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Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what measures the Government has put in place to ensure adequate infrastructure and staffing for each coroners service over the past three years; what such measures have been put in place for the coming three years; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Harman: The costs of the coroners service are met by the relevant local authority and, in respect of the majority of coroners officers, the local police force. It will therefore be for these funding authorities to ensure that their coroner service is adequately resourced for the next three years. However, once the proposed reforms are implemented, the new Chief Coroner will introduce national standards which will address, among other matters, the need for greater consistency in resource provision to coroner areas.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will include in the forthcoming legislation on coroners courts and inquests provision for medical support or other additional resources necessary to facilitate coronial investigations; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Harman: Proposals in the coroner reform programme seek to address the gap in medical knowledge and skills that exists in the current coronial system. We intend to create the post of National Medical Adviser to the Chief Coroner, who will advise on medical policy and practice, including in relation to appeals against coroners decisions made to the Chief Coroner, and liaise with the medical professions at national level. At a local level, we will provide the means for coroners, in consultation with their local authorities, to access high quality independent medical advice. Our intention remains to bring the Coroners Bill before Parliament as soon as possible.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will legislate to provide for the integration of the coroner and death registration services recommended in the Luce report; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Harman: We published a draft Coroners Bill in June 2006 which sets out the Governments plans for reform of the coroners system. It is not part of those plans to integrate the coroner and death registration services. On 21 February, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health announced the Governments plans for improvements to the system for scrutinising the causes of death recorded on death certificates when publishing a summary of actions taken or planned in response to the Shipman Inquiry.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the results were of the pilot schemes conducted in Essex early in 2005 into the possible effects of medical examiners within the coronial system; and if she will make a statement. 
The pilot was set up in November 2004 to assess the practicalities and benefits of incorporating a medical examiner into the coronial system. This followed recommendations in two independent reviews, including the Shipman Inquiry. The pilot identified appreciable benefits in the approach, for example in improving the accuracy of the causes of death recorded, but noted that there were
significant practical and logistical issues to be overcome for the system to be rolled out more widely. In particular, it identified the strong likelihood that there would be delays in releasing bodies for funerals. The outcome of the pilot contributed to the Governments decision.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the (a) extent of and (b) reasons for the difficulties in finding secure court accommodation for contentious jury inquests in Essex listed for a week in April 2007; what steps are being taken to resolve those difficulties; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Evans: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the average jail term is for people imprisoned for electoral fraud in the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: The information requested has not been previously collated centrally. The Electoral Commission is currently reviewing files held by the Crown Prosecution Service on allegations and cases of electoral offences, and will make its findings available in due course.
Bridget Prentice: Section 9 and 10 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 and Section 9 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006, sets out the necessary steps that a local authoritys Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) must take to compile an accurate and comprehensive electoral register.
These steps include sending the canvass form more than once to any address, making house to house inquiries, making contact by such other means as appropriate and inspection of other records which may be of particular help in areas of low registration.
Bridget Prentice: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 8 February 2007, Official Report, column 1097W. The Government are testing the use of a wide range of digital communication tools and methods. The Department for Constitutional Affairs is undertaking a project assessing the use of other digital technologies in enhancing the communications between government and the public
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether any pilot schemes for innovative forms of voting will be undertaken at the local elections to be held on 3rd May 2007. 
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many face-to-face customer interviews were conducted by staff at the Child Support Agency in each of the last five years. 
In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many face-to-face customer interviews have been conducted by staff at the Child Support Agency in each of the last five years. 
The information requested is included in the table below. Robust management information is not available for 2001-02. During 2005-06 the Face-to-Face Service was replaced by the Client Interviewing Service.
The number of face-to-face meetings has fallen in recent years both due to a falling client demand for this service and to improve efficiency within the Agency. Demand for the face-to-face service has declined due to a greater reliance by Agency clients on telephony and internet services. Recent improvements to the Agencys telephony, 97% of calls are now answered from the queue, and calls are answered within 27 seconds, and improved internet access, including the ability to apply for Maintenance Direct online, has likely reduced this demand further. Agency people have been redeployed from Face-to-Face roles to focus on essential work such as reducing the number of uncleared cases, improving client service, and increasing compliance among non-resident parents.
The Face-to-Face Service provided by the Agency underwent substantial reforms in its transition to the Client Interview Service in September 2005. The duties of the Face-to-Face Service were reallocated within the Agency in order to promote specialisation and professionalism in the service offered. The client Interview Service now focuses solely on facilitative client service interviews; these include supporting clients with
communication difficulties or disabilities, assisting complaint resolution ad resolving conflicts in information supplied by Agency clients. There were around 3,800 such interviews between September 2005 and March 2006. Other elements of the previous Face-to-Face Service, including compliance inspection and court presentations, are now being carried out by experts within the Enforcement directorate.
|2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||( 1) 2005-06|
|(1 )The Face-to-Face Service ended on the 19 September 2006, and was replaced by the Client Interview Service|
I hope you find this answer helpful.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many meetings Ministers have held with Child Support Agency (CSA) staff to discuss CSA redesign; and if he will place in the Library the minutes from such meetings. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Ministers, including the Parliamentary under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, visit Child Support Agency sites on a regular basis to meet people and discuss issues of concern to them. To preserve the confidentiality of discussion, full minutes of such meetings are not taken. Specific action points are fed back, but these are not published as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 20 February 2007, Official Report, columns 43-44WS, on the spring supplementary estimates, what functions are being transferred from the Government Actuary's Department to the Department for Work and Pensions. 
James Purnell: The functions transferred from the Government Actuarys Department to the Department for Work and Pensions cover the production of long-term projections of national insurance benefits and contributions, implementing one of the recommendations of the Morris review of the actuarial profession (HM Treasury, 2005). This took effect from 1 April 2006.
The Government Actuary remains responsible for statutory reports to Ministers and Parliament on the national insurance fund, and retains responsibility for advising on rebate levels in the national insurance fund.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which of the four options in the new deal for young people (NDYP) has been the most effective in helping secure jobs for NDYP participants. 
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how the cost of implementing the Ombudsman's March 2006 recommendations on the compensation of employees suffering pension shortfalls has been calculated. 
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assumptions underlay the estimate of the number of women likely to participate in personal accounts in the report The Gender Impact of Pensions Reform. 
The Gender Impact of Pension Reform assumed that women will be automatically
enrolled into personal accounts if they are not enrolled into an exempt work-based pension scheme and if they meet the criteria of being aged between 22 and state pension age and earning above approximately £5,000 per year. The numbers were calculated using data on female employment, earnings and pension membership from the Labour Force Survey, the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, the Employers Pension Provision Survey and the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Statistics.
Of the women automatically enrolled into personal accounts, it was assumed that between 20 and 50 per cent. would opt out, with a central opt-out rate of around a third (the same percentages as for men who are automatically enrolled). As set out in some detail in the regulatory impact assessment published alongside the White Paper Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system (May 2006) the assumption on opt-out rates draws on evidence from a number of sources and reflects the inherent uncertainty regarding individuals responses to personal accounts.
Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received in the last three years from the Governments of (a) Canada and (b) Australia on the uprating of the frozen pensions of British nationals living in those countries. 
James Purnell: In the last three years my predecessors had three meetings with Australian Ministers and officials at which the issue of not uprating UK state pensions to persons living in Australia was raised. I have had no representations from the Canadian Government and am not aware of any to my predecessors during that time.