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Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average sentence was for a person convicted of an offence under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of trends in the levels of remuneration of counsel at the private Bar defending prosecutions brought by the Crown Prosecution Service; and what plans he has to set levels of remuneration for those prosecuting cases at the private Bar in line with remuneration paid to defence counsel. 
Maria Eagle: The Government asked Lord Carter of Coles to lead an independent review of legal aid remuneration. He reported in July 2006 and the Government accepted his recommendation. Some fees to Counsel were reduced and others increased. The net effect was a 9 per cent. increase in fees paid for defence advocacy services. As a result, while prosecution and defence fees had previously been broadly aligned, there is now a disparity between prosecution and defence fees. Prosecution fees are higher than defence fees in the longer, more complex cases, while defence fees are higher in the higher volume of shorter cases in the Crown court.
The appropriate fees for counsel undertaking prosecution work is a matter for the Attorney-General and the Crown Prosecution Service. However, I am aware that discussions are proceeding between the CPS and the Bar Council about possible ways of redistributing current expenditure on prosecution fees to reduce the disparity.
I do not believe that absolute parity between legal aid and prosecution rates is essential for several reasons as the CPS is not purchasing the same services from the self employed Bar as the Legal Service's Commission purchases through legal aid. The CPS as litigators have much greater control over the work undertaken by self employed barristers. Much of the CPS ancillary work and preparatory work more generally, can be undertaken by in house litigators and by Higher Court Advocates.
Mr. Straw: We are currently finalising a process to inform the debate on the Statement of Values. This will include a series of events around the country. We expect to make an announcement about the way ahead before the summer recess.
Nick Herbert: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what payments have been made to external organisations in respect of the development of a British Statement of Values since 3 July 2007. 
Mr. Straw: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 10 March 2008, Official Report, column 156W, and can confirm that a payment of £5,000 (plus VAT) was made to Promise to support the development of policy in relation to the Statement of Values.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the Answer of 2 April 2008, Official Report, column 1061W, on deportation: offenders, what further progress has been made on prisoner transfer agreements. 
Mr. Hanson: Since responding to the question on 2 April 2008, Official Report, column 1061W, we have continued to look for opportunities to develop agreements with countries for the return of their nationals. I recently visited Nigeria as part of continuing negotiations on a bilateral agreement. The agreement with Pakistan was signed on 24 August 2007 and will enter into force immediately instruments of ratification have been exchanged. We expect that this agreement will come into force during the summer. Signature of the agreement with Vietnam is also expected shortly. Negotiations with Ghana continue.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 6 May 2008, Official Report, column 789W, on police custody, how many police forces were under agreement to participate in Operation Safeguard in each of the last 36 months. 
Mr. Straw: Operation Safeguard was activated in October 2006. The first table covers the period since then. In the period from October 2006 to August 2007 the figures given in the table represent the number of police forces in which Safeguard places were used at any point in the month.
|The number of police forces in which Safeguard places were used at any point in the month|
|Month||Total number of forces|
|The number of police forces in which cells were available for immediate use at any point during the month|
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2008, Official Report, column 521W, on young offender institutions, if he will publish the average number of hours of purposeful activity per day in (a) prisons which predominantly hold (i) adult male prisoners and (ii) adult female prisoners, (b) young offender institutions for males and (c) juvenile institutions in each week in April 2008 as soon as that data becomes available. 
Maria Eagle: The following table shows the provisional average number of hours of purposeful activity per day in prisons which predominantly hold (a) adult male prisoners, (b) adult female prisoners and (c) male prisoners in young offender and (d) male prisoners in juvenile institutions, for each week in April 2008. No young offender or juvenile institutes are predominantly categorised as female. Therefore, the average number of hours for a female prisoner in a young offender or juvenile institution cannot be provided.
|Average number of hours of purposeful activity per day|
|Week commencing||Adult male prisons||Adult female prisons||Male young offenders institutions||Male juvenile institutions|
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what training judges receive on consistency in sentencing; what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to encourage consistency in sentencing; and if he will make a statement; 
Maria Eagle: The responsibility for judicial training lies with the Lord Chief Justice as head of the judiciary and is exercised through the Judicial Studies Board (JSB), an independent body chaired by Lord Justice Maurice Kay.
Sentencing is a judicial function and judges and magistrates are responsible for making decisions in individual cases, subject to the statutory framework laid down by Parliament. All those who pass sentence will also consider relevant case law, Court of Appeal decisions and sentencing guidelines. Because of the independent nature of sentencing, training for both judges and magistrates seeks to promote a consistent approach to decision making, and uses sentencing exercises to give judges the opportunity to discuss the issues involved.
Responsibility for issuing sentencing guidelines rests with the Sentencing Guidelines Council, not the Government. The Council was set up under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and is an independent body chaired by the Lord Chief Justice. In framing or revising sentencing guidelines the Council must have regard to the need to promote consistency in sentencing. The guidelines are binding on all courtswho must give reasons if they depart from the guidelinesand enable them to approach the sentencing of offenders from a common starting point in all criminal cases.
In response to Lord Carters review of the use of custody, the Sentencing Commission Working Group was set up under the chairmanship of Lord Justice Gage to consider the advantages, disadvantages and feasibility of a structured sentencing framework and permanent Sentencing Commission. The working group will report to the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice in the summer.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what (a) recent representations he has received from and (b) discussions he has had with the police on sentencing policy; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hanson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Straw) and departmental Ministers regularly meet with the police to discuss a wide range of criminal justice issues.
Prior to introduction of the recent Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, discussions at official level have been held with the president of ACPO, to provide an overview of the provisions. The Police Federation, together with the Lancashire and West Yorkshire forces, responded to the consultation Making Sentencing Clearer in late 2006.
Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what percentage of (a) male and (b) female young offenders aged between 10 to 17 years entered custody with (i) a drug misuse problem, (ii) an alcohol misuse problem and (iii) another substance misuse problem in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Hanson: Current risk factors, including drug and alcohol misuse issues, are recorded on a live section of the Youth Justice Board's database under the heading substance misuse. This information is regularly amended and updated for use by the Youth Justice Board's placement team and, as a result, historical records are not available.
|Friday 16 May2008||Total number entering custody||Those with identified substance misuse issues||Percentage of young people with substance misuse issues|
Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) male and (b) female offenders aged 10 to 17 years have been assessed as having (i) dyslexia, (ii) dyspraxia, (iii) a speech and language disorder, (iv) autism and (v) any other learning disorder while in custody in each of the last five years. 
Maria Eagle: Information about specific health problems or learning difficulties among young offenders is not routinely collected. However, the study Mental Health Needs and Effectiveness of Provision for Young Offenders in Custody and in the Community (Professor Richard Harrington and Professor Sue Bailey, Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 2005), identified 23 per cent. of young offenders as having learning difficulties, that is having an IQ of 70 or less.
The hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) is currently leading an independent review of services for children and young people (including offenders) with speech, language and communications needs. This is an independent review supported by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Health.
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