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LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Trial Costs

35. Mr. Cohen: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what plans he has to place a maximum ceiling on the costs to public funds of trial proceedings. [159324]

Mr. Lock: This Government have taken considerable steps to ensure that trial costs, including lawyers' fees, are held at a reasonable level. It would not be right to place an arbitrary cap on the amount to be spent on any individual trial.

Prosecution Witnesses

36. Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, how many magistrates court trials over the last 12 months for which data are available were (a) delayed and (b) discontinued as a result of the non-arrival of witnesses for the prosecution. [159325]

Jane Kennedy: The Lord Chancellors Department does not currently collect the information requested.

However, results from twice-yearly witness attendance monitoring exercises, conducted in all magistrates courts for a two-week period in June and November each year, indicates that the number of prosecution witnesses who were expected but did not attend court was 12 per cent. for June 2000 and 7 per cent. for November 2000.

Lay Magistracy

37. Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, if she will make a statement on the future of the lay magistracy. [159326]

Jane Kennedy: Government Ministers have repeatedly assured Opposition Members of our support for the lay magistracy. Had it not been for opposition from those

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Members to the proposed reform to mode of trial procedures, magistrates would by now have been given more work--and a greater variety of work--than they routinely do. Their attitude undermines confidence in the magistracy. I am dismayed to find that there are those who do not believe in their hearts that magistrates can be in charge of a fair trial.

41. Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on her plans for the lay magistracy. [159330]

Jane Kennedy: The report by Rod Morgan and Neil Russell, "The Judiciary in the Magistrates' Courts", published on 14 December last year, concluded that to abolish or greatly diminish the role of the lay magistracy would not be widely understood or supported in the country, and the Government agree with that view.

Lord Justice Auld is currently conducting his independent review of the criminal courts. It would be premature to comment on that until he submits his report.

Auld Report

38. Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he expects the Auld report to be published. [159327]

Mr. Lock: Sir Robin Auld expects to complete his review shortly.

Courthouses (PFI)

39. Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many new courthouses have been (a) planned and (b) built under the private finance initiative. [159328]

Jane Kennedy: No new Crown or county court centres have yet been built under the private finance initiative, although the Court Service has plans to provide four new court buildings under this procurement method. In addition, the Lord Chancellor's Department is providing financial support to a total of 13 magistrates courts committees projects. Eight of those will provide a total of 18 new or refurbished courthouses, six of which are currently under construction and will be in use later this year. The scope of the remaining five projects remains to be determined.

Parallel Juries

40. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what recent assessment she has made of the case for parallel juries to facilitate research into the reasons behind juries' verdicts. [159329]

Jane Kennedy: There has been no recent assessment of the case for parallel juries. Research into the reasons behind jury verdicts is restricted by section 8 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

Family Visitor Appeals

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will provide a breakdown of the number of family visitor

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appeals (a) determined, (b) allowed and (c) dismissed by the Immigration Appellate Authority (i) at an oral hearing and (ii) on the papers only, in April. [160467]

Jane Kennedy: The breakdown of family visit appeals determined, allowed and dismissed by the Immigration Appellate Authority in April 2001 is:

DeterminedAllowedDismissed
Oral Cases664521
Paper Cases1315774

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will provide a breakdown of the number of (a) oral and (b) paper-only family visitor appeals received by the Immigration Appellate Authority in April. [160460]

Jane Kennedy: In April 2001, the Immigration Appellate Authority received 87 cases for oral hearing and 136 cases for paper-only hearing.

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what proportion of family visitor appeals determined (a) at an oral hearing and (b) on the papers only, since 2 October 2000, have been allowed. [160468]

Jane Kennedy: The proportion of family visit appeals determined that have been allowed between 2 October 2000 to 30 April 2001 are:

Percentage
Oral Cases66.24
Paper Cases35.60

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many (a) oral and (b) paper only family visitor appeals have been received by the Immigration Appellate Authority since (i) 2 October 2000 and (ii) 1 February in which the Immigration Advisory Service has been identified as representing the applicant. [160471]

Jane Kennedy: The amount of family visitor appeals received by the Immigration Appellate Authority since (i) 2 October 2000 and 1 February 2001 in which the Immigration Advisory Service were identified as representing the applicant are as follows:



Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the average time currently taken by the Immigration Appellate Authority is to determine (a) oral family visitor appeals, (b) paper-only family visitor appeals, (c) asylum appeals and (d) other immigration appeals. [160472]

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Jane Kennedy: The current average time for this business year (April only), by the Immigration Appellate Authority to process cases from receipt to determination, are:





Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what the total amount of funding provided by the Legal Services Commission is in respect of family visitor appeals since (a) 2 October 2000 and (b) 1 February; [160469]

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

Entertainment Budgets

Mr. Evans: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the entertainment budget was for the Lord Chancellor's Department in each year from 1997 to date. [160095]

Jane Kennedy: Expenditure on entertainment in the financial year 1998-99 was £56,327, in 1999-2000 was £88,907 and in 2000-01 was £75,917. The expenditure represented by these figures was incurred by both Ministers and officials. The information for 1997-98 is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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