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Written Answers

Wednesday, 18th November 1998.

Breast Cancer Radiotherapy Injuries: Legal Aid

Lord Ironside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the latest total net sum that has been spent by the Legal Aid Board on cases in which plaintiffs have sought and are still continuing to seek compensation for injuries caused by the use of radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer.[HL3905]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Total net costs paid to 17 November 1998 were £2.3 million. This sum includes the generic costs paid under the lead certificate together with costs paid to all solicitors involved in the action for individual case work. It does not, however, take account of any contributions which may be payable.

Public Interest Proceedings: Costs

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 20 October (WA 138), whether, and if so when, they intend to implement the recommendation made by Lord Woolf, Master of the Rolls, in his final report of July 1998 on Access to Justice (Recommendation 242) that, in public law cases, the court should have discretion to order costs to be paid out of public funds or to order that the unsuccessful party is not to pay the other party's costs where the proceedings have been brought in the public interest.[HL3732]

The Lord Chancellor: The Government do not believe that it is necessary to implement this recommendation. The courts already have a wide discretion to order costs and can take into account their impact on the parties. In proceedings supported by legal aid, for which public interest work will be a high priority under the Government's reforms, the courts are obliged to take the parties' means into account in deciding whether to order costs. That obligation will remain after the reforms.

Reputation as a Human Right

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider a judge's removal from office to involve a determination of civil right within the meaning of Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, namely the right to a reputation; and, if not, why not.[HL3733]

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The Lord Chancellor: Any actual case of this kind would be decided as a matter of law and on its merits by the courts at the time. However, Her Majesty's Government do not consider that it is likely that such a removal would fall within Article 6(1). My noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate set out the reasons for this during the Report stage of the Scotland Bill (Official Report, 2 November, col. 67). There is nothing that the Government would wish to add.

Pension Sharing

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their plans to revise the Family Law Act 1996.[HL3730]

The Lord Chancellor: The Government have signalled their commitment to changing the law to allow pension sharing on divorce. Schedule 4 to the draft Pension Sharing Bill, published with the Consultation Paper Pension sharing on divorce: reforming pensions for a fairer future in June 1998, shows that pension sharing would entail changes to the Family Law Act 1996 by repealing Sections 9(8), 16 and 17 of that Act.

No Fault Divorce

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support the concept of "no fault divorce".[HL3729]

The Lord Chancellor: The Government believe that the institution of marriage should be supported. However where marriages break down irretrievably they should be brought to an end with the minimum of conflict for the benefit of the family as a whole.

Public Service Staff Numbers

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many men and how many women are at present employed in the United Kingdom by:

    (a) the National Health Service;

    (b) local government;

    (c) the Civil Service.[HL3825]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The latest available information is on a headcount basis--i.e. part-time staff count as one person--and is as follows:

    (a) At 30 September 1997, the National Health Service directly employed 253,000 men and 929,000 women in the United Kingdom. Agency staff, general medical and dental practitioners and their staff and independent contractors are not included.

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    (b) At June 1998, local authorities employed 839,000 men and 1,725,000 women in Great Britain. A gender breakdown is not available for Northern Ireland.

    (c) At 1 April 1998, the Home Civil Service and the Diplomatic Service employed 249,000 male and 235,000 female permanent staff. These figures do not include the Northern Ireland Civil Service, but do include some 10,000 staff employed overseas, for whom no separate gender breakdown is available. Neither is a gender breakdown available for some 18,000 casual Civil Service staff.

Welfare to Work: Refusals Sanctions

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many unemployed people aged 18-24 have had benefits totally withdrawn for refusing to take part in the Welfare to Work programme; and what was the duration of such disentitlement; and[HL3817]

    How many unemployed people aged 18-24 have had their benefits reduced for refusing to take part in the Welfare to Work programme; and what were the percentages and duration of such reductions.[HL3818]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Employment Service New Deal Evaluation Database shows that, to September, 1,352 participants have been subject to benefit sanctions. While the database holds the number of people sanctioned, it cannot give the length of the sanction or indicate if benefit has been totally withdrawn; this will depend on whether the sanction is Jobseeker's Allowance-related or a specific New Deal sanction and on whether the client has already received a sanction previously.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are conducting any follow-up study to monitor the effects of benefit disentitlement or reduction on 18-24 year olds who have refused to take part in the Welfare to Work programme.[HL3819]

Baroness Blackstone: The progress of New Deal clients who have been sanctioned is being monitored alongside other groups of New Dealers. Results from such analysis will be reported as part of the evaluation and monitoring of New Deal.

Teacher Numbers

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many men teachers and how many women teachers in the United Kingdom are at present employed in:

    (a) primary schools;

    (b) secondary schools.[HL3826]

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Baroness Blackstone: The latest available figures for the numbers of male and female teachers in the United Kingdom employed in nursery/primary and secondary schools are shown in the table.

Numbers of teachers(1) by gender in maintained nursery/primary and secondary schools in the United Kingdom: 1996-97

Nursery/primarySecondaryAll maintained schools(2)


Department for Education and Employment; Welsh Office; Scottish Office Education and Industry Department, Department of Education, Northern Ireland.


(1) Full-time and part-time teachers.

(2) Excluding special schools.

Class Size Reduction

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimates have been submitted to them by each local education authority of (a) the capital cost and (b) the continuing annual revenue cost of reducing class size for 5-7 year olds below 30; what proportion the sums under (b) above are of the revenue expenditure on primary education by each local education authority; and whether the total of the estimates in (a) and (b) above is in line with estimates previously made public by the Government.[HL3860]

Baroness Blackstone: The Department for Education and Employment is currently considering class size plans submitted by LEAs. These plans will be the subject of further discussion between the Department and local education authorities and thus the revenue funding proposals associated with them may change. LEAs have been asked to submit by 20 November proposals for capital expenditure associated with their class size plans.

New Deal Pilots: Assumptions

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the planning assumptions in Annex 2 of the New Deal pilot specification, and whether they will publish the figures in the planning assumptions for any other parts of the New Deal.[HL3888]

Baroness Blackstone: The information in Annex 2 of the New Deal pilots specification, which is already in the public domain, in fact concerns the proportion of JSA claimants whom we would usually expect to leave JSA within six months of crossing various points in their duration of unemployment. It is derived from the published statistics on JSA claimants aged 18 and over, and is reproduced in the table.

Length of time unemployed

Leaving JSA withinInflow1 year18 months2 years3 years4 years
3 months50%35%30%25%15%15%
6 months75%60%45%40%30%25%
1 year90%75%65%60%50%45%
2 years97%90%85%80%75%--
3 years99%95%90%85%----

These figures are intended to give a broad guide to the rate at which people leave claimant unemployment having reached certain durations. Column headings show duration of unemployment reached. Row headings show a further duration of unemployment from that point onwards.

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The New Deal for Disabled People will focus on those people in receipt of incapacity benefits. This group consists of around 2.2 million people with a disability or long-term illness in receipt of Incapacity Benefit, Income Support due to incapacity and Severe Disablement Allowance. Nearly half a million new people enter this group each year--slightly more than the annual outflow. We will pilot the Personal Adviser Service element of the programme in 12 areas, covering nearly a quarter of a million people on incapacity benefits (about 10 per cent. of the group). During the pilot we plan to contact the stock over the two years' duration of the pilots and the annual flow during the course of each year.

Information on the off-flow rates of lone parents from Income Support is being collected, and will be sent to the noble Earl as soon as possible.

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