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Mr. Dobson: To ask the President of the Council if he will list the Information Technology contracts in excess of £500,000 let by his Department or its predecessor since April 1991, giving in each case the original estimated cost and original estimated completion date, the actual cost and actual completion date and the names of the contractors involved and consultants retained by his Department. 
32. Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when the Lord Chancellor last met the Law Society to discuss self- regulation for the legal profession; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wills: The Lord Chancellor meets from time to time with the president and other representatives of the Law Society to discuss aspects of the current self- regulatory arrangements. While he has not entered into discussions for ending self-regulation, he has made it clear publicly that self-regulation is a privilege and not a right that the society should take for granted.
Ms Rosie Winterton: Previous soundings from within the judiciary, the professions and court users have revealed a wide range of views on whether, and to what extent, court dress should be reformed. Given continued concern in some quarters, the Lord Chief Justice is consulting with the professional bodies. Once the results
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Mr. Wills: There are witness support services, run by Victim Support, in all Crown court centres. Witness services are being introduced into all magistrates' courts with a target date for completion of 31 March 2002. Interim targets of 20 per cent., and 40 per cent., were set for 31 March 2000 and 2001 respectively. These targets have been met. The latest figures show that witness services have been introduced in 46 per cent. of magistrates' courts.
We are improving facilities in the Crown court to ensure that prosecution witnesses are not forced to sit alongside potentially intimidating defendants and their families. Currently 87 per cent. of Crown court centres have a special witness waiting room available.
Mr. Wills: The Lord Chancellor has not issued any guidance as the decision on whether defendants should wear handcuffs in court is a matter for the judiciary. The Court of Appeal has ruled that no prisoner shall be handcuffed in court unless there are reasonable grounds for believing he will be violent or try to escape. It is open to the prosecution to make an application for handcuffs if they believe a defendant will be violent or try to escape, but the final decision lies with the judge or magistrates.
37. Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what his estimate is of the Merseyside courts' progress towards meeting Government targets on the time between arrest and court appearance for young offenders; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wills: Information is not available in the exact form requested. The Government's target for persistent young offenders is to halve the average time from arrest to sentence from 142 to 71 days by May 2002. The latest available figures are for April 2001. These show that the average time for persistent young offenders charged by the Merseyside police was 91 days. That is a significant improvement over the 1997 figure of 153 days. It reflects the work done by all the criminal justice agencies in Merseyside: the courts, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the youth offending teams.
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Mr. Wills: Applicants for judicial office are invited to complete a questionnaire about their ethnic origin, although they are not obliged to provide the information requested. Based on the information provided, the Lord Chancellor produces monthly figures showing the number of people from ethnic minorities in the judiciary, and includes in his annual report on judicial appointments statistical information about competitions including the number of applications, candidates interviewed and appointments made, analysed by reference to ethnic origin. This information is available on the Lord Chancellor's website, www.lcd.gov.uk.
Mr. Wills: The Lord Chancellor expects all magistrates to behave in a way that allows the community to have confidence in their ability to carry out their judicial duties. His policy and procedure for dealing with complaints against them is set out in chapter 19 of his directions for advisory committees on justices of the peace, copies of which are available in the Libraries. The overriding principle in the procedure for dealing with complaints is the observance of the rules of natural justice.
Ian Lucas: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what assessment she has made of the benefits of introducing contingency fees as a method of payment for lawyers in personal injury cases. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: None. Contingency fees are used legitimately in many tribunals and for non-contentious business and have their supporters and detractors. The Law Society and the Bar Council are working together to consider how, if properly regulated, contingency fees might be used more widely to benefit clients and extend access to justice. The Government have no plans to extend the use of contingency fees.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many child contact orders resulted in further court action involving (a) violence and (b) death in each of the last five years. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Lord Chancellor's Department is not able to collect statistics on events which happen after the court's involvement is concluded. However, officials from this Department are exploring with the Home Office how we can address this information gap.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what analysis her Department carried out on the number of murders of (a) partners and (b) children resulting from child contact orders, as part of her consultation on child contact. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The consultation exercise on child contact, "Making Contact Work", is being undertaken by the Children Act 1989 sub-committee of the Lord Chancellor's advisory board on family law and is on-going. Information about the number of murders of
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partners or children where a child contact order is in force is not available. However, officials from this Department are exploring with the Home Office how we can address this information gap.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many child contact orders have resulted in further court action; and what the (a) average and (b) largest number of further court actions was. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Lord Chancellor's Department does not routinely collect statistics on all subsequent court actions. However, the Department is conducting a sampling exercise on this area, the results of which will be published in due course.
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