; and if he will make a statement. [30322]

Grant Shapps: Local authority tenants wishing to take over the management of their homes from their landlord have a statutory right to do so under the
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Housing (Right to Manage) (England) Regulations 2008. Tenants of registered social landlords can enter into a voluntary agreement with their landlord if they wish to manage their housing.

Social Rented Housing: Construction

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many social homes were built in each financial year since 1997-98; and how many are expected to be built during financial years (a) 2010-11 and (b) 2011-12. [29853]

Andrew Stunell: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham) on 29 November 2010, Official Report, columns 470-71W.

Information on the numbers of affordable homes provided in each financial year since 1997-98 to 2009-10 is published in Live Table 1009 on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at:

Social Rented Housing: Disability

Caroline Nokes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking to ensure the provision of social housing which meets the needs of people with disabilities. [27965]

Andrew Stunell: Under the allocation legislation certain people must be given 'reasonable preference' for social housing and this includes people who need to move on medical or welfare grounds, including grounds relating to a disability.

In the spending review we announced investment of over £6.5 billion in housing. This includes over £2 billion to make existing social homes decent and almost £4.5billion investment in new affordable housing to deliver up to 150,000 affordable homes.

We have also secured £6.5 billion of funding to Supporting People helping vulnerable people and those with disabilities live independent lives.

Temporary Accommodation: Homelessness

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 1 November 2010, Official Report, columns 543-44W, on temporary accommodation: homelessness, to which local authorities the answer refers. [30161]

Grant Shapps: The representations referred to in the answer of 1 November 2010, Official Report, columns 543-44W, Temporary Accommodation: Homelessness, are representations received from the London boroughs of Newham, Wandsworth and Westminster. The issue of greater flexibility in how local authorities are permitted to discharge the main homelessness duty has also been raised with officials at the Department for Communities and Local Government informally by a number of other local housing authorities.


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Travellers: Caravan Sites

Gavin Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on what date his Department plans to bring forward its proposed amendments to planning circular ODPM 01/2006 on Gypsy and Traveller sites. [29698]

Robert Neill: We want to move expeditiously but subject to proper process in relation to our intention to withdraw Circular 01/2006 and will be holding a public consultation in the new year. Circular 01/2006 is currently extant but decision makers are entitled to have regard to the fact that it is proposed to withdraw it.

Mr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps his Department plans to take to establish the number of Traveller pitches in each local authority area; and whether he expects local residents to participate in that process. [30103]

Robert Neill: Local authorities are best placed to determine how to meet their housing needs-including Traveller site provision-in consultation with local communities.

The Government are committed to abolishing regional strategies via the Localism Bill. This will remove the system of top-down Traveller site targets and make local authorities responsible for determining the right level of site provision in their area.

We have announced our intention to withdraw circulars 01/2006 ("Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites") and 04/2007 ("Planning for Travelling Showpeople") and will be holding a public consultation on this in the new year. The details of our proposed light-touch replacement policy will be set out in that.

Written Questions: Government Responses

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the two answers of 3 November 2010, Official Report, column 817W, on social rented housing: rents, and the answer of 11 November 2010, Official Report, column 458W, on housing: construction, and the determinations of the Procedure Committee of 22 and 25 November 2010, when he plans to provide further responses to the Questions tabled by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Moor View. [30193]

Grant Shapps: I am now able to provide further responses to the questions tabled by the hon. Member.

Pursuant to the answers provided on 3 November 2010 the Department has national level information on market rents for privately-owned properties from the English Housing Survey from 2008-09 onwards and the Survey of English Housing prior to 2008-09. The most recent national level estimates were published on 27 October 2010 in the English Housing Survey Household Report 2008-09 which is available from:


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Regional level results are based on a two year average due to sample size issues. The most recent regional level estimates are an average for 2006-07 and 2007-08, available from:

Updated regional rent estimates will be available when the 2009-10 data are published in 2011.

Information on median rents for broad rental market areas, used to determine local housing allowance rates, is published by the Valuation Office Agency and is available from:

Estimating market rents of social rented properties is not straightforward and different approaches can be taken. One example is in research carried out by Professor Steve Wilcox for DCLG where an assessment of regional social rents in comparison to market levels is made in terms of the capital value of the property, rental yield and housing association management and maintenance costs.

As I set out in my written ministerial statement on 9 December 2010, Official Report, column 31-34WS, our new delivery model for affordable housing will allow housing associations to set rents of up to 80% of market rent on some properties. A housing association's calculation of the market rent would need to be based on a residential lettings estimate for a property of the appropriate size, condition and area. Valuations should be in accordance with a RICS recognised method. The Homes and Communities Agency will publish a full framework document early next year that will form the basis for bids from providers who are interested in offering affordable rent.

With regard to the question answered on 11 November relating to estimate made of the total number of new homes to be built in each year of the next six years. We do not provide estimates of future new build numbers, as forecasting is imprecise and could affect market sentiment. However, there are various private sector organisations who can, and do, use our statistics to make their own forecasts.

Ultimately, the number of new homes that are built will depend upon market conditions and decisions that are taken at the local level. This Government are rebalancing power from central Government to local authorities and local people, replacing top down targets with fiscal incentives for local authorities to develop housing. We are also seeking to remove unnecessary regulation on the house building industry.

Justice

Blood: Contamination

Owen Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether an inquest has been requested by the family of any person who has died as a result of being infected with contaminated blood products in NHS facilities since 1985. [29359]


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Mr Djanogly: Coroners have a statutory duty to hold an inquest in certain cases, and do so only at the request of bereaved families in very exceptional circumstances. Although the Ministry of Justice collects and publishes statistics from coroners in England and Wales during each calendar year, we do not collect explicit information of such an individual nature and this information is not held centrally otherwise. On 14 October I announced plans to introduce changes to the coroner system and as we take this forward there may be an opportunity to review the matters on which annual statistics are collected and published.

Civil Proceedings: Legal Costs

Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he plans to issue guidance to judges on conduct in a dispute to be considered (a) frivolous or fraudulent and (b) unreasonable or obscure in order to avoid qualified one-way costs shifting under his proposals in the Civil Litigation Funding Green Paper. [29336]

Mr Djanogly: The consultation paper, "Proposals for Reform of Civil Litigation Funding and Costs in England and Wales-Implementation of Lord Justice Jackson's Recommendations", published on 15 November 2010, sets out proposals for introducing qualified one way costs shifting. We await responses in order to be able to take a view on the way forward on this issue.

Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will estimate the annual number of cases of (a) injuries of maximum severity, (b) road traffic accidents, (c) clinical negligence, (d) occupier and public liability accident, (e) occupational disease and (f) employers' liability accidents with realistic prospects of success which will not be brought as a consequence of implementation of the proposals in the Civil Litigation Green Paper. [29410]

Mr Djanogly: It is not possible to make detailed estimates in these areas, as this will depend, in part, on the individual decisions of claimants, defendants, lawyers and insurers on a case by case basis. The preliminary impact assessments can be found at

and respondents are invited to comment on the preliminary impacts identified.

Claims Management Regulator

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many claims handlers have (a) been refused registration and (b) had their registration rescinded by the Claims Management Regulator in 2010 to date. [29499]

Mr Djanogly: I can confirm that:


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Conditional Fee Agreements

Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will review his Department's proposals on amendment or abolition of the indemnity principle in costs in order to simplify the (a) drafting and (b) comprehensibility for litigants of conditional fee agreements. [29412]

Mr Djanogly: As set out at paragraph 276 of "Proposals for Reform of Civil Litigation Funding and Costs in England and Wales-Implementation of Lord Justice Jackson's Recommendations", the Government are not proposing any further work on the indemnity principle at this stage.

Conditional Fee Agreements: Scotland

Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he has estimated the annual number of visible personal injury claims not pursued through the courts in Scotland as a result of rules on non-recovery of (a) success fees for conditional fee agreements and (b) after-the-event insurance premiums. [29411]

Mr Djanogly: We have made no such estimate. Preliminary impact assessments were published alongside "Proposals for Reform of Civil Litigation Funding and
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Costs in England and Wales-Implementation of Lord Justice Jackson's Proposals", and can be found at:

Respondents are invited to comment on the preliminary impacts identified.

Court of Protection

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many complaints the Court of Protection has (a) received and (b) resolved in each of the last 10 years. [30018]

Mr Djanogly: Prior to the commencement of the Mental Capacity Act on 1 October 2007, the Public Guardianship Office (PGO) acted as the administrative arm of the then Court of Protection (CoP) and the two functioned as a combined entity.

On 1 October 2007 the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and a new Court of Protection were created and the OPG initially provided administrative support to the Court.

On 1 April 2009 the CoP administration transferred to Her Majesty's Court Service and from that date complaints relating to the Court have been handled independently from the OPG.

Records of complaints received are available from December 2001 and are as follows:

Complaints
Period PGO/CoP OPG CoP

3 December 2001 to 31 March 2002

460

-

-

1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003

1,807

-

-

1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004

577

-

-

1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005

591

-

-

1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006

437

-

-

1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007

712

-

-

1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008

-

918

358

1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009

1,969

890

1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010

1,827

563

1 April 2010 to 30 November 2010

(1)4,389

237

(1) In this period the OPG changed its complaints process and improved the mechanisms by which complaints were recorded. In addition there was also a significant increase in volumes of work during this period and a large majority of the complaints related to delays caused by the resultant backlog.
Notes:
1. Between 3 December 2001 and 30 November 2010, 129 complaints were referred onwards from the OPG to either the Adjudicator's Office or the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to consider further due to the complainant being dissatisfied with the outcome. Of these, 30 were not upheld, 30 were partially upheld, two were upheld, one was withdrawn and six are still ongoing. Records of the other referrals are unavailable
2. For Court of Protection complaints approximately 25% are related to judicial decisions or to fees which cannot be dealt with by the Court itself.

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the current value is of the Court of Protection Fund held at the Bank of England; what rate of interest has accrued in respect of that fund in each of the last 10 years; and what the rate of interest is expected to be in 2010-11. [30019]

Mr Djanogly: The Court Funds Office (CFO) holds approximately £2 billion of funds on behalf of approximately 16,000 Court of Protection clients. Funds paid into court are not held by the Bank of England. All funds deposited with CFO are transferred to the Court Funds Investment Account (CFIA). The CFIA is administered on behalf of the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt by the UK Debt Management Office an Executive agency of HM Treasury.

The following interest rates have applied to funds held on behalf of Court of Protection clients over the last 10 years:

Percentage

From 1 August 1999

7

From 1 February 2002

6

From 1 February 2009

3

From 1 June 2009

1.5

From 1 July 2009

0.5


It is not possible to predict what interest rates CFO will be able to pay on client funds in the future. Interest rates are set and regularly reviewed by the Lord Chancellor with the concurrence of the Treasury. In reviewing the rate paid the Lord Chancellor takes into account a
13 Dec 2010 : Column 493W
number of factors including-the amount of interest received on funds against the amount of interest paid to clients, the level and mix of funds held by CFO and administration costs. Taking into account all of these factors the Lord Chancellor decides on the appropriate level of interest paid on funds held in court. The Lord Chancellor will be keeping the rates paid on the special account under review, and will make a direction to change the rate when necessary with the agreement of the Treasury.

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the (a) longest, (b) shortest and (c) average time taken was for families to access funds of individuals deemed to have mental incapacity by the Court of Protection in the latest period for which figures are available. [30020]

Mr Djanogly: Since October 2007, the average time taken by the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy with authority to access funds on behalf of a person who lacks capacity is 14 weeks against a service standard of 21 weeks. Where urgent access to funds is required, for example to pay care costs, the court will make emergency orders which in exceptional cases can be made on the same day as the application. Where a case is contentious, for example where the family cannot agree on a course of action, the final decision may take longer than 21 weeks. Where necessary, the court will put in place interim arrangements allowing someone to access funds to meet the immediate needs of the person who lacks capacity.

Funds may be held in court by the Court Funds Office (CFO) on behalf of a person who lacks capacity. If a deputy has been appointed by the Court of Protection with authority to access funds held by the CFO, the deputy may submit a payment request to the CFO to withdraw funds on behalf of the person they represent. Between 1 April 2010 and 31 October 2010 the Court
13 Dec 2010 : Column 494W
Funds Office processed 97.2% of payment requests within five days of receipt of a properly completed payment request.

Courts: Closures

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he has received representations from Nottinghamshire police on the consequences for them of closing (a) Retford and (b) Worksop court. [29476]

Mr Djanogly: I refer the hon. Member to my answer to him of 1 November 2010, Official Report, column 510W, where I said

Departmental Communications

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 8 November 2010, Official Report, columns 59-60W, on departmental communications, if he will publish an itemised account of the amount spent by the Information Commissioner's Office on (a) internal and (b) external communications in each year from 2000-01 to 2009-10. [29612]

Mr Djanogly: The following table provides an itemised account of spending by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) on internal and external communications where information is available. Detailed information on expenditure is retained for six years. Therefore no figures are available before 2004-05.

The figures provided are based on actual invoices. Therefore they vary slightly from those given in the answer of 8 November 2010 which were based on the ICO's annual accounts, which are accruals rather than cash based. They do however reconcile. This information has been provided by the ICO.

ICO expenditure on internal and external communications
£
Cost headings 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2006-07 2005-06 2004-05

Annual report

44,341.81

46,667.04

39,240.22

35,198.62

27,510.74

34,917.04

Campaigns

53,229.88

364,208.48

73,322.35

163,727.44

(1)-22,936.96

0

Media monitoring and press cuttings

24,697.73

28,243.96

53,048.77

39,607.04

32,575.37

26,822.89

Media relations

34,329.79

8,448.10

48,884.72

211.50

44,206.57

195,703.38

Conferences and seminars

74,397.59

70,093.91

36,102.48

24,774.25

86,647.06

31,915.58

Design and print

258,210.13

74,884.66

160,278.55

428,274.38

311,252.10

197,137.43

Distributions

103,439.92

135,313.21

140,680.08

106,485.05

78,617.80

50,306.88

Management fees(2)

385,465.71

347,184.28

339,218.93

341,473.39

282,533.58

146,507.47

Online

220,059.42

245,837.90

271,303.94

434,735.87

236,190.32

196,223.54

Research

76,522.16

140,145.05

283,585.60

256,183.13

278,625.42

187,664.10

Internal communications

11,582.91

12,323.06

36,999.21

20,334.86

(3)-

(3)-

Total

1,286,277.05

1,473,349.65

1,482,664.85

1,851,005.53

1,355,222.00

1,067,198.31

(1) Represents a refund for a cancelled campaign. (2) Fees paid to professional partners and consultants, e.g. for running the ICO Press Office (in-house from 1 October 2010); and also to the Central Office of Information. (3) Not available. There was minimal expenditure on internal communications during 2005-06 and 2004-05 and what expenditure there was cannot be individually identified.

Departmental Conferences

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his Department's annual budget for conferences was at (a) 7 May 2010 and (b) 7 December 2010. [30027]

Mr Djanogly: The Ministry of Justice does not centrally monitor budgets for conference expenditure. Conference budgets are set by individual business groups from their total resource allocation and are subject to change through the year as each group manages its spending and responds to local business needs.


13 Dec 2010 : Column 495W

Drugs: Offences

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many convictions there were for drug offences in the (a) six months to 6 May 2010 and (b) six months from 6 May 2010. [29505]


13 Dec 2010 : Column 496W

Mr Blunt: Information on the number of persons found guilty at all courts for drug offences for the years 2000 to 2009 (the latest available) can be viewed in the table.

The Ministry of Justice plan to publish information on 2010 court proceedings in the spring of 2011.

N umber of persons found guilty at all courts for drug offences in England and Wales, 2000-09( 1)( , )( 2)
Area 2000( 3) 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008( 4) 2009

England and Wales

44,621

45,621

49,036

51,162

39,197

39,090

39,582

44,565

52,941

56,793

(1) The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
(2) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
(3) Staffordshire police force were only able to supply a sample of data for magistrates courts proceedings covering one full week in each quarter for 2000. Estimates based on this sample are included in the figures as they are considered sufficiently robust at this high level of analysis.
(4) Excludes convictions for Cardiff magistrates court for April, July and August 2008.
Source:
Justice Statistics Analytical Services - Ministry of Justice.

Family Courts

Simon Hart: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effect on the average length of time a case is in the family courts of litigants choosing to represent themselves; and if he will make a treatment. [29691]

Mr Djanogly: The Ministry of Justice has not made an assessment of the effects on the average length of time a case takes in the family courts of litigants choosing to represent themselves.

We do have information on whether or not the applicant(s) and respondent(s) in the case had a legal representative. It should be noted that parties without a recorded representative are not necessarily litigants in person.

The following table gives details of the average durations of family cases completed in the financial year 2009-10, split by case type and by whether or not the applicant(s) and respondent(s) in the case had a legal representative.

Figures are only given for the High Court and the county courts as information is not available for all Family Proceedings courts. The High Court and county courts hear almost all divorce cases, about 25% of all public law cases and about 80% of all private law cases.

Average duration of cases completed in county courts or the High Court in England and Wales between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2010, by legal representation
Divorce Public law Private law
Legal representative Mean duration (weeks) Number of decrees absolute Mean duration (weeks) Number of orders Mean duration (weeks) Number of orders

Both applicant and respondent

55.7

40,088

54.5

680

37.8

23,738

Applicant only

44.6

44,904

36.5

46

27.9

9,280

Respondent only

59.7

2,707

56.2

2,575

44.7

3,573

Neither applicant nor respondent

34.1

28,796

34.1

81

38.6

2,710

Notes:
Figures are given where the applicant/respondent's representative has been recorded or left blank. Therefore, it should be noted that parties without a recorded representative are not necessarily litigants in person.
Divorce:
1. Figures include dissolutions of marriage or civil partnership and annulments of marriage or civil partnership.
2. The duration is calculated from the earliest recorded petition date to the earliest recorded decree absolute date.
3. Figures exclude cases where there is no record of a petition and cases where the decree absolute date is before the petition
4. Time from petition to decree absolute may be affected by the time it takes the applicant to apply for the decree absolute once the decree nisi (first order) has been issued. In normal circumstances the applicant may apply for the decree absolute six weeks after the decree nisi has been issued, but (s)he may choose to wait longer than this.
5. The mean is the total of all of the durations, divided by the number of decrees absolute.
Public and Private Law:
1. Private law refers to cases brought under the Children Act 1989 where two or more individuals, usually separated parents, are trying to resolve a private dispute about their child(ren). Public law refers to child welfare cases where a local authority, or other authorised person, is stepping in to protect a child from harm or neglect.
2. Private law includes cases where a section 8 order (contact, residence, prohibited steps, specific issue) was made or where a parental responsibility order was made. Public law includes cases where a care order or a supervision order was made. This does not necessarily mean that these were the orders applied for.
3. The durations in both case types are calculated from the earliest application date (or the date the case was transferred in to the court if that is earlier) to the date of the order event.
4. A case is defined as applicant represented if at least one applicant in the case has a recorded representative. Similarly with respondents.
5. The mean is the total of all of the durations, divided by the number of orders.
Source:
HMCS FamilyMan system

13 Dec 2010 : Column 497W

Fines

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice in what circumstances a fine imposed by a magistrates court may be written off. [29521]

Mr Djanogly: The magistrates courts follow a strict write off policy. The scenarios, which can be administratively cancelled, are:

Writing off does not absolve the offender of their obligation to pay and should that person's whereabouts become known at a later date, further action would be taken.

Legal cancellation can be applied after the case has been reconsidered by a judge or a magistrate. Typically, legal cancellations are used where a case has been reopened and the defendant has been found not guilty following the presentation of additional information. Legal cancellations can be full or partial remittances of financial penalties.

Homicide

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the Government plans to review the law on murder. [29347]

Mr Blunt: The Law Commission reviewed the law on murder and made recommendations in their report 'Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide' in 2006. Their recommendations have been implemented in part and the Government will be considering whether to take forward those which remain outstanding.

Human Rights

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the potential for legal challenge to the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998 which do not define the Scottish Parliament as a legislature. [28304]

Mr Djanogly: The meaning of "legislature" in article 3 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, as scheduled to the Human Rights Act 1998, is currently being considered by the European Court of Human Rights in a case against the United Kingdom. The Human Rights Act itself does not define "legislature" in this provision.


13 Dec 2010 : Column 498W

Human Rights: Care Homes

Stephen Mosley: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will assess the merits of extending the scope of the term public authority in section 6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998 to include private care homes that provide care to elderly people who have been (a) referred and (b) funded by a local authority. [29078]

Mr Djanogly: Such situations are already covered by the Human Rights Act. Under section 145 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, a care home that provides residential social care that has been arranged by a local authority under sections 21(l)(a) and 26 of the National Assistance Act 1948, or the equivalent provisions in Scotland and Northern Ireland, is deemed to be exercising a function of a public nature for the purposes of section 6 of the Human Rights Act. It is immaterial for these purposes the extent to which the local authority funds the care that it has arranged under its statutory obligations. Section 145 came into force on 1 December 2008, and applies to any acts (as defined by section 6 of the Human Rights Act) as of that date.

Human Trafficking: Compensation

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what compensation victims of human trafficking may receive from (a) the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and (b) assets seized from traffickers without adversely affecting their entitlement to benefits; and if he will make a statement. [30196]

Mr Blunt: Victims of human trafficking are able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme for physical injury or psychological injuries. This ability to claim is not dependent upon prosecution of the perpetrator.

In addition, prosecutors may request compensation following confiscation of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The court has discretion to make both a compensation order and a confiscation order against the same person in the same proceedings if it believes that the defendant will have sufficient means to satisfy both orders in full. Alternatively, the court may order that all or part of the compensation order be paid out of the confiscation order.

Neither of these compensation measures affects victims' entitlement to support services provided to victims during their recovery and reflection period.

Legal Aid

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his policy is on the use of funding provided through the civil legal aid scheme to bring cases against (a) current and (b) former members of the armed forces. [29683]

Mr Djanogly: Generally, legal aid in civil cases is available to anyone who qualifies, provided that the case is within the scope of the scheme. Each application is considered on an individual basis and is subject to statutory tests of the applicant's means and the merits of the case.


13 Dec 2010 : Column 499W

The Ministry of Justice consultation "Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales" was published on 15 November. The consultation proposes that claims against public authorities should remain within the scope of the legal aid scheme where they concern: (i) abuse of position of power; and/or (ii) significant breach of human rights; and/or (iii) negligent acts or omissions falling very far below the required standard of care.

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he has assessed the potential effects of his proposed reforms to legal aid funding on the contract between Public Interest Lawyers and the Legal Service Commission; and if he will make a statement. [29684]

Mr Djanogly: Both impact assessments (IAs) and equalities impact assessments (EIAs) were published alongside the consultation paper. While the documents do consider impacts on providers both at the aggregate level (in the case of IAs) and by protected equalities characteristic (EIAs), neither document considers the impact on any one particular provider of publicly funded legal services, and particularly as the information is likely to be commercially sensitive.

Legal Aid: Expenditure

John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his Department's expenditure on legal aid in respect of (a) family court cases and (b) criminal cases involving residents of (i) Cumbria and (ii) Carlisle constituency was in each of the last three years. [30397]

Mr Djanogly: It is not possible to provide a regional breakdown of expenditure based upon the location of the recipient of legal aid. Legal aid expenditure and the value of claims submitted by legal service providers(1) located within Cumbria and Carlisle are set out in the following table, by area of law.

Carlisle is a constituency area geographically located within the Cumbria criminal justice area and as such all the figures for Cumbria are inclusive of those for Carlisle.

Spend in Carlisle and Cumbria by financial year
£

Family Criminal Non-family

2009-10

Carlisle

1,102,806

1,426,848

582,718

Cumbria

3,497,768

4,983,281

1,626,479

2008-09

Carlisle

1,423,337

1,348,365

424,671

Cumbria

4,225,565

4,735,964

1,069,431

2007-08

Carlisle

1,201,946

1,189,985

269,119

Cumbria

3,331,919

4,476,051

1,036,030


13 Dec 2010 : Column 500W

Legal Costs

Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will assess the likely effect on standards of employment practice of his proposals to discontinue legal aid in employment cases. [30094]

Mr Djanogly: I do not intend to conduct such an assessment.

Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the merits of restricting (a) broadcast and (b) other advertising by (i) lawyers and (ii) claims handling organisations. [30233]

Mr Djanogly: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has overall responsibility for the Codes that govern broadcast advertising and this is reflected in the Conduct Rules that apply respectively to lawyers and claims management businesses. We understand that the ASA is considering whether or not to undertake a review of advertising to take account of the recommendations made in Lord Young's report "Common Sense-Common Safety".

Other advertising by lawyers would be a matter for the Solicitor's Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Legal Services Board (LSB) to consider. The SRA is currently consulting on a new Code of Conduct, and will be working with the LSB, the MoJ and other stakeholders to ensure that any changes support the effective provision of legal services.

The Claims Management Regulator who is based within the MoJ is soon to consult on an amendment to the rules governing claims management businesses advertising. The first stage will be to bring forward measures to prohibit claims management businesses from offering and marketing advance cash payments, other financial rewards or gifts that might induce people to initiate claims with them. This will be followed by consideration of what further, wider changes are necessary in relation to claims management businesses advertising and marketing taking full account of the outcome of any review of advertising by the ASA and SRA.

Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many appeal cases relating to contracted out employment group claims have been heard in each of the last three years; and how many such appeals (a) with legal representation, (b) with legal representation funded through legal aid and (c) without legal representation were upheld. [30241]

Mr Djanogly: The table provides a breakdown of:

It is not possible to provide information on the number of cases that were funded through legal aid as that level of detail is not recorded.


13 Dec 2010 : Column 501W
214-COEG

2007-08 2008-09 2009-10

Total number of appeal cases heard i.e. were determined at hearing, (oral or paper)

3

3

1

Number of appeal cases with representation where appeal successful(1)

0

0

0

Number of appeals without representation where the appeal was successful

0

0

0

(1) TS Immigration and Asylum cases, noted "publicly funded".

Powers of Attorney

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what recent estimate he has made of the average cost charged by a family solicitor for preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney application; [30054]

(2) what the average time taken was for the Court of Protection to (a) process a Lasting Power of Attorney form and (b) notify the applicant of the outcome in the latest period for which figures are available; [30055]

(3) how many Lasting Power of Attorney applications were (a) lodged with the Court of Protection and (b) approved in the last two years. [30056]

Mr Djanogly: Lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) were introduced by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA), which was commenced on 1 October 2007.

The LPA forms were designed to be completed without the automatic need for professional advice. However, some applicants' circumstances may be such that they wish to take advice from a solicitor or other professional. Such private client work can be undertaken for a fixed fee or may be charged on the basis of actual time spent depending on how the firm involved chooses to charge for the work involved. As a result, the cost of using a solicitor can vary greatly and the Ministry of Justice has not made any estimate of average costs charged for this type of work.

Under the MCA, LPAs are registered with the Office of the Public Guardian rather than the Court of Protection. In certain limited cases, where there are issues with the registration of an LPA, or objections are made by certain parties, an application may need to be made to the Court of Protection for determination of that matter before the OPG can register.

Figures on the average time taken by the OPG to process an application in the current financial year are outlined in the following table. The timescales include a statutory six week waiting period during which objections to registration can be made.

2010 Weeks

April

12

May

14

June

12

July

11

August

12

September

13

October

12

November

11


13 Dec 2010 : Column 502W

84,050 LPA applications were received in the period 1 December 2008 to 30 November 2009 with 75,863 being successfully registered.

159,328 LPA applications were received in the period 1 December 2009 to 30 November 2010 with 128,538 being successfully registered.

Prisoners' Release: Employment

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of prisoners released in each of the last three years are in employment. [29515]

Mr Blunt: Information is not held on the current employment status of all prisoners released in the last three years. However, prisoners' employment status is recorded on discharge and this is used to measure the proportion who enter employment. Figures in relation to 2007-08 and 2008-09 are set out in the following table.

Percentage of offenders entering employment on discharge

2007-08

27.0

2008-09

26.0

Notes:
1. 2007-08 was the first year for which employment outcomes were reported as a proportion of discharges.
2. Figures for 2009-10 will be published on the Ministry of Justice website shortly as part of an addendum to the 2009-10 NOMS annual report.
Data Sources and Quality:
These figures 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.

Prisoners: Heroin

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many heroin addicts were (a) in prison and (b) convicted of a criminal offence in each of the last three years. [29649]

Mr Blunt: It is not known exactly how many heroin addicts were (a) in prison, or were (b) convicted of a criminal offence in each of the last three years, because data on heroin addiction is not routinely collected.

Our best estimate of the scale of heroin misuse comes from a survey of 1,435 prisoners sentenced to between one month and four years in 2005 and 2006 which showed that approximately 30% had used heroin in the four weeks before custody. On average, these prisoners used heroin every day in the four weeks before custody, and around 80% felt that their heroin usage was out of control.

The Department of Health also collects information on the number of clinical treatments for heroin addiction delivered in prisons. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the response given by the Minister of State, Department of Health, the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Burstow) on 28 June 2010, Official Report, column 404W, which gave these statistics.

Prisoners: Repatriation

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many British prisoners detained in each foreign country were repatriated to UK prisons between 6 May 2010 and 6 December 2010. [29504]


13 Dec 2010 : Column 503W

Mr Blunt: Between 6 May and 6 December 2010, 59 British nationals were repatriated from overseas to serve the remainder of their sentence in prisons in England and Wales. The following table indicates from which countries these prisoners were repatriated.

Country Number of transfers

Australia

1

Belgium

1

Brazil

1

Costa Rica

1

Cyprus

4

France

3

Germany

1

Ghana

3

Grenada

2

Hong Kong

1

Ireland

11

Japan

1

Norway

1

Panama

1

Portugal

1

Slovakia

1

Spain

11

Sweden

2

Thailand

1

Trinidad and Tobago

5

Turkey

2

United States

4


The repatriation of prisoners from overseas to prisons in Scotland and Northern Ireland is a matter for the relevant devolved Administration.

Prisoners: Sentencing

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many of those presently serving a custodial sentence were given a sentence of (a) five years or less, (b) four years or less, (c) three years or less, (d) two years or less and (e) one year or less; and if he will make a statement. [30379]

Mr Blunt: The following table provides information on custodial sentences in prison establishments in England and Wales by sentence length band as at 30 September 2010.

Prison population as of 30 September 2010 for sentence lengths of less than five, four, three, two and one years
Sentence length Population

Less than :

five years

34,642

four years

28,770

three years

22,119

two years

15,051

one year

8,096

Note:
These figures 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.

Prisoners: Shrewsbury Picket Dispute

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will order a public inquiry into the events leading up to and the imprisonment of participants of the 1972 Shrewsbury Picket dispute. [28877]


13 Dec 2010 : Column 504W

Mr Djanogly: The Secretary of State will not order a public inquiry into the events surrounding the 1972 Shrewsbury Picket dispute. He considers that this would be a disproportionate response as an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission remains an option for the majority of those involved.

Prisoners: Violence

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the level of violence on the prison estate (a) directed at prison officers by prisoners and (b) between prisoners; and what steps he is taking to reduce violence on the prison estate. [29071]

Mr Blunt: The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) records assaults by prisoners on all staff and on other prisoners. The numbers of recorded assaults by prisoners on staff and on other prisoners is as follows:

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

Prisoner on prisoner

10,892

11,530

12,018

12,834

12,147

Prisoner on officer

3,101

3,131

2,890

2,789

2,645


NOMS is undertaking a wide-ranging review of its violence reduction strategy, including methods for identifying and managing violent prisoners, performance measures for assault reporting by prisons, and prosecutions through the courts of violent prisoners. The review will examine the individual approaches to violence management that have developed around the estate and will ensure that good practice is shared and built upon. The revised policy will be implemented in spring 2011.

NOMS takes the safety of staff and prisoners very seriously and is committed to a robust approach on prosecuting the most serious of these offences. We are working with the Attorney-General's office and the Home Office to improve consistency in the involvement of the police and Crown Prosecution Service. All prisons have in place a violence reduction policy which is used to identify the problems specific to that establishment and to develop practical solutions to managing violence.

NOMS and the Prison Officers' Association (POA) are jointly committed to a zero tolerance approach to assaults on staff, visitors and prisoners. This has recently been formalised in a joint statement, signed by the national chairman of the POA and the chief executive of NOMS. A poster campaign advertising the zero tolerance approach was launched in February 2010.

Prisons: Smoking

Guy Opperman: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many prisons in the north-east are smoke-free; [30045]

(2) whether any prison in the north-east has a smoke-free wing. [30046]

Mr Blunt: None of the prisons in the north-east area are smoke-free.

One unit at Acklington is designated for non-smoking prisoners. One houseblock at Holme House is smoke-free. The healthcare centres at HMP Durham and Low
13 Dec 2010 : Column 505W
Newton are residential smoke-free areas and at Deerbolt, the intention is for the healthcare centre to go smoke-free in the new year.

Guy Opperman: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps are being taken to ensure that individual prisons are smoke-free. [30047]

Mr Blunt: Prisoners are permitted to smoke in their cells or rooms, and where prisoners share a cell or room arrangements are in place for smokers only to share with other smokers. Smoking is forbidden in all communal areas. Currently we do not consider it reasonable to prevent prisoners from smoking at all during their sentence.

Ranby Prison: Bassetlaw

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners convicted of each category of offence (a) detained in Ranby prison and (b) normally resident in Bassetlaw constituency have served their sentence but not been released. [29498]

Mr Blunt: Prisoners who have served a sentence of imprisonment can be held beyond their release date in limited circumstances, such as:

In respect of (i), as at 29 November 2010, there were five immigration detainees held at HMP Ranby. Their offence groups consisted of rape (1), production of drugs (3) and conspiracy to produce drugs (1).

There were, however, no immigration detainees held in any prison, including HMP Ranby, with a recorded residential address or proxy, described as follows, in the Bassetlaw constituency area.

In respect of (ii), as at 29 November 2010, there were no prisoners held in HMP Ranby who have been remanded in custody pending further charges.

Identifying the number and offences of prisoners from the Bassetlaw constituency area held in all prisons beyond their release date pending further charges could be obtained only at disproportionate cost as it would first involve inspection of individual records of all remand prisoners to identify those being held following their discharge from a sentence of imprisonment.

Information on a prisoner's residence is provided by prisoners on reception into prison and recorded on a central IT system. Addresses include a prisoner's home address, an address to which they intend to return on discharge and next of kin. To analyse the population as a whole, if no address is given, a prisoner's committal court address is used as a proxy to determine the area in which a prisoner is resident.


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