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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 22 March 1993

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Maastricht Treaty

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will tabulate in the Official Report, for titles I, V, VI and VII of the treaty on European union each article containing reference to (a) the Council, (b) the Commission, (c) the Court and (d) the Parliament of the European Economic Community ; and what are the additional powers, responsibilities, or functions provided for each institution in each relevant article.

Mr. Garel-Jones : The information the hon. Member requires may be found in Command Paper 1934 and in the memorandum to the Foreign Affairs Committee entitled "Europe after Maastricht".

Sellafield

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will respond to the submission sent to him by an all-party group from Dail Eireann on 4 March regarding Sellafield and the proposed commissioning of the thermal oxide reprocessing plant.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has not received the submission to which the hon. Member refers.

St. Helena

Dr. Marek : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many vehicles have been imported free of tax into St. Helena for each of the last 10 years for which records are available ; and how many have since been exported.

Mr. Garel-Jones : Records are available from 1987 only. These show the following :


Year              |Vehicles imported|Vehicles exported                  

                  |free of tax                                          

------------------------------------------------------------------------

1987              |64               |Nil                                

1988              |30               |Nil                                

1989              |9                |2                                  

1990              |24               |Nil                                

1991              |15               |3                                  

1992              |20               |4                                  

                  |---              |---                                

  Totals          |162              |9                                  

Embassies

Sir Peter Emery : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those British embassies abroad where there is a science and technology counsellor ; and what steps he is taking to increase the number of such posts.


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Mr. Goodlad : Five of our embassies--Bonn, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo and Washington--currently have science and technology counsellors. The level of staffing devoted to science and technology-related issues is frequently reviewed in the light of Whitehall reporting requirements and competing demands on FCO resources.

Russia

Dr. Goodson-Wickes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the treaty signed between President Yeltsin and the Prime Minister on 9 November 1992 will be laid before this House.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The treaty on the principles of relations between the United Kingdom and Russia is due to be laid before the House and published in the country series on 2 April 1993.

Kuwait

Lady Olga Maitland : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the United Nations regarding the 750 missing Kuwaiti prisoners of war taken by the Iraqis during the Gulf war.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We raise this question at each United Nations Security Council review of sanctions and will continue to do so until Iraq fulfils all its obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

We fully support Kuwait's efforts through the International Committee of the Red Cross to establish the whereabouts of missing Kuwaiti and other citizens.

Government Communications Headquarters

Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about recruitment policies at Government Communications Headquarters, and which groups are excluded on grounds of ethnic origin or parents' country of origin.

Mr. Hurd [pursuant to his reply, 3 February 1993, c. 209] : The second paragraph of my answer was inadvertently omitted. The full version is as follows.

No groups are excluded on grounds of ethnic origin. Members of staff at GCHQ must be British citizens, must never have held citizenship other than of the United Kingdom and colonies, and must not hold any nationality or citizenship in addition to British citizenship. As regards parents of applicants, the requirement is that each parent must always have been a Commonwealth citizen as defined by the British Nationality Act 1981.

If the applicant was not born--or did not take up residence in infancy--in the United Kingdom, each of the applicant's parents must be, or if deceased have been at the time of their death, a British citizen domiciled in the United Kingdom. These rules are at present under review, but I cannot say when this review will be completed or what its conclusions will be.


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LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Magistrates, Wales

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the total number of lay magistrates in Wales ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The latest figures available show that there are 2,129 lay magistrates in Wales--930 women and 1,199 men. There are also two stipendiary magistrates in post and another authorised post to be filled. The Lord Chancellor's advisory committees in Wales advise him on the need for new lay magistrates and recommend suitable candidates to him for appointment. The objective is that each bench should broadly reflect the community it serves.

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many of the magistrates in Wales have a declared affiliation with a political party ; if he will list the numbers who identify themselves with each party ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John M. Taylor : This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. When making recommendations for appointment the Lord Chancellor expects his advisory committees to put forward suitable candidates who broadly reflect the community which they will serve. In deciding which suitable candidates to recommend he expects them to take into account political affiliation, or the lack of it, as well as other factors such as gender, geography and occupation.

Legal Aid

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what action he intends to take to ensure that all outstanding legal fees owed to lawyers by the civil legal aid scheme are paid promptly ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John M. Taylor : Costs in civil legal aid cases do not become due until after they have been taxed by the court or assessed by the Legal Aid Board. The Legal Aid Board is responsible for payment of such costs after taxation or assessment and it is already their aim to pay them as promptly as possible. For the year 1992-93 the board had a target of paying 65 per cent. of solicitors' civil legal aid bills within six weeks of receipt, including assessment when appropriate. In the financial year to date, that is 1 April 1992 to 28 February 1993, this target has been surpassed, with almost 73 per cent. of bills being paid within that time.

Mr. Moss : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the estimated number of take-ups of legal aid offers in each of the next three years.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The estimated number of civil legal aid certificates and criminal legal aid orders for each of the next three years is as follows :


Thousands                                              

                       |1993-94|1994-95|1995-96        

-------------------------------------------------------

Legal aid certificates |302    |329    |357            

Legal aid orders       |614    |622    |630            


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Mr. Moss : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the number of legal aid orders issued in criminal cases in each of the last three years.

Mr. John Taylor : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) on 11 March at column 644. Complete figures for 1992 are not yet available.

Mr. Moss : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of offers of legal aid with payment of a contribution fell into arrears of contributions in each of the last three years.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The total number of civil cases where contributions were in arrears in each of the last three years was as follows :


        |Number       

----------------------

1989-90 |36,438       

1990-91 |43,243       

1991-92 |38,672       

Mr. Moss : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of offers of legal aid with payment of a contribution failed to be rectified by reassessment of payment or arrears, leading to a discharge of the certificate, in each of the last three years.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The information sought is not available in the form requested.

Mr. Moss : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to extend the consultation period for his proposals for changes to the legal aid procedure.

Mr. John M. Taylor : I have laid statutory instruments before this House to implement the changes to legal aid eligibility and will shortly be laying instruments to make other changes in relation to fees and payments made to lawyers in criminal legal aid cases.

Mr. Moss : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what estimate he has made of the effect of his new proposals for legal aid eligibility on the level of income to the compensation recovery unit in each of the next three years.

Mr. John M. Taylor : No precise estimate has been made. Details held by the compensation recovery unit do not distinguish between those cases which have the benefit of legal aid and others. It is however likely that the practical effects of the legal aid proposals will be small. A large majority of the amounts recovered so far by the compensation recovery unit relate to employer liability and motor liability cases, and a great many of those will have been supported by trade unions or insurers respectively.

Mr. Moss : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of offers of legal aid with payment of a contribution were not accepted under the current legal aid arrangements, in each of the last three years.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The number of contributory civil legal aid certificates issued and the number of offers of contributory civil legal aid made but not accepted in the last three years are as follows :


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Year                |Contributory legal |Contributory legal |Offers not taken up                    

                    |aid certificates   |aid offered but not|as percentage of                       

                    |issued             |taken up           |offers made                            

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1989-90             |53,725             |16,813             |23.8                                   

1990-91             |55,339             |16,164             |22.6                                   

1991-92             |56,830             |19,179             |25.2                                   

Mr. Moss : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what is the estimated saving, after allowing for the statutory charge, which will result from the scrapping of the contribution taper for green form advice.

Mr. John M. Taylor : It is difficult to identify separately the effects of each element in the package of changes which has been announced. However, it is likely that the changes to eligibility for green form will save about £11 million by 1995-96.

Contact Centres

Mr. Olner : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement about the provision of more contact centres where children can be visited with facilities for supervision.

Mr. John M. Taylor : Contact centres are funded by the voluntary and private sectors with assistance in some cases from local authorities and local area probation services. The Government have no plans to intervene.

Child Abduction

Mr. Olner : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement about the extension of the application of the Hague convention to access rights.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Hague convention on civil aspects of child abduction makes provision for access rights. There are no immediate plans to seek to extend such provision.

Mr. Olner : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what steps he is considering to make United Kingdom legal aid available to parents seeking to recover children abducted to countries where such assistance is not available.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The principle behind the legal aid schemes in England and Wales and Northern Ireland is that they assist individuals, regardless of their nationality, to undertake proceedings in the English, Welsh and Northern Irish courts. It would not be appropriate to extend the schemes to cover proceedings in other jurisdictions, many of which will have their own legal aid schemes which provide assistance to United Kingdom citizens on the same basis as for their own citizens. The legal aid scheme in Scotland is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Olner : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what proposals he has to improve the training of lawyers, magistrates and judges in the areas of child abduction.

Mr. John M. Taylor : Specific responsibility for the training of lawyers lies with the Law Society and the


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Council for Legal Education. The Judicial Studies Board is responsible for the provision of training for the professional judiciary and advises on the training of lay magistrates. Magistrates have limited powers, in cases of abduction but would be advised by their justices' clerks. The subject is included as part of the general training for those members of the circuit judiciary dealing with family matters. Proceedings to which the Hague convention applies come before experienced family division judges. The board will carefully consider the recommendations made in the report, "Home and Away".

HOME DEPARTMENT

Women Prisoners

Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many women were on remand in prison at (a) 30 June 1991 and (b) 30 June 1992 ; and what proportion were subsequently not sentenced.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : A total of 387 women were held on remand in prison or in police cells on 30 June 1991 ; 378 women were held on 30 June 1992. Information on the proportions subsequently not sentenced is not available. Estimates from the courts remand data for females remanded in custody during magistrates courts proceedings or on committal to the Crown court are as follows :