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Child Support Maintenance

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment framework is employed by the Child Support Agency to decide the level of a working non- resident parent's child maintenance contributions. [7586]

Malcolm Wicks: Currently, the amount of child maintenance a non-resident parent is required to pay is calculated in accordance with a formula set out in the Child Support Act 1991 and the Maintenance Assessment and Special Cases Regulations. The formula takes account of both parents' ability to maintain their children. Both parents' incomes and essential living expenses are considered and it can take up to 100 pieces of information to assess maintenance.

From April 2002, a much simpler maintenance calculation will be used, based on percentage rates of the non-resident parent's net income (15 per cent. for one child, 20 per cent. for two children and 25 per cent. for three or more children). The rates will be reduced for non-resident parents on low incomes, for those who share the care of qualifying children and for those with children (including stepchildren) in a second family.

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if existing cases will be given priority in the implementation of the Child Support Agency reforms. [11573]

Malcolm Wicks: Changes to the child support scheme will take effect for new cases from April 2002. Existing cases will be transferred to the new scheme as soon as we are confident that it is working well for new cases.

Fraud Buster Computer System

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the Fraud Buster computer system. [8971]

Malcolm Wicks: Over the three years 2001 to 2004, we are investing £2 billion in transforming the delivery of services to make better use of technology and reduce the amount of fraud and error in the system. We are tightening up the benefit system and making sure that from the very first claim, the right benefits are going to the right people. However, the Department does not have a system known as "the Fraud Buster computer system". >

Pension Provision Group

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the Government will publish the revised reports from the Pension Provision Group on (a) pension provision for self-employed people and (b) the impact on pensions of changes in the labour market. [9811]

Mr. McCartney: The reports will be ready for publication later in the year.

Housing Benefit Fraud

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his most recent estimate is of the level of housing benefit fraud. [10460]

Malcolm Wicks: The latest estimate for the monetary value of fraud and error in housing benefit was published in the report "National Housing Benefit Accuracy Review 97/98" which is in the Library. In April this year we set up the housing benefit review which will deliver an on-going measurement of fraud and error in housing benefit.

Preserved Rights (Residential Homes)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 15 October 2001, Official Report, column 834W, on preserved rights, what estimate he has made of the number of residents ordinarily resident in each local authority (a) in nursing homes aged (i) under 65 and (ii) over 65 and (b) in residential care homes aged (1) under 65 and (2) over 65 as at (A) 1 April 2001, (B) 2002 and (C) 2003. [11471]

Mr. McCartney: We have recently surveyed local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales and have estimated the number of preserved rights residents for which each local authority will become responsible on 8 April 2002. The estimates cross-classify residents by age and type of home. The information has been placed in the Library and is also available on the Department of Health website.


Magistrates (Leeds)

Mr. Challen: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many magistrates in the Leeds district currently serve on the present petty sessional area benches; and for each of those PSA benches how many reside in the areas served by those benches. [10292]

Mr. Wills: The Advisory Committee has provided the figures requested on the numbers of magistrates on the four benches covered by the Leeds Advisory Committee. They are set out in the table. By statute, magistrates must live in the commission area in which they serve or within >15 miles of its boundaries. There is no requirement for them to live in the petty sessional area to which they are assigned.

Number of magistrates in the Leeds area

Petty sessional areaNumber of magistratesNumber living within the petty sessional area
Pudsey and Otley3331
Skyrack and Wetherby4841

Jury Rooms (Smoking Ban)

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will (a) introduce and (b) enforce a smoking ban in jury rooms within the Courts Service. [11139]

Mr. Wills: Court managers currently have the discretion to introduce a non-smoking policy in communal jury areas wherever the accommodation allows for a separate, well-ventilated smoking area to be provided nearby.

Jury retiring rooms are used whenever a jury is considering a verdict. During this time jurors are not allowed to come into contact with anyone outside the retiring room and resource constraints mean it is not always possible to provide a separate dedicated smoking facility for each retiring room, although smokers are asked to consider the comfort of their fellow jurors while in the retiring rooms. The often stressful nature of deliberation means that it is neither feasible to introduce nor possible to enforce a ban in these rooms.

There are currently no proposals to change existing arrangements or policy in respect of jury rooms.

Libra Project

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what proportion of magistrates courts are operating the office automation element of the Libra project in parallel with legacy systems. [10253]

Mr. Wills: There are currently 16 magistrates courts committees (MCC) out of a total of 42 that are the operating the office automation (OA) element of the Libra project. In addition, about half of Greater London is operating the service. All of these MCCs operate legacy systems in parallel, as legacy systems will not be replaced until the new Libra software is available to run over the OA infrastructure. Deployment of the service is currently under way in a further two MCCs.

Extradition Costs

Mr. Maples: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what has been the total cost to public funds to date of (a) legal aid and (b) Government legal costs in the extradition cases of (i) Ibrahim Hussein Abdul Hadi Eidarous, (ii) Khalid A. Fawwaz and Adil Muhammad, (iii) Abdul al-Majid Bari and (iv) Rachid Rausda. [10482]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In the case of (a) the legal aid costs recorded to date by the Legal Services Commission relating to criminal and civil proceedings connected with extradition have been:

In the case of (b) the costs of the cases for Messrs. Eidarous, Bari and Fawwaz have been a total of £16,500 in counsel fees and for Mr. Ramda £15,000 in counsel fees. Further bills are expected.

Judicial Appointments Report

Dr. Palmer: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he will publish the Third Judicial Appointments annual report. [11721]

Mr. Wills: The Judicial Appointments annual report, covering the period 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001, was published yesterday. The report includes comprehensive narrative descriptions together with statistics on appointments to the judiciary, Queen's Counsel, Lay Magistrates and General Commissioners of Income Tax. It also includes information on the Lord Chancellor's appointments policies and procedures; on the progress in implementing Sir Leonard Peach's recommendations, such as the appointment of the First Commissioner for Judicial Appointments. Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The report is also available on the following website address:

Court Service Review

Helen Jones: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he will begin the quinquennial review of the Court Service. [11750]

Mr. Wills: I yesterday formally launched the first review of the Court Service which was established as an executive agency in April 1995. The terms of reference have been agreed and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The Lord Chancellor's Department would like to hear from those who wish to contribute to the review. It is intended that the review should be completed by spring 2002.

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