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Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, (1) what plans she has to amend the Data Protection Act 1998 to allow more data-sharing between public sector bodies; and if she will make a statement; 
Vera Baird: We have no plans to amend the Data Protection Act 1998, as it does not prevent the lawful sharing of personal data. As we made clear in the Information-sharing Vision Statement, published in September, the Government are committed to greater data sharingwhere it is lawful and in the public interestwhile ensuring suitable safeguards are in place to protect personal information. The safeguards are provided by the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act 1998, which balance individuals privacy rights with the need for organisations to use personal data for legitimate purposes. However, we wish to ensure that, as more data are shared, the level of protection reflects the potential risks. We have been consulting on a possible amendment to the Data Protection Act to strengthen the penalties for those who deliberately or recklessly obtain or disclose personal data. The consultation finished on 31 October and we intend to publish the outcome later this year.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what expenditure has been allocated to fund (a) election pilots and (b) e-voting pilots in the May 2007 local elections. 
London currently supports family work across 32 different venues. 17 of these are magistrates courts and 15 are at county courts. London also has a substantial volume of family work heard at the High Court within the Royal Courts of Justice and at the Principal Registry of the Family Division (PRFD) at First Avenue House. Details of the courts within each London borough are as follows.
The Principle Registry of the Family Division also deals with Family work from all 32 boroughs and the City Corporation.
Family work is not jurisdiction based and applicants can issue proceedings at any Family Court.
Some county courts have jurisdiction for several London boroughs.
BarnetBarnet Family County Court and Barnet FPC work is covered by Barnet Civil and Family Courts Centre
EnfieldBarnet Family County Court and Enfield FPC work is covered by Barnet Civil and Family Courts Centre/Edmonton County Court
HaringeyBarnet Family County Court and Haringey FPC work is covered by Barnet Civil and Family Courts Centre/Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court/Edmonton County Court
BrentBrent Family Proceedings Court (FPC)/Willesden County Court
HillingdonHillingdon FPC/Uxbridge FPC/Uxbridge County Court
HarrowHarrow FPC)/Willesden County Court
Waltham ForestWaltham Forest FPC/Bow County Court
RedbridgeRedbridge FPC/Ilford County Court/Bow County Court
NewhamStratford FPC (including Barking FPC admin and hearings)/Bow County Court
Barking and DagenhamAdmin and Hearings at Stratford FPC/Ilford County Court/Romford County Court
HaveringHavering FPC/Romford County Court
BromleyBromley FPC/Bromley County Court
BexleyBexley FPC/Bromley County Court
CroydonCroydon FPC/Croydon Combined Court Centre/Wandsworth County Court
SuttonSutton FPC/Croydon Combined Court Centre
KingstonKingston FPC/Kingston County Court
MertonWimbledon FPC/Kingston County Court
EalingEaling FPC/Acton FPC/Brentford County Court/Uxbridge County Court
HounslowFeltham FPC/Brentford County Court
RichmondRichmond FPC/Brentford County Court/Wandsworth County Court
HackneyInner London FPC/Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court
Tower HamletsInner London FPC/Bow County Court/Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court
IslingtonInner London FPC/Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court
CamdenInner London FPC/Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court
WestminsterInner London FPC
Kensington and ChelseaInner London FPC
City of LondonInner London FPC
SouthwarkInner London FPC/Lambeth County Court
Hammersmith and FulhamInner London FPC/West London FPC)/Willesden County Court
LewishamInner London FPC/Bromley County Court/Lambeth County Court/Woolwich County Court
LambethInner London FPC/Lambeth County Court/Bromley County Court/ Wandsworth County Court
GreenwichInner London FPC/Woolwich County Court/Bromley County Court
WandsworthInner London FPC/Wandsworth County Court
Sarah Teather: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what account she takes of (a) geographical coverage, (b) public transport links, (c) road links and (d) potential travel costs of (i) members of the public and (ii) social workers when (1) opening and (2) closing family courts. 
Ms Harman: Brent is not one of the currently proposed Family Courts Centres, in the DCA Consultation (HMCS London Region Proposals for Network of Family Courts Centres Consultation Paper CP 16/06), but views are sought as to whether the proposals are right or whether other suggestions should be considered. At this stage therefore it would not be appropriate to make a statement on the future of family courts in Brent pending the response to consultation.
Ms Harman: The number of cases heard by each family court in London in each of the last three years have been placed in the Library of the House. Data for the last five years are not recorded centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Vera Baird: We are still considering the impact of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on public bodies covered by the legislation and have not yet reached a view on the use of the power contained in section 5 of the Act which provides for extension of coverage.
However, Network Rail is required to provide information to the Office of Rail Regulation about its public functions. The Office of Rail Regulation is subject to the Act, and the hon. Gentleman will be free to approach it.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many Freedom of Information Act requests received by her Department in the last 12 months were cleared by special advisers before being (a) accepted and (b) rejected. 
Vera Baird: Under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, public authorities are required to accept requests for recorded information submitted in writing by any person. Special advisers in my Department operate in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers. They have no role in accepting FOI requests.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the reasons for the rate of take-up of commonhold in new residential developments since 2002. 
Vera Baird: On 2 November 2006, there were 11 commonholds registered at Land Registry: 10 in England and one in Wales. These comprise 115 units. 46 residential units have been transferred to unit-holders. In December 2005, a developer announced proposals for a £500 million mixed-use commonhold, including up to 2,000 homes.
The Government have consulted with stakeholders to identify the key contributing factors to the slow rate of take-up. As a result of this work, the Government intend to put forward proposals to make commonhold more suitable for use in larger and mixed-use developments. We intend to publish a consultation paper later this year, which will include proposals for the provision of shared ownership and for more flexible management arrangements.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs for what reasons her Department does not maintain a centrally held list of part-time judges in England and Wales; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Harman: My Department, jointly with the Directorate of Judicial Offices, holds records of all judicial office holders, including part-time judges. I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answers given on 2 November 2006, Official Report, column 553W and 29 June 2006, Official Report, column 566W.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many employees of the Judicial Appointments Commission on (a) permanent and (b) other contracts (i) have previously worked for and (ii) are on secondment from her Department, broken down by Civil Service grade. 
Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on the future strategy for recruitment of administrators by the Judicial Appointments Commission. 
Mr. Baron: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what account is taken of the (a) nationality, (b) country of residence, (c) location of claimed harm and (d) income of overseas applicants compared to the average in country of origin when considering applications for legal aid. 
Vera Baird: There is no nationality or residence qualification for receiving civil or criminal legal aid. Legal aid for representation in criminal or civil proceedings is only available for proceedings in England and Wales. It is for the courts to determine whether it is appropriate for proceedings to take place in this jurisdiction, taking into account the location of the events giving rise to the proceedings. Funded advice services are generally restricted to advice on issues of English law.
The income of applicants for legal aid is not compared to the average income in the country of
origin, although, in cross-border disputes, the issue of whether the applicant can afford the costs of the proceedings may be taken into account in assessing financial eligibility, in accordance with the EU directive on legal aid (2002/8/EC).
Mr. Baron: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs who received legal aid funding to act for the plaintiff as (a) counsel and (b) solicitor in Sutradhar v. Natural Environment Research Council. 
Vera Baird: The solicitor for Mr. Sutradhar was Martyn Day of Leigh Day and Co. This particular claim formed part of a multi party action for which the solicitors were Leigh Day and Co. and Alexander Harris jointly. The senior partners in charge from each firm were Martyn Day and David Harris respectively. The barristers contracted under the multi party action were Lord Brennan QC, Andrew Spink and Richard Hermer.
Vera Baird: Applicants for legal aid in civil cases can obtain funding for legal advice and information, investigative help, or legal representation, if they pass the standard tests of financial eligibility and if their case meets the criteria for the grant of funding, as set out in the funding code. These criteria include the prospects of success, and the likely costs of the action when compared with its likely benefits.
The release of detailed information about the granting of funding to Mr. Sutradhar is prohibited by statute. However, this particular case, as a multi-party action, would have been subject to detailed case management by the Legal Services Commission (LSC).
Mr. Baron: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much was spent in legal aid funding on the case of Sutradhar v. Natural Environment Research Council; how much was paid to each (a) barrister and (b) the firm of solicitors; and what hourly rate was paid in each case. 
Vera Baird: Mr. Sutradhars claim is one of three lead cases in a multi-party action, involving 377 other claimants. The Legal Services Commission is unable to provide case costs relating to the multi-party action as the final bills have not yet been paid.
The hourly rates applied to this action, as set out under the Multi Party Action Arrangements 1999 and contracted at risk rates, were £70 per hour for solicitors and £90 per hour for barristers. Within this barristers can share the fees at differing rates, so leading counsel may receive rates above £90 per hour and junior counsel rates below £90 per hour.
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