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Departmental Staff

Mr. Chope: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many staff left the service of her Department and its agencies in the year ended 31 March 2001; how many left before attaining the formal retirement age of 60 years; and in respect of how many her Department and its agencies assumed responsibilities for making payments until retirement age. [37547]

{**con**}{**/con**}

Ms Rosie Winterton: (a) in the year ended 31 March 2001, 1,086 staff left the service of the Lord Chancellor's Department and its agencies; (b) 864 staff left before attaining the formal retirement age of 60 years, of which 74 per cent. resigned, 12 per cent. transferred to other Government departments, 6 per cent. retired on ill health grounds and 3 per cent. were dismissed; (c) the Department and its agencies assumed responsibility for making payment until retirement age for 18 members of staff.

25 Feb 2002 : Column 838W

Sentencing

Dr. Cable: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will review the training received by judges in order to encourage consistent sentencing. [34658]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Judicial training is the responsibility of the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) which is an independent non-departmental public body. It is chaired by Lord Justice Waller.

All judges hearing criminal cases attend a residential induction course upon appointment and regular residential continuation seminars thereafter organised by the JSB. These include lectures and discussions on sentencing, one of the objectives of which is to encourage consistency. Recorders and Circuit Judges also attend annual circuit based seminars specifically devoted to sentencing issues. The content of the training received at these courses is kept under constant review by the Criminal Committee of the JSB, and updated to take in current issues where necessary.

Mobile Telephones

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will list, for 1997–98 and for each subsequent financial year, the amount spent (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) abroad by (i) her Department, (ii) its agencies and (iii) its non-departmental public bodies on (1) providing mobile telephone equipment, including handsets and other associated equipment, (2) telephone calls made using such equipment and (3) telephone calls made using privately owned mobile telephones but subsequently reclaimed by (x) Ministers and (y) staff. [34407]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Not all the information requested is available.

£

1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–02(65)
Item 1(66)
Court Servicen/a36,13190,17999,41166,142
Item 2(67)
LCD HQn/a3542,0381,8031,032
Court Servicen/a10,20638,83252,28052,345
Public Guardianship Office (formerly Public Trust Office)n/a01,8702,1301,684
Legal Services Commission (formerly legal Aid Board)21,12514,57827,65361,422n/a
Information Commissioner1,0691,2732,1891,4921,185

(65) To December

(66) Mobile line rental costs are shown. These figures include the cost of handsets which are provided by the supplier as part of the mobile line rental contract.

(67) The cost of mobile telephone calls are shown.


Entertainment Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) if she will list for 1997–98 and each subsequent financial year the amount spent by (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non- departmental public bodies in respect of hotel and other similar privately-provided accommodation (i) in the UK and (ii) abroad for (A) Ministers, (B) staff and (C) other persons; if she will list the proportion of this cost incurred in respect of (x) food and (y) alcohol in each case; and if she will list the average cost per hotel room or similar unit of accommodation provided in each case; [34384]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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Court Dress

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on her plans for the future of wigs as part of court dress. [34064]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Discussions between the Lord Chief Justice, the senior judiciary, the legal professional bodies and other interested parties are continuing. The Lord Chancellor will want to consider with the Heads of Division the final results of that consultation before deciding what action, if any, it would be appropriate to take.

Legal Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what legal costs have been incurred by the Lord Chancellor's Department in each of the last four years. [34344]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Legal Costs (including VAT) incurred by the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Court Service in each of the last four years were as follows:





Health and Safety (Computers)

Dr. Cable: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many employees in her Department who regularly use computers have taken up the provision of a free eye test; and how this service is advertised to (a) current and (b) new staff. [36685]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, effective January 1993, require employers to provide and pay for, upon request from an employee, an eye and eyesight test. There is a requirement for further tests at regular intervals; the optometrist doing the first test can recommend when the next one should be. In addition, employers must pay the cost of special spectacles required where normal ones cannot be used.

The eye-care scheme is publicised in the employee handbook and is mentioned to all new staff on the induction for new entrants event. In addition the scheme is regularly advertised in departmental publications which are circulated to all staff and on the departmental IT system.

In 2001 a total of 2,267 eye-test vouchers were applied for and issued. This figure represents 17.8 per cent. of the staff employed by the Department.

Bail

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what plans the Government have to review the guidelines given to magistrates on granting bail to repeat offenders; [36105]

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Mr. Wills: Bail is a matter solely for the court before which a defendant appears. It would not be right for a Government Minister to interfere with the process of independent judicial discretion which magistrates exercise under the Bail Act 1976, which governs the granting of bail. Accordingly, no guidelines have been issued by the Lord Chancellor's Department in relation to the granting of bail to repeat offenders and there are no plans to review this position.

Judicial Appointments

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what consultation has taken place between (a) the Northern Ireland Court Service and (b) the Commissioner for Judicial Appointments with the Equality Commission concerning judicial appointments; and what recommendations have been made. [29947]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Northern Ireland Court Service, through its Diversity Unit, has regular contact with the Equality Commission in respect of appointments.

The Commissioner for Judicial Appointments for Northern Ireland, Mr. J. V. Simpson took up office on 11 December 2001. The Commissioner is undertaking an initial programme of familiarisation meetings and will be contacting the Equality Commission in this context.

Mr. Watts: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many staff are employed to advise the Lord Chancellor on judicial appointments; and at what annual cost. [33745]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In January 2002 there were approximately 190 staff employed in the Judicial Group advising on appointments including, in addition to those working on the more than 800 specific appointments per annum, those advising on related matters such as appointments policy, terms and conditions of service including pensions, correspondence about judges and the promotion of a more diverse judiciary. The total expected pay bill cost for the financial year ending 31 March 2002 is approximately £4,700,000 including the estimated cost of new members of staff expected to take up positions with the Group before 31 March 2002.


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