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Legal Aid: Statistics

Lord Simon of Glaisdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Lord Chancellor, (Lord Irvine of Lairg): In 1996-97, the last year for which figures are available, the number of certificates issued to plaintiffs and defendants for non-matrimonial civil legal aid was as follows:

    Plaintiffs 144,096

    Defendants 18,631

Of these, it is estimated that 2,981 certificates (16 per cent.) issued to defendants for non-matrimonial civil legal aid covered counterclaims.

Information on the proportion of certificates issued to plaintiffs and defendants claiming a set-off or counterclaim is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Legal Aid Services

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In respect of the provision of legal services to the Legal Aid Board's administration which are required to be funded out of the board's administration budget in (1) the period from 1 January 1997; and (2) in such of the previous six years for which information is available:
    (a) what services have been provided by external suppliers of legal services, specifying:
    (i) any known cases or distinct matters handled;
    (ii) the name or names of any known external suppliers of legal services used; and
    (iii) the amount received by each external supplier in total, in respect of each known case or distinct matter and the date or dates upon which any payment has been made; and
    (b) what is the policy and procedure of the Legal Aid Board for having legal services provided to it by external suppliers rather than its own employed staff and, if external suppliers are to be used, what selection criteria have been adopted by the Board including the criteria relating to the provision of services by others.[HL134]

The Lord Chancellor: Information on legal services provided by the external suppliers is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The Legal Aid Board instructs external suppliers where it does not have the necessary expertise or capacity in its employed staff. Selection of external suppliers is on the basis of competitive tendering and/or known expertise and/or quality and value for money of services provided in the past, taking account of the nature of the services required.

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Rosemary West Trial and Appeal: Transcripts

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House the transcripts of the trial and appeal of Rosemary West.[HL131]

The Lord Chancellor: I will have a copy of the transcript of the appeal placed in the Library. However a transcript of the trial could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

LEAs: Funding

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether payments under local government financial arrangements fully meet the cost incurred by local education authorities in respect of the provision of school places taken by children who live outside that local authority's area; and whether such payments also cover the cost of both the provision and maintenance of school buildings.[HL228]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Under the standard spending assessment (SSA) system, a local education authority (LEA) receives recurrent funding for every pupil in its schools, whether or not they live in that authority. If, however, a pupil has a statement of special educational needs, attends a special school or is educated in hospital, the authority providing the education is entitled to recoup any costs over and above the SSA funding it receives from the pupil's home authority. The amount to be recouped will be such amount as the authorities involved may agree. Provision for an LEA's capital expenditure does not discriminate between pupils living within and outside an authority's boundaries.

Schools: Fair Admissions

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will review the present arrangements concerning the transfer of children from primary to secondary schools to ensure that children living in the catchment area of a secondary school receive priority for places at that school.[HL227]

Baroness Blackstone: The School Standards and Framework Bill provides the basis for an effective partnership between different admission authorities in meeting the needs of all parents. A code of practice will advise that local admission forums should play a central role in the implementation of a fair admissions policy.

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Teachers: Public Recognition

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the head teachers of grant maintained schools are among those who should be proposed for public recognition by a knighthood or DBE.

Baroness Blackstone: We welcome nominations for teachers and head teachers from all types of school. All are eligible to be proposed for recognition.

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History: Education

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What importance they place on the teaching of British history to children of primary and secondary school age.[HL224]

Baroness Blackstone: The Government believe that children have a right to a balanced education in history which should include British, European and world history.

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