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David Cairns: The Office of the Advocate-General for Scotland provides any necessary legal advice to the Scotland Office; the Scotland Office has incurred no expenditure on legal advice from private solicitors.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland on which dates in the last month he (a) attended his Departments offices (i) in London and (ii) in Edinburgh, (b) dealt with departmental business (i) in the House and (ii) elsewhere and (c) undertook other engagements in his official capacity. 
David Cairns [holding answer 4 December 2006]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State attends his Departments offices in London and Edinburgh as appropriate for the conduct of business. During November, official business outside the departmental offices was conducted on nine days. Information on the Departments business in the House is a matter of public record.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the occasions since he has held his present office when he has used (a) rail services, (b) the London Underground, (c) tram or light railway services and (d) buses in connection with his ministerial duties. 
David Cairns: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (Gillian Merron) on 11 December 2006, Official Report, column 736W.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many parliamentary written questions his Office received in each parliamentary session since 2001; and how many of these questions (a) were not answered because of disproportionate cost, (b) were not answered, (c) received answers referring back to a previous answer (i) asked by the hon. Member and (ii) asked by another hon. Member and (d) were grouped together for answer; 
(2) what target his Office has for the maximum acceptable amount of time to answer parliamentary written questions; and what percentage of parliamentary answers met that target in each parliamentary session since 2001. 
Wherever possible, Ministers aim to answer parliamentary questions within the time scales specified by Parliament, which is named day questions on the day named and ordinary written questions within a working week.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to the answer of 4 December 2006, Official Report, columns 189-190W, from the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-East (Mr. McFadden) to the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Marsden), on the retirement age, (1) what his Departments policy is for the setting of retirement ages for staff below the senior civil service under the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992; 
David Cairns: All the staff in the Scotland Office are on secondment from the Scottish Executive or the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) and consequently, the Office does not have its own policy. It is for those Departments to set the retirement ages for staff below the senior civil service under the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992. In essence, staff below SCS may remain at work after the national default retirement age, subject to satisfactory performance, attendance and conduct.
The project is now working on delivery of a national case management system. This will replace multiple ageing IT systems, and will enable a consistent way of working across all magistrates courts in Her Majestys Courts Service.
Ms Harman: The reorganisation of HM Courts Service will be fully operational by April 2007. The new structure will contain 25 administrative areas, rather than the current 42. The restructure was communicated to key stakeholders and staff in July 2006.
27. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what representations she has received on child care court proceedings; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Harman: I and my officials receive numerous representations about our work on child care court proceedings and regularly meet with interested stakeholders. Representations are made by other family justice agencies as well as those with a direct interest in care proceedings and children's involvement in the system, including the legal profession, the voluntary sector, the judiciary and, just as importantly, children and young people themselves.
28. Mr. Love: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will place a duty on electoral registration officers to use all available databases to compile the electoral register. 
Bridget Prentice: The Electoral Administration Act 2006 imposed a duty on electoral registration officers to take all necessary steps to maintain the register. These steps include inspecting any records that they are entitled to look at.
Ms Harman: We continually assess the court enforcement system, including the effectiveness of bailiff warrants that are enforced through magistrates courts, county courts and the High Court against those people who wilfully defy orders of the court.
31. Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when she last met the chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission to discuss the criteria for judicial appointments. 
Ms Harman: I met Baroness Prashar, Chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission, in June 2006. This was an introductory meeting at which we discussed, in general terms, the Judicial Appointments Commission's work programme, including their approach to developing criteria for judicial appointments.
Vera Baird: Macclesfield is well served by having a magistrates court and a county court with civil and family jurisdictions. Steps have been taken to centralise road traffic cases at Northwich, which will free up court time to deal with trials. To reduce trial backlogs additional district judges have been used since October. We are reviewing procedures for dealing with pre-trial reviews in order to increase the level of effective trials. We are taking a fresh look at proposals for reducing the number of remand courts across the county.
Bridget Prentice: The Government review of the experiences of the new UK voting systems is currently being conducted by officials within the DCA. Any assessment on the findings of the review, and any decisions on next steps, will be taken in due course.
Vera Baird: Following publication of the joint Legal Services Commission/Department for Constitutional Affairs' consultation document on Lord Carter of Coles' final report on legal aid procurement, I toured the country over the summer to meet practitioners and to hear their views on the proposals. I held some 25 meetings in 12 different cities, meeting over 1,000 practitioners. Since the consultation closed on 12 October, I have had a further 19 meetings with practitioners. All of these meetings have played a role in shaping the new post-Carter DCA legal aid policy document, The Way Ahead, which was published on 28 November 2006.
Mr. David Jones: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what representations she has received from (a) solicitors and (b) barristers on the Carter review since its publication. 
Vera Baird: My Department and the Legal Services Commission have received 2,372 formal responses to the consultation. This included 1,595 responses from solicitors and 469 responses from barristers, as well as submissions from the Law Society and the Bar Council.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what measures her Department has taken since the incident in July 2006 to prevent further security breaches of computer databases. 
Vera Baird: The Department already has robust security measures in place to protect our computer databases. The incident referred to in my previous answer related to a theft of IT equipment from departmental accommodation. Standards for the physical security of premises are well established and are kept under regular review.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer of 7 December 2006, Official Report, column 655, on departmental studies, at what (a) staff grade and (b) cost threshold external studies can be commissioned independently by officials within her Department; and how many members of staff there are at that grade. 
Bridget Prentice: Responsibility for commissioning resources in connection with external studies is delegated to individual budget holders. Budget holders are required to obtain prior approval depending on the estimated value of the work involved, as set out in the table.
|Estimated contract value||Requirement for prior approval|
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs which central Government Department granted the lowest percentage of Freedom of Information Act requests in full in the most recent quarter for which figures are available. 
Vera Baird: The most recent quarter for which figures are available is July- September 2006 (Q3). The Q3 2006 FOI monitoring bulletin has been published today and copies have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament. It is also available online at:
The Q3 bulletin shows that, of all central Government Departments, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office granted the lowest percentage of Freedom of Information Act resolvable requests in full during this quarter.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans her Department has to consult the public on its plans to amend Freedom of Information Act regulations. 
Dr. McCrea: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the (a) lower end and (b) upper end age limits are at which people may carry out jury service in Northern Ireland. 
Bridget Prentice: The Juries (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 at Article 3(1) sets out the age limits for jury service as being persons aged between 18 and 70 years old and who are registered as an elector.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer of 27 November 2006, Official Report, columns 346-47W, on the Knowledge Network, what the functions of (a) Forward Look and (b) the CCS Cross-Government exercise database are; and if she will make a statement. 
To assist policy officials and Better Regulation Units within Government Departments to capture information relating to policy development and the completion of supporting regulatory impact assessments, which are used to analyse the likely impacts of the policy and the range of options for implementing them; and
To assist the Better Regulation Executive to monitor and scrutinise the completion of these regulatory impact assessments.
The Government Exercise Database holds summary information on significant resilience exercises involving participation or sponsorship from central Government Departments and their agencies including the Government offices for the regions.
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