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Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many local authorities have a (a) plain English campaign and (b) Charter Mark Certificate for their electoral registration forms. 
Bridget Prentice: We are aware that a number of electoral registration officers make alterations to the prescribed annual canvass form so that it meets with plain English principles, although information on how many authorities have done so is not held centrally.
My Department is currently reviewing the prescribed form with the intention of providing in regulations a new form, based on local authority best practice, which will be both clearer and simpler to read and complete.
Although a local authority could not gain Charter Mark accreditation for its registration form alone, a good registration form might be indicative of good customer service throughout the authority, which as a whole could lead to a Charter Mark being awarded.
Bridget Prentice: The Government have embarked on a number of initiatives to promote participation in democracy. They do not directly promote voter turnout in elections; that is the role of political parties, the candidates and the Electoral Commission. Examples of what the Government are doing to promote participation include:
Funding seven local authorities to explore new methods of voting, working with youth organisations, further and higher education institutions to encourage young people to register to vote and participate in elections.
The Government have made available £2.5 million to support the new power to encourage participation included in the Electoral Administration Bill. It is intended that this money will enable Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers in England and Wales to undertake promotional activity, such as posters, leaflet and outreach work in order to encourage registration and/or participation in elections.
Bridget Prentice: The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Lord Falconer, has held preliminary discussions with the other parties about a process to see whether a consensus can be found on the way forward on Lords reform.
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will list individuals who refused permission for statements they had given to Thames Valley Police to be passed to Lord Hutton for his investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. David Kelly. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs at what time and on what day the nature of the inquiry into the death of Dr. David Kelly was changed from a judicial inquiry to an inquiry by a judge; and for what reasons. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will list the individuals who were asked to appear before the Hutton Inquiry into the death of Dr. David Kelly, but who did not do so. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will list the (a) title and (b) date of each inquiry concluded by Lord Hutton prior to his appointment to lead an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. David Kelly. 
Ms Harman: The Public Administration Select Committee included a comprehensive list of major inquiries in its first report of the 2004/05 Session (HC 51 I and II), Government by Inquiry" (Annex A Inquiries into Matters of Public Concern: 19002004"). The table indicates that Lord Hutton has chaired one public inquiry, the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. David Kelly.
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether it is a requirement for an inquest to be held in the event of the death of a serving member of (a) MI5 and (b) MI6. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many inquests in Oxfordshire have yet to be opened; how many relate to soldiers who have served in Iraq; and what the date is of the earliest death for which an inquest has not yet been held. 
I understand from the Oxfordshire coroner that as of 20 April 2006 no inquests remain unopened in relation to soldiers who died in Iraq. Otherwise the number of unopened inquests relating to all other kinds of deaths will be rarely in excess of 3 cases at one time. The earliest deaths in Iraq for which inquests have been opened but not concluded took place on 29 March 2003 when a helicopter crashed killing eight servicemen. Otherwise the coroner believes the earliest death to be that of a prisoner at HMP Bullingdon in 2000.
3 May 2006 : Column 1668W
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether the responsibility for selecting a judge to lead a judicial inquiry has passed from the Lord Chancellor to the Lord Chief Justice. 
Ms Harman: Under the Inquiries Act neither the Lord Chancellor nor the Lord Chief Justice have responsibility for appointing a chairman to an inquiry, even where that chairman is to be a judge. That is the responsibility of the Minister (or Ministers) who are setting up the inquiry.
The Inquiries Act reflects past practice in that it contains an obligation for the Minister to consult the Lord Chief Justice (or appropriate judicial colleague) before the appointment of any serving judge. This carries with it a requirement to take account of any issues that are raised during consultation. The detail of this process is contained in Section 10 of the Inquiries Act; which is set out as follows:
|Description of judge||Person to be consulted|
|Lord of Appeal in Ordinary||The senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary|
|Judge of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, or Circuit judge||The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales|
|Judge of the Court of Session, sheriff principal or sheriff||The Lord President of the Court of Session|
|Judge of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland, or county court judge in Northern Ireland||The Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland|
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