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24 Jun 2008 : Column WA217



24 Jun 2008 : Column WA217

Written Answers

Tuesday 24 June 2008

Armed Forces: Cyber Attacks

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The MoD has deployed a range of defences to counter attacks from known threats against its networks. However, the department is not complacent and continues to develop these defences in reaction to the daily changing and increasing threat.

Aviation: Licences

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: In the past 30 years the Civil Aviation Authority has issued:

BAe 146/AVRO RJ series combined type ratings—2,055 pilots; and Boeing 757/767 combined type ratings—5,439 pilots.

We do not have figures on how many of these pilots are in current flying practice on these aircraft or still flying; over a 30-year period it would be reasonable to expect that many will have retired, or be flying different types of aircraft.

Aviation: Ministerial Meetings

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Secretary of State for Transport has met with BAA Ltd on three occasions since January 2008. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Jim Fitzpatrick), met with BAA Ltd on one occasion during this period. Department for Transport officials meet regularly with BAA representatives to discuss matters relating to air transport.



24 Jun 2008 : Column WA218

Bahrain

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): None.

Benefits: Overseas Recipients

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The UK and Ireland apply EU Regulation 1408/71 which seeks to co-ordinate the various EU member states' social security schemes. The regulation protects the rights of social security claimants by providing that a claim to state pension in any member state can be treated as a claim in any other member state where entitlement might exist.

Death of a customer is normally reported to the department by relatives or executors. The department has a programme of life certification to provide an assurance that customers continue to be entitled to receive their pension. It is planned to reduce the need for life certification for Irish customers by exchanging data on mutual customers with the Irish authorities. Officials are currently addressing legal, technical and security issues to enable the agreement to be implemented.

British Coal Compensation

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:



24 Jun 2008 : Column WA219

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Complaints about solicitors are a matter for the Legal Complaints Service and the Solicitors Regulation Authority rather than the Government, since the legal profession is independent. The Government are therefore unable to comment on individual cases.

The Law Society has taken action to deal with the complaints and to discipline those firms of solicitors whose relationship and arrangements with claims handlers operated against the interest of clients and breached the society's rules. In January 2004 the Law Society issued a policy statement warning that taking success fees could be considered inadequate professional service and in February 2004 the chief executive of the Law Society wrote to firms conducting miners' cases drawing their attention to the policy statement.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has investigated 60 firms of solicitors in respect of their work under the Coal Health Compensation Scheme; 23 firms have been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and the SRA has won the first four disciplinary cases heard there. To date, solicitors have refunded over £3.6 million to miners. This figure may rise as more investigations are completed.

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is an independent judicial body and as such dates of hearings listed before the tribunal are not a matter for the Government. It is open to any one to make inquiry of the tribunal as to the current position in any particular case.

As the Solicitors Regulatory Authority is the prosecuting body, it is the solicitor who would be the defendant and as such there is no role for third parties to be represented at the proceedings. However, the MoJ fully recognises the role of pro bono help for those ineligible for legal aid or unable to fund private legal provision and while it is not responsible for the provision of such help, the dedicated pro bono website www.probono.net provides information on how such help can be accessed.

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: It is our understanding that the Legal Complaints Service has received 3,507 complaints to date, of which 2,736 have been closed. This has resulted in excess of £900,000 being recovered for former miners or their relatives. The LCS accept that to date it has only dealt with a small percentage of the potential complainants, however its role is to make people aware of where they can go to complain if they believe they have a grievance against a solicitor, rather than encourage people to make a complaint.

While the MoJ fully recognises the role of pro bono help for those ineligible for legal aid or unable to fund private legal provision it is not responsible for the provision of such help. However the dedicated pro bono web site www.probono.net provides information on how such help can be accessed.

Both the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform will continue to work with the LCS, the LSCC, the Legal Services Ombudsman (LSO), coalfield MPs and other bodies, to ensure that all claimants under the coal health scheme understand their rights to redress through the LCS where deductions have been made wrongfully from their compensation awards.

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Where claims have been handled by solicitors on behalf of the UDM and Vendside, complaints can be made to the Legal Complaints Service. Where Vendside handle claims, complaints including those about the deduction of administration fees should first be referred to Vendside under its complaint procedure required under the Compensation Act 2006, and then to the claims management regulator at the Ministry of Justice if the complaint cannot be resolved. However, the regulator can only consider complaints arising after Vendside became authorised as a claims management business in April 2007.

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The following table shows the number of claims registered by the UDM and its handling company, Vendside Ltd, and UDM claims handled by solicitors in the British Coal vibration white finger (VWF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) litigation as at the 8 June 2008:

Claimants' RepresentativesVWFCOPDNIHLTotal

UDM / Vendside Ltd

11,522

16,586

10,410

38,518

Ashton Morton Slack LLP

5,220

4,423

844

10,487

Beresfords Solicitors

6,946

6,291

1,763

15,000

Latham and Co

0

8

0

8

Lloyd Green Solicitors

7

129

0

136

Moss Solicitors

5,187

4,513

15

9,715

Total

28,882

31,950

13,032

73,864

Additionally, BRM and Wake Smith Solicitors have handled some UDM claims. However, the department's claims handlers, Capita, have not been informed which claims have been passed from the UDM to them to handle and which were registered directly with BRM or Wake Smith by the claimant.

Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: No costs are due to be repaid in relation to the vibration white finger litigation. The response below relates to the OROS costs recovery in relation to the British Coal respiratory disease litigation.

(a) £75.9 million (including interest) has been recouped as at 13 June 2008.

(b) £5.78 million remains outstanding as at 13 June 2008.

(c) and (d) The firms that have not repaid in full are split into the following categories. Table l lists those firms that have not repaid and against which the department intends to seek judgment on the amounts shown, and interest thereafter at 8 per cent per annum.

Table 2 lists those firms with which the department has entered into separate negotiations in terms of consent orders and has agreed terms of payment.

In addition there is a further category involving a small number of firms where the department's legal representatives are in negotiation regarding the timing of repayment.


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