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15 Oct 2002 : Column 624W—continued

TV Licences

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on her consultations with the BBC about amending the television licence fee regulations to protect the rights of people in sheltered accommodation when the social mix or level or warden cover change; and whether she plans to keep the current rules in force. [74710]

Dr. Howells: Consultations between officials and the BBC about the proposed changes to the Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC) concessionary television licence scheme are still in progress. We remain committed to the introduction of preserved rights to the ARC concession for existing beneficiaries, when the social mix or the level of warden cover in their sheltered housing change, and we intend to bring forward amending regulations as soon as we can. However, it is important that in doing so we do not create any new anomalies or unnecessary administrative burdens.

Sittingbourne Football Club

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions she will have with Swale Borough Council about the future of Sittingbourne Football Club at Central Stadium, Sittingbourne. [73166]

Mr. Caborn: Funding applications for grass roots football are matters for the Football Foundation.

I understand that the Football Foundation have had no contact to date with either Swale Borough Council or the management of Sittingbourne Football Club in regard to an application for grant aid.

Grants of up to #150,000 are available to grass roots football clubs who meet the Foundation's criteria. However, it is for the management of the football club or the council to contact the Football Foundation to discuss eligibility for funding.

Commonwealth Games

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which members of the Government are scheduled to attend the Commonwealth Games; and what the estimated cost is of their visits. [73778]

Mr. Caborn: The following Members of Government attended the Commonwealth Games in an official capacity:

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The total cost of their travel and accommodation was #9,299.65. Travel arrangements were in accordance with the arrangements for official travel set out in chapter 7 of the Ministerial Code, and the accompanying guidance document, ''Travel by Ministers''.

The following Members of Government attended the Games in a private capacity and incurred no cost to the public purse:

Healthy Living Centres

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many healthy living centres have been opened in the United Kingdom; when the (a) first and (b) last ones were opened; and what plans she has for further such centres. [74461]

Mr. Caborn: The New Opportunities Fund's Healthy Living Centres grants programme was launched in 1999 and in total 349 award offers have been made across the UK. The first award was made in November 1999 to the St. Augustine's Centre in King's Lynn, Norfolk. The centre officially opened on 27 April 2001 on completion of building works.

The last awards were made in September 2002. The New Opportunities Fund expects projects to start work within six months of accepting an award, although official openings may take place later than this. As a result, there will be Healthy Living Centre project openings throughout 2003 and possibly longer. The programme is now closed to new applications and there are currently no plans for a further Healthy Living Centre grants programme in the future.


Ministerial Cars

Bob Spink: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many ministerial and other staff cars were available in his Department in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [73043]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Lord Chancellor's Department currently has 4 ministerial cars and 655 staff cars. Of these, 552 belong to the Court Service with 80 per cent. allocated to bailiffs and the remaining 20 per cent. to staff that need to travel regularly as part of their work.

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The fleet increased from 584 in April 2001 when LCD assumed responsibility for cars used by the newly created CAFCASS. During the previous four years the fleet size remained broadly constant.

Magistrates Courts (Fines)

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the total UK figure is for outstanding fines imposed by magistrates' courts. [74612]

Yvette Cooper: Magistrates' Courts Committees have a responsibility for the collection of a range of debts imposed by Magistrates' courts and the Crown Court, as well as other agencies. Debt collected includes not only fines, but also fees, compensation, confiscation orders, legal aid contributions and some maintenance orders. It is not possible to separate out only fines from the total, nor those imposed by Magistrates' courts and still outstanding.

The total ''arrears'' of debt at 31 March 2002 (which relates to England and Wales) was #246 million. However, most fines are paid by instalment, by agreement with the court, while the ''arrears'' figure reflects the fact that technically all of a debt is due immediately, whether or not an instalment order has been made.

The Government is committed to improving the enforcement of financial penalties and lead responsibility for warrant execution was transferred from the police to Magistrates' Courts Committees (MCCs) on 1 April 2001, giving MCCs control over the whole enforcement process.

Since then, we have established an information sharing scheme, which enables Magistrates' courts to obtain basic information on defaulters from the Department for Work and Pensions. We have also set performance targets for 2002–3 and MCCs have been provided with some #10 million extra from April 2002 under a netting-off scheme, ring-fenced for enforcement purposes.

Electoral Registration

Harry Cohen: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what percentage of people have chosen not to have their electoral registration details sold for use by any person for any purpose; what steps he has taken to ensure that electoral registration officers can identify unauthorised use by those who have access to the closed version of the full register; and if he will make a statement. [74587]

Yvette Cooper: This information will not be available until after 1 December, the date by which registers based on the 2002 annual canvass must be published. There are no plans to collect the information centrally. Unauthorised use of the full register is a criminal offence and is therefore a matter for the police rather than electoral registration officers.

Solicitors (Complaints)

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to review the supervision of complaints against solicitors by the OSS. [74748]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: The Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS), the Law Society's complaints handling wing, is already subject to independent scrutiny by the Legal Services Ombudsman. The Lord Chancellor has no current plans to instigate a further review of complaints handling, however he has warned the OSS that unless swift and substantive improvements are made across the board, he will not hesitate to implement his reserve powers which allow for the establishment of a Legal Services Complaints Commissioner. In addition, he has announced recently a review of the framework for regulating legal services. The first step in the review will be to decide what it should cover in terms of services and providers and what issues it should address.

Queen's Counsels

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to reform the appointment register for Queen's Counsel. [74749]

Ms Rosie Winterton: My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor, issued a Consultation Paper, ''In the public interest?'', in July, seeking evidence to enable the Lord Chancellor's Department to address concerns expressed in the Office of Fair Trading Report, ''Competition in Professions''. The Lord Chancellor keeps the detailed selection process for appointment of Queen's Counsel under constant review and has introduced a range of recent changes to improve the openness and accountability of the system.

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