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Legal Aid

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): Net expenditure on criminal and civil legal aid, in each of the last 10 years, was as follows.

£ million

Northern Ireland Scotland England & Wales

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor: Average payments from legal aid, in criminal and civil cases, in each of the last three years, were as follows:

criminal higher£925£980£944
criminal magistrates'£450£423£462

The number of legal aid bills paid, in each of the last three years, was as follows:

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criminal higher257,116269,257304,735
criminal magistrates'432,270480,491460,983

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In which individual cases over the last five years has the cost to public funds of legal aid exceeded £500,000, and what is the cost to date in each such case.

The Lord Chancellor: The information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether public expenditure under the legal aid schemes is subject to annual cash limits agreed with HM Treasury and if not what reasons there are for not making it subject to such cash limits.

The Lord Chancellor: Public expenditure under the legal aid scheme is not at present subject to cash limits. Under the current legislation, it is not possible to control expenditure sufficiently to make this possible. The Government have embarked on a radical reform programme to put in place the controls we need to cash limit legal aid spending. These will include block contracts to procure the majority of legally aided services at a predetermined price and a new test for civil legal aid which will weigh the merits of civil cases against the resources available.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which of the changes to the legal aid system proposed in paragraphs A.1-A.37 of the Government's White Paper Striking the Balance (Cm. 3305) have been implemented.

The Lord Chancellor: The White Paper made it clear that reforms would take four to five years to implement in full. We are committed to proceeding carefully and in stages, consulting widely, and whenever possible piloting the changes to make sure this will work. A pilot for block contracts with voluntary advice agencies is already under way. Three further pilots are due to start this year, covering family mediation and advice and assistance by solicitors in civil and criminal matters.

No. 2 Marsham Street

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When work is now expected to start on the demolition of 2 Marsham Street, and what is the expected date for completion of the redevelopment.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): Responsibility for this matter has been delegated under the terms of its framework document to the Property Advisers to the Civil Estate under its Chief Executive, Mr. Neil Borrett. The agency is therefore responding to the question.

Letter to Lord Brougham and Vaux from the Chief Executive of the Property Advisers to the Civil Estate, Mr. Neil Borrett.

Earl Howe has asked me to respond to your Question about the demolition and redevelopment of 2 Marsham Street.

Tenders for the demolition project have already been invited and the contract is due to be awarded next month, with the demolition works started as soon as possible thereafter. The demolition works are expected to take some 18 months.

If no use within government is established, it is proposed to offer the cleared site for sale with the outline planning permission which Westminster City Council resolved to grant after a period of public consultation. Marketing of the site will begin during the latter stages of demolition to achieve the earliest practicable disposal and the new owners will be responsible for the programme for redevelopment.

Northern Ireland: Teacher Redundancies

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their present estimate of the number of teachers in primary and secondary schools in Northern Ireland likely to be declared redundant for 1997-98 in (a) controlled schools and (b) maintained schools.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Baroness Denton of Wakefield): The information sought is not available. Under the Local Management of Schools arrangements, the number of teachers to be employed is a matter for schools' boards of governors.

Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors: Review of Statutory Bodies

Lord Skelmersdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to review the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1979.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): It is government policy regularly to review non-departmental public bodies. The National Boards for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting in the four countries of the United Kingdom fall into this category. The United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC) does not. However, there is a clear relationship between the statutory bodies. The Government therefore, as a first stage, intend to

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commission an independent and fundamental review of the current operations of the five statutory bodies created by the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1979. This will be a comprehensive study of all aspects of their work, including those issues around determining fitness to practise which go to the heart of

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the council's role in protecting the public. We shall, in particular, want it to consider the need for new powers to impose life bans on people convicted of the most serious offences. We shall then bring forward for consultation specific proposals for change in the light of the outcome of that review.

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